Citigroup, the Nation's Third-largest Bank Snagged the Largest Amount of Federal Money
In my opening of "Spreading the Wealth to Obama's Ultra-Rich Jobs Council" series I had stated, “the "Too-Big-to-Fail" Citigroup, a TARP recipient received $45 billion in government bailout funds,” however, CNBC tells a bigger story, and recently announced them as the number one Big Bank to snag federal aid, “In total, Citigroup received $476.2 billion in cash and guarantees."
The chatter surrounding President Obama's choice to replace Timothy Geithner for Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew, now Chief of Staff, hit the airwaves a while ago, sending attention toward the conflict of interest and obvious hypocrisy. Lew's short stint at Citigroup, his Cayman Islands fund, and accusations of Lew (as the president’s budget director) making "false" statements before the budget committee two years ago, should be cause for alarm.
During his confirmation hearing for Treasury this month, Mr. Lew apparently faced "tough questions, but with few fireworks," says one reporter; yet the Huffington Post reported that Lew "maneuvered around questions... about his work at bailed-out bank Citigroup during the financial crisis, including his controversial investment in a Cayman Islands fund."
According to Forbes, "Citi’s alternate investment group lay at the epicenter of the financial crisis. Under Lew’s tenure, it lost $509 million in the first quarter of 2008 alone. More than 50,000 employees, or one-seventh of Citigroup’s global workforce, were laid off in November, and the stock price dropped about 75 percent." Forbes goes on, "Despite these horrendous losses, Lew was paid $1.1 million in 2008 for less than a year’s work," and Breitbart News recently pointed to more absurdity, Lew, was "a man who in 2009 bagged a $950,000 bonus after his bank, Citigroup, received billions in a taxpayer-funded bailout."
What most don't know is that since 2007, Citi has been heavily involved in "climate change activities" and have made a massive foot print inside President's Obama's clean-energy dirt –– transactions that tie them to approximately $16 billion of taxpayer money.
Citigroup –– labeled a “heavy hitter” by Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) –– in 2012 contributed to both President Obama and Mitt Romney, and "contributions from CITIGROUP PAC-FEDERAL" went to both parties: 47% to Democrats, 53% to Republicans, and among the 2012 Obama bundlers were employees of big-name firms including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Barclays and Citigroup.
Yet, in 2008, it was primarily a "blue year" with 63% to Democrats and 37% to Republicans, and Citigroup made it as the #7 top donor to candidate Obama with a few executives lined up as campaign bundlers. Citi, also a major lobbyist, where “53 out of 63 Citigroup Inc. lobbyists in 2012 have previously held government jobs" with quite a few Citi executives like Mr. Lew holding key positions at the Obama White House.
All the President’s Citi Men
The infiltration of so many Citigroup executives –– and Goldman Sachs for that matter –– inside the Obama administration is amazing, even shaping his economic policy. They range from "chief of staff Jack Lew to transition team chief Michael Froman to a host of people connected in some form or another to former Citi executive Bob Rubin," alerts Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone Magazine, starting with the outgoing Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, who served under Rubin in the Clinton administration.
Tucked neatly inside a corrupt government system is Mr. Robert Rubin, who, from what I gather, was also at the epicenter of the 2008 financial crisis. Rubin spent 26 years at Goldman Sachs, and from November to December 2007, served temporarily as chairman of Citigroup, and resigned from the company on January 9, 2009. But not without his cash, as Bloomberg Businessweek notes, "Rubin gave up a portion of his contracted compensation — and was still paid around $126 million in cash and stock during a tenure" that spanned through Citigroup's taxpayer funded bailout.
To add insult to taxpayer injury, it turns out that at that time, in spite of the pitiful government bailout, "No Citi executives are replaced, and few restrictions are placed on their compensation. It's the sweetheart deal of the century..." says Taibbi.
The scandalous Wall Street revolving door, which the Republican Party takes the hits for, is thick inside the Democratic Party, more specifically the Obama administration. Even the left-wing New York Times noticed the infiltration, "At its unveiling in November 2008, almost the entire Obama administration's economic team could be said to be made up of followers of so-called Rubinomics, and many of them had served under Mr. Rubin."
