Republican commissioners on the panel created by Congress to probe the roots of the financial crisis leaked documents to partisan allies and shared confidential information with influence peddlers, according to a Wednesday report by Democrats on a Congressional oversight committee.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, led by Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California, sought to investigate allegations that the bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission was mismanaged by its Democratic majority, misused taxpayer funds, was compromised by conflicts of interest and colluded with Democrats in Congress as they sought to pass a financial reform bill.
Instead, the 400,000 emails and documents obtained by the investigative committee show that Republican commissioner Peter Wallison broke confidentiality rules by leaking documents to Ed Pinto, a colleague of his at the American Enterprise Institute, a prominent right-leaning Washington-based research and policy organization.
The misconduct did not stop there, according to the report. The assistant of Bill Thomas, the panel’s vice chairman and another of the four Republican commissioners, shared information about the commission’s hearings, targets and investigative direction with one of Thomas’s colleagues at law firm Buchanan, Ingersoll, and Rooney, one of Washington’s top lobbying shops. In one case, Thomas’s colleague, Alex Brill, asked Thomas’s assistant in a March 31, 2010, email about an upcoming hearing on Citigroup for his “friend who represents Citi.” The bank was concerned it would be unfairly singled out at its hearing, wrote Brill, who is also the chief executive of economic and political consulting firm Matrix Global Advisors.
The partisan bent of the report, its findings and the investigation that led to it lends credence to the central criticisms that have long dogged the panel: A commission led by former politicians rather than prosecutors and economists would never get to the bottom of the financial crisis, and its findings would inevitably be viewed as a political report rather than as an objective look at the companies, policies and practices that caused the most punishing downturn since the Great Depression.