With Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin’s Senate confirmation hearing set for this Thursday, advocates for reining in the power of Wall Street are raising serious concerns based on Mnuchin’s history at Goldman Sachs and especially his aggressive foreclosure practices at the helm of OneWest Bank. A growing number of OneWest borrowers are coming forward and becoming the face of the outcry against Mnuchin. Some even plan to be in Washington, DC this week to witness Mr. Mnuchin’s confirmation hearing and share their stories with lawmakers.
Mr. Mnuchin’s nomination to Secretary Treasury has already been dogged by numerous stories of sympathetic struggling homeowners being forced from their homes during the depths of the financial crash while Mnuchin and fellow investors enriched themselves. They include a 90-year old Florida woman who faced foreclosure after a payment was short by twenty-seven cents, and a Minnesota woman who returned home from work in the middle of a blizzard to find the locks changed on her house while trying to negotiate a loan modification.
Several of the homeowners who faced foreclosure from Mnuchin’s bank are now become increasingly vocal and active, working in partnership with financial reform and housing advocates and Democrats in the Senate who are raising questions about Mnuchin’s fitness for the office.
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They include Lisa Fraser, an Oregon woman who was aggressively foreclosed on while her husband was battling terminal cancer — despite a long history of on-time payments. Fraser stars in a 30 second TV advertisement produced by a coalition of organizations pressing for stronger financial reforms and a smaller role for Wall Street in government. In the video, Fraser, now a widow, looks directly at the camera and says” Steve Mnuchin ran than bank that committed fraud and took my home.”
Organizers are also draw attention to Mr. Mnuchin’s history at Goldman Sachs, the investment banking behemoth that Donald Trump reviled on the campaign trail but to which he is now turning to fill several high level posts in his administration, including Treasury. In New York City, activists have begun a multi-day protest outside Goldman Sachs’ headquarters in lower Manhattan calling attention to the contrast between Trump’s “drain the swamp” rhetoric and his appointment of Goldman Sachs alumnae such as Mr. Mnuchin to powerful government positions. Over the following days similar protests will be unfolding in Las Vegas, Boulder, and Los Angeles.
On Wednesday in Los Angeles the demonstrators will be joined by Rose Gudiel, a community activist who had a very public conflict with Mnuchin when OneWest tried to foreclose on her home in 2011. While seeking a loan modification to avoid foreclosure, Gudiel organized a group of over 100 neighbors, friends and supportrs to rally at Mr. Mnuchin’s expansive Bel Air estate to protest against her foreclosure. Gudiel was successful in her appeal of the foreclosure but knows that some 35,000 California homeowners weren’t so lucky. She plans to lead a march back to Mnuchin’s residence today following the demonstration outside Goldman Sachs.
Another former OneWest borrower, Heather McCreary from Nevada, told her story in an email that progressive political organizations have been sending to their members to urge them to call Senators in opposition to Mnuchin’s appointment. ” During the financial crisis that began in 2008, millions of Americans like me lost their jobs, their homes, and their life savings. But for a handful of Wall Street insiders, the crisis was an opportunity to make the super rich even richer. I pray our country never faces another Great Recession, but if we do, we need people in positions of power who will look out for those of us who are hit the hardest — not those who only want to enrich themselves.” her message says.
Mrs. Mcreary is one of several former One West borrowers who have come to Washington, DC this week to witness Mr. Mnuchin’s confirmation hearing and to tell their stories to lawmakers.
This afternoon they will get a boost from an ally with one of the biggest megaphones in Washington, DC: Senator Elizabeth Warren.
While perhaps the country’s best known financial justice crusader, Warren doesn’t sit on the Finance Committee which will hold hearings on Mnuchin’s appointment starting Thursday, so to Mr. Mnuchin’s likely relief, she won’t be among the Democrats who get to interrogate him directly over his foreclosure practices or his Wall Street insider connections. She is, however, holding a separate hearing at which four of the growing number of individuals who have come forward with stories of wrongful foreclosure at the hands of Mnuchin’s bank will be witnesses. Among them will be Colleen Hodruff, an octogenarian from Minnesota whose husband had a reverse mortgage with OneWest subsidiary “Financial Freedom.” The Hodruff’s were assured that Colleen would be able to continue to live in the home after her husband passed away, but just days after his death the bank sent a foreclosure notice and gave her 60 days to vacate the property.”
Contacts for additional information:
The California Reinvestment Coalition has been organizing OneWest Foreclosure victims, including those who are attending Senator Warren’s hearing today. To speak with CRC Executive Director, Paulina Gonzalez, contact Sean Coffey: [email protected]
To arrange interviews with any of the foreclosure victims themselves, contact Charlie DiPasquale: [email protected]
Goldman Sachs protests across the country are being organized by the Center for Popular Democracy and its local partners.
For more information about the protests at Goldman Sachs in New York City, contact Renata Pumerol: [email protected]
For more information about the Goldman Sachs protest in Las Vegas, Nevada, contact Jordan Haedtler: [email protected]
For more information about the Goldman Sachs protest in Los Angeles and the march to Mr. Mnuchin’s estate, or to arrange interviews with Rose Gudiel, contact Peter Kuhns: [email protected]
The TV advertisements featuring Lisa Fraser are sponsored by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Allied Progress, and Demand Progress.
For more information contact Kaitlin Sweeny: [email protected]
Take on Wall Street is coordinating campaign activities across the country in opposition to Mnuchin’s appointment. For comment on Mnuchin or background on the campaign contact: [email protected]