Senators urge Obama to replace Neil Barofsky
The departure of TARP watchdog Neil Barofsky has two U.S. senators up in arms, calling for the president to quickly fill Barofsky's former position of special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Senators Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) penned a letter to President Barack Obama this week, urging him to quickly fill Barofksy's role to ensure TARP funds are closely monitored. “We cannot allow Mr. Barofsky’s departure to mark the end of tough oversight of TARP," the two senators wrote. "Billions of taxpayer dollars remain at stake. We are troubled by recent news reports that some may be seeking to influence and undermine the selection of his successor. The American people, however, deserve the assurance of having a strong watchdog at SIGTARP rooting out waste, fraud or abuse in the use of these funds.” Former President George W. Bush nominated Barofsky to serve as head watchdog over TARP when the program was created three years ago to pump money into lagging financial institutions. Barofsky assumed his duties in late 2008 and stepped down March 30. He will join the New York University School of Law as an adjunct professor. In their letter to President Obama, the senators said, "Despite the fact that the Department of Treasury lost the authority to create new programs under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act last October, TARP is not over." They added, "The program currently has roughly $150 billion in funds outstanding, and Treasury has the authority to disburse billions of more dollars through existing programs. In fact, the dissolution of the Congressional Oversight Panel on April 3, 2011, makes a strong, independent SIGTARP more important than ever." Write to Kerri Panchuk.