Today, I'm proud to become the first congressional candidate in the nation to air a TV ad that stands for a simple, principled idea: Wall Street bankers who broke the law belong in jail.
I've made Wall Street accountability a core issue in my heated Democratic primary against two more conservative opponents in New Mexico's first congressional district. If candidates like Elizabeth Warren and me win this year, it will send a signal to the political establishment that it's time to truly hold Wall Street accountable.
Here are five specific things I would do if elected to Congress:
- Fight to increase 20-fold the number of investigators for the financial crimes federal task force led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Right now, this task force only has 55 investigators and prosecutors. The Savings and Loan crisis of the 1980s was staffed with over 1000 investigators, experts and prosecutors. That effort yielded more than 600 convictions and $130,000,000 for taxpayers. One of the first bills I offer will be to increase the funding and staffing for this financial crimes task force.
- Push for increased funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -- the federal watchdog on Wall Street, created by Elizabeth Warren -- to strengthen its investigative capabilities. Even a small additional investment can avert billions, or trillions, of dollars in economic damage by Wall Street.
- Push the U.S. Justice Department to more aggressively prosecute white-dollar crimes by Wall Street bankers. To this day, not one Wall Street banker who broke the law, tanked the economy and took away people's homes and savings are in jail. We need to hold them accountable, and members of Congress can exert key leverage with the Justice Department to make investigations and prosecutions happen.
- Strengthen the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and close the loophole in the legislation's "Volcker Rule" that was exploited by JPMorgan recently, when their risky bets lost $2 billion. Many of the legislation's provisions are designed to go in effect in 2014, so the rules are still being written. Congress can't allow Wall Street bankers to write their own rules -- we need Wall Street reform to stay on the agenda in Congress.
- Pass a new Glass-Steagall Act to separate investment banks from traditional banking -- so people's life savings are not gambled away by Wall Street. Elizabeth Warren and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee started a grassroots campaign for a new Glass-Steagall yesterday, and within hours over 40,000 people joined the cause. I'm proud to be one of those people -- and passing a new Glass-Steagall will be a priority of mine in Congress.
- If you want Democrats to stand strong on these issues, I encourage you to stay in the loop with my campaign here. (You can also help put our new Jail-The-Bankers ad on TV here.)
In this race for Congress in New Mexico's First District, I am the one Democrat with a long, consistent record of taking on the status quo and powerful corporate interests. Not just when it's easy, but even when it's hard.
On the Albuquerque City Council, I took on predatory lenders and fought to get corporate money out of Albuquerque elections. I took on the mayor's Republican coalition to fight to increase the minimum wage and to create the inspector general's office to investigate fraud and abuse in City Hall. I also took on the mayor and his powerful big developer allies to fight for smart growth.
In the State Senate, I took on the oil and gas industry to invest in clean energy jobs. I took on the insurance companies to stop them from charging women higher premiums. I even took on my own party's conservative Blue Dog leadership -- the same ones who have endorsed Commissioner Michelle Lujan Grisham in this congressional race -- and their Republican-ALEC coalition against their proposed cuts to Medicaid, pensions, public education, and women's health. And I took them on again with bills to get the rich to pay their fair share, to end corporate contributions in state elections, and to shut the revolving door between politicians and lobbyists.
My opponents like to brag about working with or for Republicans to cut programs, privatize public services, deregulate industries, and block reforms that have helped the rich and big corporations at the expense of kids, seniors, and working families.
I am a different kind of Democrat. I stand on my Democratic principles, and I am not a go-along-to-get-along politician. I am proud of my long, consistent progressive record of taking on the status quo, even in my own party, to change the system and delivering results that have really helped kids, seniors, and working families. In Washington, I will fight to hold Wall Street accountable.
State Senator Eric Griego is running to represent New Mexico's first congressional district. Find out more about Eric and his campaign at: www.griegoforcongress.com.