You are viewing the NationofChange archives. For the latest news and actions, visit the new
Get Email Updates | Log In | Register

Richard (RJ) Eskow
Published: Monday 12 December 2011
“Voters need to tell the president that it’s wrong and unacceptable to push for a bank-friendly deal and undermine these public servants.”

Mr. President, Stop Protecting Bankers From These State Law Enforcement Officials

Article image

Lately we've been hearing some strong words from President Obama about Wall Street crime. But when the cameras and lights aren't around, his administration's been working feverishly to protect bankers from state law enforcement officials.

There are conscientious state attorneys general who believe the law applies to everyone. While they're working to bring justice to Wall Street, White House officials are obstructing them by pushing a sweetheart deal with the banks that would end their investigations and prevent them from prosecuting crooked bankers.

If more people knew what was happening, the White House would be flooded with calls and emails demanding that it stop protecting Wall Street.

It's still not too late for that.

The Evidence

The evidence for Wall Street's criminality is overwhelming. The big banks have already signed consent decrees and other documents in response to well-documented charges of perjury and filing of false documents; illegal foreclosures; criminal solicitation through the repeated use of law firms and foreclosure servicers known to have violated the law; investor fraud; and other major crimes.

Wall Street's lawbreaking crashed the economy, left millions of people jobless, and cost the world's economy trillions of dollars in lost wealth. People have been illegally evicted, and millions were deceived into borrowing money for real estate whose value had been artificially inflated through illegal means, and who now owe that money to the same bankers who committed the crimes.

But none of the criminals have gone to jail—and they're still collecting on those loans.

The Resistance

The responsibility for prosecuting crooked bankers belongs to both the Justice Department and the attorneys general who serve as their states' chief law enforcement officers. AGs for all fifty states were brought together to negotiate with the banks over Wall Street mortgage fraud, and quickly came under intense pressure from the administration and corporate interests. Under the leadership of self-serving Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, the group began to discuss a White House-backed deal that would protect criminal bankers from prosecution and let the banks settle for pennies on the dollar.

The first AG to reject the deal was New York's Eric Schneiderman, whose jurisdiction includes Wall Street. Schneiderman had been pursuing criminal investigations and asked the group not to accept any agreement that would shut them down before all the evidence was in. He immediately came in for some heavy arm-twisting from Obama officials like HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and top people at the Justice Department—the same Justice Department that has refused to prosecute a single banker for criminal fraud, and can only offer weak and implausible excuses for its failure to do so.

Ohio's Miller immediately removed Schneiderman from the committee leading negotiations for the 50-member AG group, despite his state's key role in prosecuting bank fraud. That move was either designed to remove Schneiderman from the room while negotiating with (and for) the banks, or it was Miller's petty way of saying "you can't sit with us in the school cafeteria anymore." Maybe it was both.

Schneiderman nevertheless soldiered on, apparently undeterred by either the administration's arm-twisting or Miller's "you are so not hanging with us, dude" tactics.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway soon stepped up and backed Schneiderman, saying "There should be absolutely no criminal or civil immunity given to banks for activity that has not yet been investigated." Delaware's Beau Biden also joined with Schneiderman, and that's important. Many New York-based companies, including my ex-employer AIG, are legally incorporated in Delaware to take advantage of that state's favorable corporate tax policies. (Biden's also resisting the administration that his dad serves as vice president, which must make for interesting dinner table conversations at holiday time.)

Massachusetts AG Martha Coakley has sued five banks for allegedly seizing private property illegally. And the AGs of California and Nevada, Kamala Harris and Catherine Cortez Masto, have announced a joint investigation of the massive bank mortgage activity in their states.

These AGs are fighting corporate influence in order to uphold the law. They're on the right side of this fight. Look who's not.

The Deal

For reasons known only to themselves, officials in the Obama administration have spent more than a year trying to undercut these AGs. They're pushing a deal that would end their investigations before they're even completed and would immunize bankers from criminal prosecution.

