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Jewish World Review
Sept. 24, 2008
/ 24 Elul 5768
McCain shorts himself
John H. Fund
What is John McCain thinking? First, Mr. McCain takes a wild swing by saying as president, he would have fired Chris Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, for "betraying the public trust." It turns out a president doesn't have the statutory authority to do that, and Mr. Cox has been a political asset in dealing with the financial meltdown of last week. Indeed, the day after his call for Mr. Cox's firing, Mr. McCain retreated and called him "a good man."
Now Mr. McCain has compounded his error by floating the name of Andrew Cuomo, the pugilistic Democratic New York attorney general, as his possible nominee to head the Securities and Exchange Commission. Mr. McCain told CBS's "60 Minutes" that Mr. Cuomo had "respect" and "prestige," praising his tenure as secretary of housing and urban development in the Clinton administration.
Mr. McCain must be looking at a different record than I am. Mr. Cuomo was a political grandstander at HUD, ranging far afield to file frivolous lawsuits against gun manufacturers. He also spent taxpayer money to hire such firms as Booz Allen Hamilton, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and Ernst & Young to paper over snafus at his agency.
Among the problems created by Mr. Cuomo while at HUD were what the liberal Village Voice called last month "a series of decisions between 1997 and 2001 that gave birth to the country's current crisis." A Voice investigation found that Mr. Cuomo "took actions that in combination with many other factors helped plunge Fannie and Freddie into the subprime markets without putting in place the means to monitor their increasingly risky investments. He turned the Federal Housing Administration mortgage program into a sweetheart lender with sky-high loan ceilings and no money down, and he legalized what a federal judge has branded 'kickbacks' to brokers that have fueled the sale of overpriced and unsupportable loans. Three to four million families are now facing foreclosure, and Cuomo is one of the reasons why."
Most egregiously, Matthew Rees of the Weekly Standard documented how Secretary Cuomo used the power of his office to declare war against Susan Gaffney, the HUD inspector general who was investigating charges of self-dealing by Cuomo aides. The Government Accountability Office later concluded Mr. Cuomo had used underhanded tactics to pursue spurious charges of racial discrimination against Ms. Gaffney.
The GAO found that HUD's decision to handpick two lawyers to investigate the discrimination charge, and award them contracts totaling $100,000 (the normal cost is about $3,000), represented "significant deviation" from the standard process of investigating discrimination complaints.
Ms. Gaffney, a classic whistleblower in the maverick tradition John McCain claims to embody, was an innocent victim of Mr. Cuomo's smear machine. Mr. McCain needs to go back and look at the Cuomo record at HUD and at the New York Attorney General's office for that matter before he so loosely and recklessly promotes Mr. Cuomo as someone to oversee the nation's securities regulation.
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JWR contributor John H. Fund is author, most recently, of "Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.)
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© 2006, John H. Fund
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