Monday, April 10, 2017

Pre-Probe Political Buy Off Or Mere Coincidence? Efforts To Subpoena Notorious Bankster's "Foreclosure Machine" Once-Headed By U.S. Treasury Secretary Called Off After Outfit 'Donated' Over $60K To California Democrats

Bloomberg BNA reports:
  • A potential investigation of foreclosure abuse by OneWest Bank, which was owned at the time by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, was abandoned after OneWest donated to the political campaigns of then-California Attorney General Jerry Brown (2006-2010) and then-incoming California Attorney General Kamala Harris (2011-2016).

    The donations occurred in 2010, shortly after an attempt to subpoena the bank and while the bank was in negotiations with the attorney general’s office, but before any formal investigation was opened.

    According to a memorandum from the California attorney general’s office, no court action was filed “despite strong recommendations.”

    Donations by a business being investigated might be perceived as a conflict of interest, but campaign finance reform advocates Kathay Feng from Common Cause and Brendan Fischer from the Campaign Legal Center indicated that the situation is just a subset of the larger concerns about money in politics.

    Homeowner advocacy groups regularly accused Mnuchin of running OneWest as a “foreclosure machine” for its actions during the housing crisis, an allegation Mnuchin denied in his January 2017 Treasury secretary confirmation hearings in Washington.

    Even though OneWest was targeted by homeowner advocacy groups, the bank escaped some of the penalties that other banks faced during the period, a Bloomberg BNA analysis of records has shown.

    Foreclosure Crisis Investigation

    Attorney General Brown in 2009 publicly asked mortgage servicers, including OneWest, to try and stop the wave of foreclosures enveloping California. A subpoena was issued by the California attorney general’s office to OneWest’s subsidiary, Financial Freedom Acquisition LLC, later that year, according to a memo recently leaked to The Intercept, an online publication. The memo is available on the Intercept website.

    In 2010, OneWest contributed close to the state maximum amount for individuals to the 2010 Democratic gubernatorial campaign for Brown ($25,000), the attorney general campaign for Harris ($6,500), also a Democrat, and to the California Democratic Party ($32,400), according to numbers compiled from the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Otherwise, OneWest made no other political contributions.

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