From liberal Democrats to community bankers, opposition is lining up to President Barack Obama’s choice for Under Secretary for Domestic Finance at the Department of the Treasury: Antonio Weiss.
Weiss is an expert in international finance, particularly mergers and acquisitions, who worked at Lazard, a huge institutional asset management firm, for two decades. But at Treasury, he’ll be overseeing domestic finance, which is mostly unrelated to international issues.
“Neither his background nor his professional experience makes him qualified to oversee consumer protection and domestic regulatory functions at the Treasury,” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), a frequent critic of Wall Street, wrote in an op-ed for Huffington Post.
“As someone who has spent my career focused on domestic economic issues, including a stint of my own at the Treasury Department, I know how important these issues are and how much the people in Treasury can shape policies. I also know that there are a lot of people who have spent their careers focused on these issues, and Weiss isn’t one of them,” she wrote.
Warren also knocked Weiss for helping corporations such as Burger King pull off “inversions,” which allow companies to renounce their U.S. citizenship, so to speak, so they can officially relocate their headquarters in countries that demand fewer taxes.
Lazard, according to Warren, “helped put together three of the last four major corporate inversions that have been announced in the U.S.”
In addition, Weiss’ soon-to-be former employer “moved its own headquarters from the United States to Bermuda in 2005 to take advantage of a particularly slimy tax loophole that was closed shortly afterwards. Even the Treasury Department under the Bush administration found Lazard’s practices objectionable,” she wrote.
Joining Warren in opposing Weiss is the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) trade group, whose president wrote (pdf) to several U.S. senators expressing “serious concerns” with the nomination, according to The Wall Street Journal.
ICBA President Camden Fine said Weiss lacks sufficient understanding of what small and mid-size banks deal with every day to properly oversee them. “While Mr. Weiss has impressive credentials as a top Wall Street executive specializing in international mergers and acquisitions, Wall Street is already well represented at Treasury, and the narrow focus of Mr. Weiss’s professional experience is a serious concern for ICBA and community banks nationwide,” Fine wrote.
To Learn More:
Enough Is Enough: The President’s Latest Wall Street Nominee (by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Huffington Post)
Community Bankers Join Opposition to Treasury Nominee Antonio Weiss (by Victoria McGrane, Wall Street Journal)
Surveillance Privacy: Obama Orders Fox to Guard Chicken Coop (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Another Banking Regulator Goes through the Golden Revolving Door (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Revolving Door at SEC is in a Whirl as Hundreds Hired by Industry they Regulated (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)