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Steve Mnuchin, nominee for Secretary of the Treasury, is a 4 out of 5 on the Swamp-O-Meter. While homeowners, communities, and the American economy suffered deeply during the financial crisis, the Wall Street financier turned hedge fund manager made billions in profits on the backs of taxpayers by churning out discriminatory foreclosures and will now be positioned to personally benefit from the very deregulatory and tax giveaway plans he will put forward. When you look up swamp in the dictionary, you see Mnuchin.
Who is Steve Mnuchin?
Steve Mnuchin was one of Trump’s All-White, All-Male, All-Steve team of economic advisers announced in August. Mnuchin is a banker and hedge fund manager with no policy or political experience. He did, however, help the Trump campaign raise tons of money. The son of a New York banker, Steve Mnuchin comes to his nomination as Secretary of Treasury directly from the Swamp of Wall Street. He spent seventeen at Goldman Sachs building a fortune before building his own firm. In his decades on Wall Street he oversaw fraudulent foreclosures, and profited off major bankruptcies and Ponzi schemes. He also founded and manages the hedge fund Dune Capital. In other words, he is far from a populist and doesn’t instill a lot of confidence in Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” and to go hard on Wall Street.
4 Ways Steve Mnuchin Will Go Against Trump’s Populists Promises And Protect Big Banks
1. Steve Mnuchin’s company has a history of discrimination against people of color. [TWEET THIS]
OneWest bank, a mortgage firm that Mnuchin built and ran until last year has a history of discriminating against black and Latino home buyers. Just a few weeks ago, two nonprofits filed a complaint against OneWest claiming that the bank intentionally kept branches out of minority communities. According to the complaint, OneWest’s rate of lending in minority areas significantly lags behind that of other lenders in California, and 68 percent of the nearly 37,000 foreclosures undertaken by the bank between 2009 and mid-2016 were in areas where non-white residents represented the majority.
2. Steve Mnuchin’s bank was a “foreclosure machine.” [TWEET THIS]
OneWest bank got its start when Mnuchin’s firm bought the bankrupt mortgage lender IndyMac. OneWest began in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis when Mnuchin was able to profit by buying pieces of failed banks all while OneWest capitalized on struggling home owners. The firm’s practices were so bad it was called a “foreclosure machine.” According to The New Republic, “Even among the many bad actors in the national foreclosure crisis, OneWest stood out. It routinely jumped to foreclosure rather than pursue options to keep borrowers in their homes; used fabricated and ‘robo-signed’ documents to secure the evictions; and had a particular talent for dispossessing the homes of senior citizens and people of color.” OneWest also submitted a consent decree because regulators determined that the firm had engaged in “unsafe” and “unsound” handling of mortgages and foreclosures.
3. Even outside his mortgage lending, Steve Mnuchin’s got shady business practices. [TWEET THIS]
Through Dune Capital and other funds, Mnuchin has provided backing to films like Avatar and Suicide Squad. But during his time in Hollywood, Mnuchin has completed at least one deal that aroused legal suspicion. Mnuchin announced in October 2014 that he would become a major backer of a now-bankrupt media production company called Relativity Media. Mnuchin quietly left Relativity’s board of directors just before the company declared bankruptcy in 2015. This is where it gets good: Mnuchin’s departure from Relativity’s board occurred just after Relativity made a payment of $50 million to Mnuchin’s mortgage lending company, OneWest.
4. He could kill Dodd Frank and risk the economy but make big banks really happy. [TWEET THIS]
Trump has been insistent that he would kill Dodd-Frank, the 2010 law that strengthened regulation of the finance industry — which would amount to the most rapid financial deregulation in history and could lead to grave consequences for the economy. Plus his campaign rhetoric has hidden a policy agenda that is “incredibly favorable to bankers.” So putting someone who made a fortune by kicking people our of their homes in charge of keeping the financial industry accountable looks a lot like asking the fox to guard the hen house.