Daily Archives: May 26, 2013

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Former IRS chief recalls defying Nixon who sought to use the IRS agency as a weapon to investigate his enemies

Former IRS chief recalls defying Nixon who sought to use the IRS agency as a weapon to investigate his enemies

 

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

 

  • Johnnie Mac Walters was head of IRS in early 1970s during Watergate scandal
  • White House wanted IRS to investigate its enemies
  • Walters says IRS never audited anybody because of ‘enemies list’

 

GREENVILLE, S.C. — At his home near Furman University, Johnnie Mac Walters remembers being pressured more than 40 years ago to do what he considered unthinkable.

Amid the books about government and photos of former presidents, the aftermath of the Watergate break-in remains a vivid memory.

In the early 1970s, when embattled President Richard Nixon sought to use the Internal Revenue Service as a weapon to investigate his enemies, the administration turned to Walters, a Hartsville, S.C., native and head of the tax agency, to do the dirty work.

Walters, now 93, said he refused.

The IRS controversy currently dogging President Barack Obama has raised new allegations that the agency has been engaged in political meddling and bias. Obama has denounced as “outrageous” the targeting of conservative political groups by the IRS.

Walters walks with a cane now and is soft-spoken. But the recent IRS developments prompted him to sit down for an interview and resume his personal quest, not for vindication, but to validate his rejection of Nixon’s tactics while he was commissioner of Internal Revenue.

“He’s a white hat in the story. He’s not a black hat,” Tim Naftali, former director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, said of Walters.

Nixon sought to use the enemies list to target his opponents and he wanted to use the IRS to achieve that goal, Naftali said.

“The story is interesting because the IRS wouldn’t do it,” he said. “It didn’t happen, not because the White House didn’t want it to happen, but because people like Johnnie Walters said ‘no.'”

Walters said he was stunned in 1972 when White House counsel John Dean gave him an envelope containing an “enemies list” of about 200 prominent Democrats.

Mother Jones: See How Citigroup Wrote a Financial Bill So It Could Get a Bailout

Citigroup lobbyists drafted a bill to allow more risky dealings by taxpayer-backed banks and—what do you know?—the House financial services committee passed nearly identical legislation.

Hat tip to Mother Jones:

On Friday, the New York Times reported on the front page that Citigroup drafted most of a House bill that would allow banks to engage in risky trades backed by a potential taxpayer-funded bailout. The Times notes that “Citigroup’s recommendations were reflected in more than 70 lines of the House committee’s 85-line bill.” Special-interest lobbyists often play a role in writing legislation on the Hill, but such sausage-making is rarely revealed to the public. In this instance, members of Congress and a band of lobbyists have been caught red-handed, and Mother Jones has obtained the Citigroup draft that is practically identical to the House bill. As you can see in the side-by-side comparison below, the lobbyists for Citigroup really earned their pay on this job.

The bill, called the Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act, was approved by the House financial services committee in May and is headed for a vote on the House floor soon. It would gut a section of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform act called the “push-out rule.” Banks hate the push-out rule, which is scheduled to go into effect on July 13, because this provision will forbid them from trading certain derivatives (which are complicated financial instruments with values derived from underlying variables, such as crop prices or interest rates). Under this rule, banks will have to move these risky trades into separate non-bank affiliates that aren’t insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and are less likely to receive government bailouts. The bill would smother the push-out rule in its crib by permitting banks to use government-insured deposits to bet on a wider range of these risky derivatives.

Here is the key section of the legislation that Citigroup cooked up compared to the same section of the final bill:

citigroup-side-by-side

The bill is sponsored by Republican and Democratic members—Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), Jim Himes (D-Conn.), Richard Hudson (R-NC), and Sean Patrick Mahoney (D-NY)—and its passage would be great news for Citi and other financial titans. Five banks—Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo—control more than 90 percent of the $700 trillion derivatives market. “The big banks support [the bill] because it means that they’ll get to keep the public subsidy”—FDIC insurance and the implicit promise of a taxpayer bailout—”to their derivatives-dealing business,” explains Marcus Stanley, the policy director at Americans for Financial Reform.

