Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Pat fights FOR predatory lenders and AGAINST credit unions

Greg Flynn at BlueNC and Daily Kos did the research we expect of all journalists covering McHenry and has uncovered and delineated a sordid story.

I highly encourage you to follow the link for many more details but I'll give you more than a few tidbits here:
  • Representative Patrick McHenry (R-NC) has written Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass), Chairman of the House Financial Services, seeking a hearing on the issue of individuals and organizations allegedly using non-profits to manipulate real estate and other markets.
  • As an example of this possible manipulation, McHenry used the Center for Responsible Lending, an affiliate of the Durham, North Carolina based Self Help Credit Union.
  • The basis of McHenry's complaint is a bogus report February 21st by the Consumer Rights League a front group for the predatory lending industry whose sole purpose appears to be attacking the Self Help Credit Union and, in particular, the affiliated Center for Responsible Lending (with, no mere coincidence, the same acronym, CRL) calling it a "predatory charity".
  • McHenry has long been an enemy of the Self Help Credit Union, the Center for Responsible Lending and founder Martin Eakes. According to a Credit Union Times article March 14, 2007 McHenry was quoted giving an address at America's Community Bankers' Government Affairs Conference:
    McHenry said he feels there is no need for predatory lending legislation because "the marketplace will sort these things out best."
  • In 2005 McHenry was a co-sponsor of the weak-kneed HR 1295 "Responsible Lending Act" in opposition to HR 1182 "Prohibit Predatory Lending Act" sponsored by Brad Miller.

    HR 1295 is filled with loopholes including far less protection against prepayment penalties, and limited protection for those without "high cost" loans (loans with reasonable interest rates and less than 5% upfront fees), encouraging more "creative" means of tacking on fees. Most significantly, HR 1295 preempts effective state laws.
  • McHenry was also a primary sponsor of a 2005 bill, HR 3206 "Credit Union Charter Choice" designed to make it easier for credit union conversion to banks at the expense of members and for the greater benefit of directors.
  • The self-styled Coalition for CU Charter Options has fought NCUA efforts to regulate conversions for at least five years and is represented in its suit by long-time thrift lobbyist Jim Butera . . . [who] also represents the American Bankers Association, and he helped craft the proposal to ease credit union conversions to thrifts, which failed in the last Congress.
  • McHenry's "failed bill" is at the heart of his success in Congress. In the now infamous Washington Monthly article about McHenry, "Getting Ahead in the GOP: Rep. Patrick McHenry and the art of defending the indefensible." Benjamin Wallace-Wells writes:
  • One of the first bills authored by McHenry, whose district has 172,000 credit union members, would make it much harder for government to regulate or block the conversion of credit unions into banks, a process that tends to benefit the credit union's directors (who get to cash in stock options and can sometimes make millions) and hurt the union's members, who can no longer borrow and save at the same generous terms.

    McHenry's credit union bill, a high priority for the banking lobby, has received strong backing from DeLay. The Republican leadership awarded McHenry a seat on the House Financial Services Committee upon his arrival in Washington. "Most people would say it's the most plum assignment you can get," one conservative lobbyist told me, "because you can leverage it to do so much in fundraising." But first you have to prove yourself. Asking McHenry to author a bill that undermines the interest of half his constituents is the political equivalent of demanding a young Mafia enforcer kill his cousin as a test of loyalty.
  • McHenry's latest attack on the Center of Responsible Lending come on the heels of his fawning over sub-prime lender Countrywide. His toadying obsequiousness to the credit union converters and the predatory lending industry . . . is despicable.
Again, props to Greg Flynn. Go to the Daily Kos version and comment if you can. We need more journalists like him.

1 comment:

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