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Issa's Goldman Sachs connections:
now that's good theater.

Think Progress has a story about one of Rep. Darrell Issa's top Oversight Committee staffers, and it seems an especially egregious example of the revolving door between government and the banking industry:
In a few short years, Haller went from being in charge of dealing with regulators for Goldman Sachs to working for Congress in a position where he made official demands from regulators overseeing his old firm.

It’s not the first time Haller has worked the revolving door to help out Goldman Sachs. According to a report by the nonpartisan Project on Government Oversight, Haller — then known as Peter Simonyi — left the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2005 to work for Goldman Sachs, then quickly began lobbying his colleagues at the SEC on behalf of his new firm. At one point, Haller was compelled to issue a letter to the SEC claiming he did not violate ethics rules. A brief timeline of Haller’s work history underscores the ethical issues raised with Issa’s latest letter to bank regulators:

– After completing his law degree in 2000, Haller was employed by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as an economist, and later with the Securities and Exchange Commission in the Office of Enforcement.

– In April of 2005, Haller resigned from the SEC to take a job with Goldman Sachs. He soon began lobbying the SEC on behalf of Goldman Sachs.

– On September 2, 2009, Haller left Goldman Sachs to take a job with the law/lobbying firm Brickfield Burchette Ritts & Stone.

– In January of 2011, Haller was hired to work for Issa on the Oversight Committee. Under the supervision of Haller, Issa sent a letter dated July 22, 2011 to bank regulators (including the heads of the  Federal Reserve, FDIC, FCA, CFTC, FHFA, and Office of Comptroller) demanding documents to justify new Dodd-Frank mandated rules on margin requirements for banks dealing in the multi-trillion dollar OTC derivatives market, like Goldman Sachs.

When he took over the chairmanship of the Oversight Committee this year, Issa dramatically shifted the committee’s focus away from its traditional role of investigating major corporate scandals. Instead, Issa has used the committee to merge the responsibilities of Congress with the interests of K Street and Issa’s own fortune.

So, a current staffer who, like Issa himself, feels we should be going easy on the investment banks and crippling the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and who just happens to have strong connections to the very company that stands to benefit handsomely from those positions, if they are passed into law.

This revolving door stuff is so commonplace in Washington that it sometimes seems hard to find people who are not similarly compromised (and no, that's not meant to make you feel better.) But it seems Issa's office is particularly agitated over this story:

[T]he Issa public relations machine is firing up, trying to obfuscate the key points of our story. ThinkProgress has learned that Issa communications staffers are furiously contacting reporters asking them to either “retract” our story or not cover it at all.

Their concern is probably less an attempt to protect this one particular staffer and more because Issa himself continues to face scrutiny over whether he has been using his committee and staff as a source of personal financial gain, including taking actions that directly benefited Goldman Sachs at the same time Issa just happened to purchase a large amount of Goldman Sachs bonds. It seems Issa doesn't want people poking into the connections between Issa's office and Goldman Sachs, which sounds like a fine reason to start poking at them more.

As an aside, the staffer had changed his name between the time he worked for Goldman Sachs and when he started work for Issa, which had worked to obfuscated attempts to check into his past history. Upon prodding, Haller said he changed his name to honor his Transylvanian heritage, so feel free to insert the obligatory comments regarding the connections between Transylvania and Goldman Sachs here.

Originally posted to Hunter on Thu Aug 18, 2011 at 03:49 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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