Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-NY: “Fighting Dem”? Or Just Blowing Smoke for the Folks Back Home? (Guess…)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

Yesterday, it really looked like we had a “Fighting Dem” as Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-NY went after the SEC over its failure to uncover the Madoff Ponzi scheme, didn’t it?  Ackerman is known for having a gift for making acerbic comments…but how much fight is really there?

First a bit of history on Ackerman. He was a supporter of Hillary Clinton during the primaries last year, endorsing her in late January 2008. On June 5, just a couple of days before Clinton suspended her campaign early on June 7, he endorsed Obama. (There were others who waited another day, by the way. Full list of who did what, when here.)

He showed real signs of life during the Caroline Kennedy/NY Senate saga. He was the first to question her qualifications with comments like these:

From the NY Post (December 11, 2008):

Rep. Gary Ackerman of Queens, a 25-year veteran of Congress, declared in a radio interview: “I don’t know what Caroline Kennedy‘s qualifications are.”

“Except that she has name recognition, but so does J.Lo,” Ackerman continued on Steve Malzberg’s radio show on WOR. “I wouldn’t make J.Lo the senator unless she proved she had great qualifications, but we haven’t seen them yet.”

He took the obligatory hit at Sarah Palin on Face the Nation as things moved forward (December 22, 2008):

WASHINGTON – A Democratic congressman compared Caroline Kennedy to Sarah Palin, saying the would-be senator hasn’t proved she has the “guts and the gumption” to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton. Rep. Gary Ackerman of Roslyn Heights said on CBS‘ “Face the Nation” yesterday that the Kennedy legend and connections won’t be enough to make her a successful senator if Gov. David A. Paterson appoints her to the U.S. Senate.

So, the fireworks yesterday at the Madoff hearing seem to be pretty typical of Ackerman’s style. (The video at his website is a shorter version of this clip, without the reference to “dung”):

One thing to be aware of is the fact that a lot of the money that has disappeared once belonged to a lot of folks from Ackerman’s district, so Ackerman’s umbrage will certainly play well at home!

Kanjorski-led panel reviews $50 billion fraud scheme

By MARCY GORDON
Associated Press Writer
Published: Monday, January 05, 2009
Updated: Monday, January 5, 2009 6:28 PM EST

WASHINGTON — Republican and Democratic House members said Monday that the alleged $50 billion fraud involving Wall Street figure Bernard Madoff reflects deep, systemic problems at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

SNIP

The SIPC shortfall will only worsen the distrust of investors, already deepened by the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, said Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y. His district encompasses the affluent north shore of Long Island, home to many of Madoff’s alleged victims

(Note the reference to the Great Depression, the party line these days as part of the “fear stimulus” being used to pass the pork-laden “stimulus”  package.)

But beneath the brash, confrontational style that plays well on TV, we see a typical Democrat who’s sticking with the crowd:

From November 19th, 2008:

Think Progress » Rep. Ackerman: Auto Execs’ Private Jet Travel Like Guy At ‘The Soup Kitchen In High Hat And Tuxedo’.

But by December 5, 2008:

Automakers’ fourth-and-long plea

Last Updated: December 5, 2008: 8:06 PM ET

Even Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y., who was the first to raise the issue of corporate jets at the earlier hearing, seemed more open to helping the auto industry in his opening comment this go round.

“One does not always have a second chance to make a first impression. Welcome back,” Ackerman said. “The last time you didn’t get it. By coming up with this plan, maybe you do.”

From September 11, 2008:

Mortgage Mess Unleashes Chain Of Lawsuits

Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, September 11, 2007; 10:34 AM

Credit agencies, which graded billions of dollars worth of mortgage-backed securities as safe investments throughout the recent housing boom, are also feeling the heat.

Members of Congress are calling for hearings and oversight, saying the rating agencies are conflicted because they are paid by investment banks that issue the securities the agencies rate. Institutional investors accuse the rating firms of being slow to downgrade securities.

