Steve Mnuchin, foreclosure king, now runs your US Treasury
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Where do they find these people? Appointed by the president as Cabinet members, many have past lives and records that should immediately disqualify thems for any high office.

Someone who has not been given the attention he so richly deserves is Steven Mnuchin, the new secretary of the Treasury.

Only one Democratic senator voted for him: Joe ManchinJoe ManchinDems struggle with abortion litmus test Senators push 'cost-effective' reg reform Congress nears deal on help for miners MORE of West Virginia. Every other Democratic senator voted a resounding "no."

Sen. Tim KaineTim KaineDemocrats exploring lawsuit against Trump Overnight Defense: US moving missile defense system to South Korea | Dems want justification for Syria strike | Army pick pushes back against critics of LGBT record Kaine, Schiff press Trump on legal justification for Syria strike MORE (D-Va.) said the following of Mnuchin: "His complicity in the 2008 financial crisis raises serious doubts."

Sen. Robert MenendezRobert MenendezTaiwan deserves to participate in United Nations The way forward on the Iran nuclear deal under President Trump Corruption trial could roil NJ Senate race MORE (D-N.J.) went further: "He was part of the cadre of corporate raiders that brought our economy to its knees."

Of the astute businessman's failure to disclose $100 million in an overseas tax haven, Menendez added: "One does not go and create offshore entities at the end of the day other than to avoid, in some form or fashion, the tax laws of the United States. That's pretty simple."

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Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) did not hesitate to call Mnuchin "greedy" and "unethical." She backed it up with these blunt words: "Whether illegally foreclosing on thousands of families, skirting the law with offshore tax havens or helping design tactics that contributed to the 2008 financial crisis, Steve Mnuchin made a career — and millions of dollars — pioneering increasingly deceptive and predatory ways to rob hardworking Americans of their savings and homes."

 

Seemingly, Mnuchin was another one of President Trump's campaign thank-yous. He was one of the very few corporate executives who would actually step forward and be seen raising money for Trump, even going so far as becoming the campaign's national finance chair.

Before that, though, Mnuchin distinguished himself by making out like a bandit during the worst financial crisis our country has faced since the Great Depression.

This is all well-documented by David Dayen, author of "Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street's Great Foreclosure Fraud." In an exhaustive article in The Nation, Dayen chronicles how Mnuchin got fabulously rich while hundreds of thousands lost their homes.

In 2008, Mnuchin made a deal with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). He and his investment group bought a predatory lender named Indy Mac, renaming it "OneWest." They then started foreclosing on homeowners.

While doing that, he "harvested fees for appraisals and inspections and late payments, and got protected by a federal backstop. The FDIC lost $13 billion on Indy Mac; Mnuchin and company made $3 billion in profits."

To make this tidy sum for himself, Mnuchin used something called "servicer-driven defaults." This practice entailed "telling homeowners they must miss payments to get help, and when they do, [the banks] move to foreclose."

The other devious ploy is something called "dual tracking." This is "where servicers negotiate modifications and pursue foreclosures at the same time."

If that were not enough, Dayen cites "a decided racial component. 68 percent of OneWest 36,000 plus foreclosures in California were in non-white areas." In addition, "OneWest was a market leader in foreclosing on the elderly: its subsidiary Financial Freedom carried out a disproportionate number of reverse mortgage foreclosures, which target seniors to suck out their home equity."

Finally, to top it off, OneWest engaged in thousands of "robo signings." This was the odious and fraudulent practice of signing sworn affidavits while not reviewing the documents. Some were signed at "30 seconds a clip." This practice was done "750 times a week on eventually 36,000 plus loans."

Dayen claims that "millions of homeowners were thrown out of their homes based on false documents."

So the long and short of this is that one Steven Mnuchin, who led and sanctioned these horrible business practices, is rewarded with a position that is fifth in the presidential line of succession.

Couldn't Trump find someone who didn't have such a record? Someone who didn't benefit from the misery of others?

The president has demonstrated once again that he so sorely lacks good judgment, and, contrary to his claims, has no apparent skill in picking talented or qualified people to serve our country.

Mark Plotkin is a contributor to the BBC on American politics and a columnist for The Georgetowner. Previously, he was the political analyst for WAMU-FM, Washington's NPR affiliate, and later became the political analyst for WTOP-FM, Washington's all-news radio station. He is a winner of the Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in writing.


The views of contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.