Sen. Daniel K. Inouye’s staff contacted federal regulators last fall to ask about the bailout application of an ailing Hawaii bank that he had helped to establish and where he has invested the bulk of his personal wealth.
The bank, Central Pacific Financial, was an unlikely candidate for a program designed by the Treasury Department to bolster healthy banks. The firm’s losses were depleting its capital reserves. Its primary regulator, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., already had decided that it didn’t meet the criteria for receiving a favorable recommendation and had forwarded the application to a council that reviewed marginal cases, according to agency documents.
Two weeks after the inquiry from Inouye’s office, Central Pacific announced that the Treasury would inject $135 million.
Many lawmakers have worked to help home-state banks get federal money since the Treasury announced in October that it would invest up to $250 billion in healthy financial firms. But the Inouye inquiry stands apart because of the senator’s ties to Central Pacific. While at least 33 senators own shares in banks that got federal aid, a review of financial disclosures and records obtained from regulatory agencies shows no other instance of the office of a senator intervening on behalf of a bank in which he owned shares.
Inouye (D-Hawaii) declined a request for an interview but acknowledged in a statement that an aide had called the FDIC to ask about Central Pacific’s application. Inouye said he was not attempting to influence the outcome. The statement did not address Inouye’s personal role in the inquiry, including whether he directed the aide to make the call or knew at the time that it had been made.
Even if Inouye were directly involved, it would not violate the rules the Senate sets for itself, experts said.
He ‘wasn’t trying to influence the outcome’. Bullshit on stilts. If he didn’t have his money in that bank, he would have never picked up the phone. Healthy banks have no business getting this money, and failed banks are supposed to be covered by the FDIC, not the taxpayer. But this is all part of Obama’s socialist nationalization of financial institutions.
Conflict of interest is acceptable under ‘the rules the Senate sets for itself’.