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Entries in TARP (7)

Wednesday
Jun062012

Maxine Waters Ethics Probe Continues

Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The ethics investigation of Maxine Waters, the California representative accused of steering $12 million in TARP funds to a minority-owned bank with ties to her husband, is set to resume.

Wednesday the House Committee on Ethics released a letter to Waters, dismissing the embattled Democrat’s allegations that her constitutional rights had been violated.

Waters, a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, still stands accused of improperly using her influence in 2008 to help secure the TARP funds for the struggling bank. She has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing.

After Waters raised allegations during the 111th Congress that her constitutional rights -- length of the investigation, racially insensitive remarks, leaking of confidential documents -- were violated during the committee’s first investigation, the House Ethics Committee cancelled a public trial for Waters that had been set for Nov. 29, 2010.

The committee ultimately hired Dorsey & Whitney attorney Billy Martin, whose past clients include the parents of Chandra Levy, Monica Lewinsky’s mother, Sen. Larry Craig and NFL quarterback Michael Vick, as an outside counsel to investigate of Waters’ allegations regarding the deprivation of her due process rights.

In the letter released Wednesday, Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and John Yarmuth, D-Ky., the respective acting chairman and ranking member working on the matter after five Republicans and the top Democrat on the panel withdrew themselves from the case, told Waters that the only due process she is entitled to under House and committee rules “is notice and the opportunity to be heard.”

The committee dismissed the charge that “inappropriate and/or racially insensitive remarks may have biased the investigation” into the matter. The committee says the investigation “revealed some evidence of insensitive remarks by a former committee staff member,” but outside counsel and the committee agreed that “any such insensitivity did not affect any decision-making of the Members of the Committee.”

It also informed Waters that the Sixth Amendment does not apply to committee proceedings, and she is not entitled to a speedy trial like a criminal defendant.

As for whether confidential information was leaked, the letter also disclosed that investigators found “three instances in which confidential committee information was disclosed,” with one example attributed to the congresswoman herself during a news conference on Aug. 13, 2010, when she “disclosed documents containing significant evidentiary information.”

The committee’s review did not uncover the identity of the person or persons responsible for the other leaks, although one witness, described as “a former member of the staff of the committee,” invoked the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when responding to questions regarding the leaked documents.

A spokesman for Waters did not immediately respond to a request for comment reacting to the committee’s letter.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec092011

Warren Strikes Back at Karl Rove on TARP Ad

Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images(BOSTON) -- Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren offered a fierce rebuttal to a Karl Rove-sponsored ad released Thursday that aims to paint her as a big-government, bank-bailout supporter.

“I can’t find the right words to describe how wrong that is, factually wrong and morally wrong,” Warren told the Boston Herald Friday. "Karl Rove is not telling the truth, and I think anyone who is not telling the truth shouldn’t be running ads in this race.”

The ad, put out by Rove’s Super PAC Crossroads GPS, says Warren oversaw “how your tax dollars were spent bailing out the same banks that helped cause the financial meltdown.”

Warren was involved in the TARP bailout, but served only in an oversight capacity as the head of the congressionally appointed board that monitored how the Treasury Department handed out the $700 billion bank bailout, which was passed during the Bush Administration.

The Congressional Oversight Panel was highly critical of which banks got funds and the Treasury’s lack of transparency in handing them out. Warren has since then worked with the Obama Administration to create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which works to prevent the unsound investment practices that led to the financial meltdown.

“Karl Rove was part of the inner circle when President Bush pushed for TARP bailouts,” Warren said, according to the Herald. “Now he’s using Wall Street money to attack me for being too cozy with Wall Street? I was calling out Wall Street over the TARP bill from the beginning.”

Crossroads GPS has poured more than $1 million into the Massachusetts Senate race in the past two months.

The race between Warren and Republican incumbent Scott Brown is expected to be one of the most contentious in the nation as Republicans fight to win the three seats necessary to gain control of the Senate. Even though the primary is not until September, Warren is widely expected to win the Democratic nomination and take on Brown next November.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec082011

Ad Twists Elizabeth Warren’s Role as TARP Watchdog

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A conservative advocacy group Thursday released a TV ad that twists Elizabeth Warren’s role as a Congressionally-appointed watchdog of the TARP Wall Street bailout, attempting instead to paint her as a big-government bailout supporter.

