Posts Tagged ‘financial reform’

[original post 5/24/2010]

If you haven’t read by now all the headlines on this story, you’ll want to start at the beginning and read the first post, SEIU Storms Private Residence, Terrorizes Teenage Son of Bank of America Exec.  Because as each day passes, new facts are popping up.  The story seemed so outrageous at first.  After all, the thought of over 500 screaming and chanting protesters surrounding a Bank of America lawyer’s private residence while the man’s teenage son, home alone, hid frightened inside a bathroom – it’s just so extreme, even by SEIU’s standards.

I knew something was up when the following day, Fortune magazine editor Nina Easton, a neighbor of the targeted residence, published an account of the incident and was almost immediately attacked by what seemed like practically a coordinated dogpile of writers from several specific sources.

In almost mirror fashion to the Town Hall events last August, when both the Huffington Post and Media Matters seemingly tried to cover up and dismiss the violent acts that SEIU committed against Kenneth Gladney, the same players were again out in full force.  As our Larry O’Connor wrote, both outlets behaved less like journalists and more like arms of the SEIU press office, dismissing SEIU’s bad behavior and attacking an innocent party with fabricated conflicts of interest as a method of distraction and intimidation.

payne-podestaBob Borosage, Erica Payne, and John Podesta

 

And now we learn this:  Erica Payne, the guest who was invited to appear Friday on Megyn Kelley’s Fox News show and proceeded to blame the Tea Parties for the behavior of SEIU?  She was co-founder of Democracy Alliance, the very organization that spawned and is a donor to Media Matters.  SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Anna Burger is also the Vice-Chair of its Board.

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[original post 5/21/2010]

Alinsky Rule #12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

Nina Easton just became the left’s latest target.  Why?  So that SEIU can hide from the truth about its financial liabilities to Bank of America (more on that after the jump).

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Easton, a Washington Editor for Fortune Magazine, wrote a column early morning Wednesday, addressing the outrageous protest organized by SEIU and National People’s Action, where 700 protesters stormed the front lawn of the private residence of Greg Baer, deputy general counsel for corporate law at Bank of America.

As I wrote in my post yesterday, “SEIU Storms Private Residence, Terrorizes Teenage Son of Bank of America Exec,” Easton is actually a neighbor of Baer.  When she was startled by the loud, screaming, bullhorn-rattling protesters, she called Baer’s teenage son to check on him.  Home alone, the frightened teenager had locked himself in the bathroom.  After witnessing the entire incident as it unfolded on her neighbor’s private property, Easton criticized the SEIU and left wing groups in her article for crossing the line this time.

Alinsky’s Rule # 12 states,

“Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)”

In almost coordinated lock-step fashion, the 12th Rule was promptly and firmly applied.  As Larry O’Connor posted on Big Journalism yesterday, a series of several posts soon followed the publication of Nina Easton’s article:

  • Late Wednesday evening, John Vandeventer of SEIU posted “Nina Easton & the Bank Lobbyists: Too Close for Comfort” in response.  Conveniently, Vandeventer distracts readers by recounting the sob stories of foreclosure “victims”, then quickly focuses the attention on Easton and polarizes his target.  He proceeds to play a guilt by association game to tie her husband to Bank of America through Business Roundtable.  You can read my post from yesterday about that here.
  • Then came Arthur Delaney’s piece from the Huffington Post, with the headline: “Nina Easton, Fortune Columnist, Compares Bank Protesters To ‘God Hates Fags’ Group.”  He ends his piece with a link to an open letter to Easton penned by Al Marshall, SEIU Local 1021 shop steward in Oakland, CA.  Marshall begins his letter by mentioning that he flew out to DC for the protest  from CA because “Wall Street caused” his wife to lose her job, and then him and his wife to lose their house.  (I’d like to know how he could possibly afford those plane tickets, in that case).  The whole tenor of the post is undoubtedly less jovial than his prior day’s, when he gleefully bragged about the whole event.
  • And then, the much anticipated and expected Media Matters post: “Attacking SEIU, Nina Easton fails to disclose husband’s ties to Bank of America“.

Of all of the responses, not a single one of the posts actually addresses any of the issues. None will account for the fact that the protesters were on the private property of a private citizen, though Vandeventer tries to rationalize their actions as acceptable because the police supposedly followed the crowd to the location.  Then, he paints the picture that Baer is lurking in the crowd trying to blend in; rather, the man was trying to get to his front door without creating a scene so that he could get to his frightened son inside as quickly as possible.

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[original post 5/20/2010]

By now, you’ve probably seen the mob-scene that developed on the front lawn of the private residence of Greg Baer, deputy general counsel for corporate law at Bank of America.  This was planned for some time by the SEIU as part of a larger national event, their Showdown on K Street, which was shared with National People’s Action and thousands of other activists from MoveOn.org and other left-wing groups.

