Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., appear to be showing their hand a bit on how they plan to handle the confirmation hearing of one of President-elect Donald Trump’s top cabinet nominees.
On Friday, Warren took to Twitter to unleash one of her trademark tirades. This time, the target was Steve Mnuchin, a former executive at Goldman Sachs, the former chairman of OneWest Bank, and Trump’s choice to lead the Department of the Treasury.
And it appears that the Democrats will seek to use Mnuchin’s time at OneWest as part of their case against approving him as Treasury secretary, calling Mnuchin the "foreclosure king” and asking people who may have been “impacted” by OneWest’s practices to share their stories.
Recently, two housing advocacy groups accused OneWest of violating federal fair housing laws by redlining minority neighborhoods and engaging in discriminatory lending practices during Mnuchin’s time as chairman.
In her tweets, Warren called out Mnuchin, who, along with his partners at Dune Capital Management, formed OneWest after buying the remains of IndyMac Federal Bank from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in 2009.
Mnuchin and his partners sold OneWest to CIT Group in 2015 for a profit, which garnered praise from the president-elect when he announced Mnuchin as his Treasury nominee.
“He (Mnuchin) purchased IndyMac Bank for $1.6 billion and ran it very professionally, selling it for $3.4 billion plus a return of capital,” Trump said last month. “That’s the kind of people I want in my administration representing our country.”
Warren, unsurprisingly, had a different view of Mnuchin’s time at OneWest.
In Warren’s words, “Steve Mnuchin & OneWest Bank swooped in after the 2008 crash & aggressively – & sometimes illegally – foreclosed on people’s homes.”
Warren’s tweetstream was capped off by asking, “Were you or someone you know hurt by Steve Mnuchin, OneWest Bank or Financial Freedom?”
Steve Mnuchin & OneWest Bank swooped in after the 2008 crash & aggressively – & sometimes illegally – foreclosed on people’s homes.— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) December 16, 2016
Steve Mnuchin & OneWest also ran Financial Freedom, which serviced 17% of reverse-mortgages but were responsible for 39% of foreclosures.— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) December 16, 2016
That tweet also included a link to a post on the official website of the Senate Democrats, which invites people to submit complaints about Mnuchin for his role in the “foreclosure machine.”
The post from the Democrats goes on to explain why they’re using the nickname the "foreclosure king” for Mnuchin.
“Also known as the ‘Foreclosure King,’ Mnuchin earned the nickname for his bank’s practice of buying distressed mortgages during the financial crisis and evicting thousands of homeowners,” the Democrats’ post states.
“As the Chief Executive Officer and owner of OneWest Bank, Mnuchin oversaw what housing advocates called a ‘Foreclosure Machine,’” the Democrats continue.
The post explains the supposed “foreclosure machine” and how it worked.
“The ‘Foreclosure Machine’ repossessed the homes of tens of thousands of American families between 2009 and 2015. These actions only intensified the economic pain of the Great Recession,” the Democrats post states.
“Programs were created and available specifically to help banks like OneWest work with families to modify their mortgages and keep them in their homes,” the Democrats continue.
“Instead, OneWest pursued an aggressive strategy of foreclosing on families to rack up profits. In one case in Minnesota, a homeowner in a foreclosure dispute with OneWest came home in the middle of a blizzard to find that the locks on her house had been changed.”
The Democrats also state that OneWest engaged in “illegal tactics like ‘robo-signing’ — falsifying key documents — to create a wave of foreclosures that kicked more than 36,000 families out of their homes.”
The Democrats also describe what allegedly took place at Financial Freedom, a reverse mortgage servicer owned by OneWest.
“From April 2009 through April 2016, Financial Freedom was responsible for 39% of federally insured reverse-mortgage foreclosures nationwide, despite servicing approximately 17% of the market,” the Democrats state. “This disproportionately high foreclosure rate on reverse mortgages impacted seniors across the country. In one case in Florida, OneWest foreclosed on a 90-year-old woman with a reverse mortgage over a 27-cent payment error in her home insurance.”
The Democrats then ask for anyone affected by the practices of OneWest and/or Financial Freedom to share their story.
After filling in various personal information, including name, email address, street address, phone number, and their particular experiences, visitors to the site are asked to click “yes” or “no” on whether the Democrats can share their story.
If the visitor clicks yes, they are consenting to the use of their story “in print, on the internet, and all other forms of media.”
The Democrats' post doesn’t state that peoples’ stories will be used in the Senate hearing, but odds are fairly good that complaints about Mnuchin’s history at OneWest will come up.