Add another burgeoning Obama administration scandal to the pile of scandals afflicting this administration. The Daily Caller’s Matthew Boyle is reporting that they have obtained a series of emails showing the U.S. Treasury Department, with Timothy Geithner in the lead, “was the driving force” behind terminating the pensions of 20,000 salaried retirees at Delphi, one of the world’s largest auto parts manufacturing companies. The move was made during the Chrysler/GM auto bailout of 2009, and it appears the sole motivation behind it was crassly political: these particular Delphi retirees were not members of an organized labor union. Delphi’s unionized workers “saw their pensions topped off and made whole.”
The Caller notes that the emails “contradict sworn testimony, in federal court and before Congress, given by several Obama administration figures,” and also “indicate that the administration misled lawmakers and the courts about the sequence of events surrounding the termination of those non-union pensions, and that administration figures violated federal law.”
In July, UAW negotiator Ron Bloom, former Treasury official and task force legal adviser Matthew Feldman and former task force member Harry Wilson, all of whom were appointed by President Obama to his Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry, appeared before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on TARP, Financial Services and Bailouts of Public and Private Programs. Prior to that hearing they had refused to cooperate for over a year with a congressionally mandated investigation by Christy Romero, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). The likely reason they did so: Romero had no subpoena power.
During the hearing they were asked–under oath–what role the task force played regarding pensions. All three men dodged many questions from the Committee, but eventually Bloom and Feldman insisted the task force was nothing more than a neutral “facilitator” of decisions made entirely by other entities. They did this despite the fact that the Committee had two emails written by Feldman, one saying he was convinced GM would “rubber stamp” the administration’s preferences on the deal–and the second saying he had discussed the deal with the White House.
Boyle corroborates White House involvement, having unearthed an email chain between Feldman and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) staffer Joseph House indicating the PBGC “believed it needed to clear decisions and action plans through senior administration officials,” despite the reality that PBGC’s charter calls for independent representation of private-sector pensioners. In fact, federal labor law makes PBGC “the only government entity that is legally empowered to initiate termination of a pension or make any official movements toward doing so.”
Furthermore, an email sent by House to several fellow staffers, as well as David Burns, then a principal at the finance restructuring firm Greenhill & Co., and Bradley Robins, Greenhill’s head of Financing Advisory and Restructuring for North America, is particularly damning. In it he reveals that Feldman “reported that he has made progress discussing our proposal with a number of key folks in Treasury and at [the] White House, but he has not yet wrapped up his coordination. He indicated that there is an 8 am call tomorrow that he’ll use to close the communication-loop, and he’s confident he’ll have a fully-vetted Treasury view after that call.”
Feldman has not responded to Daily Caller requests for comment. But Treasury spokesman Matt Anderson insists that “termination of the Delphi salaried pension plan was made by the PBGC in accordance with its standard procedures and applicable laws–not by Treasury,” he wrote, responding to the Caller in an email. “Although the Delphi bankruptcy was very difficult for its employees and retirees, the actions Treasury took to support the American auto industry helped save more than a million American jobs during a period of economic crisis.”
Other emails contradict Anderson. An email dated Thursday, April 2, 2009, shows House discussing a meeting he and his PBGC staffers anticipated attending the next day with the entire auto bailout team. House emailed Karen Morris and Michael Rae, saying that the “agenda” for Friday’s meeting “is everything–lead off with Chrysler, then we’ll get into GM/Delphi.”