|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:||CONTACT: CHRISTI HARLAN|
|Thursday, September 16, 1999||202-224-0894|
STAFF REPORT DETAILS OCC'S ROLE IN POLITICAL ACTIVITIES;
CLEARS WAY FOR COMMITTEE VOTE ON HAWKE NOMINATION
Sen. Phil Gramm, chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, has released a staff report that details efforts by independent bank examiners to fulfill a White House-led effort to drum up political support for the Community Reinvestment Act.
Among the report's findings and conclusions:
-- The White House, through the National Economic Council, established a CRA Team project in late 1998 that was designed to undertake both substantive and political activities regarding CRA in anticipation of upcoming congressional consideration of CRA.
-- Although the Office of Thrift Supervision and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency are organizationally under the jurisdiction of the Treasury, they are intended to be regulatory agencies chiefly responsible for overseeing the nation's banks and thrift institutions in an independent, non-partisan manner. Involvement in advancing partisan goals injects politics into the supervisory function.
-- The OTS and OCC were assigned a number of substantive tasks by White House and Treasury officials, including the creation of a list of "pro-CRA" bank and thrift officers and institutions; it was expected that if individuals from this list were contacted by the press, they would say positive things about CRA.
-- Under the direction of senior officers, the OCC aggressively undertook its task to compile this list and assigned a number of its national bank examiners to provide names for inclusion on the final list.
Gramm said he is satisfied with the conclusion that the staff had found "no evidence . . . implicating Comptroller John D. Hawke in the involvement of OCC examination personnel in these political activities."
As a result, Gramm said he is prepared to schedule a vote of the full Banking Committee on Hawke's nomination as comptroller for Thursday, Sept. 23, in the committee hearing room, Room 538 of the Dirksen Senate Building.
Copies of the staff report are available in Room 534, Dirksen Senate Building, or
Click here to view the report and appendix