A tight race is expected between Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren and Republican incumbent Scott Brown in the Massachusetts Senate race. The primary in that state is not until September, but Warren is the heavy favorite to face Brown next November.

Crossroads GPS, an advocacy group backed by conservative strategist Karl Rove, unveiled the ad Thursday which underscores Warren’s tenure as the head of the Congressional Oversight Panel, which Congress appointed to oversee the implementation of the TARP bailout.

It was the Treasury Department that actually doled out bailout funds, but the ad suggests that Warren deserved blame for bailing them out too.

“Congress had Warren oversee how your tax dollars were spent bailing out the same banks that helped cause the financial meltdown, bailouts that helped pay big bonuses to bank executives while middle class Americans lost out,” the ad’s narrator says. “Tell Professor Warren we need jobs, not more bailouts and bigger government.”

What the ad doesn’t mention is that the Congressional Oversight Panel, under Warren, became known for reports that were critical of the way the Treasury Department implemented the bailout program, who received funds, and the lack of transparency.

Warren, who has painted herself as someone who fights for the middle class, pushed back against the ad. Her spokesman, Kyle Sullivan, points out in a statement that she has been “an outspoken critic of the bank bailout and it’s blank check to Wall Street.”

“That’s just one fact that makes these ads ridiculous,” Sullivan said in the statement. “The Wall Street bankers financing these attacks are desperate to stop Elizabeth Warren because she’s worked so hard to stop Wall Street from ripping off middle class families.”

Warren recently returned to Massachusetts after working with the Obama Administration to create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which aims to prevent the subprime lending practices that led to the financial meltdown.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun272011

Romney Makes Campaign Stop at TARP-Funded Financial Group

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(CONCORD, N.H.) -- Mitt Romney stopped Monday morning in Concord, N.H., to speak with employees at the Lincoln Financial Group about jobs and the economy, a typical event for the campaign of a business-minded Republican as of late except for one catch: the financial group was bailed out by TARP -- the 2008 Wall Street bailout.

Lincoln Financial Group -- which is also known as Lincoln National Corporation -- received $950 million from TARP, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. Lincoln Financial has since paid the money back in full.

TARP, the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program signed in 2008 to prevent the economy from collapsing, is one of several issues Romney critics point to when trying to peg him as a flip-flopper.

Romney, who has been touting his business background on the trail, has a complicated record when it comes to TARP, made even more so by his adamant opposition to the bailout of the auto industry that used TARP funds. Romney has gone on the record several times in the past saying that he’d like to see TARP shut down and that he thinks bailouts like TARP should alarm Americans, but his campaign says it’s not that simple.

A source close to the Romney campaign told ABC News that the venue for Monday’s campaign stop was “not an issue” and added that Romney never opposed TARP to begin with.

The Romney campaign says that while Romney doesn’t oppose TARP itself -- he thinks it was right for the country at the time -- he does believe it was poorly executed.

But it is Romney's complicated -- and sometimes downright contradictory -- record on issues like TARP, abortion rights and health care that could cast a shadow on the presidential hopeful as he continues to shake off the perception that he's gone back and forth on the main issues a few too many times.

He has come under fire from fellow Republicans for his support of the Wall Street bailout. Romney’s record as a moderate has at least one conservative Republican, Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, teasing his own presidential bid.

“I've taken issue with several of [Romney’s] positions, including his support for the Wall Street bailout, [his position on] climate change and obviously for Romneycare in Massachusetts,” McCotter said this month on the ABC program Top Line.

“I do not subscribe to the theory that somehow he has been vindicated. And I don't think anyone in my district thinks going bankrupt would have been better, and leaving that $700 billion on Wall Street, where they caused the problem, would have been better.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar102011

House Passes FHA Refinance Program Termination Act

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The House approved final passage of H.R. 830 - FHA Refinance Program Termination Act by a vote of 256-171.