“Essentially, the originators and credit raters shoved enough pigs and laying hens in with the beef herd that investors expecting prime ribs on their silver platter and money in their pocket ended up with pork ribs on their paper plate and egg on their face,” Rep. Gary L. Ackerman (D-N.Y.) said in an opening statement during a Financial Services Committee hearing last week.

Nice, but what was 13 term Congressman Ackerman doing when there were calls for “oversight” when Democrats took charge of Congress a couple of years ago?  I don’t see any mention of a crusade for oversight in Ackerman’s bio and list of accomplishments at his website. I don’t have the time or inclination at this point to see how he voted when the whole business of pushing bad loans was originally put together way back when, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Ackerman went along with it all then…(See his new legislation introduced January 27, below.)

And he’s right in line with all the rest on other aspects of current economic issues (Also, seee voting pattern, below):

LI House delegation to back $700B bailout

“We, the taxpayers, will get back our investment,” said Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Roslyn Heights). “Any shortfall where we don’t get our money back is going to be paid for by Wall Street.”

Really???

Ackerman Running for Re-election to Congress

Manhasset Press  October 24, 2008

Following his interview with the Great Neck Record, Congressman Ackerman was to head to Washington to vote on the “bailout.” With the financial crisis at the forefront, he was quick to note: “We have to correct the errors of the past.” He emphasized that the country must “restore confidence and put liquidity in the market” so that “people can pay for education, pay bills, pay mortgages, run businesses …”

With his background on financial service committees, the congressman emphasized that the country “must come up with solutions even before a crisis.”

Congressman Ackerman told how he had put in financial legislation even before this current financial crisis came to a head. His bill calls for credit agencies to be required to put like loans in a package, and prohibiting them from “rating what is not ratable.” And he emphasized that “We must hold credit agencies responsible for what they do.”

Congressman Ackerman termed this “common sense regulation.”

Blah, blah, blah…”correct the errors of the past”…Not without oversight, I’m afraid.

And in the run-up to the now “Bad Bank” which is in the works, we saw how Ackerman was already on board:

Rep. Steve LaTourette seeks help from President Bush to stop National City sale

Posted by Sabrina Eaton, Stephen Koff and Teresa Dixon Murray/ Plain Dealer Reporters November 18, 2008 09:51AM

Other committee members grilled Paulson on his failure to use money in the $700 billion bailout package to reduce mortgage foreclosures. Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who chairs the committee, put in the hearing record a letter from Rep. Dennis Kucinich in which the Cleveland Democrat urged Congress to withhold more TARP money from the Treasury Department because of its failure to act on foreclosures.

New York Democratic Rep. Gary Ackerman called the Treasury Department’s decision to avoid buying troubled mortgages from banks, as it originally promised, “the second-largest bait-and-switch scheme that history has ever seen, second only to the reasons given us to vote for the invasion of Iraq.”

Paulson said that the money had to be used to prevent a collapse in the financial system and that the Treasury Department is still looking for ways to reduce foreclosures.

Rep. Ackerman can display all the “righteous anger” that he wants for the TV cameras and the folks back home, but I have to ask–isn’t he really just part of “diversion” along with all the huffing and puffing about capping executive salaries?  The Madoff  issue is important, of course, but Ackerman’s brash style seems to be only style when it comes to many economic issues and, like others,  late to the party with his protests.

Eleven Democrats in the House voted against the stimulus bill…you won’t find Ackerman’s name among them.

***

ADDENDA

Rep. Gary Ackerman’s Official Website biography

According to GovTrack.us, Ackerman is a “rank and file” Democrat; OpenCongress cites a 98% record of voting with party (Votes most often with Ellen Tauscher, D-CA)

Rep. Ackerman introduced this bill on January 27, 2009 Source: GovTrack.us

H. R. 710

To secure additional Tier I capital for the United States banking system from parties other than the Federal Government by providing authority to the Secretary of the Treasury to guaranty certain new preferred stock investments made by public pensions acting in a collective fashion, and for other purposes.

