Did The Romneys’ Auto Bailout Bonanza Violate Federal Ethics Law?

Greg Palast for The National Memo

At the same time, taxpayer-subsidized Delphi expanded its workforce in China to 25,000. Today, Delphi supplies GM and Chrysler parts from Mexico and China.

This week, Republican vice-presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan arrived in Ohio to accuse the Obama administration of cutting the pensions of the Delphi non-union pensioners. In fact, says the UAW’s King, it was the Singer-Romney group that simply refused to pay any pensions whatsoever to union and non-union workers alike. The company’s $6.2 billion pension obligation, says King, “was dumped on the US government Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC) which is limited by law – not by President Obama – in the sums it can pay retirees.”

None of this surprises observers of Paul Singer’s hedge fund, Elliott Management, which partnered with Ann Romney. Elliott is notorious for what the finance industry calls “vulture” attacks, in which speculators seize old debts of bankrupt corporations – and even nations –  then demand payments of ten or a hundred times their investment, while making threats of economic ruin.

These vulture tactics are at the core of charges in the ethics complaint, which cites not just Elliott’s seizure of Delphi but the hedge fund’s infamous attacks on the treasuries of the Congo and Peru, which have caused an international diplomatic uproar.

Last April, President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took the extraordinary step of filing an action in a US federal court to stop the Singer fund’s vulture attacks on Argentina. The government argued that the actions of Singer (and thus also his partners, the Romneys) have a “significant, detrimental impact on our foreign relations.”

The Singer group responded to the U.S. State Department legal action by seizing the Argentine Navy’s training ship, Libertad, which is a square-rigged sailing frigate.  Which seems to suggest that the Romneys now own a piece of a real-life pirate ship.

Public Citizen’s ethics expert, Dr. Craig Holman, notes that as president, Romney would have to choose between U.S. allies and his business partners. He is barred by law from using a “blind trust” to conceal such conflicts of interest.

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Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits:  How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, which along with his Nation magazine article on the bailout helped to trigger the public interest complaint against Mitt Romney to the Office of Government Ethics.

 

Greg Palast

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