Let’s Hear From Steve Mnuchin’s OneWest Customers

On Thursday, January 19, the Senate Finance Committee will hold its hearing on the nomination of Steve Mnuchin for Secretary of our Treasury Department. Here are two paragraphs from the letter sent by Senators Menendez, Warren, Stabenow, Blumenthal, Franken, Markey, Van Hollen, Durbin, Hirono, Casey, Merkley, Gillibrand, Cardin, Brown, Sanders, Booker, Duckworth, Feinstein, Murphy, Peters, Hassan, Murray, Whitehouse, Baldwin, and Shaheen. to Orrin Hatch asking for outside witnesses to testify at the hearing:

Mr. Mnuchin’s tenure at OneWest – and his bank’s treatment of thousands of working families struggling to recover from the financial crisis – bear directly on his qualifications and suitability to serve as Secretary of the Treasury.  In the wake of the crisis, Mr. Mnuchin led a team of investors in purchasing a failed bank, which they rebranded as OneWest.  Under Mr. Mnuchin’s leadership, OneWest was known as a “foreclosure machine.”  The bank foreclosed on more than 36,000 homeowners, including the Schaffers – an elderly California couple who lost their home of nearly 50 years even though they had qualified for a government-assisted loan modification – and a 90-year-old woman in Florida after a payment error led to a 27-cent shortfall on her account. The Federal Reserve fined OneWest for foreclosure abuses during Mr. Mnuchin’s tenure.  Yet within six years, Mr. Mnuchin and the rest of his investor group sold OneWest and pocketed nearly $1.5 billion in profits.    

If confirmed to serve as Treasury Secretary, Mr. Mnuchin would be responsible for administering loan modification and foreclosure prevention programs established following the 2008 crisis.  And as the Chairman of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, Mr. Mnuchin would be responsible for helping spot and stop the next financial crisis – rather than profiting from it.  His bank’s treatment of families seeking to avoid foreclosure is critical to assessing his fitness to serve as the nation’s top economic policy official.

You can contact the Senate Finance Committee at 202-224-4515 or by fax at 202-228-0554.

Here is the Consent Order signed by Mr. Mnuchin as President of OneWest.

Here is a brief script you can use in a phone call to your senator, or to any member of the Senate Finance Committee:

I am calling because I’m worried about the prospect of Steve Mnuchin as my banker. Mr. Mnuchin has a documented history of predatory lending practices aimed at vulnerable consumers. Under his leadership, OneWest became known as a “foreclosure machine,” and was fined by the Office of Thrift Supervision for the kind of unsound lending practices that led to the housing crisis. There are also credible allegations of racial redlining by OneWest during Mr. Mnuchin’s tenure there.

I am asking you to make every effort to ensure that the Senate Finance Committee hears from some of the people who have personal knowledge of what happened when Mr. Mnuchin led OneWest Bank, including OneWest mortgage customers. I think the committee needs that insight in order to assess how Mr. Mnuchin will behave as my country’s chief financial officer.

Thank you for your attention.

Posted in Banking & Finance, Cabinet Appointments, Calls & Letters, Civil Rights.