Examiner Editorial: Financial crisis panel stonewalls Congress

When Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, sent a letter on July 27 requesting information from the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, we hoped commission chairman Phil Angelides would finally respond appropriately to The Examiner’s numerous requests for information and data on his panel’s spending and staffing. Issa is the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and he is well-known for aggressive and effective congressional oversight. Angelides had refused to provide The Examiner with information on the FCIC’s expenditure of tax dollars, or what compensation was being paid to commission staff, contractors and consultants.

Even as Angelides, the former California state treasurer, was denying our requests, he was asking Congress for more money. But it turns out that this newspaper is not the only recipient of Angelides’ disdain. On Aug. 30, Issa revealed in a letter to oversight committee chairman Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., that Angelides had responded to his letter “in a manner which can most charitably be described as perfunctory, ignoring all of the serious issues raised.”

Towns should waste no time in demanding that Angelides stop playing games. The FCIC’s mission is to investigate and report on the causes of the 2008 financial crisis, but Angelides is spending valuable time and money in blocking legitimate requests for information and data on his management of that effort. Such scrutiny is surely warranted: Despite being given an initial $8 million taxpayer-funded budget, Angelides requested another $1.8 million from Congress. In addition, The Examiner has evidence of multiple conflicts of interest among panel staff members, including one individual who is a former employee of several firms that played major roles in the crisis. In fact, the commission’s executive director, Wendy Edelberg, was assigned to her duties from the Federal Reserve, whose chairman, Ben Bernanke, appeared at an FCIC hearing just last week. Issa also noted in his letter to Towns that FCIC staff member Greg Feldberg appears to be related to Chester B. “Chet” Feldberg, “one of the three trustees charged with managing the taxpayers’ 80 percent stake in AIG.”

Angelides’ management has caused disarray within the commission. For example, commissioners weren’t aware that Angelides and vice-chairman Bill Thomas went to New York seeking a publisher for the panel’s forthcoming report. They also wonder how the two could pitch a book the contents of which remain unknown even to the commissioners. If the commission’s forthcoming report is as disorganized as the commission has been, taxpayers will demand to know why and how $10 million of their money was wasted.

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