Bank of America

NOT a Rumor – Bank of America Quits ALEC

Yesterday we posted a rumor that Bank of America was quitting ALEC, as confirmed by Walden Management.  Turns out, it was not a rumor

Today we learn Bank of America dropped its membership in ALEC, the secretive corporate lobbying group that writes much of the anti-worker legislation passed in state legislatures these days.

A Bank of America representative confirmed the company will not renew its membership in ALEC due to budgetary reasons. The bank was responding to investor letters asking that it dump ALEC.

To read the rest of Whoa! Bank of America Cuts Ties to ALEC from Teamster Nation, please click here

BofA to Quit ALEC?

Last summer, a cousin who is a stockbroker, sent me a link from a group called Social Funds.  (http://www.socialfunds.com/news/article.cgi/3592.html

As I’ve followed the corporate defections from ALEC and Heartland, Walden Management kept coming up in the conversation. I’ve not found a great deal about them that is not in the Social Funds article linked to and shown above.  Hadn’t really given them much thought lately as the exodus of corporations from ALEC and fellow cabal member Heartland had quieted down.

Well, the same folks who organized the large BofA protest at the BofA Shareholder’s Meeting here in Charlotte earlier this year, are apparently looking at keeping up the pressure on BofA and organizing a follow-up protest.  As I was going through my archives to review the process that they used to organize their protest–a very effective process, by the way–I ran across some notes I had that mentioned Walden Management.  Having just heard some rumors during last Saturday’s “Who is Controlling your Politicians” rally about the relationship between Bank of America and ALEC, I decided to look up Walden Management to see if perhaps they knew anything about this.

I spoke with Tim Smith, identified in the Social Funds article as Walden’s “Senior Vice President and Director of ESG Shareholder Engagement for Walden Asset Management, (who had) urged the companies “to examine safeguards and processes in place to ensure that membership in and support for organizations that influence public policy do not undermine” their reputations.

(The letter was signed by 41 investors with approximately $25 billion in assets under management.)

I reached Tim Smith by telephone late this afternoon and asked him about the rumor I had heard,  He confirmed to me that BofA will be leaving ALEC in 2013 “for budgetary reasons”.  Tim told me that he had sent out an e-mail to someone involved in the exposing ALEC movement that he worked with, notifying him/her about Walden’s success with BofA.  (Talk about timing!)  He said he would send me a copy of the e-mail, but I suspect that the 5:00 bell rang before he could do it.

For whatever reason, there is no mention of this anywhere that I can find on the internet, despite his assurance that he had notified people yesterday.  And that is why I am calling this a rumor as I have not seen any written confirmation at this moment–just the word of the person who apparently worked to secure this incredibly great action.

Living in Charlotte, Bank of America is a subject of great interest as it has been the target of numerous protests by a number of different groups, most notably the Pushback Network (Brigid Flaherty), Occupy Wall Street, and the Occupy groups in North Carolina–Winston-Salem, Charlotte, Greensboro, Asheville, Durham, Raleigh, Carrboro…all the way out to Occupy Wilmington (NC) on the coast.

As Bank of America is of such great interest in Charlotte— and should be of interest to all following the ALEC Insurrection– I thought I would go public with this as a “rumor” until I get written confirmation.

My personal thanks to Tim Smith at Walden Management for his efforts to use the power of their portfolio to communicate with the shareholders of many corporations involved in ALEC and the Heartland Institute. 

As for Social Funds, I’ve got to find out more about their socially responsible investment management,

 

US sues Bank of America for $1bn over ‘hustle’ mortgage fraud scheme

Civil suit accuses bank of selling dodgy mortgages to government-controlled financiers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Bank of America defrauded the US government in a scheme called “the hustle”, federal prosecutors alleged on Wednesday as they sued the bank $1bn in compensation.

The justice department filed a civil complaint in New York seeking recompense for some of the massive losses suffered by quasi-government controlled mortgage finance firms Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae following the collapse of the ill-fated housing boom.

In a scheme that was “spectacularly brazen in scope” Preet Bharara, US attorney for the southern district of New York, said the bank “made disastrously bad loans and stuck taxpayers with the bill”.