Their significance is that "they collectively offer a microcosm of what the Democratic Party has come to stand for in the 21st century," writes Matt Taibbi. The "model for this Democratic Party: Let the rich do their thing, but give a fraction more to everyone else," says David Sirota, a former Democratic strategist.
In late 2009, Taibbi lays out a compelling case on how Obama sold out to Wall Street –– "Obama's Big Sellout" –– "Barack Obama ran for president as a man of the people, standing up to Wall Street as the global economy melted down in that fateful fall of 2008." The Obama inspiration came from the "sense that a genuine outsider was finally breaking into an exclusive club, and they were voting for "'change.'"
However, Taibbi seemed shocked, noting that it all began after Obama was elected in 2008, "What's taken place in the year since Obama won the presidency has turned out to be one of the most dramatic political about-faces in our history." Later he asks the question, "How did we get here?" Yet answers, "It started just moments after the election –– and nobody noticed."
Obama had his fare share of Wall Street buddies who helped ensure an Obama victory in 2008, poring millions of dollars into his campaign coffers, making their mark as TOP campaign donors, with even Wall Street executives bundling huge sums of money for then-candidate Obama. Besides Citigroup, other bailout recipients made this special donor list: Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley. Further down the line you'll find Bank of America, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch –– the latter two indirectly, and so on. Meanwhile many of the executives running these enormous failures, were not only rewarded with "shameful" big bonuses but the Obama administration awarded them with jobs, commissions, stimulus money, government contracts, and more.
- Nominee for Treasury Secretary
- White House Chief of Staff, since January 2012
- Former Head of Office of Management and Budget, from November 2010 to January 2012
- Lew originally served as deputy secretary of state for resource management -- the State Department's chief operating officer, from January 2009 to November 2010
- Former CEO of Citigroup’s Alternative Investments, from January 2008 but was with Citi starting in 2006, and departed either in late 2008 or in January 2009
- Director at the Office of Management and Budget under the Clinton administration as well as other roles for Former President Bill Clinton
"Hired with a recommendation from then-Citi executive and former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, Lew became chief operating officer of Citigroup's global wealth management division in July 2006. He later became COO for Citi Alternative Investments (CAI), a largely administrative role that was apart from investment decisions that hurt the bank," writes Reuters.
However, a Huffington Post writer says, Lew "oversaw a Citigroup unit that profited off the housing collapse and financial crisis by investing in a hedge fund king who correctly predicted the eventual subprime meltdown and now finds himself involved in the center of the U.S. government's fraud case against Goldman Sachs."
According to CNBC News, Lew's brief time as COO of the CAI unit ranged from "January 2008 and held the position during the peak of the financial crisis, when Citi received a $45 billion bailout from the federal government. He left in early 2009 to join the Obama administration."
Furthermore, Breitbart News notes that Lew (a lifelong Democrat) –– "mostly a government man" –– is a long-time Hill staffer, who "headed the OMB in both the Clinton and Obama administrations." And that Lew "spent a few years as a private attorney in between administrations, working mostly on environmental and energy issues."
"By the end of December 2008 (or was it January 2009?), Lew had lined up a new job: away from Wall Street and back in Washington as a deputy secretary of state under Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton," records the Washington Post.
Ironically, in 2009 President Obama had scolded Citigroup for its "plans to accept delivery on a luxurious $50 million corporate jet made in France," even stating at that time that "[he will] demand more accountability from recipients of bailout funds." Yet not a peep against the absurdity of Mr. Lew's $950,000 bonus "after his bank, Citigroup, received billions in a taxpayer-funded bailout."
Instead, Lew gets promoted...
Prior to Lew's 2012 rise to White House Chief of Staff, in November 2010, he became the head of the Office of Management and Budget to replace departing OMB chief Peter Orszag (another Rubin protégé), who departed the Obama administration and joined Citi’s investment banking group as a vice chairman. Note: This OMB post is very relevant to the Department of Energy loans and federal stimulus grant –– Green Corruption.
- Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs, since February 2009
- Member of Obama's National Economic Council, since February 2009
- From 1999 to sometime in 2009, Froman "served in a number of roles at Citigroup, including Managing Partner, Infrastructure and Sustainable Development Investments, Chief Operating Officer of Citi Alternative Investments (CAI)," etc.
- 2008 Obama Bundler
- Former chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin during the Clinton administration
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Froman served as an informal adviser, raising money and helping to secure endorsements. In fact, “Michael Froman, a close college friend of Obama’s, managed Citi’s alternative investment portfolio until he left for a top White House post in 2009. Froman was key to the President’s 2008 election effort, connecting him with major donors in New York’s financial industry," notes Lachlan Markay.
The March 2012 House Oversight scathing report confirms these facts, and adds that Froman was a 2008 Obama bundler –– "he was a friend of Obama’s from law school, and supported his political career by bundling over $200,000 for his 2008 presidential candidacy."
Froman was also an Advisory Board Member of the 2009 Obama-Biden Transition Team, and in January 2009 was awarded an "unusual, joint position with the National Security Council and the National Economic Council" –– twin posts that gave Froman a direct line to the president.
Under his "deputy" role, Froman "is responsible for coordinating policy on international trade, investment, energy, climate and development issues." Meanwhile at the NEC, he was in good company with Wall Street insiders, more specifically, Obama's then-economic czar Larry Summers, another Harvard alumni, and a key "revolving door" player tied to more Obama bundling –– both the NEC and Summers I'll address in a bit.
But if we go back in time, the cozy ties even intrigued the New York Times, "Mr. Froman heard that Mr. Obama was running for the Senate and offered assistance. A prodigious fund-raiser, especially among New York’s young finance crowd, Mr. Froman introduced Mr. Obama to Robert E. Rubin, the former Treasury secretary, who became a major adviser." The Times further notes, "Like a growing number of potential Obama appointees, Mr. Froman worked for Mr. Rubin."
Prior to his arrival at the White House, Froman served in a number of roles at Citigroup from 1999 to sometime in 2009, and "received more than $7.4 million from the company from January 2008 to when he joined the White House" in early 2009.
According to a 2009 article by the New York Times, "That money included a year-end bonus of $2.25 million for work in 2008, which Citigroup paid him in January." Instead of outrage from the White House, they justified Froman's earnings and defended his bonus by claiming "he had decided to give it to charity."
However, Taibbi describes a more sinister scenario, “Incredibly, Froman did not resign from the bank when he went to work for Obama: He remained in the employ of Citigroup for two more months, even as he helped appoint the very people who would shape the future of his own firm." In fact, Taibbi labels Froman as "one of the most egregious examples — up there with Bob Rubin, literally — we’ve yet seen of the way the revolving door works between business and government generally, and between Citigroup and Treasury in particular."
And now we have Jack Lew to continue this incestuous line, but there are more Obama Citi Men...
- Former Chairman of the Board for Citigroup, from 2009 to 2012 but was with Citi since 1996
- Former Member of Obama’s Jobs Council, from 2011 to February 2013
Richard Parsons served on Citigroup's board since 1996 and as chairman since 2009 until he announced stepping down in March 2012. Parsons is also part of the multimillionaire club –– also the former CEO of Time Warner, and was listed on the "near misses" of Forbes' 2009 "The Wealthiest Black Americans" –– one of the five featured in my "Spreading the Wealth to Obama's Ultra-rich Jobs Council" series.
Known as a "moderate Republican," during the course of his Citigroup tenure, he took a left turn and gained a variety of important positions within the Obama administration. In 2008, Mr. Parsons served as a member of then President-elect Barack Obama's Economic Transition Team; in January 2009, he was on the short list for Obama's Commerce Secretary; and in 2011, Parsons was appointed to the president’s Job Council.
