Treasury Nominee Will Have to Answer for 'Grinding Families Into Dirt'
Steven Mnuchin appears before the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday
Former Goldman Sachs partner Steven Mnuchin, who President-elect Donald Trump wants to run the U.S. Treasury Department, sits for his confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday—one day after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) accused him of "grinding families into the dirt" during his time at the helm of "foreclosure machine" OneWest Bank.
Under Mnuchin's leadership, OneWest foreclosed on more than 36,000 California families and 24,000 additional households around the country, according to a study of banking data by the Urban Strategies Council, an Oakland-based anti-poverty organization, and the California Reinvestment Coalition, an advocate for low-income areas and communities of color. That same analysis showed "[a] disproportionately high number of OneWest Bank foreclosures occurred in minority communities in California," the Guardian notes. And investigative reporting has revealed that the bank engaged in "widespread misconduct" while doing so.
Warren had wanted some of those OneWest victims to be allowed to testify before senators at an official hearing—a request that was rebuffed by Republicans. So on Wednesday, she gathered a few of those who suffered to tell their stories at a forum with other Senate Democrats.
"If he is approved by the United States Senate, then Mr. Mnuchin will make decisions that will touch the lives of every single American," Warren said in introductory remarks. "He will advise the president on the economy, he will oversee the IRS, he will manage the nation's finances. And he will lead the council that is responsible for reining in Wall Street to prevent the next financial crisis."
Citing his tenure at OneWest, Warren said Mnuchin has shown "no interest in working for the benefit of all Americans."
"OneWest's model was terrible for homeowners, but it was great for Mr. Mnuchin," she said, noting that he may have pocketed more than $200 million from the eventual sale OneWest to another California bank.
"At [Thursday's] hearing," Warren declared, "he will have the opportunity to explain why his years of grinding families into the dirt at OneWest Bank does not disqualify him from becoming the nation's top economic official."
Mnuchin is expected to face grilling about OneWest, his ties to Wall Street, and failure to disclose all his assets at Thursday's hearing. The Washington Post reported Thursday that Mnuchin "initially failed to disclose his interests in a Cayman Islands corporation as well as more than $100 million in personal assets," according to a memo by Democratic staffers on the Senate Finance Committee seen by the Post.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), ranking member on the Finance Committee, cited that reporting during his opening statement—leading to an small dust-up with Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) before Mnuchin even offered his first remarks.
Wyden: Mnuchin hedge fund outposts in Anguilla & Caymans only due to tax evasion "It wasn't because of ease of commute"
— David Dayen (@ddayen) January 19, 2017
Oof. Senate Finance Cmte descends into uncomfortable feuding after Pat Roberts mocks Ron Wyden—even before Mnuchin gives opening testimony.
— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) January 19, 2017
GOP Sen. Pat Roberts to Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden at Steve Mnuchin hearing: "I've got a valium pill here that you might want to take." pic.twitter.com/CNeD07xAXu
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) January 19, 2017
Watch Mnuchin's hearing live here.
And watch Wednesday's forum below: