Judicial Watch obtained some documents last week that open the door a bit on the backroom coercion used by ex-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on bank CEO’s to sign onto TARP. If you were expecting to see a smooth operator in action, you’re going to be disappointed. From The Foundry, Paulson and the Banks: What an Offer You Can’t Refuse Looks Like:
The fateful meeting appears from the documents like a James Bond movie performed by the Keystone Kops. The nine bank CEOs were called to the gathering without being told why. Once there, they were – as evidenced by ‘talking points’ used by Paulson – told in no uncertain terms that they would be selling stock to the feds. “We plan to announce the program tomorrow – and that your nine firms will be the initial participants.” In case anyone missed the subtle message, Paulson added “We don’t believe it is tenable to opt out, because doing so would leave you vulnerable and exposed.”
There was no mention of a trap door for anyone who declined, although it would have seemed fitting.
The hardball tactics, however, were accompanied by the rather slapdash and confused execution of the meeting. Even the documents handed out to the CEOs – by which they agreed to transfer billions in ownership rights to Washington, were almost comical – with CEOs asked to write out in long hand the name of their institution, and the amount they were transferring. It looked more like a deposit slip for $100, than an eleven-figure transaction.
This bunch can’t even run a crime efficiently.
Update: On second thought, maybe forcing them to fill in the blanks was meant to demonstrate government power over them, kind of like forcing your victim to dig his own grave at gunpoint. That is a really ugly thought. Is the Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight smart enough to think of that?