Menendez Demands Victims of Mnuchin Foreclosure Machine Be Heard During Treasury Confirmation Hearing

Menendez Demands Victims of Mnuchin Foreclosure Machine Be Heard During Treasury Confirmation Hearing

25 Democratic Senators call for Finance Committee to include outside witnesses who can speak to the impact of Mnuchin’s business practices; Mnuchin’s tenure at OneWest – and his bank’s treatment of thousands of working families struggling to recover from the financial crisis – bear directly on his qualifications and suitability to serve as Secretary of the Treasury

 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, today led a letter signed by 25 Senators to Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) demanding that the committee hear from victims of Steven Mnuchin’s financial crisis profiteering during the Treasury Secretary-designee’s upcoming confirmation hearing before the Finance Committee. 

“If confirmed to serve as Treasury Secretary, Mr. Mnuchin would be responsible for administering loan modification and foreclosure prevention programs established following the 2008 crisis.  And as the Chairman of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, Mr. Mnuchin would be responsible for helping spot and stop the next financial crisis – rather than profiting from it,” the senators wrote.  “His bank’s treatment of families seeking to avoid foreclosure is critical to assessing his fitness to serve as the nation’s top economic policy official.”

Mnuchin’s bank, OneWest, put thousands of families into foreclosure and seized their homes during his six-year reign as chairman following the 2008 financial collapse leading to Mnuchin and his investment team pocketing nearly $1.5 billion in profits.

“Before deciding whether Mr. Mnuchin should serve as the country’s top economic official, the Committee should hear from some of these families and other Americans who have had first-hand experience with Mr. Mnuchin or the businesses he has led,” the letter continued.

The senators stressed the importance of the committee doing a thorough review of Mnuchin’s character and business practices before deciding if he should serve as the country’s top economic official.      

The letter was signed by U.S. Sens. Menendez, Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Maizie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H). 

The text of the letter is as follows and can be downloaded here:

January 13, 2017

 

The Honorable Orrin Hatch

Chairman

Senate Finance Committee

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

 

Dear Chairman Hatch:

 

We ask that the Finance Committee’s hearing on the nomination of Steven Mnuchin to serve as Secretary of the Treasury include witnesses who can provide context on Mr. Mnuchin’s character and business practices.  As you know, Mr. Mnuchin led the bank OneWest for six years in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, during which time the bank foreclosed on thousands of families and threw them out of their homes.  Before deciding whether Mr. Mnuchin should serve as the country’s top economic official, the Committee should hear from some of these families and other Americans who have had first-hand experience with Mr. Mnuchin or the businesses he has led.        

The Finance Committee has an obligation to hear from these witnesses.  The Constitution authorizes the President to appoint officers of the United States “by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.”  Consistent with that constitutional mandate, Senate Finance Committee Rule 11 states that,“[i]n considering a nomination, the committee may conduct an investigation or review of the nominee’s experience, qualifications, and suitability, to serve in the position to which he or she has been nominated.” 

Mr. Mnuchin’s tenure at OneWest – and his bank’s treatment of thousands of working families struggling to recover from the financial crisis – bear directly on his qualifications and suitability to serve as Secretary of the Treasury.  In the wake of the crisis, Mr. Mnuchin led a team of investors in purchasing a failed bank, which they rebranded as OneWest.  Under Mr. Mnuchin’s leadership, OneWest was known as a “foreclosure machine.”[1]  The bank foreclosed on more than 36,000 homeowners, including the Schaffers – an elderly California couple who lost their home of nearly 50 years even though they had qualified for a government-assisted loan modification[2] – and a 90-year-old woman in Florida after a payment error led to a 27-cent shortfall on her account.[3]  The Federal Reserve fined OneWest for foreclosure abuses during Mr. Mnuchin’s tenure.[4]  Yet within six years, Mr. Mnuchin and the rest of his investor group sold OneWest and pocketed nearly $1.5 billion in profits.[5]         

If confirmed to serve as Treasury Secretary, Mr. Mnuchin would be responsible for administering loan modification and foreclosure prevention programs established following the 2008 crisis.  And as the Chairman of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, Mr. Mnuchin would be responsible for helping spot and stop the next financial crisis – rather than profiting from it.  His bank’s treatment of families seeking to avoid foreclosure is critical to assessing his fitness to serve as the nation’s top economic policy official.

To fulfill the Senate’s constitutional duty, the Finance Committee should hear testimony from a broad range of individuals familiar with Mr. Mnuchin and his business practices.  We hope you will work with us to ensure that Mr. Mnuchin’s nomination hearing before the Finance Committee includes these voices.

Sincerely,

 

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