If you have a public pension, watch this bill:

(2) INSTITUTION ELIGIBLE FOR INVESTMENTS- Only an investment in preferred stock that meets the requirements of subsection (e) and has been issued by a financial institution which meets the definition of a qualifying financial institution under the TARP Capital Purchase Program established under the authority of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 may be treated as an eligible investment for purposes of this Act.

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h111-710

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7 Responses

  1. Late last night, I began watching the C-SPAN video of the hearings. It was well beyond midnight when I realized I’d never make it to the end. But I did see Ackerman. And while he was talking, I thought to myself, “This guy’s running for something. He’s putting on a show for the people”. I didn’t know who he was/is and I was too tired to find out. But the man – who may be honorable and, you know, really representing his people – was too glib for my sensibilities.
    The hearings – Markopolos is someone I’d like to have as a friend – were/are something to watch. I’ll finish yesterday’s hearing tonight and move on to today’s hearings afterward. Interesting, maddening, gripping describe the hearings yesterday.

    (Thanks for this post. It is so helpful.)

  2. i like your post when i first time read your blog

  3. Gary Ackerman reminds me of just another of the bloated, blathering, big mouthed politicians that have graced the American scene for years. He is a hot air baloon that needs pricking.

    How many of the SEC officials who ignored Markopolos’ warnings will be facing the chopping block? None, I would imagine. There doesn’t seem to be any penalty for not doing your job in Washington these days. Or has there been for a long time? This is why they are so complacent and lazy.

  4. I just wish that Markopolos had selected at least one Senator to confide in back in the early 2000s. It would be interesting to see if his warnings were heded. Not to put just one senator on the spot, because I think they would have all done the same, but to be able to pick apart our sorry representatives as he did the sec dept. They always act so outraged by their own lack of information.

  5. Seems to me like Representative Gary L. Ackerman (D-NY) has some explaining to do.
    Records – reported on http://www.r8ny.com, a New York City political Web site – show Ackerman (D-Jamaica Estates) accepted a “personal loan” last year for as much as $100,000 from Selig Zises, a large investor in a California-based company that Ackerman called Xenonics Options. However, Ackerman, who denies any improprieties, said the alleged loan was actually a sale of stock that he accidentally misreported.
    “I no longer have it,” Ackerman said yesterday. “I sold it off a couple weeks back.”

    On March 9, 2002, Ackerman, a senior member on the International Relations Committee, purchased between $1,001 to $15,000 of stock in Xenonics, which is today valued at between $100,000 and $250,000, according to financial records.
    The 12th-term lawmaker said he decided to invest in Xenonics – a name he said he doesn’t even know how to pronounce – after a suggestion from Zises, whom he described as a friend.

    The U.S. Army awarded the company a $2.98 million contract a year later to manufacture night-vision equipment. Ackerman said he played no role in steering federal dollars to Xenonics.

    Within two years of his initial investment, Ackerman’s stake in Xenonics Options had ballooned to as much as $1 million.
    Why Xenonics? The answer can probably be found in Ackerman’s close ties to the Zises family, one of New York’s uber-Likudniks. Since 1990, the Zises family Bernard, Seymour, Selig & Jay, contributed at least $30,000 of Unifund CCR Partner proceeds (a vicious collection agency that will sue 160,000 Americans for Credit Card Default this year) to Ackerman’s campaign coffers.
    How close are Ackerman and the Zises? Close enough apparently for Ackerman to have made a statement on the House floor last year in celebration of patriarch Bernard Zises’s 90th birthday, and another upon the death of the Zises family matriarch, Ruth Zises . That’s right: a statement on the House floor.

    • Well, thanks for this update!! Which only proves that Ackerman is “blowing smoke” just like everyone else in DC…

  6. Nice. Why doesn’t Governor Paterson figure out a way to tax that????

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