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Congress names special panel to probe the financial crisis

July 15, 2009 | 12:01 pm

Congressional leaders today announced the members of the special panel that will investigate the causes of the financial crisis, and the group includes some names that weren’t on many short lists.

Among the surprises: Democrats picked former California Treasurer Phil Angelides to chair the 10-member panel.

Brooksley Born, who chaired the Commodity Futures Trading Commission from August 1996 to mid-1999 and who pushed, unsuccessfully, to boost regulation of derivative securities, was tapped, as expected.

But fans of New York University economics professor Nouriel Roubini, who predicted much of what has happened to the economy, will be disappointed to find out that he won’t be on the panel.

Congress created the bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to launch a broad probe into the credit debacle and the resulting crash in financial markets. The commission’s final report will be due in December 2010.

The panel, which will have subpoena power, is supposed to be modeled on the Pecora Commission, which investigated the events that led to the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression.

The Democrats’ choices, announced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada:

Angelides --- Angelides, a veteran California politician who was state treasurer from 1999 to 2007 and who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2006. He now is chairman of Canyon-Johnson Urban Communities Fund, a partnership of Magic Johnson and Canyon Capital Realty Advisors that aims to invest in rental housing for working families in urban communities.

--- Born, who now chairs the board of the National Women's Law Center.

--- Byron Georgiou, a partner at Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins, the world's largest plaintiffs securities practice.

--- Former Florida Sen. Bob Graham. He was widely expected to be one of the Democrats’ picks.

--- Heather Murren, now chairwoman of the Board of Nevada Cancer Institute and a former Merrill Lynch securities analyst.

--- John W. Thompson, former CEO of security software firm Symantec Corp. in Cupertino, Calif.

The Republicans’ four choices for the panel, announced by House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky:

--- Former House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas, who will be vice chairman of the commission. He was expected to be a shoo-in as a GOP choice.

--- Keith Hennessey, an economic advisor to President George W. Bush from 2002-2007.

--- Doug Holtz-Eakin, former Congressional Budget Office director and Sen. John McCain’s advisor on domestic and economic policy in last year’s presidential campaign.

--- Peter Wallison, co-director for Financial Policy Studies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

-- Tom Petruno

Photo: Former California Treasurer Phil Angelides. Credit: Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times