- Current US Ambassador to the United Kingdom, nominated by President Obama in May 2009, and confirmed by the Senate in July 2009
- Former Vice Chairman of Citigroup Corporate and Investment Banking, with Citigroup since 1998 but retired his high-ranking executive post in February 2009
- 2008 Obama Bundler
The retired Chicago investment banker Louis Susman served on Obama’s 2008 National Finance Committee, and the staunch Democratic donor and fundraiser that he was; he turned out to be a top 2008 bundler that raised so much money for Obama that he got a nickname “the Vacuum Cleaner." Obama showed his appreciation and made him ambassador to Great Britain. At the time of his nomination, Susman retired in February 2009 as Vice Chairman of Citigroup Corporate and Investment Banking.
NOTE: Michael Schell, New York, Citigroup Global Markets was also a 2008 Obama bundler.
- Former Director of President Obama's National Economic Council, from 2009 to 2011
- Former Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, from 1999 to 2001 under President Bill Clinton
Although Summers is not a Citi executive, it's worth noting that back in the day (November 2008), President-elect Barack Obama rolled out his National Economic Council (NEC), and installed economic czar Summers (not subject to pesky confirmation hearings), who had served as Rubin's protégé at Treasury.
A month later, December 2008 –– recently exposed via a 57-page, “Sensitive & Confidential” memo written by economist Larry Summers to Obama writes, "The short-run economic imperative was to identify as many campaign promises or high priority items that would spend out quickly and be inherently temporary. … The stimulus package is a key tool for advancing clean energy goals and fulfilling a number of campaign commitments." In essence, the 2009-Recovery act was about implementing the Obama agenda, not about economic recovery or creating jobs.
NOTE: See "11 stunning revelations from Larry Summers’ secret economics memo to Barack Obama" by the American Enterprise Institute for complete story.
According to the Wall Street Journal, "The NEC, created by Bill Clinton in 1993, coordinates economic policy between the Treasury, Labor, Housing and Urban Development and Health and Human Services Departments, as well as independent agencies such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp."
It turns out that the NEC's first director, Robert Rubin, who later became Treasury secretary, built the post into a power center. But under the Bush White House, its authority has waned." But Obama intended to re-instate its power, and "ensure the NEC is returned to its place as the clearing house for policy ideas and initiatives," and stacked it full members that made a small fortune on Wall Street, who had "absolutely zero interest in reforming the gamed system that made them rich in the first place."
What better place for Summers then to be surrounded by his Wall Street buddies.
If you've read my work, you may have caught my Big Wind story where I had outlined the high-powered political ties behind First Wind that received millions of federal loans and grants from the green initiatives placed in the 2009-Recovery Act.
Starting with D.E. Shaw & Co, a New York-based investment firm –– "a $39 Billion Hedge Fund Giant" (also a First Solar investor), which so happens to be one of the three top contributors to Democrats –– is a backer of First Wind Holdings Inc. Its founder David Shaw, is a two-time Obama bundler, who employed Larry Summers, and before heading to the Obama White House, as the top economic advisor, "Lawrence Summers received about $5.2 million over the past year in compensation from hedge fund D.E. Shaw,” as revealed by the Wall Street Journal, noting his "frequent appearances before Wall Street firms including J.P. Morgan, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers." Towards the end of 2011, Summers left the Obama administration and rejoined the firm as a consultant.
This is the same Summers that in 2009, along with freshly elected Obama, who lashed out at Wall Street, calling bankers "fat cats" who don't get it, also slammed Wall Street. "Here is what I think they don't get...It was their irresponsible risk-taking in many cases that brought the economy to collapse," Mr. Summers, said on CNN's "State of the Union."
Following the Money: "Green" Citi
In 2010, Citigroup had announced that it was "well ahead of its 2007 goal to direct $50 billion towards climate change related activities over 10 years." At that time, "the company's portfolio of climate-related activities was valued at over $24.3 billion, including 2009 commitments totaling $5.11 billion."