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A quote from Frederick Douglass

Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe. – Frederick Douglass

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West Sacramento homeowner in CA uses new state law to stop foreclosure

West Sacramento homeowner in CA uses new state law to stop foreclosure

A West Sacramento man is among the first in the state to use California’s new Homeowner Bill of Rights to stop a bank from foreclosing on his home, and experts say the case marks a shift in a legal system that has traditionally favored lenders.

Kevin Singh, a house painter, secured a federal court order earlier this month after Bank of America allegedly engaged in a now-forbidden practice called dual tracking. The behavior, in which a bank proceeds with foreclosure while negotiating with a borrower for a loan modification, has been widely criticized as deceptive.

Experts said Singh’s case was the first instance in which a judge issued a preliminary injunction to halt a foreclosure auction under the Homeowner Bill of Rights.

This week, North Carolina-based Bank of America was negotiating to resolve the case, said Singh’s lawyer, Sacramento attorney Aldon Bolanos. Any settlement would have to include rescinding the foreclosure, he said. The Homeowner Bill of Rights also provides for attorneys fees for winning an injunction.

In an email, Bank of America spokeswoman Jumana Bauwen wrote that “Bank of America has resolved this issue with the borrower … and is continuing to work with the borrower consistent with the bank’s commitment to help customers experiencing payment difficulties with their mortgages.”

 

 

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Rose McGee wins settlement to stay in her home after year-long foreclosure battle

Rose McGee wins settlement to stay in her home after year-long foreclosure battle

After a year-long journey fighting her wrongful foreclosure, Rose McGee has won a settlement with CitiMortgage and Fannie Mae to stay in her home.

“We are working on final details for a settlement resolution, and I will be staying in my home,” said Rose. 

70 community members gathered to support Rose in a prayer vigil circling the Government Center water fountain Tuesday afternoon before she went into settlement court, where she finally reached a deal with CitiMortgage and Fannie Mae.

 

Rose, a community leader known for her storytelling and sweet potato pie business, fell into foreclosure after losing her job at a nonprofit. Immediately she contacted CitiMortgage to let them know. They assured her they were working on a modification—but then sold her home at a sheriff sale May 18, 2012. This process, in which banks foreclose on their customers during the modification process, is known as “dual tracking.”

With the help of Occupy Homes MN, Northside Community Reinvestment Coalition, Jewish Community Action, and MN Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, Rose began organizing a public campaign to save her home, with protests at Citibank branchesa letter delivery to Fannie Mae headquarters in D.C., and a “Housing is a Human Right” bus tour. In January, Rose’s story helped launch the Homeowner Bill of Rights, a bill in the Minnesota legislature that would ban dual tracking and other foreclosure abuses.

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Banks’ Lobbyists Help in Drafting And Watering Down Financial Bills

Banks’ Lobbyists Help in Drafting And Watering Down Financial Bills

Pay attention, folks. Now the banksters are writing the laws that would govern them with the blessing of…. the lawmakers.

WASHINGTON — Bank lobbyists are not leaving it to lawmakers to draft legislation that softens financial regulations. Instead, the lobbyists are helping to write it themselves.

One bill that sailed through the House Financial Services Committee this month — over the objections of the Treasury Department — was essentially Citigroup’s, according to e-mails reviewed by The New York Times. The bill would exempt broad swathes of trades from new regulation.

In a sign of Wall Street’s resurgent influence in Washington, Citigroup’s recommendations were reflected in more than 70 lines of the House committee’s 85-line bill. Two crucial paragraphs, prepared by Citigroup in conjunction with other Wall Street banks, were copied nearly word for word. (Lawmakers changed two words to make them plural.)

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Hearing ” Midfirst Bank ” no service, Fraud, Fabrications, 4 “original” notes , Frustration..