Ex-Goldman Banker Behind WSJ 'Smear Campaign' Against Elizabeth Warren
WASHINGTON -- A Wall Street Journal editorial writer who has been closely involved with the paper's recent attacks on Elizabeth Warren is a former Goldman Sachs banker. The same editorial writer, Mary Kissel, is readying another piece critical of Warren and the new consumer agency, according to a source familiar with the coming article.
Like most major newspapers, the Journal does not disclose the authors of its editorials. Kissel recently appeared on the John Batchelor radio show as a representative of the Journal's editorial board to discuss Warren, and repeated the main arguments used in the editorials.
The editorials paint both Warren and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as an immensely powerful, unaccountable organization. The nascent agency is assuming the consumer protection duties currently exercised by regulators at the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
The author, Mary Kissel, worked for Goldman between 1999 and 2002 as a fixed income research and capital markets specialist.
Kissel is listed on the Journal's website as a member of the editorial staff and her bio includes her time at Goldman Sachs and notes that she worked for the company in both New York and London.
On Wednesay, Warren testified before a House subcomittee, providing 34 pages of written answers while submitting to two-and-a-half hours of aggressive questioning from congressional Republicans, who deployed talking points similar to those used in the recent Journal editorials.
"There has definitely been an uptick in attacks on her and on the agency over the past few weeks, it's hard to imagine it hasn't been well-coordinated by somebody," said a source close to Warren. "The smear campaign by The Wall Street Journal's editorial board this week includes the most unfactual and outrageous hit pieces on her yet. If it's true that the author of the editorials and Goldman Sachs coordinated on them, they should both be exposed and called to account."
The headline of Thursday's Journal editorial is "President Warren's Empire," which goes on to say, "The consumer bureau is essentially a bureaucratic rogue. We'd like to see Congress kill the agency entirely. But at the very least Congress should remove it from the Fed, make it part of the Treasury and subject it to annual appropriations."
Bank regulators are not subject to the Congressional appropriations process, because the budgeting game allows banks to lobby against the funding of their own regulator. The only financial regulator subject to this process was the agency charged with overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during the housing bubble, which proved unable to rein in risk-taking at the mortgage giants as they poured lobbying cash into Congress.
In a recent interview, Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) acknowledged that the House GOP's efforts to curtail funding for the CFPB were essentially an effort to prevent the agency from conducting consumer protection regulation.
On Wednesday, the Journal accused Warren and the CFPB of "extorting billions of dollars from private mortgage servicers" in the agency's role as an advisor in negotiations to settle allegations of widespread fraud in the foreclosure process. The editorial also argues that "Ms. Warren is already using the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to tell banks how and to whom to lend money."
The foreclosure process is in disarray, and even Republican state Attorneys General say that banks have broken the law with improper foreclosures. Consumer advocates have accused banks of levying heavy, improper fees against borrowers, driving them into foreclosure, while other borrowers have been foreclosed on without missing any mortgage payments. Banks have also physically broken into the homes of borrowers in order to pursue foreclosures.
Warren has publicly criticized Goldman in testimony before Congress and during on-air interviews with CNBC and Bloomberg. When Warren chaired the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, she told Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) during a hearing that Goldman had not provided her panel with key documents pertaining to the bailout of AIG, from which Goldman reaped over $11 billion. She also said that the Wall Street giant should be investigated for wrongdoing pertaining to the sale of mortgage derivatives during the housing bubble. Goldman eventually settled with the SEC for $550 million over allegations that it defrauded investors.
Kissel declined to comment for this article, and the Journal did not respond to an email requesting comment. Goldman Sachs did not return a call requesting comment.