Bailed-Out Banks, Freddie Mac, AIG Gave $6 Million to 2008 Conventions Published: Saturday 25 August 2012
The two institutions together gave $1 million to the Republican convention host committee. A few months after the conclusion of the convention they were in danger of collapse, and would ultimately receive a combined $139 billion taxpayer bailout.
The donations are possible thanks to a loophole in campaign finance rules that allow corporations, unions and wealthy individuals to give unlimited sums to support the conventions.
It is “absolutely ridiculous” that corporations are able to make such donations, says Craig Holman, a lobbyist for the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen. He calls it “nothing but throwing money at the feet of congressional and White House leaders, presumably with the assumption of getting something in return.”
The federal government filed a civil lawsuit against Bank of America Corp. (BAC), alleging the second-biggest U.S. bank by assets saddled taxpayers with losses by misrepresenting the quality of home loans it sold to mortgage-finance firms Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC) .
The action, filed Wednesday in federal court in Manhattan, seeks at least $1 billion in damages. The filing represents a novel effort by the government to defray costs tied to the 2008 bailout of Fannie and Freddie, and potentially opens a new front against a banking industry already dealing with hefty legal costs.
The government alleges Countrywide, which Bank of America acquired in 2008, dismembered quality control and checks on loan quality in 2007 through 2009, in a process called "the Hustle" that aimed to boost the speed at which it originated and sold loans to the companies. The mortgage unit falsely continued to claim the loans qualified for insurance from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the complaint alleges.
A Bank of America spokesman didn't provide immediate comment. Bank of America shares, up 70% this year, were up six cents in midday trading Wednesday at $9.41.
The government is suing Bank of America under the Federal False Claims Act, which has become a popular tool for prosecutors seeking to hold banks accountable for alleged mortgage misdeeds and calls for triple damages when the government can show taxpayers were ripped off.