Who’s Behind the Curtain of Treasury Nominee Jack Lew’s Funny Money

Courtesy of Pam Martens.

Have you ever landed a new job with a private employer who bought you a $1.3 million house and paid you a bigger salary than your boss. Did you ever have an employment contract that called for awarding you a bonus of $940,000 if you could somehow advance yourself from shepherding an insolvent bank to a “full time high level position with the U.S. government or regulatory body.” How about getting a deal where your company will leverage your investment in a Cayman Islands fund by chipping in $2 for every $1 you put in and let you keep all the winnings. Did you ever refinance a mortgage loan, take out $352,195 in new cash and not have to pay a legally mandated mortgage recording tax?   

I don’t know of anyone in America who has these kinds of skeletons popping out of their closets daily except  the one man that President Obama continues to support for a “full time high level position” on one of the highest perches in America: his nominee, Jack Lew, for U.S. Treasury Secretary. 

The Treasury Department is not some little nickel and dime operation where screaming conflicts and funny money games in your past don’t matter. It’s the Federal agency that collects the Nation’s taxes, pays the Nation’s bills, prints our currency and oversees the stability of the financial system. (And if the past is prologue, it can run the Nation into deep debt throwing money at insolvent institutions on Wall Street.) If you don’t have trust and confidence in the man running the U.S. Treasury Department, you don’t have trust and confidence in anything to do with money in America. If you follow some excruciatingly bad advice and nominate a man who can’t pass the smell test from the get-go, have the good sense to yank the nomination before your reputation follows that of the nominee. 

Max Baucus, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, needs to stop pretending that it’s a few rogue Republican Senators who have a problem with Jack Lew. It’s everybody, left right and center, who has taken a close look at this man’s past. 

Let’s start with that $1.3 million house purchase in the Riverdale section of the Bronx on August 22, 2001. Lew was coming out of the Federal government and a residence in Potomac, Maryland and taking an administrative job at New York University – a nonprofit institution subsidized by the taxpayer. Lew had never worked for NYU before and thus had no track record with them.  Why would NYU buy this man and his family a $1.3 million home? Lew has tried to characterize this as a housing allowance. 

I reviewed the document filed with the New York City property records department. On August 22, 2001, the New York University Law School Foundation gave Lew and his wife a $1.3 million mortgage so that they could buy this luxurious stone home with 4,584 square feet of living space in an upscale neighborhood in the Bronx.

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