By Jim Kouri
When Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) announced his decision on Monday to retire from the U.S. House of Representatives at the end of this term, many members of the Washington, D.C., press corps could hardly restrain themselves from heralding the end of an illustrious career.
A large portion of the praise for Frank is the fact he was the first openly gay member of Congress and he was also a pitbull for progressive government policy. However, some observers are still wondering how the combative congressman avoided censure in the House of Representatives and escaped criminal charges for what many believe was a corrupt political career.
For example, in a story that continued to mushroom throughout 2010, Congressman Barney Frank improperly intervened for Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) on behalf of his home-state’s One United Bank to obtain Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds.
When asked about the scandal, the Massachusetts Democrat admitted he spoke to a “federal regulator” but, according to The Wall Street Journal he didn’t remember which federal regulator he spoke with.” According to explosive Treasury Department emails uncovered by the watchdog group Judicial Watch in 2010, however, it appears this nameless bureaucrat was none other than then-Treasury Secretary Henry “Hank” Paulson.
While Frank’s “partner in crime” in the One United Bank scandal, Congressman Maxine Waters, is being investigated by the House Ethics Committee, Frank’s colleagues in the House have inexcusably ignored the Massachusetts Democrat’s connection to the OneUnited grant.
In addition, to this day, Barney Frank continues to defend his role in the meltdown of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, saying he was just as blind-sided as the rest of America when the two government sponsored enterprises collapsed, triggering the financial crisis. Frank has been peddling this fiction ever since the economy collapsed in September 2008. But, as Judicial Watch and the Boston Globe reported in devastating articles published in 2010, not many people are buying Frank’s lies anymore. And Frank knows it. Here’s an excerpt from the Globe:
The issue…in 2003 was whether mortgage backers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were fiscally strong. Frank declared with his trademark confidence that they were, accusing critics and regulators of exaggerating threats to Fannie’s and Freddie’s financial integrity. And, the Massachusetts Democrat maintained, ‘even if there were problems, the federal government doesn’t bail them out.’ Now, it’s clear he was wrong on both points.
Frank wasn’t wrong. He was just lying through his teeth. Frank claims that he “missed” the warning signs with Fannie and Freddie because he was wearing “ideological blinders,” which was just his lame attempt to blame Republicans. But he did not miss them. According to evidence uncovered by Judicial Watch, he just chose to ignore them.
In 2010, Judicial Watch obtained documents proving that members of Congress, including — and perhaps especially — Barney Frank, were well aware that Fannie and Freddie were in deep trouble due to corruption and incompetence and yet they did nothing to stop it.
Rep. Frank also engaged in a “romantic” relationship with a Fannie Mae Executive while serving on the House Banking Committee, which has jurisdiction over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In other words, he was “sleeping with the very person he and his committee were overseeing,” said former police detective Mike Snopes, who has investigated numerous corruption and racketeering cases.
As the Boston Globe notes, in July 2008, then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says he called Frank and told him the government would need to spend “billions of taxpayer dollars to backstop the institutions from catastrophic failure.”
Frank, despite that conversation, appeared on national television two days later and said the companies were “fundamentally sound, not in danger of going under.” Less than two months later, the government seized Fannie and Freddie and the bailout began.
In 2009, Judicial Watch uncovered documents that showed that members of Congress for years were aware that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were playing fast and loose with accounting issues, risk assessment issues and executive compensation issues, even as liberals led by Rep. Frank continued to block attempts to rein in the two Government Sponsored Enterprises.
For example, during a hearing on September 10, 2003, before the House Committee on Financial Services considering a Bush administration proposal to further regulate Fannie and Freddie, Rep. Frank stated: “I want to begin by saying that I am glad to consider the legislation, but I do not think we are facing any kind of a crisis. That is, in my view, the two Government Sponsored Enterprises we are talking about here, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are not in a crisis.”
“We have recently had an accounting problem with Freddie Mac that has led to people being dismissed, as appears to be appropriate. I do not think at this point there is a problem with a threat to the Treasury.” Frank received $42,350 in campaign contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac between 1989 and 2008,” Frank stated.
To this day, when questioned about his past behavior in Congress regarding Fannie and Freddie, Frank regularly blames former President George W. Bush and then becomes belligerent.
“The U.S. Congress is better off without Barney Frank… and so are the American people,” said Mike Snopes.