The bill will begin shutting down the TARP bailout program, saving taxpayers $8 billion in mandatory government spending by eliminating the Federal Housing Administration’s recently implemented short refinancing program. The FHA Refinance Program was designed to refinance homes purchased under FHA loans, but has resulted in the refinancing of only 22 homes as of the end of December 2010, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, reacted after the vote:

“I’m pleased the House has voted to save taxpayers billions of dollars by beginning to shut down the TARP bailout program.  The American people understand we can’t continue spending money we don’t have, especially on things that don’t work.  That’s why we’re focusing not just on discretionary spending, but mandatory spending as well.  Unfortunately, the Democrats who run Washington believe in this time of fiscal challenges we should continue propping up government programs that overspend and under-deliver.  The new majority in the House will continue to listen to the American people, who want us to cut spending to end uncertainty for small businesses and help them begin hiring again.  I hope the Senate will give these spending cuts the consideration they deserve.”

On Tuesday, the White House threatened to veto the measure. The bill now heads to the Senate, where it’s unlikely to pass.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Friday
Mar042011

Treasury Official Praises TARP, Expresses Concern for Housing Sector

Joe Sohm/VisionsofAmerica/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In the final hearing held by the Congressional Oversight Panel for TARP, Treasury official Timothy Massad commended TARP for providing stability to a tumbling financial system but admitted work still remains, especially in the housing sector.

“TARP helped prevent catastrophic collapse of our financial system and economy.  In the fall of 2008, we were staring into the abyss.  Now we are on the road to recovery,” said Massad, who is acting assistant secretary for the Office of Financial Stability.  “TARP was not a solution to all of our economic problems and there is still more work ahead.  Unemployment remains unacceptably high and the housing market remains weak.”

“I’m very focused on our housing programs.  We have not helped as many people as we would like, but I think the programs are very important in continuing to help tens of thousands, and I’m very concerned about efforts to eliminate those.  I think without those programs many, many Americans who otherwise could be helped into an affordable mortgage will not have an opportunity to do so.”

Massad admitted the government did not possess the necessary tools to stem the crisis when it arose, prompting the implementation of TARP.

Democrats in Congress passed a sweeping Wall Street reform bill since 2008, but there is disagreement over whether it would be able to avert another financial crisis.

Estimates suggest the TARP program will cost taxpayers $25 billion, far lower than the initial projection of $341 billion.  Congress originally authorized $700 billion for TARP and the government expects to spend up to $475 billion of that allotment.  $411 billion has been disbursed thus far, of which the government has recovered $277 billion.

Despite this costing taxpayers less than expected, some witnesses and members of the Congressional Oversight Panel for TARP, which has operated for the past two years and held its final hearing Friday, expressed skepticism over identifying TARP as an absolute success when unemployment rates remain high and foreclosure looms for many households.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb142011

Bailout Watchdog Neil Barofsky Resigns as TARP Inspector General

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Neil Barofsky, the top watchdog for the government’s controversial $700 billion bailout program, announced Monday he plans to resign next month.

In a letter to President Obama, Barofsky said he will step down on March 30 as the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, known as SIGTARP. Barofsky touted his office’s oversight work over the past several years, but said now it was time to move on.

“I am very pleased to report that SIGTARP has had a truly remarkable positive impact for an office of such a small size and recent creation,” he said. “With my initial goals met and with these particular accomplishments in mind, and after more than 10 years in continuous Government service, I believe that it is the right time for me to step down and pursue other opportunities.”

Barofsky claimed the bailout “stands in a far better and more transparent place today than anyone could have reasonably hoped in December 2008.” The program is now set to cost taxpayers far less than previously projected, in part, Barofsky said, because the Treasury Department had adopted SIGTARP’s recommendations about the program’s design against fraud vulnerabilities.

A source told ABC News that Barofsky simply decided that it was a good time to move on amidst a desire to return to leading a normal life.

For now the bailout oversight work will fall to Barofsky’s deputy, Christy Romero.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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