By 2011, through their "$50 Billion Climate Change Investment Initiative" Cit had "directed $36.35 billion into such initiatives so far..." As suspected, "In the U.S., Citi has the largest market share (28 percent) of U.S. Department of energy section 1703/1705 Loan Guarantee program financings for Alternative energy, and we are the leader in such bond transactions. Our Alternative energy practice completed the largest alternative energy finance deal of 2011, for the $2.3 billion Desert sunlight project in California." That's code for Citi is making huge amounts of money from the energy sector of the 2009 Obama stimulus-spending spree.
The Department of Energy (DOE) Loan Guarantee Program (LGP) has become by expertise, and it's worth repeating that it consists of three separate programs, Section 1703, Section 1705, and Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM), whereas since 2009, the DOE has guaranteed $34.7 billion of taxpayer money.
Considering the fact that the 1705 programs was created by the 2009-Recovery Act, a small slice of the trillion-dollar Obama spending spree, of which over $90 billion was earmarked for clean energy, I began unraveling this piece last April. Through just the 1705 alone, $16 billion was doled out to 26 projects, of which 22 were rated as "junk bond" status. As of the end of 2012, three have gone bust while at least four are in trouble –– yet over 50 that snagged "green" stimulus funds are on my 2012 Green Energy Failure List.
By intensely tracking these loans since 2009, and careful analysis of the House Oversight March 20, 2012 investigation (The Department of Energy’s Disastrous Management of Loan Guarantee Programs), we can confirm that at least 90 percent are politically connected to the president and other high-ranking Democrats –– in many cases, to both. Thus far of the 26 projects, Marita Noon (energy columnist at Townhall.com) and I have chronicled nineteen green-energy, crony-corruption stories from the DOE's junk bond portfolio –– with nine to go.
Then we found the smoking gun –– a set of leaked DOE emails, which we've been exposing since they were unleashed by the House Oversight Committee on October 31, 2012 –– a report of “over 150 emails that contradict statements by the President, Secretary Chu, the White House and DOE officials.”
More shocking is that if you dig into these emails –– memorandum as well as Appendix I and the 350+ page Appendix II –– they reveal a series of questionable practices, including coercion, cronyism and, cover-ups, of which Marita and I were one of the few that covered this bombshell scandal on Nov 01, 2012, "Emails Catch White House Lie on Green-Energy Loans."
But let's get back to Citi...
According to a March 19, 2012 Renewable Energy Seminar in Washington DC, Michael Eckhart, Managing Director of Global Head of Environmental Finance & Sustainability of Citigroup was proud to announce, “Citi has been a leader in alternative energy transactions across sectors, geographies and products.”
As if this story isn't corrupt enough –– enter Mr. Eckhart, who joined Citigroup as Managing Director in February 2011, after spending the last decade as the founding President and a member of the Board of Directors of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE). Now ACORE is where we find many of government green winners, and worse they are a "green" lobbyist powerhouse –– a band of Music Man businesses and deep-pocketed backers, of which PJMedia had alerted to 2011, whereas "Eckhart and the ACORE membership also helped design the Department of Energy grant programs...”
Interesting enough, I had already been aware of, and wrote about SolarReserve, SolarCity and Alta Wind, yet I found Citi’s green stash –– an alternative energy portfolio that lists about 37 transactions (plus SolarReserve = 38) foreign and here in the United States. Citi's roles range from investor, advisor, arranger, to joint bookrunner, and so on –– and in some case a multitude of these.
While Citi is proud of their being the "largest market share (28 percent) of the DOE energy 1703/1705 Loan Guarantee program financings," there is much more. After careful analysis of this year-old green investment documentation, I found that 58 percent of their "clients" have received government subsidies, the majority from the 2009-Recovery Act, totaling approximately $16 billion of taxpayer money.
We can confirm that of the 22 transactions, sixteen (at least $8 billion) is where Citi was actively involved in securing the 1703/1705 DOE loans; was a direct investor; and/or served as an underwriter for their initial public offering (IPO) –– by the way, bookrunners, who sell the IPO shares to institutions, do the majority of the work and collect the largest % of fees.
Look for the asterisks *, but no matter how you slice it, Citi has an invested interest in the success of these companies/projects, and they are cashing in at the GREEN Bank of Obama.