Revealed: Former Goldman Sachs VP Turned Issa Staffer Supervised Scheduling Of Elizabeth Warren Incident (Think Progress)

  • Topics: BanksterUSA
  • -- by Lee Fang

    The Center for Media and Democracy is re-posting this article from Lee Fang at Think Progress as part of our effort to track right-wing opposition to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau through our BanksterUSA project. The original can be found here. For context on these new revelations, please read this news story from May 24.

    Last week, ThinkProgress revealed that Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) hired Peter Haller, a former Goldman Sachs vice president, as one of his top aides. Haller, who adopted his mother's maiden name in 2008 and had escaped public scrutiny until now, coordinated an Oversight Committee letter to regulators demanding that they justify new Dodd-Frank rules impacting investment banks like his old employer, Goldman Sachs. After publication of our story, the Project on Government Oversight discovered more of Haller's Oversight Committee letters, again on issues directly related to Goldman Sachs.

    Mixed Messages at the ALEC Annual Meeting

    In the midst of corporations voting with state politicians on corporate wishlists to rewrite the law, some messages at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Annual Meeting in New Orleans got a little mixed up. Here are two examples.

    Nonpartisan “Truthtelling” at ALEC

    A "radical, possibly deranged, truthteller" will be the 2012 GOP presidential candidate, said political commentator Tucker Carlson at the 2011 annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in New Orleans. Speaking between workshops on the benefits of carbon emissions and task force meetings where corporations and politicians vote on "model bills," Carlson joined right-wing leaders who sang the praises of the Tea Party and "sticking to your guns," cursed Obama and other "big government liberals," and praised the same "cut, cap, and balance" agenda manifest in the ALEC bills and pushed by national politicians in Washington D.C.

    Recall Walker? It's Up to Feingold

    For the first time in the state's history, Wisconsin recalled two sitting state senators simultaneously. While it was a difficult and historic achievement in two districts that voted for Scott Walker in 2010, it fell short of the three seats needed to flip the Senate from Republican to Democratic control and put the brakes on Governor Scott Walker's radical agenda.

    While Walker's collective bargaining bill sparked the recalls, voters were also worried about the state budgetary moves which cut $800 million from local schools while giving out $200 million in tax breaks for big corporations. No jobs plan (other than tax breaks) has been proposed and, contrary to spin from the Governor, joblessness is growing in this state at twice the rate of the federal level.

    ALEC, For-Profit Criminal Justice, and Wisconsin

    As the first half of 2011 has revealed, Wisconsin is not a moderate "purple" state, but a state divided between staunchly "blue" progressives and righteous "red" right-wingers. That rift is particularly apparent in legislative conflicts over the criminal justice system, a debate spurred by corporate interests represented in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and perpetuated by ALEC legislative members, including Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

    Wisconsin's history and public policy reflects the red/blue divide. It is the state that gave birth to the Republican Party, which supported slavery abolition, and the John Birch Society, which opposed the civil rights movement. In the first half of the 20th Century, the state elected both progressive hero Robert "Fighting Bob" LaFollette and right-wing extremist Joe McCarthy. It is the state that elected both former Senator Russ Feingold (D) and Representative Paul Ryan (R).

    Wisconsin also produced Paul Weyrich, who in 1973 co-founded both the Heritage Foundation and ALEC (and in subsequent years, Free Congress and Moral Majority). Weyrich's ALEC, it seems, has been a factory for many of the state's most recent right-wing policy initiatives.

    Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds Union-Busting, Betrays Judicial Principles

    In the Wisconsin Supreme Court's decision reinstating Governor Scott Walker's controversial collective bargaining plan, the Court's conservative majority not only neutered the Open Meetings Law, but in its rush to make a decision before legislative Republicans acted on threats, the Court overreached and potentially eviscerated the meaning of Article IV, Section 10 of the Wisconsin Constitution.

    Prank Koch Call Prompts More Legal Questions

    Madison -- The heat ratcheted up on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as more questions were raised about the 20-minute phone call from a Buffalo-area alternative news reporter posing as David Koch, a billionaire whose corporate PAC directly supported Walker and who has given millions to groups that have run ads to aid Walker's rise to the state's highest office. (Find a transcript of the call here).

    The section of the tape that has come under the most scrutiny involved Walker's comments that he considered planting "troublemakers" into the crowd. People on the ground here in Madison were quite aware that the first five days of protests were packed with children. The Madison school district and many surrounding districts were closed. Thousands of elementary school children and their parents marched at the capitol in support of local teachers. On the first day and second days, thousands of high school students walked out on their classes and headed to the capitol. The atmosphere was festive and fun, popcorn stands on the corner and thousands of homemade signs.

    Astroturf for Hire

    NPR's Planet Money recently reported on astroturf activities in the financial sector. "Forgery: The Latest Tactic To Sway Finance Rules" focuses on the behind the scenes fight over the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill. The Dodd-Frank bill is now in the agency rulemaking stage and financial sector lobbyists have descended en masse on the pertinent federal agencies, lobbying in person and via comment letters to the Federal Register. Some firms seem to think their advocacy would be more effective if it came from grassroots groups and not corporations. As NPR reports: "In an effort to influence the new rules, somebody sent several forged letters to the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, a key government agency. The letters were sent as part of the public comment process for an arcane rule that could have big financial implications." The rule involved proposal to limit conflicts of interest at derivatives clearinghouses. The forged letters were supposedly from an exec at Heinz (the food company), a Burger King franchise owner, a local judge, a county sheriff and a dozen other concerned citizens. But in reality they were sent from a PR firm on contract with an unnamed client. The Wall Street Journal has named the PR firm as Dewey Square Group and its subcontractor, Goggans Inc. as culprits in the fiasco, but the firm's client is still unknown. The faux letters contain verbatim language railing against the "cartel-like control" of banks in the derivatives market, certainly a legitimate complaint. The fact that financial services firms -- perhaps those who want the opportunity to be part of the cartel -- had to hire PR companies to develop fake "grassroots" to counter the big banks underscores the continued absence of real, organized grassroots in the financial services debates. One notable exception is Americans for Financial Reform (AFR) a coalition of over 250 of labor, consumer, housing, and other public interest groups, that advocates for consumer protection and a more stable and secure financial system. Find out more at

    AIG: Corporate Welfare King Mouths Off

    Most Americans know American International Group (AIG) as the global insurance behemoth that was so recklessly managed it had an outsized role in tanking the global economy.

    Rather than feeling a bit humble for wreaking havoc on the lives of millions, AIG's new management is feeling rather cocky. Apparently AIG CEO Robert Benmosche has figured out the magic formula for selling insurance. Benmosche told Bloomberg News that he likes to do business in "red states" where the firm signs up more reliable customers than those in "more liberal" areas.

    Banksters Back in the Black: JPMorgan Chase

    Earnings and bonus reports are rolling in and the big, bailed-out banks are back in the black. In 2010, total compensation and benefits at publicly traded Wall Street banks and securities firms hit a record of $135 billion -- up almost six percent from 2009 according to the Wall Street Journal. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon may take home the biggest bonus check, an eye-popping $17 million.

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