From Glenn Greenwald at Salon comes this piece on Eric Schneiderman, NY AG who is actually not so afraid to do his job. I’m sure that the Wall Street mafiosos are looking for (manufacturing) his Eliot Spitzer moment as we speak. In the meantime, carry on, Mr. Schneiderman, and do it quickly:
But most noteworthy and impressive is his seemingly solitary fight to hold Wall Street accountable for the vast corruption and criminality that spawned the 2008 financial crisis, which continues to impose serious financial hardship and anxiety on hundreds of millions of people around the world. As the U.S. DOJ steadfastly looks the other way and other state Attorneys General prepare to settle all potential charges in exchange for payment of woefully inadequate “cost-of-doing-business” fines, Schneiderman is doing the opposite, aggressively expanding his investigation in a way that could single-handedly sabotage the efforts to permanently protect this industry from accountability: The New York attorney general has requested information and documents in recent weeks from three major Wall Street banks about their mortgage securities operations during the credit boom, indicating the existence of a new investigation into practices that contributed to billions in mortgage losses. Officials in Eric T. Schneiderman’s office have also requested meetings with representatives from Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley . . . The inquiry appears to be quite broad, with the attorney general’s requests for information covering many aspects of the banks’ loan pooling operations. . . The requests for information by Mr. Schneiderman’s office also seem to confirm that the New York attorney general is operating independently of peers from other states who are negotiating a broad settlement with large banks over foreclosure practices. By opening a new inquiry into bank practices, Mr. Schneiderman has indicated his unwillingness to accept one of the settlement’s terms proposed by financial institutions — that is, a broad agreement by regulators not to conduct additional investigations into the banks’ activities during the mortgage crisis. Mr. Schneiderman has said in recent weeks that signing such a release was unacceptable. The investigation is still in its early stages but, at least preliminarily, it seems clear that Schneiderman is unwilling to permit the type of impunity that has been granted over the last decade to lawbreaking telecoms, Bush officials, NSA eavesdroppers and CIA torturers to be quietly extended to Wall Street tycoons, whose plundering precipitated a massive worldwide financial crisis, only to be even more enriched and empowered by the political response. Earlier this month, Scheinderman also issued broad and sweeping subpoenas to two large multi-billion-dollar investment funds and their lawyers at the heart of the mortgage fraud scandal, independently jeopardizing the collective efforts to shield those culprits from accountability: As state attorneys general work on a potential settlement of the nationwide probe of home-loan servicers, Mr. Schneiderman, a Democrat, has expressed concern that a deal could let the companies escape liability for future legal claims. “We believe it’s critical that attorneys general retain their ability to conduct comprehensive investigations of the mortgage crisis and follow the facts wherever they lead,” a spokesman for Mr. Schneiderman said. Further evidence of Schneiderman’s unwillingness to allow the law to be exploited as a corrupted instrument for corporatism is found in his threats to sue the federal government with “aggressive legal action” over its failure to conduct legally mandated environment impact studies for proposed drilling in the Delaware River Basin (which provides 50% of New York’s drinking water). Those threats predictably prompted objections from “oil and gas industry representatives” accustomed to lawless subservience from government officials: especially from the regulatory agencies mandated to compel industry compliance with the law yet which are typically run by former industry officials who do the opposite (as epitomized by the BP official chosen by the Obama administration as a top regulator overseeing land and minerals management).