Saturday, April 12, 2014

This petition points up the symbiotic relationship between Wall Street and Washington... regardless of which party is in power

CREDO action
Why is the White House backing Bank of America’s $9 million man?
The petition reads:
"President Obama: The $9 million bonus paid by Bank of America to Stefan Selig as he left the mega-bank to enter government service might not be illegal, but it is scandalous. You have a duty to stop the corrupt revolving door between big business and government. Withdraw Mr. Selig’s nomination and instead nominate someone who will give us confidence that our trade policy isn’t being bought and sold."
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Dear Jim,
President Obama: Stop the revolving door
When former Wall Street banker Stefan Selig was nominated for a senior Commerce Department role that is central to trade negotiations, Bank of America (where he worked at the time as a top executive) paid him a special $9 million “exit” bonus.1
Even for those of us used to the obscene spectacle of corruption known as the revolving door between government and big business, this is both eye-popping and scandalous.
Let’s be clear, the $9 million was not a normal yearly bonus. It was an extra bonus on top of a $5.1 million incentive bonus given to him for his job performance. And it was given to him right as he was poised to gain the power to write Bank of America’s interests directly into our trade agreements.
Even the strong appearance of corruption can damage confidence in our democracy -- it doesn’t have to be proven to be a quid pro quo relationship. This nomination and Selig’s “exit” bonus of $9 million clearly crosses that line.
If confirmed, Selig would play a major role negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is already little more than a secret corporate power grab masquerading as a “trade” deal.
Senator Elizabeth Warren warned last year that trade deals like the TPP could provide an opportunity for “banks to get something done quietly out of sight that they could not accomplish in a public place with the cameras rolling and the lights on.”2
Indeed, leaked chapters of the TPP included provisions that would majorly hamstring the ability of governments to stem the next banking crisis.3
Other provisions would allow multinational corporations to sue governments in foreign courts that are staffed by corporate lawyers when governmental regulations cut into corporate profit.4
It’s bad enough that these anti-democratic, pro-corporate provisions are being considered behind a veil of secrecy as part of a process that has been deemed classified by our government.
Allowing Mr. Selig to play a key role in the negotiations going forward would raise a real question about whether our trade policy is being bought and paid for. President Obama has a duty to prevent this from happening.
President Obama can’t deny the harm that comes when the American people don’t have faith that our government officials are working for us -- not their future or former employer.
When he was running for president, Barack Obama highlighted the corrupt nature of the revolving door and campaigned repeatedly on the need to stop it.
But his efforts in this respect have largely focused on registered lobbyists, and even then the results have been uneven at best. And his nominations for trade-related positions have completely missed the mark.
It’s bad enough that the current U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman received more than $4 million from Citigroup when he left that Wall Street bank to join the administration in 2009.5
If the White House continues pushing the nomination of Stefan Selig after this more recent revelation, it would be a clear signal that the appearance of corruption has dropped off the list of concerns for President Obama.
Tell President Obama: Withdraw the Selig nomination. Click the link below to automatically sign the petition:
Thank you for speaking out.
Matt Lockshin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets
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