The more we know about Barack Obama’s advisers, the more familiar they seem — and not in a good way. Jonathan Weil notes that more than one of them have ties to corporate scandals, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac. For a candidate who promised change and hope, this looks very much like the same old incompetence and corruption:
Take a good look at some of the 17 people our nation’s president-elect chose last week for his Transition Economic Advisory Board. And then try saying with a straight face that these are the leaders who should be advising him on how to navigate through the worst financial crisis in modern history.
First, there’s former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. Not only was he chairman of Citigroup Inc.’s executive committee when the bank pushed bogus analyst research, helped Enron Corp. cook its books, and got caught baking its own. He was a director from 2000 to 2006 at Ford Motor Co., which also committed accounting fouls and now is begging Uncle Sam for Citigroup- style bailout cash.
Two other Citigroup directors received spots on the Obama board: Xerox Corp. Chief Executive Officer Anne Mulcahy and Time Warner Inc. Chairman Richard Parsons. Xerox and Time Warner got pinched years ago by the Securities and Exchange Commission for accounting frauds that occurred while Mulcahy and Parsons held lesser executive posts at their respective companies.
Mulcahy and Parsons also once were directors at Fannie Mae when that company was breaking accounting rules. So was another member of Obama’s new economic board, former Commerce Secretary William Daley. He’s now a member of the executive committee at JPMorgan Chase & Co., which, like Citigroup, is among the nine large banks that just got $125 billion of Treasury’s bailout budget.
Weil’s not finished yet. He notes the baggage surrounding other Obama advisers like Penny Pritzker, Laura Tyson, William Donaldson, and even Warren Buffet. All of them have accounting scandals in their past, which doesn’t square with Obama’s promise to end the supposed cronyism and greed on which he blamed the current financial crisis.
Weil calls on Obama to scrap his board entirely and start from scratch. Perhaps he might do so, after seeing how damaging Jim Johnson’s past was during his campaign and unhesitatingly tossing the former Fannie Mae chair under the bus last spring. If not, this looks like a Who’s Who of the kind of villains Obama painted in his vapid populist rhetoric over the last two years — which says volumes about his commitment to the ideals he espoused as a presidential candidate.