Prior to the main event on K Street in Washington DC, SEIU and company made a little pit stop.  According to Fortune magazine Washington editor Nina Easton, 14 busloads of riled up protesters unloaded on Baer’s private property and stormed up to his doorstep, while his teenage son was home alone.  Easton is a neighbor of Baer’s and had called to check on her neighbor’s son when she heard and saw all the commotion outside. Easton writes,

“Waving signs denouncing bank “greed,” hordes of invaders poured out of 14 school buses, up Baer’s steps, and onto his front porch. As bullhorns rattled with stories of debtor calls and foreclosed homes, Baer’s teenage son Jack — alone in the house — locked himself in the bathroom. “When are they going to leave?” Jack pleaded when I called to check on him.

Baer, on his way home from a Little League game, parked his car around the corner, called the police, and made a quick calculation to leave his younger son behind while he tried to rescue his increasingly distressed teen. He made his way through a din of barked demands and insults from the activists who proudly “outed” him, and slipped through his front door.

“Excuse me,” Baer told his accusers, “I need to get into the house. I have a child who is alone in there and frightened.”

Imagine what you would have done if your child were inside that house and that mob was on your front lawn as you tried to reach him.

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[original post 5/13/2010]

The financial reform bill is finally in its home stretch in the Senate, but Americans have yet to fully engage on the issue.  In fact, in recent weeks as I’ve worked with various grassroots leaders across the country to discuss the bill, its impacts on our economy and on us as American citizens, I must admit, it’s probably the first time I’ve ever found myself frustrated at the progress of activism.

It’s a complex issue, and let’s face it, not exactly an exciting one either.  But that’s precisely what the left is counting on.  So, whenever I find myself feeling frustrated that others might not share my same level of fervor on the issue, I remind myself of its complexity and lackluster appeal.  And then, I proceed directly to the source – the bill itself.

I hone in on a few key points in three categories that resonate with most activists I know:  Big Labor, Big Government, and Big Brother.  Put those together in the context of Big Banks, and they spell out big disaster.

As the left goes on demonizing Wall Street and big bankers on one hand, Democratic lawmakers on the other hand are busy making sweetheart backroom deals with them up on Capitol Hill, promoting their legislation to the public as “consumer protection.”  But really, such measures are nothing more than payback to the likes of three-way mortgage entitlement partnership stronghold of the Bank of America, Center for Responsible Lending and Fannie Mae.

Meanwhile Democrats and Obama allies like Organizing for America are also using the issue as a shameless fund-raising opportunity.

ObamaAd

The banks actually SUPPORT this bill – so don’t let that “Main Street Not Wall Street” message fool you, no matter which side of this issue you’re on.

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[original post 4/22/2010]

As you know, we’ve been writing for some time about The Center for Community Self-Help and its financing affiliates Self-Help Credit Union, Self-Help Federal Credit Union, and Self-Help Ventures Fund.  As of late, the organization has been under increased scrutiny for its questionable lobbying activities, its former leader and soon to be CFPA Czar Eric Stein, and  its $15 million donation from disgraced hedge fund billionaire John Paulson.

According to the Self Help website, the organizations “provide financing, technical support, consumer financial services, and advocacy for those left out of the economic mainstream.”  Within that complex web of entities under the Self-Help umbrella exists about forty or so real estate development projects.  I thought it might be a productive exercise to start looking into some of Self-Help’s individual properties.

So, I started with Barr Building, LLC, a Self-Help investment registered under its affiliate Self Help Ventures Fund.  The property is located at 910 17th Street NW, Washington, DC.

And wouldn’t you know, it happens to be home to one of our most frequent subjects:

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

SH-seiu-office

This seemed especially curious, because it was only recently I’d discovered that SEIU, together with the AARP, is also the proud funder and agitator for one of the Center for Responsible Lending’s other advocacy projects – its state-specific lobbying websites targeted at regulating short-term loans in an effort to insulate its own predatory practices from any private industry competition.  For example, take a look at this site, from Arizonans for Responsible Lending.  It’s chock filled with all of the usual SEIU corporate campaign elements:  the menacing title and domain name, the array of photos depicting abused consumers who simply could not have known any better, the manufactured headlines, and of course – the staple of their strategy – the studies and the research (all funded and conducted by their own organization allies).

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[original post 4/20/2010]

Last week, in CFPA Czar or Fox in the Hen House? You Decide, I brought you more details about the people and structure of the ACORN-esque Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) and the Center for Community Self Help (CCSH) as part of a series of pieces we’ve been writing about the financial crisis and the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA).

paulson

The importance of the pieces in this series cannot be understated.  As Congress faces down a massive power-grabbing partisan financial reform bill this week, it seems to have lost sight of many of the causes of the financial crisis in the first place.  While we hear about the exemptions in the bill of institutions like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the stories we’ve been covering on CRL and CCSH further illustrate the dangers of unchecked entities and a government with too much intervention and far too much power.

At the peak of the subprime mortgage boom and the subsequent financial crisis, primary donors to CRL and CCSH basked in billions of dollars in pure profit, thanks in large part to that very intervention and power.

