NOVEMBER 19, 2010
The glorified commission created by Democrats to investigate the nation’s financial crisis can’t get its act together despite a $10 million budget, a sizeable staff and more than a year to thoroughly probe the domestic and global culprits of the collapse.
Headed by former California Treasurer Phil Angelides, the 10-member Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) was supposed to issue the findings of its year-long investigation in mid December but this week announced that it can’t meet the deadline. The panel is shooting for sometime in January, claiming that the extra time will ensure that the “ongoing investigation and the documentation thereof is appropriately completed.”
It’s not like Americans are on pins and needles awaiting its findings, but as taxpayers they may wonder what the commission has done with nearly $10 million in public funds. Congress initially allocated $8 million then gave it an extra $1.8 million to hire about 40 employees, many of which already worked for the government and remain on their original agency’s payroll.
Some lawmakers challenged the additional $1.8 million infusion, allocated over the summer, citing financial mismanagement and partisanship at the FCIC that could result in a waste of taxpayer dollars. Additionally, FCIC commissioners and staff were singled out for conflicts of interest created by their past jobs in the public and private sectors.
One former high-ranking official at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said the financial crisis watchdog “has been a waste of money from the get-go,” even though former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid promoted it as a crucial tool to avoid a similar catastrophe in the future.
“The American people deserve nothing less than a full explanation of why so many people lost their homes, their life’s savings, and their hard-earned pensions,” Pelosi said last year while announcing appointments to the FCIC. Reid added that the commission would help the nation learn from “mistakes of the past through a transparent process” that would put the country on a road to full financial recovery.
But more than a year and millions of dollars later no one is really sure what the Democrats’ lauded financial watchdog has been doing or what its unearthed to help prevent another crisis.
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