Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Trump’s Newest Wall Street Watchdog Sidesteps Ethics Scrutiny

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Jesse Hamilton and Robert Schmidt report in Bloomberg:

The Trump administration used a highly unusual personnel move to skirt Senate confirmation and standard ethics requirements when it installed a financial services lawyer atop a powerful banking regulator.

Keith Noreika’s transition from representing banks to overseeing them came courtesy of a quick two-step. He was made “first deputy” at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a designation that ensured he would ascend to the top job once it opened. Then the administration ousted Thomas Curry, an OCC head picked by Barack Obama who had imposed tough rules and record fines on lenders. Just like that, Noreika became acting comptroller.

While the OCC says Noreika has mitigated potential conflicts, there’s been no public disclosure of an ethics agreement or his former clients. He represented Wall Street firms and an online brokerage that needs the OCC’s sign-off to complete a merger, according to legal filings and a biography that was posted on the website of his previous employer, law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.

Once Noreika assumed his post on midnight May 5, President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin gained a needed ally in their push to undo financial regulations, an effort that has started slowly because Obama holdovers still lead key agencies. But some Democratic lawmakers and ethics lawyers said the rush to get Noreika into the job is troubling.

‘Unvetted Attorney’

“Mr. Noreika is an unvetted attorney who lacks the experience to serve as an independent Wall Street watchdog,” Maryland’s Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, said in an email. “His work in the private sector creates an unprecedented series of conflicts of interest –- further underscoring the need for anyone serving as comptroller to go through the Senate confirmation process.”

Noreika’s position is supposed to be temporary. According to the OCC, he is a “special government employee,” a designation that comes with less stringent ethics rules and frees him from having to sign Trump’s ethics pledge, as long as he serves fewer than 130 days in a 365-day period. The pledge, usually required of all administration appointees, is meant to restrict officials from using their posts for personal gain and includes a 5-year lobbying ban.

The special employee status was designed for part-time government advisers — not the heads of agencies — and it allows those types of workers to earn money in the private sector during their service. Noreika, however, has severed ties to his law firm, OCC spokesman Bryan Hubbard said.

“I plan to abide by all ethical rules and guidelines and recuse myself wherever appropriate,” Noreika said in statement, adding that he’s “honored” to serve until the next comptroller is confirmed by the Senate. . .

Continue reading.

Trump is going to do a lot of damage to our country before he stops/is stopped.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 May 2017 at 11:15 am

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