Like the Security and Exchange Commission's notorious sweetheart deals, this Obama-backed settlement would let banks buy their way out of prosecution with a slap-on-the-wrist settlement of $20 billion-$25 billion. It would also create a phony refinancing program to make it look as if banks are doing something about the tragedies they've created by promising to refinance "as many as" 300,000 underwater mortgages (meaning the real number could be much smaller than that).

It's one more get-out-of-jail-free card for criminals on Wall Street.

The Damage

The social damage from this deal would be enormous. Consider:

  • It reinforces criminal behavior: Once again crooked bankers would go unpunished. That would guarantee they'll commit these kinds of crimes again and again, knowing they'll never pay for it with their time or their money. Thanks to other soft deals like this one, big bank executives have already promised to stop their crimes (while "neither admitting nor denying wrongdoing") -- and then repeated them again and again, 51 times!
  • The victims will pay for the crimes: Bankers defrauded their own investors by concealing their own true financial picture. The money paid in this settlement deal will be paid, not by the lawbreaking bankers who got rich off their own crimes, but by the very same shareholders they defrauded.
  • It places the perps in charge of their own restitution: The refinancing program (for "as many as" 300,000 homeowners) will be run by the banks themselves. The last administration program designed to 'help' homeowners became a tool for banks to rip them off even more. Mortgage servicers misstated their figures in that program as much as 80 percent of the time. Bankers used it to extract more money from homeowners, then foreclosed on them anyway (often with false documents or inaccurate figures) while the Administration looked the other way.
  • The settlement amount is a tiny fraction of the harm caused: There are 11.1 million underwater mortgages. Homeowners still owe the banks $750 billion for housing value that has evaporated. The banks artificially pumped out real estate values, these homeowners borrowed against the inflated prices, the housing market crashed—and they're left holding the bag while bankers are holding their bonuses. And they still owe the banks all that money.
  • It undermines the fabric of social trust: This deal reinforces the message that there's one code of justice for the rich and powerful and another for everyone else. And that government works for the rich and powerful, while the rest of us are on our own.

The Letter

We should be grateful for the courage and determination of these AGs. They need and deserve the public's recognition and support. Voters need to tell the president that it's wrong and unacceptable to push for a bank-friendly deal and undermine these public servants.

What's your note to the White House going to say? Mine will go something like this:

Dear Mr. President:That was one terrific speech you gave in Kansas the other day. It was great when you promised to make sure that "penalties count" for bankers. And you were absolutely right when you said that "Wall Street firms (keep) violating major anti-fraud laws because the penalties are too weak and there's no price for being a repeat offender."

If you believe that, why is your administration working so hard to protect bankers from state law? I admire Eric Schneiderman, Beau Biden, Jack Conway, Martha Coakley, Kamala Harris, and Catherine Cortez Masto. Why is your staff pressuring them to stop investigating these crimes and let bankers off the hook?

If you meant what you said, Mr. President, please tell your staff to back off and let these good people do the jobs they were elected to do.

Mr. President, you said in Kansas that "a strong middle class can only exist in an economy where everyone plays by the same rules, from Wall Street to Main Street." So why is your administration trying to stop the states from enforcing those rules?

You were right when you said that "there is a deficit of trust between Main Street and Wall Street." Please restore and protect the trust between those streets - and with Pennsylvania Avenue - by directing your administration to stop pushing this corrupt deal and support attorneys general Schneiderman, Biden, Conway, Coakley, Harris, and Masto.

Respectfully yours,

A Voter

Author pic
ABOUT Richard (RJ) Eskow

Richard (RJ) Eskow is a well-known blogger and writer, a former Wall Street executive, an experienced consultant, and a former musician. He has experience in health insurance and economics, occupational health, benefits, risk management, finance, and information technology.



William Black: Why aren’t the honest bankers demanding prosecutions of their dishonest rivals? -------------------------------------------------------------->
“The origin of the “white-collar crime” concept derives from a socialist, anti-business viewpoint that defines the term by the class of those it stigmatizes. In coining the phrase, Sutherland initiated a political movement within the legal system. This meddling in the law perverts the justice system into a mere tool for achieving narrow political ends. As the movement expands today, those who champion it would be wise to recall its origins. For those origins reflect contemporary misuses made of criminal law–the criminalization of productive social and economic conduct, not because of its wrongful nature but, ultimately, because of fidelity to a long-discredited class-based view of society.” Professor John S. Baker, Jr.

Black "We “stigmatize” criminals precisely to increase the difficulty potential criminals face in neutralizing restraints against engaging in crime. Stigmatization is an important restraint reducing crime. Indeed, it is likely that stigmatization can be most effective in reducing crime in the context of elite white-collar criminals because such individuals have more valuable reputations that can be harmed by stigma. "

This "them" snicker at us because they program us to do their bidding. They condition us to believe ignorance is normal. They condition us through the bube tube, with drivel certified to destroy critical reasoning. Our "normal" news is owned by corporations and is edited to present the view that they wish for "normal" folks to swallow. You send your children off to fight for "liberty" and "right principles" and etc. Which are when placed under the microscope more gambits to empower them and ultimately dis-empower yourselves. You have been conditioned since birth to do their will. Freedom is the ultimate responsibility. Every day it requires self willed Discipline Dedication and Determination.


Occupy LA Teach In William K Black
Occupy LA Teach In Ellen Brown

Money as Debt I
Money as Debt II

Niall Ferguson The ascent of money
Niall Ferguson - Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World

Max Keiser Report episode 195 - 210

Obama was bought along long

Obama was bought along long time ago, so was Bush, so were the Clintons. Check these links, and just maybe we will become more coherent.

-->$707 trillion dollars! at Noreill Roubini Econometer site:

--> Daniel Estulin speech before EU Parliament 2011 12 03: youtube

This push by the

This push by the administration is yet another blatant example of Obama
talking out of both sides of his mouth. Spring forward to his fund raising
cycle thru New York the other day - and take a look at how much people had to pay per
plate. ONLY the wealthiest among us could sustain those "contributions." The
lowest was $1,000 per plate. Obama ran on a populist platform to bring more
"middle class into the workings of D.C." He hasn't. His track record
indicates that he had his fingers crossed during the entire campaign. Come
on. Do you really expect anything different from him now? This is a president
who talks the talk and spends his summer holiday on Martha's Vineyard with
the 1% at a staggering cost. He's arrogant and while he may ask for "experts
opinions" - he virtually never listens. His justification for his most recent
denial of access to the "morning after" pill for young teens is yet another
example: he said he was thinking about it as a father. This isn't about him,
or his daughters, it's about a needed health care/pregnancy preventative that
scientists and the medical folks both have stated unequivocally should be
available to young teen girls BASED ON MEDICAL NEED. So I ask you, is this
the decision of someone who actually LISTENS? I think not. Not to the
experts, not to the 99%. He says what he thinks we want to hear, describes
issues such as the debt crisis in an arrogant manner to the nation as being
"like our own budgets" - when it absolutely is not. But that's his "middle
class speak." I don't think he knows how to genuinely relate at all. His
presidency so far indicates not. I don't think the GOP can win this one, with
the front runners being one who says whatever it is he thinks you want him to
say and the other proven to have no concerns ab0ut a little thing like
ethics, but I still think Obama has sold us out and will continue to do so.
The instant issue was approached months ago "on the quiet." The
administration did that specifically in hopes of it not becoming public or
well known. Obama SWORE he wanted those who put us at risk to pay. He's never
done anything to make that happen and instead has tried to stop it. You
decide if he means what he says...  

Obama was bought along long

Obama was bought along long time ago, so was Bush, so were the Clintons. Check these links, and just maybe we will become more coherent.

