Here’s a curious tale that you’re not likely to see in the Richmond Times-Dispatch or other Media General outlet.
Diane Cantor, a veteran finance industry official and wife of GOP Congressional wunderkind Eric Cantor, is an executive of a bank that got a $267 million federal bailout even though conservative Cantor has at times publicly opposed the federal bailout program.
According to the investigative journalism Website propublica.org, New York Private Bank and Trust was the beneficiary of a Treasury Department purchase of $267 million work of the bank’s preferred stock to shore it up. The bank is the holding company for Emigrant Bank with 35 branches mostly around New York City. Diane Cantor runs the Virginia branch of Emigrant’s wealth-management division, Virginia Private Bank & Trust, which targets wealthy clients.
Diane Cantor is also a director on the board of Media General, which owns the Times-Dispatch whose editorial staff gushes constantly about how wonderful Cantor, now House Republican Whip, and his wife are. The newspaper does note Mrs. Cantor’s association with the board, but as far as the newspaper’s editorial and news staffs go, “never is heard a discouraging word” about the Cantors. The TD acts as Cantor’s personal PR machine since he is seen as an up-and-coming young Republican leader destined to re-energize the now-hapless GOP leadership left in shambles after eight years of Bush-Cheney-Rove.
Prorepublica.org did talk with Cantor’s office which says that Eric did not know about the bailout of his wife’s bank and did notihng to intercede for it.
If that’s the truth, then Cantor is in a somewhat better position than Rep. Barney Frank, the outspokenly liberal chair of the House Financial Services Committee. Frank, a Democrat, admits he did intercede to get OneUnited Bank of Boston federal bailout money. Frank insists it was a legitimate attempt to help the minority-owned bank, according to The Boston Globe.
Even so, the news puts Cantor in an awkward position. Last summer, when the Bush Administration’s proposal for a $700 billion bailout of troubled financial companies was introduced, Cantor initially pushed for an alternative structure so taxpayers wouldn’t have to pay for it. Cantor suggested using investors on Wall Street to fund the bailout.
He ended up up supporting the program which has ended up giving Diane’s bank taxpayer money. More recently, he voted against releasing the second tranche of the funds.
What’s next is up for grabs. There has been plenty of criticism of the $700 billion bailout program which former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson introduced in a spare, two-and-a-half page long proposal so vague that it wouldn’t get an Average Joe an auto loan. Paulson initially suggested the bailout be used to buy up toxic loans, but since it has been used for just about everything else, from stock buys of banks, to funding bank acquisitions, to helping auto companies and their finance firms.
Barack Obama’s team is ready to propose major restructurings and major re-regulation of the Bushies’ giveaway that has benefited lots of Wall Street insiders as well as Diane whether Eric knew of it or not.
It isn’t clear if anything was done wrong here. The sad part is that because of Media General’s corporate monopoly over news coverage in much of the state, not many Virginians are likely to learn of what is a legitimate news story at all. And that’s a damned shame.