The charges relate to Countrywide Financial, once the largest seller of sub-prime home loans. Countrywide was bought by Bank of America for $2.5bn in 2008 as the loan firm headed toward collapse. It has since cost the bank tens of billions of dollars in write-offs for bad loans, legal costs and settlements with government agencies.

Bharara charges that the Bank of America continued Countrywide’s abusive practices even after the purchase. “Countrywide and Bank of America systematically removed every check in favor of its own balance – they cast aside underwriters, eliminated quality controls, incentivized unqualified personnel to cut corners, and concealed the resulting defects,” he said.

To read more about this landmark suit against Bank of America for its part in defrauding homebuyers and mortgage applicants, please click here

Carney–Did She Really Want to Override the Anti-Fracking Veto

A couple of days ago I wrote about how long time legislator NC Rep Becky Carney pushed the wrong button and ended up being the key vote to override the veto of legislation that would allow fracking in NC.  At the time I said I smelled a rat.

One of my colleagues here at VLTP who is brilliant with numbers and their analysis, took a look into Carney. I mean, just think about it.  How difficult is it to imagine a 5 term representative with literally hundreds of votes just in this past legislative session–perhaps thousands in her career–pressing the green “yea” button instead of the red “nay” button.

A person who has been fighting fracking very hard assures me that people “in the know” understand that she made a legitimate error.

Well, I’m not so sure about Carney’s mistake.  And here is why:

Our whiz looked at the career (public record) campaign financing of this 5 term Representative from Mecklenburg County which, with over 919,628 residents, is the largest county in North Carolina.  From these residents, Carney received $24,670 from “individual contributors”

But these “individual contributions  included funds that I would consider as being from business:

  • contributions from the president of Summit Hospitality Group (headquartered in Raleigh, Wake County being the second largest county in NC)
  • contributions from executives at the Speedway Motorsports Inc
  • contributions form executives at Performance Racing network
  • contributions from executives at Lowes Motor Speedway

That brings the total of her individual contributions down to $14,760.  Not a lot of money considering her 5 years in office and the patronage she should have built up among her constituents.  It works out to $12.46 per constituent per year.  That does not appear very impressive.

Over the course of her career in the Legislature, Carney has received total contributions of $281,469.57.   All of 5.2% coming from constituents, the rest coming from PAC and special interests. Included in the total contributions are monies from PACs with ALEC connections, with banking/finance connections, and with energy connections.  Here are some of the names on the list, from those with ALEC connections:

AT&T, Bank of America, Blue Cross / Blue Shield NC, CenturyLink, Coca-Cola. CSX. Dominium Resources Inc, General Electric, GlaxoSmithKline International Paper. John Deere, Microsoft. PepsiCo. Time Warner, WalPac (aka WalMart).

The Banking industry was well represented by PACs of Citigroup, First Citizens Bank Combined, North Carolina Bank, Resident Lenders of North Carolina, Security Finance Corp of Spartanburg, Wachovia NC Employees, Wells Fargo and Co

Energy companies were represented by PACs of  Dominium, Duke, Progress Energy, PSNC Energy.

And, of course, there is the PAC representing conservative stalwart the Chamber of Commerce.

95% from PACs and special interests.  5% from individual contributors.

In all honesty I have to admit that don’t know if this proportion of fundraising is normal or not.  But I do know that PAC donations–especially from ALEC–come with strings attached.  If this is the norm, then we need to throw out all our current legislators until comprehensive campaign finance reform is accomplished.  They are all far too beholden to corporate interests.  If this is not the norm, what does it say about Becky Carney?

Now, following the money, who do you really think she pushed that button for?

Protesters Dump Coal at Bank of America

About 30 people – including Beth Henry who spoke about the impact of coal on the environment –  and members of Occupy Charlotte, staged a “bad air day” to protest Bank of America’s financing of the coal industry.  They dumped 500 pounds of coal and then cleaned it up with a “Citizen Clean-Up Crew”.

Bank of America, a member of ALEC, is one of the largest funders of the coal industry–which includes Charlotte based Duke Energy.

You can see photos of this action in our Photo Gallery,