Daily Archives: November 15, 2016

What’s Mike Pence hiding in his emails?

Mike Pence wants his communications limited from public access. Experts say this sets a “dangerous precedent.”

Now that the presidential campaign and most of the furor over Hillary Clinton’s email scandal are behind us, the Pence administration is going to court to argue for its own brand of email secrecy.

The administration is fighting to conceal the contents of an email sent to Gov. Mike Pence by a political ally. That email is being sought by a prominent Democratic labor lawyer who says he wants to expose waste in the Republican administration.

But legal experts fear the stakes may be much higher than mere politics because the decision could remove a judicial branch check on executive power and limit a citizen’s right to know what the government is doing and how it spends taxpayer dollars.

“It comes down to this — the court is giving up its ability to check another branch of government, and that should worry people,” said Gerry Lanosga, an Indiana University media professor specializing in public records law.

In the case, Indianapolis attorney William Groth is appealing a decision handed down by Marion Superior Court in April, which decided that redactions the administration made to a public record could not be second-guessed by the court.

Read on.

Some at Wells Fargo say they fear using ‘ethics line,’ even as bank vows to fix it

Wells Fargo’s new CEO says the bank is tackling concerns about how the company handles ethics complaints filed by its workers.

Some employees, though, say it’s still not enough.

Speaking to employees Thursday during a town-hall meeting in Iowa, Tim Sloan said the bank has found “instances” in which employees may have faced retaliation after making complaints to its ethics line reporting system, according to prepared remarks the bank posted online. The San Francisco-based bank is “looking into any and all allegations of retaliation” and will take appropriate actions based on findings, the CEO said.

Sloan called retaliation “totally unacceptable” and said the bank has conducted an “end-to-end” review of its ethics line and made changes. He did not provide details.

The lack of specificity is worrying some employees as the bank continues to reel from asales scandal. One Wells Fargo employee who works in Charlotte said Sloan’s comments did little to put her at ease and that she would be reluctant to file an ethics complaint.

“It just sounds like more of the same lip service,” said the employee, who asked not to be named to protect her job.

“Until we see the changes being made … until things actually happen, then I think the skepticism remains,” she said. “I would definitely think twice before I raise my hand.”

Class Fights Back in Trump’s Bid to Delay Trump U Fraud Trial

SAN DIEGO (CN) – Former Trump University students did not mince words in an opposition filed Monday regarding President-elect Donald Trump’s request to delay trial of the class action against his former real estate school, calling the request a “slippery slope” and arguing his election win does not change the legal standard for moving the case forward.

Citing the need to prepare for becoming president, Donald Trump filed a formal request with a federal judge Saturday that asks to delay the first Trump University trial.

“This is an unprecedented circumstance,” Trump’s lead attorney Daniel Petrocelli wrote in an ex parte application for a continuance.

Trump is the first person ever elected U.S. president while facing class action lawsuits accusing him of fraud.

In their 12-page response filed Monday, Sonny Low and the other plaintiffs scoffed at Trump’s insistence the trial be delayed until after his Jan. 20 inauguration. The plaintiffs said Trump should not require an additional opportunity to record his testimony since he already did so on two separate occasions, totaling more than 10 hours of videotaped sworn testimony that can be used during the trial.

Read on.

Fannie, Freddie surge as Trump taps advisors who back privatization

Marketwatch:

Shares of Fannie are up about 63% during the week, and Freddie shares have risen about 65% in that time.

Fannie FNMA, +4.64%  and Freddie FMCC, +3.86%  were placed into federal conservatorship during the 2008 financial crisis, and in 2012 the Obama administration amended the terms of the 2008 agreement to sweep quarterly profits from the two enterprises, a move that’s been challenged in court by shareholders.

Ken Blackwell, who’s been tapped to lead the domestic transition team, wrote an op-ed in 2014 in which he called the Treasury arrangement “theft of private property.” In the piece, Blackwell noted that there is a “bipartisan consensus on how to wind down Fannie and Freddie.”

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that hedge fund investor John Paulson had been tapped to be a Trump advisor because of his understanding of the housing market. Paulson is known for shorting the subprime mortgage market as the housing bubble inflated a decade ago.

Paulson’s company has donated extensively to nonprofits and lobbyists advocating for the release of the enterprises from government controls, according to an earlier Journal article.

Say goodbye to HAMP: Dec. 31, 2016 marks the end of a seven-year government program

Dec. 31, 2016 marks the end of a seven-year government program designed to save struggling homeowners who are behind on their mortgage, or in danger of imminent default due to financial hardship.

The government’s Home Affordable Modification Program also came with incentives for servicers and investor, which worked to help unify the industry after the financial crisis.

HAMP’s sibling, the Home Affordable Refinance Program, which was created at the same time, was extended in August until Sept. 30, 2017 in order to create a smoother transition period for a new refinance product. HAMP, on the other hand, is still slated to end at the end of this year.

Read on.

SEC Chair Mary Jo White stepping down at end of Obama administration

It’s about time… But, then again,she was going to be replaced by Trump…

President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are currently working to fill theroughly 4,000 jobs that will become available when the Trump administration takes over in January, but there’s now one more government job that unexpectedly became available Monday – chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Mary Jo White, the current chair of the SEC, who has served in that role since 2013, announced Monday that she plans to leave the SEC at the end of the Obama administration.

Read on.