In addition to those officials’ potential personal financial interests — were they to return to their old firms after their time at the DOJ ends — in avoiding investigating those big banks, GAI points out how “Obama’s top DOJ officials played prominent roles in his 2008 campaign.”
Holder, the nation’s top DOJ official, “co-chaired the campaign with Tony West, the DOJ’s third highest official.”
“No other modern administration has staffed the DOJ with big money fundraisers,” GAI wrote. “Holder bundled $50,000 for Obama’s 2008 campaign, while Perrelli, West, and Mason all bundled $500,000 for the campaign. West also helped Obama raised an estimated $65 million in California.”
GAI president Peter Schweizer told TheDC that cronyism appears to be infiltrating the halls of the DOJ with the Obama administration, and that it appears Holder’s team has no interest in fighting for accountability when it comes to Wall Street because he, Obama and the rest of the DOJ team have a financial interest in not enforcing those laws.
“When we think of cronyism and the problems of cronyism and crony capitalism, we think in terms of economic loss and gain,” Schweizer said in a phone interview. “What we’re showing here is that cronyism is now permeating our justice system. So, it’s not just a question of dollars and cents, it’s a question of whether you’re going to face legal jeopardy or not on what you’re doing.”
“The issue of a revolving door — people who go in and out of, for instance, the Department of Energy who go work for energy companies then come back to the Department of Energy — is always there,” Schweizer added. “But, we’re not used to associating the top leadership of the Justice Department with the revolving door. And, I think that’s what makes this so troubling — because you can’t trust them. All their financial interests are tied up with these large firms that do an enormous amount of business with Wall Street.”
In the report, GAI details how the George W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations both actually took down financial criminals — unlike the Obama administration. Between 2002 and 2008, for instance, GAI points out how a Bush administration task force “obtained over 1,300 corporate fraud convictions, including those of over 130 corporate vice presidents and over 200 CEOs and corporate presidents.”
“Clinton’s DOJ prosecuted over 1,800 S&L [savings and loans] executives, senior officials, and directors, and over 1,000 of them were sent to jail,” GAI adds.
But, despite having “promised more of the same,” especially in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the Obama administration’s DOJ has not brought criminal charges against a single major Wall Street executive.
The Bush and Clinton administrations’ track records on prosecuting white-collar crime, and the Obama administration’s failure to do so, Schweizer said, is “evidence that this has less to do with some sort of partisan or philosophical issue.”
“I think it has to do with the fact that, previously, under Clinton or under Bush, you had senior people who were prosecutors — who not only had previous experience, but were actually active prosecutors,” Schweizer said. “The problem that you have at the Obama Justice Department, particularly bizarre at this time and place where we were coming off the financial crisis, is that they really have no recent prosecutors at the top of the Justice Department. They’re all white-collar criminal defense attorneys. That’s what’s so troubling. One would think that, given the financial crisis, and the widespread conduct, they would have at least carved out some senior positions for prosecutors who could really drill down on this. That’s what Clinton did, and that’s what Bush did.”
As one of many examples of where Holder’s DOJ could have gone after Wall Street but failed, GAI cites how Michigan Democratic Sen. Carl Levin “proposed that the DOJ criminally investigate Goldman Sachs for its handling of the Abacus 2007-AC1 transaction” in an April 2011 Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations report. In that 635-page report, Levin and his staff — who are Democrats — recommended that Holder’s DOJ investigate potential crimes committed. Levin’s subcommittee and the Federal Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission both made formal referrals to the DOJ for investigation – and Forbes magazine ran an article with the headline, “Criminal Charges Loom for Goldman Sachs After Scathing Report.”
Nothing happened. But, over the course of the rest of 2011, Obama went on a massive fundraising drive down Wall Street.