Next, we’re going to introduce you to the questionable lobbying activities of this complex organization.  But before we do, let’s review a few pertinent details from our previous posts about this organization:

  • John Paulson is the largest single donor to the Center for Responsible Lending.  Paulson owns one of the world’s largest hedge funds, and most recently, the SEC has alleged “that Paulson & Co. paid Goldman Sachs to structure a transaction in which Paulson & Co. could take short positions against mortgage securities chosen by Paulson & Co. based on a belief that the securities would experience credit events.”
  • Herb and Marion Sandler are the second largest donors to CRL, and together with Paulson appear to comprise the majority of the organization’s funding.  The couple owned GoldenWest Financial/World Savings bank, before selling it for over $2 billion to Wachovia, which tanked shortly thereafter
  • Eric Stein, who once worked for Fannie Mae (an institution currently exempt from regulation in the financial reform bill), was also the longtime leader of CRL and Sr. Vice President of CCSH.  Today, Stein sits in Obama’s Treasury Department in charge of crafting the current financial reform legislation and the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA).

Now, onto the lobbying.

A complaint that was filed with the House, Senate, and the IRS alleges that CRL, CCSH, and its vast network of non-profit and for-profit companies may have committed serious violations of the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) and the Honest Leadership in Open Government Act (HLOGA).  The complaint was filed in the Fall of 2009 by the Consumers Rights League.

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[original post 4/16/2010]

The activity surrounding the controversial Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) in the financial reform legislation is really picking up these days.  But many Americans would never know it.  It seems Democrats may have learned something from the experience of the health care bill after all.  In their efforts to avert a repeat disaster of losing control of the message, they appear to be taking every step necessary to ensure that the public engages as little as possible in this debate.eric-stein2But I assure you, this is a debate that the American public should engage in, pronto.

Because behind the scenes, certain lobbyists are quietly but aggressively scurrying about, pushing hard for the passage of the CFPA in a power grab by the Executive Branch that would dwarf the Health Care Reform bill and the Patriot Act.  And with the passage of the proposed CFPA, one man in particular with a history tied to some of the deepest tentacles in the financial crisis – and to the Community Reinvestment Act changes of 1995 – would gain the power to selectively manipulate the entire landscape of the financial, small business and housing markets.

Last week, we reintroduced you to an early trigger in the financial crisis, with good reason. In “Death by Senator: As Financial Reform Looms, We Revisit IndyMac,” we revisited the role that Senator Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) very public letter played in the fall of one financial institution.  As I ended that piece, I teased that there was more to the story that would soon follow.

So, let’s pick up from June 30, 2008.

Merely days after the now infamous Schumer letter triggered a run on the bank that would total over $1.3 billion, this lengthy and scathing report was released to the public:

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[original post 4/5/2010]

schumer-indymac

Now that the health care bill has been passed into law, many Americans are asking, what’s next? Will it be Immigration Reform?  Will it be Cap and Trade in the Senate?

Take a cue from the White House’s recent announcement to use TARP funds to expand the housing aid program, which will also enable some homeowners to refinance their current private-lender mortgages through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) instead.  And if you’ve followed some of my SEIU posts in recent months, you know very well that Financial Reform has been number two on their list.

Just days ago, the Senate Banking Committee approved Senator Chris Dodd’s (D-CT)  financial reform proposal, the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010.  Behind the scenes, Dodd is said to have been working with House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) to negotiate a final version of the bill that the House will approve.  Just two weeks before it passed the Health Care bill last December, the House passed H.R.4173, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009.  While Dodd’s bill is viewed as less stringent than the House bill, both include a controversial stand-alone Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA).  If these next several weeks of closed-door negotiations are successful, word on The Hill is that we could see financial reform enacted by Memorial Day.

The proposed legislation, most specifically the CFPA, extends far beyond Wall Street; it will expand government even further and give it unprecedented powers like never before.  And with more government power comes the potential for abuse.

Let’s be reminded, for example, of what Senator Chuck Schumer did to one financial institution in 2008.

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[original post 1/27/2010]

We saw their fury throughout 2009:  “Capitalism is Dead”, “Kill the Corporation”, “Bust Up Big Banks”, “Greed Kills”, “Bank of America, Bad for America”.  The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) led an all-out assault on Wall Street – and on capitalism and corporations – coining words and phrases that have since become common staples in the vocabulary of the bank-bashing craze.  That fury hit a fever pitch last March when word of the AIG bonuses went public.  It was the SEIU out in front of the protests, at AIG offices, and bussing protestors to the homes of AIG executives.

AIG_Rally_AndyStern_March19

The months that followed saw more of the same.  In April, SEIU hailed the ousting of General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner.  That same week, it stepped up its battleplan with the Mother of all Corporate Campaigns against Ken Lewis, Bank of America CEO and Chairman – complete with videos, rolling billboards, smear sites, petition drives, letter campaigns, media blitzes and more, while it placed equal attention on Bank of America, forcing the company to respond with a $40 million image boosting campaign of television and print ads.

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