Cheat-Seeking Missles

Friday, August 17, 2007

Edwards Worked For, Profited From "Predatory" Lenders

Campaigning in Iowa a few months back, Dem Prez wannabe John "pat a little more on my nose" Edwards, had this to say in his ongoing campaign on behalf of the poor against mortgage lenders:
"While Washington turns a blind eye, irresponsible lenders are pulling a fast one on hard-working homeowners,'' Mr. Edwards said a few days later. ... It's time to put an end to the shameful lending practices that are compromising our strength as a nation."
And just a couple days back, it was this:
"We have a housing crisis on our hands. It's time for the president to show real leadership and stop protecting irresponsible lenders. Because of President Bush's failures, millions of American families are at risk of losing their home and everything they've worked for. The president must stop blaming homeowners, and wake up and realize that our nation's economy has been put at severe risk by irresponsible corporations."
Today, WSJ reports that the most transparently hypocritical of the major candidates may talk a nasty talk, but when it comes to investing, he's more than happy to be the predator, profiting off the very "predatory" lenders he so regularly attacks.

As a presidential candidate, Democrat John Edwards has regularly attacked subprime lenders, particularly those that have filed foreclosure suits against victims of Hurricane Katrina. But as an investor, Mr. Edwards has ties to lenders foreclosing on Katrina victims.

The Wall Street Journal has identified 34 New Orleans homes whose owners have faced foreclosure suits from subprime-lending units of Fortress Investment Group LLC. Mr. Edwards has about $16 million invested in Fortress funds, according to a campaign aide who confirmed a more general Federal Election Commission report. Mr. Edwards worked for Fortress, a publicly held private-equity fund, from late 2005 through 2006.

Edwards, caught like a cockroach in the glare of just flipped on kitchen lights, told WSJ he would divest his Fortress holdings and use his personal funds to help Katrina victims Fortress has foreclosed on.

  • Will he help them with at least as much money as he made off of Fortress, both as an investor and as an employee? Dirty money is dirty money, whether it's a dividend check or a paycheck. (Fortress paid Edwards $479,512 for part-time work in 2006 alone.)
  • Will he do the same for non-Katrina victims of bad mortgages, who he also profited from, or just the high-visibility Katrina victims?
About that half a million dollars for part-time work, which I think most of us will agree is part-time renumeration far beyond what we'll ever see, here's how the WSJ explained Edwards' explanation:
He has said his job at Fortress was to provide information about what he saw happening economically in the U.S. and overseas. He has also said he was there "primarily to learn" about finance.

... he added that he didn't fully understand the firm's complex operations ....
So financial advice from a trial lawyer from the Carolinas who doesn't understand finance is supposed to be worth $479,512 to a sophisticated, complex financial firm? And on the side, they'll pay him to learn so he can offer better advice?

The $479,512 is clearly one big bribe bit of influence-buying and is every bit as reprehensible as hawking scurrilous mortgages to easily duped people.

Hmmm ... that sounds sort of like Edwards, who hawks scurrilous political pandering to easily duped people. Maybe that's the expertise Fortress was paying so well for.

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