The chairman of a key House committee refused to investigate abusive practices by big banks but went out of his way to make sure the banks were not the “highly improbable” victims of extortion by Occupy Wall Street protestors, a member of that committee said.
That accusation and several others are contained in a letter from Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking Democrat on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, to its chair, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) .
Cummings sent the letter on Monday in advance of Tuesday’s scheduled appearance of Richard Cordray, director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, before the House Oversight Subcommittee on TARP, Financial Services and Bailouts of Public and Private Programs.
Cummings sharply criticized Issa, a Vista, Calif., businessman considered one of the wealthiest members of Congress, for what the Maryland Democrat said was the failure by the committee and Issa to respond to his call to investigate suspected mortgage foreclosure abuses and Republican attacks on the CFPB and its creator, Elizabeth Warren.
“The Committee has (meanwhile) leapt to investigate other highly improbable allegations that banks have been victims of abuse. On the basis of an anonymous tip and a press report, for example, you sent letters to five of the largest U.S. banks seeking documents about whether representatives of the Occupy Wall Street movement attempted to extort financial support from them. The three banks that responded all refuted the allegations and stated clearly that they had not been subjected to any such abuses,” Williams wrote to Issa.
Cummings, in his letter, asked again that the committee subpoena Bank of America, Wells Fargo, US Bank, PHH Mortgage and MetLife Inc., “which all refused to comply voluntarily with my previous document requests.”
He also asked that the committee invite the top executives of JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citibank, US Bank, Ally Bank, HSBC and MetLife, to “testify at a public hearing about abusive mortgage servicing practices, including illegal foreclosures of service members, illegal and inflated fees, and wrongful foreclosures.”
Cummings’ letter concluded: “With the start of the second session of the 112th Congress, I truly hope the Committee will take the side of the American people and begin work on these critical issues.”