JW Sues Treasury for Records on TARP Funds Distributed to Boston Bank after Intervention by Rep. Barney Frank
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Treasury Department to obtain records related to evaluation procedures used by the government to determine which financial institutions received funds from TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program). Of particular interest to Judicial Watch is a $12 million TARP cash injection provided to the Boston-based OneUnited Bank at the urging of Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank.
Judicial Watch filed its original FOIA request on January 23, 2009, seeking access to the following records:
a. Any and all records concerning evaluation procedures for federal banking agencies and the Treasury Department to distribute/award TARP Funds.
b. Correspondence with Congressman Barney Frank or any representative of his office concerning TARP Funds and/or any bank in Massachusetts.
c. Any and all records concerning OneUnited Bank in Boston, Massachusetts, (including correspondence from any lobbyist, correspondence from any other government agency, correspondence with any elected government official, correspondence directly with the Bank, the Bank’s application for TARP funds, etc).
The Treasury Department has acknowledged receipt of Judicial Watch’s FOIA request, but has provided no documents and has failed to inform Judicial Watch when a response to its request will be forthcoming. By law, Treasury was required to respond to Judicial Watch’s request by March 9, 2009, (following a 10-day extension Treasury granted to itself to conduct a review).
As reported in the January 22, 2009, edition of the Wall Street Journal, the Treasury Department indicated it would only provide funds to healthy banks to jump-start lending. Not only was OneUnited Bank in massive financial turmoil, but it was also "under attack from its regulators for allegations of poor lending practices and executive-pay abuses, including owning a Porsche for its executives’ use." Congressman Frank admitted he spoke to a "federal regulator" and Treasury granted the funds.
"TARP has created a whole new form of earmarking, where politicians lobby to receive mass cash infusions for special interests in their states. OneUnited Bank did not appear to be a suitable candidate for federal assistance until Barney Frank intervened and shook loose a $12 million TARP grant. The American people deserve to know if Congressman Frank’s intervention improperly colored the decision to give precious tax dollars to his hometown bank," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.