Chicago's ShoreBank is too politically connected to fail.
"No more bailouts, no more greed, how many profits do you need?" That's been a signature chant of community organizers and Big Labor thugs who have stormed bank offices and financial executives' private homes decrying corporate welfare over the past several months. But now that the federal government and a coalition of big banking interests are poised to bail out a crony Chicago bank with longtime ties to the Obama administration, Saul Alinsky's avenging angels are nowhere to be found.
ShoreBank is a Windy City investment bank with all the right (or, rather, left) ties. Its stated progressive mission isn't merely to make good lending decisions, but to engage in Barack Obama-esque social engineering to "create economic equity and a healthy environment." The ShoreBank corporate slogan: "Let's change the world."
The company website features a video of Obama in Kenya championing ShoreBank microlending projects overseas. ShoreBank has also touted itself as a "green" bank from its founding days — promoting dubious carbon credit programs, subjecting new borrowers to eco-litmus tests ("we look at how you use water, how you recover water and clean it, how you use energy, if you produce clean energy, how you manage CO2, whether you are offsetting CO2 that your product produces, if you are using sustainably produced materials") and encouraging customers to participate in "EcoDeposits" to "directly support the green agenda."
Social and environmental justice may make for good Volvo bumper stickers. They do not, however, make for a good bottom line. While the bank was on do-gooder missions around the world, business at home was in trouble. As The Wall Street Journal reported, "Losses racked up during the recession have left the bank facing a demand to raise new capital or face likely closure by regulators."
Enter the Chicago political friends and family of ShoreBank. The ties are long and deep, as the Central Illinois 9/12 Project has been chronicling for months:
— ShoreBank co-founder Jan Piercy was a Wellesley College roommate of Hillary Clinton's, who has long supported the bank along with former president Bill Clinton.
— Former ShoreBank Vice Chairman Bob Nash worked for Mrs. Clinton's presidential bid as deputy campaign manager. Board of Directors member Howard Stanback is a Hyde Park neighborhood pal of President Obama, who served with Stanback on the board of the radical Woods Fund (where Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers also sat).
— White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett served on the board of Chicago Metropolis 2020 with ShoreBank Director Adele Simmons, former president of the liberal MacArthur Foundation, where she focused on "climate change" and "global governance" issues.
— The bank and its employees donated some $12,000 to the Obama 2008 presidential campaign, and co-founder Mary Houghton reportedly gave advice to Obama's late mother about small business lending issues.
In other words: ShoreBank is too politically connected to fail.
And now you, the taxpayer, may be on the hook for helping its cronies engineer a special rescue. Fox Business News reported this week that a consortium of large lenders — including Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and GE Capital — have partnered with the feds to pitch in a combined $200 million public-private bailout. (In addition, Illinois Democrat Rep. Jan Schakowsky has been crusading for a state-level bailout of the beleaguered bank.) The buzz on both Wall Street and Capitol Hill is that Goldman and perhaps others in the public-private partnership were pressured to lend a hand.
It wouldn't be the first time that businesses have felt the Obama squeeze. And it wouldn't be the first time that Democrats exploited the financial crisis to milk public money for their banking cronies.
The laggardly House Ethics Committee is still investigating Democrat California Rep. Maxine Waters, who had a personal and financial stake in Boston-based OneUnited, a minority bank that received $12 million in TARP bailout money under smelly circumstances. The bank's executives donated $12,500 to her congressional campaigns. Her husband, Sidney Williams, was an investor in one of the banks that merged into OneUnited. Waters secured meetings between OneUnited execs and Treasury Department officials.
That probe has dragged on for nearly a year, which doesn't bode well for fresh GOP demands for an investigation into the shady ShoreBank bailout. House Financial Services Committee ranking minority member Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., has demanded that the White House cough up documentation about any possible overt contact with Goldman about the deal.
Team Obama is smarter than that, of course. To quote Obama's environmental czar Carol Browner, who pressured auto industry execs last year to cooperate on a fuel standards increase, they know "to put nothing in writing, ever."
The fingerprints may be missing, but the stench of the Chicago Way is impossible to cover up.
Michelle Malkin is the author of "Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies" (Regnery 2010). Her e-mail address is email@example.com.