Last month, Senate Democrats began collecting complaints from consumers about Steve Mnuchin and OneWest Bank in preparation for Mnuchin’s confirmation hearing to serve as the next Secretary of the Department of the Treasury.
What wasn’t known at the time is what exactly the Democrats planned to do with those complaints.
But Friday, the Democrats showed their hand, asking the leadership of the Senate Committee on Finance to allow “victims of Mnuchin foreclosure machine” to testify at Mnuchin’s confirmation hearing, scheduled to take place Thursday, Jan. 19.
Mnuchin, the Trump administration’s choice to lead the Treasury, is a former executive at Goldman Sachs and former chairman of OneWest Bank.
After leaving Goldman Sachs in 2002, Mnuchin founded Dune Capital Management, a private equity firm.
Mnuchin and his partners at Dune Capital formed OneWest after buying the remains of IndyMac Federal Bank from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in 2009.
And now Democrats want the supposed victims of OneWest’s alleged foreclosure violations to be able to testify about their experiences with the bank before the Senate votes to confirm Mnuchin.
In a letter sent to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, a group of 25 Democratic senators argue that OneWest’s “treatment of thousands of working families struggling to recover from the financial crisis” has a direct bearing on his ability to lead the Treasury.
“We ask that the Finance Committee’s hearing on the nomination of Steven Mnuchin to serve as Secretary of the Treasury include witnesses who can provide context on Mr. Mnuchin’s character and business practices,” the Senators write.
“As you know, Mr. Mnuchin led the bank OneWest for six years in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, during which time the bank foreclosed on thousands of families and threw them out of their homes,” the letter continues. “Before deciding whether Mr. Mnuchin should serve as the country’s top economic official, the Committee should hear from some of these families and other Americans who have had first-hand experience with Mr. Mnuchin or the businesses he has led.”
According to the letter, the committee has an “obligation” to hear from the OneWest customers, citing Senate rules that state that the committee may investigate a nominee’s experience and qualifications.
“Mr. Mnuchin’s tenure at OneWest – and his bank’s treatment of thousands of working families struggling to recover from the financial crisis – bear directly on his qualifications and suitability to serve as Secretary of the Treasury,” the Senators write.
The letter is signed by Sens. Bob Menendez, D-NJ; Cory Booker, D-NJ; Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass; Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich; Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn; Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc; Al Franken, D-Minn; Edward Markey, D-Mass; Chris Van Hollen, D-Md; Richard Durbin, D-Ill.; Maizie Hirono, D-Hawaii; Bob Casey, D-Pa; Jeff Merkley, D-Ore; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY; Ben Cardin, D-Md; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Bernie Sanders, D-Vt; Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill; Diane Feinstein, D-Calif; Chris Murphy, D-Conn; Gary Peters, D-Mich; Maggie Hassan, D-NH; Patty Murray, D-Wash; Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI; and Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH.
“If confirmed to serve as Treasury Secretary, Mr. Mnuchin would be responsible for administering loan modification and foreclosure prevention programs established following the 2008 crisis,” the Senators continue.
“And as the Chairman of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, Mr. Mnuchin would be responsible for helping spot and stop the next financial crisis – rather than profiting from it,” the Senators add.
“His bank’s treatment of families seeking to avoid foreclosure is critical to assessing his fitness to serve as the nation’s top economic policy official,” the Senators conclude. “To fulfill the Senate’s constitutional duty, the Finance Committee should hear testimony from a broad range of individuals familiar with Mr. Mnuchin and his business practices.”