Schumer on IndyMac's failure: Stop blaming me!
Sen. Chuck Schumer today went on another counterattack against federal banking regulators who’ve blamed him for helping cause the failure of IndyMac Bank.
At a news conference, the New York Democrat repeated his contention that the bank’s regulator had been "asleep at the switch." He said his public questioning of IndyMac’s financial health in late June merely stated the obvious.
"The administration is doing what they always do, blaming the fire on the person who called 911," Schumer said, according to the Associated Press’ story from the news conference in New York.
Pasadena-based IndyMac, with $32 billion in assets, was seized by the government Friday. The loss-ridden mortgage lender had faced an outflow of deposits since Schumer on June 26 made public a letter he sent to the Office of Thrift Supervision and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., saying he was "concerned that IndyMac's financial deterioration poses significant risks to both taxpayers and borrowers."
Schumer’s decision to go public with those comments ignited a firestorm in Washington. Regulators on July 2 said he was contributing to "rumors and innuendo" about the bank that could hasten its demise.
On Friday, regulators specifically fingered Schumer for IndyMac’s failure. The Office of Thrift Supervision said in its statement announcing the seizure that "the immediate cause of the closing was a deposit run that began and continued" after Schumer went public with his concerns.
"This institution failed due to a liquidity crisis," OTS Director John Reich said Friday. "Although this institution was already in distress, I am troubled by any interference in the regulatory process," a reference to Schumer.
The FDIC estimates that IndyMac’s failure will cost the agency between $4 billion and $8 billion as it unloads bad loans and makes insured depositors whole.
Schumer today said his June 26 letter contained "no new revelations" about IndyMac. He repeated much of his previous defense of his decision to go public about the bank’s ills, including his assertion that the OTS was "a weak regulator" and that "my job was to try and toughen them up, and that's what I tried to do."
Photo: Sen. Charles E. Schumer by Mark Wilson/Getty Images