It is no exaggeration to say that there is no elected official in Massachusetts who is more closely, personally connected than Governor Patrick to the predatory lending that most economists blame for the 2008 economic melt-down that triggered the on-going recession.
Most voters who pay attention are vaguely aware that Patrick sat on the board of directors of Ameriquest - a subprime mortgage lending company that was oft-accused of predatory lending. Patrick actually used that association as a plus in his first run on 2006, claiming he had been brought in to help clean up a troubled company. By 2010 that story was completely debunked - not that the Boston political media cared to pay much of any attention to it.
Patrick wasn't just on the board of Ameriquest. He has a long, strange relationship with the company that is chronicled in a book that came out at the tail end of the 2010 election campaign (too late to get any attention). Here's a bit from the Herald's review at the time:
|For the Occupation's reading list|
“The Monster: How a Gang of Predatory Lenders and Wall Street Bankers Fleeced America - And Spawned a Global Crisis,” by reporter Michael Hudson, chronicles how former Ameriquest owner Roland Arnall led a cocaine-fueled boiler room culture of predatory lenders who helped create the subprime mortgage crisis that caused the Great Recession.As a Justice Department lawyer, Patrick first met Arnall while investigating his company. The book said the $4 million penalty that Patrick exacted allowed Arnall to use $1 million of the money to pay off interest groups and, according to author Hudson, Arnall and his company “came out smelling pretty well.”The future Bay State governor was quickly won over by the cunning billionaire, according to the book. Patrick eventually landed a very lucrative spot on the board of Ameriquest’s parent company and later backed Arnall for an ambassadorship.
I'm not sure anyone has ever written at length about just how extraordinary it was for a guy who prosecuted a company to end up a compensated member of that company's board a few years later.
And Ameriquest wasn't exactly tangential to the melt-down, by the way. Ameriquest sold over $45 billion in sub-prime loans to Lehman Brothers and other Wall Street firms, contributing directly to Lehman's collapse and, shortly thereafter, the housing bubble explosion that took down the economy.
Flash forward to 2007, when as our sitting Governor, Patrick made a highly improper personal phone call to Robert Rubin at CitiGroup, in support of Ameriquest's bid for a massive bail-out (CitiGroup acquired Ameriquest in 2008 and shuttered its mortgage arm). At the time, Patrick claimed he'd made the call as a private citizen, as if it were possible to step outside of his official self when trying to leverage his personal influence on behalf of a controversial private company. The fact that the Governor took far more political damage for his choice of office drapes than he did for his Ameriquest call is truly ridiculous.
Apparently a few "Occupiers" heckled the Governor yesterday. Most, however, welcomed him with open arms - despite the fact that he personifies much of what the movement claims to abhor.
|Not what the Governor wore yesterday|