Have Oversight Panelists Complained About Sununu’s Conflict? Sounds Like It…

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Remember that little conflict of interest problem for John Sununu that we revealed last month?

The former New Hampshire GOP senator, who sits on the Congressional Oversight Panel that monitors the TARP funds, was recently named to the board of a firm that’s a subsidiary of Bank of New York Mellon — which not only got TARP money itself, but also administers the program for the Treasury Department.

Sununu insisted to the Associated Press, which picked up on our report, that this really wasn’t a conflict. But it looks like at least some of Sununu’s fellow panel members disagree.Shannan Guinn, a spokeswoman for the COP, repeatedly declined to offer a direct answer when asked by TPMmuckraker whether any other members had expressed concern about Sununu’s conflict.

By her own admission choosing her words carefully, Guinn told us:

Mr. Sununu has told the panel that he’s a board member of ConvergEx, and he’s discussed it with each of the panel members individually….Mr. Sununu doesn’t believe that there’s a conflict, and the statute itself doesn’t allow the panel to make decisions on its own makeup.

But asked twice by TPMmuckraker whether panel members had expressed concern, Guinn declined to say, eventually instructing us to ask Sununu. (He didn’t respond to our earlier efforts to reach him.)

As we wrote before, Sununu has hardly been an advocate for a get-tough approach with the banks, declining to sign on to a panel report that recommended far-reaching measures to bolster the financial system, and instead joining the panel’s other Republican, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, in endorsing a less aggressive approach.

In addition to Sununu and Hensarling, the panel is comprised of chair Elizabeth Warren, a professor at Harvard Law School, Richard Neiman, the Superintendent of Banks for the state of New York, and Damon Silvers of the AFL-CIO.

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