How Darrell Issa’s Investigation Into Financial Crisis Commission Backfired On GOP

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July 14, 2011 10:08 a.m.
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The House Oversight Committee’s investigation into the government commission that was supposed to figure out the cause of the the financial crisis appears to have backfired on the Republicans who lead the committee.Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and his investigators had been looking into the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission because, Issa said, it went over budget and commissioners and staffers “may have conflicts of interest created by their previous roles in the public and private sectors.”

Issa said he was troubled by “extensive ties of some of the senior staff at a putatively bipartisan commission to partisan Democrat politics” and said the FCIC “served as nothing more than a cheering section for the Administration and congressional Democrats in their efforts to defend a partisan and ineffective financial regulatory reform bill.”

Instead, the documents reviewed by congressional investigators, according to the Democrats’ report on that matter, reveal that Republican commissioners and staffers were improperly sharing the FCIC’s work with outside parties. Dems also say that emails show that one Republican commissioner was trying to use his position on the commission to bolster the GOP’s chances of repealing financial services reform.

First, some background. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission is a ten-member panel that was created to investigate the cause of the financial collapse under legislation signed by President Barack Obama in May 2009.

In July 2009, Republicans appointed to the commission Peter Wallison and Bill Thomas, both members of the right-leaning think tank, The American Enterprise Institute, or AEI.

In December, a month before the FCIC’s report was supposed to be issued, four Republicans issued their own report on the financial crisis that warned about the need to reduce the federal deficit and said the government’s policies pushed borrowers towards investing in mortgage debt.

Wallison wrote a dissent of the commission’s report on the causes of the financial crisis, blaming government housing policies, based largely on the analysis of his colleague at AEI.

Commission emails show that Republican Vice Chairman Bill Thomas and his staff worried that “Wallison was unduly influenced by AEI,” according to the report by Oversight Democrats.

Thomas’ special assistant wrote that “there is simply no way to make Peter happy” and wrote of Wallison and his AEI colleague Ed Pinto (who authored a report blaming the crisis on government housing policies) that he “can’t tell… who is the leader and who is the follower.”

“If Peter is really a parrot for Pinto, he’s putting a lot of faith in the guy,” the unnamed special assistant wrote.

Andy Kroll has more on the report over at Mother Jones. The report is embedded below.

Democrat Report On GOP Partisanship on FCIC Panel

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