-->$707 trillion dollars! at Noreill Roubini Econometer site:

--> Daniel Estulin speech before EU Parliament 2011 12 03: youtube


Please Maggie, Obama has

Please Maggie, Obama has been a disappointment, but any GOP ( Greedy Oppressive Plutocrats) president would be an utter catastrophe, the coup de grace for the near mortal wound dealt us by the last bunch of conservative incompetents. As Nader's supporters gave us W, a lack of support for Obama will give us DISASTER!

To correct a lingering

To correct a lingering misconception on criminal activity left unpunished in 2000 (and 2004)...Read Greg Palast's Best Democracy Money Can Buy on how voter suppression worked in Bush's "election." It wasn't "just" the Supremes who should be held accountable for the disaster of 8 years of Bush. The Republicans and Koch brothers are planning to do it all over again in 2012.

Thank you for this.

Thank you for this.



It's not true that no bankers

It's not true that no bankers have EVER gone to jail for their missdeeds in a
national fin. collapse. Over 100 I believe did after the S & L crisis. And in this
one the Countrywide CEO is in jail. While not a specific part of the housing
crisis, don'tforget Bernie Madoff, who---while not a "banker"---was a financial
broker. He is certainly in jail---for a long, long time.
But yes, we need to get moreWall St typesin jail!

Some of these comments are

Some of these comments are untrue. I believe over 100 bankers went to jail in the S

Have yourself a little

Have yourself a little “Humbug Christmas” courtesy of the Republicans.


So, say you the 1%.
So, say you the Republicans.
So, say you the corporate fat cats.

Yes, you people are the “real Dickens’ characters” in a new novel straight from HELL!
You make Scrooge look like a Saint.

Humbug, to caring!
Humbug, to tolerance!
Humbug, to compassion!
Humbug, to helping the less fortunate!
Humbug, to better schools, better health-care, a better America, and a better planet!

Yes, even in the Christmas Season, you Republicans and right wing nuts have been able to coalesce and expand upon your very own gift collection of the worst of human flaws. You are greedy, selfish, liars, cheaters, intolerant, bigoted, cruel, vile, repulsive, and are pathetic excuses for human beings. You are the proverbial wolves is sheep’s clothing. You are lower than the low. More, you people are truly a waste of human skin.

You cannot be a Christian, and be a Republican.
You cannot be a Christian, and be in the Tea Party.
You cannot be a member of any modern religion and do what you people are doing to the earth and to your fellow human beings. The philosophies are diametrically opposed.

So, greedy Republicans, eugenicist Tea Party, and blood-sucking corporate fat cats…
You are not blessed people. And, you don’t deserve to be part of Christmas. Everything that you say and stand for taints the very spirit of Christmas.

We, the 99%, hope that you are very proud of yourselves, because you’re not fooling us, and you’re not fooling God. (Good luck with that by the way.)

Certainly, you are all going to HELL in hand-basket and the sooner the better for America and the rest of the world.

Peace on Earth and Good Will to Everyone


note to VVvvvvvvv bho is a

note to VVvvvvvvv bho is a demcrat you cannot be a Christian and be a demoncrat you can not be a Christian and be ows [envy is a sin]

So we've spent what, on this

So we've spent what, on this entire debacle? 26.9 Trilliooo,ooo,ooo,ooon dollars in total so far, I recently read.

For that kind of money, I expect to know more, and I expect to see the banks CHANGE their bad habits, and I expect to see them PAY US BACK OR GO BROKE... And I don't really care which.

What I will NOT accept, is seeing them let off yet again, to continue their basic money-making activity -- which it seems now, is making up ways to use MY money to make more "interest" find its way into THEIR coffers, ad infinitum. Oh, yeah -- AND using that endless profit to buy themselves endlessly better deals from what is SUPPOSED TO BE my own government.

Washington is taking ever more liberties with how it spends my tax money, and I'm not far from declaring my own tax holiday.

Anyone who wants to join me, feel free. If we ALL do it, I defy Washington to do anything about it at all.

Maggie Schafer's picture

NObama is as much a corporate

NObama is as much a corporate whore as any Republican or anyone else in Congress! He is out for his own interests and certainly could care less about the people of this country. I am a life long Dem, but, he will never never get a vote from me in 2012! What a disappointment he is and, just think how bad he will be in another 4 years with no election at stake! WE NEED TO DUMP HIM AND MOST OF CONGRESS!

My letter as a former

My letter as a former criminal defense attorney:
Mr. President, your statement [on your web site] that "change starts with you" is not entirely correct. In the field of economic and commercial reform, change starts with the justice department enforcing criminal laws against real people who cause corporations to ruin lives. That does not include accepting a monetary settlement paid by the citizens' taxes or their increased cost of living to make up for civil fines and partial settlements such as is being rammed down the throats of conscientious attorneys general. Please call off the dogs and remember a bit of your own legal education. We live in a culture that accepts as the norm the fact that rich people get richer, while poor people get "justice." Change that culture at your end, and you'll get real change.

Christina Marlowe's picture

Decade after decade, rampant

Decade after decade, rampant and blatant high crimes among elected government officials and among the uber-wealthy whom run large corporations, continues to grow worse here in America. As I look on in utter disbelief, as political events unfold both here in America and around the world, a rather clear pattern emerges: Not one of these political and/or corporate powerhouses is ever prosecuted for breaking any laws, whether U. S. laws or International laws. And, make no mistake, the laws that these apparent "untouchables" brazenly breaking are very, very serious laws, such as fraud, scheme to defraud, elder (financial) abuse, profiteering, and, of course, constant war crimes.

Again and again, year after year, I see these filthy criminals breaking every single law on the books, and still not one of them is ever held accountable for any of their blatant crimes!! One of the most glaring and recent examples without a doubt are the Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Rove, WAR crimes. And, of course, all the other clansmen that get away with every crime imaginable up to and including murder. Not only is this incredible; it is also unforgivable.

I also see that NONE of the (corporate-owned) media/press follows through on ANY of the facts of any of the many cases. One blip may appear one day on a back page of a (corporate-owned) newspaper, but then it just...disappears.

The U.S. Department of Justice, along with any and all other law enforcement agencies, do absolutely NOTHING; In fact, the criminals get FULL Pardons, Full ASYLUM, right here in America; None are ever investigated, indicted, prosecuted or punished. In fact, they are ABOVE ALL LAWS.

And Just Remember: It was President Obama that clearly stated that he would not get involved in prosecutions of these (war crimes and financial terrorism) crimes; He said, "I want to look forward, not go backward."

Well, I say to him, I want to move forward by upholding both the U.S. laws and the world's laws. If we continue to totally ignore SERIOUS CONSTANT crimes and the criminals walk away scott-free every time, it only gives both the criminals and the would-be criminals license to behave as if they're above the law. And that is exactly how they conduct themselves. Indeed this is a travesty...

why must we all state the

why must we all state the obvious over and over again?

thx for your comment & RJ for the opinion/FACT piece

Comment with your Facebook account

Comment with your Disqus account

Top Stories

comments powered by Disqus

NationofChange works to educate, inform, and fight power with people, corruption with community.

If you would like to stay up to date with the best in independent, filter-free journalism, updates on upcoming events to attend, and more, enter your email below:

7 Compelling Reasons Why You Should Support NationofChange

Our readers often tell us why they’ve decided to step up and become supporters. Here are some of the top reasons people are giving.

1. You’re keeping independent journalism alive
The corporate owned media has proven that it can’t be trusted. In a media landscape wrought with spin and corruption, NationofChange stands in very scarce company.

2. You’re sticking it to the rich, powerful, and corrupt
When you have money in this country you can get away with damn near anything, and they do. NationofChange isn’t afraid to expose these criminals no matter how powerful they are.

3. Your donation is 100% tax-deductible
NationofChange is a 501(c)3 charity. People tend to assume that many other organizations are (most nonprofits are NOT) but it’s that 501(c)3 status is a bit more rare than you think.

Read the rest...