A few days ago, Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) campaign released a statement attacking Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) for “playing coy about whether he supports re-authorization of the Export-Import Bank…proving he’s willing to put politics in front of Louisiana’s workers and businesses.”
The Associated Press led with the headline: Mary Landrieu hammering Bill Cassidy on banking agency.
While we can all agree that Congressman Cassidy needs to definitively come forward and take a position on reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, I can’t understand how Sen. Landrieu could so stubbornly continue to support something that is under siege with allegations of corruption and corporate cronyism?
Bloomberg News reported this week “the U.S Export-Import Bank’s internal watchdog has at least 40 active investigations of fraud by employees or agency beneficiaries.”
Scrutiny into the bank’s activities reached critical mass in late-June, when the Wall Street Journal revealed that the “Export-Import Bank has suspended or removed four officials in recent months amid investigations into allegations of gifts and kickbacks, as well as attempts to steer federal contracts to favored companies.”
Ironically enough, when President Obama was candidate-Obama, he labeled the Ex-Im Bank “little more than a fund for corporate welfare.”
The facts, as inconvenient as they may be for Sen. Landrieu, reveal that Ex-Im represents everything that is wrong with Washington.
In 2012, the Club for Growth highlighted the “Top 10 clients of the Export-Import Bank.” The list included Mexican Drug Cartels, Enron, The China National Nuclear Power Corporation, Air India and the now-bankrupt company Abound Solar.
On one hand, Sen. Landrieu says the bank “can continue to help Louisiana businesses continue to export goods and services to world markets and import jobs” but in reality, Louisiana’s taxpayers are being asked to subsidize overseas companies that are in competition with here at home.
For all the questions about Ex-Im that Congressman Cassidy hasn’t answered, there are quite a few that Sen. Landrieu continues to ignore as well.
Bloomberg News reported “Exxon Mobil Corp. and its partners in a $15 billion Papua New Guinea gas project last year paid the travel expenses for employees of the U.S. Export-Import Bank as it considered whether to help fund the venture. The four workers ran up $97,367 in bills traveling to London, Tokyo and the South Pacific.”
What does Sen. Landrieu have to say about this pay-for-play cronyism?
Before Enron went bankrupt, the Ex-Im Bank gave them $675 million in loans — money that taxpayers never got back.
Are these the investments that “help Louisiana businesses,” as Sen. Landrieu would have us all believe?
Last week, at a Congressional Oversight hearing, one of the key former bank officials at the center of the investigation refused to answer questions about the corruption allegations, choosing to plead the Fifth.
As long as these questions remain unanswered and the investigations into corruption are multiplying, does Sen. Landrieu really think it’s appropriate to blindly reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank?