By Howie Klein. Originally published at DownWithTyranny
What do these 13 Democrats have in common?
• Brad Sherman (CA)
• Gregory Meeks (New Dem-NY)
• David Scott (New Dem-GA)
• Ed Perlmutter (New Dem-CO)
• Jim Himes (New Dem-CT)
• John Carney (New Dem-DE)
• Terri Sewell (New Dem-AL)
• Bill Foster (New Dem-IL)
• Patrick Murphy (New Dem-FL)
• John Delaney (New Dem-MD)
• Kyrsten Sinema (New Dem-AZ)
• Joyce Beatty (OH)
• Juan Vargas (New Dem-CA)
Let’s not start with “they all belong in prison for corruption” because that’s the end of this post. And, not every single one of them is a New Dem; two aren’t. But they all made a concerted effort to get on the House Financial Services Committee– the well-spring of congressional corruption– and, as members of that committee, they all voted for H.R. 5424 last week. And they all take significant bribes from the very Finance Sector that they’re meant to be keeping from ripping off consumers. These 13, in fact, have been among the worst enablers of the financial sector when it comes to ripping off consumers and endangering the country’s financial health. Let’s reorder the list in terms of how much in bribes each one has gotten– this cycle alone– from the Finance Sector:
• Patrick Murphy- $1,413,950
• Jim Himes- $618,150
• Kyrsten Sinema- $589,388
• Ed Perlmutter- $455,157
• Bill Foster- $401,935
• Terri Sewell- $379,400
• David Scott- $368,640
• John Delaney- $351,750
• Gregory Meeks- $338,550
• Brad Sherman- $300,750
• Juan Vargas- $247,549
• Joyce Beatty- $225,050
• John Carney- $164,450
So what is this H.R. 5424 to which I referred? Well, let’s turn to Yves Smith’s Naked Capitalism to get a good read on what Wall Street lobbyists, the Republican Party and these corrupt Democrats called the “investment Advisers Modernization Act.” If it passes and Obama signs it, it “would allow the hedge fund and private equity industry, which are rich enough to pay for the few parking-ticket-level fines the SEC hands out, to escape from virtually all enforcement efforts. Worse, it would considerably weaken protections meant to stop Madoff-type frauds, and leave retail investors exposed.”
Dodd Frank stipulated that private equity and hedge funds beyond a modest size be regulated as investment advisers. That subjected them to SEC examinations. The initial round exposed widespread misconduct in private equity, including what would normally be called embezzlement.
Yet the agency has fined remarkably few sanctions, and the fines have been light relative to the extent of the misconduct alleged by the SEC and unearthed by the press.
To make a bad situation worse, the SEC retreated from its tough enforcement talk within months, and more recently, has been trying to fool the chump public into believing that its weak enforcement actions are having an impact when private equity form ADV filings with the SEC reveal the reverse, that many firms are continuing to engage in precisely the same conduct that the SEC has deemed to be a securities law violation.
But even this cronyistic enforcement charade is an offense to these Masters of the Universe. HR 5424 would gut Dodd Frank oversight. I’ve attached a letter from Americans for Financial Reform at the end of the post, which sets forth how this bill makes a mockery of the idea of investor protection.
…[T]he bill creates exemptions to the requirement that investment advisers have their holdings independently audited at least annually. The exemptions on the surface appear to apply to closely-held funds. It carves out ones whose investors are “officers, directors, and employees” of not just the fund manger, but also of “affiliated persons,” their “officers, directors, and employees,” current and former family members, and “officers, directors, and employees,” who provide or have entered into contracts to provide services….and not just to the investment vehicle itself, but to any of its clients!
It’s easy to see how this provision could be abused by, say, having someone enter into a sham or trivial service agreement to get access to a supposedly hot manager. You can even hear the patter: “The only people who can invest are friends and employees, and OMG have they made boatloads, but the SEC will allow you to invest if we are your client. And that’s really easy to do. Just sign this contract…”
As professor Jennifer Taub stated in her testimony on the bill last month:
Just when private equity funds are in the sunlight thanks to Dodd-Frank and many have been exposed in SEC examinations as in violation of the law, you are now proposing that they be able to hide their tracks. Instead of encouraging a culture of compliance, this bill would provide a loophole for investment adviser recordkeeping requirements. Subjecting communications to confidentiality agreements or keeping them in-house would allow advisers to destroy critical investment records…
The Investment Advisers Modernization Act of 2016 is misnamed. Instead of ushering in modernity, it would send the SEC and investors back to the Dark Ages. Like the other bills today, it is misaligned with the hearing’s title, “Legislative Proposals to Enhance Capital Formation, Transparency, and Regulatory Accountability.” This bill would not enhance capital formation. Instead it would undermine investor protection and trust, which could inhibit or drive up the cost of capital. It would not promote transparency, but allow certain private equity advisers and other private fund advisers that have been exposed as lacking in recent SEC examinations to hide their tracks. It would not encourage regulatory accountability. Instead it would punish regulatory success, depriving the SEC of the information and tools it has been using to monitor system-wide risks, identify firm-specific risk, investigate fraud, and enforce the law.
It was funny yesterday when Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent out an e-mail moaning about how the Republicans are trying to destroy Dodd-Frank. “Dodd-Frank,” he wrote, “is the package of safeguards Democrats passed after Wall Street devastated our economy in 2008. It’s designed to protect consumers and homeowners, and make sure the risky behavior that triggered the Great Recession doesn’t happen again. Make no mistake about it: Republicans in Congress are trying to take a jackhammer to those safeguards. They don’t have a problem putting Main Street back on the hook for Wall Street’s greed.”
Is it too difficult for Brown to acknowledge that it isn’t only Republicans but the Republican-wing of his own party– the New Dems and Blue Dogs primarily– who are working steadily to erode and, in his words, “destroy” Dodd-Frank. That is certainly why Wall Street has given more money to Patrick Murphy than any other non-incumbent running for the Senate this year– more, by far, than any Republican. He has shown Wall Street his willingness– actually eagerness– to serve their interests on the House Financial Services Committee. Sherrod Brown is very aware of Patrick Murphy’s record and behavior and his devotion to the Wall Street banksters. And Sherrod Brown endorsed him– not against a Republican, but against a proven and effective fighter against Wall Street excess, Alan Grayson. He also refuse dto endorse Bernie and gave an early nod to Hillary, another conservative Democrat whose affinity towards Wall Street is hardly secret.
“Demand Congressional Republicans leave the Dodd-Frank financial reforms in place,” continued Brown. “I’m more than willing to admit that there are portions of Dodd-Frank that can be improved. We still have banks in this country that are “Too Big To Fail”– that’s something we should fix.But Republicans aren’t talking about improvements, they’re talking about going back to the same practices that caused the Great Recession.” Yeah… and so are the New Dems like Brown-endorsee Patrick Murphy.
The post suggested giving to ActBlue as one way to fight Wall Street’s influence over the Democratic party, which pretends not to be in hock to it. I hope some of you will give here. Another way is to pressure Congresscritters in their local media, via op-eds and letters to the editor of papers, and pitching stories to local TV stations in their district. Other suggestions?