Trump Finance Pick Steven Mnuchin’s OneWest Bank Accused of Racial Discrimination

In adding yet again to his inner circle of advisors and his cabinet, Trump reaches for another option that has ties to racial discrimination or other bigotry. Almost none of his choices to date clear even the most minimal bar for supporting equality and human rights. Trump’s pick for treasure secretary falls right into the ongoing pattern. Reports Mother Jones:

Two California nonprofit housing organizations have formally asked the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to investigate allegations of racially discriminatory practices at OneWest Bank, now a subsidiary of CIT Bank and formerly headed by Trump adviser Steven Mnuchin. The complaint alleges that OneWest systematically refused to loan to people of color or to establish branches in minority communities in California.

According to NPR, Mnuchin, a Wall Street banker with a 17-year tenure at Goldman Sachs under his belt (what’s that? Irony meters exploding?) is a Trumpkin insider, having joined the Trump machine as chief fundraiser last spring.

But before that, he was a “foreclosure machine” in California, swooping in on the dying carcasses of foreclosed homes to profit on the inability of California homeowners to keep up with their mortgage payments. Reports KQED, this choice of that indefatigable champion of the poor, Donald Trump, profited handsomely from other people’s misery:

According to the coalition, OneWest foreclosed on more than 36,000 homeowners under Mnuchin. During that time, the FDIC made payments to OneWest totaling more $1 billion. Those payments went to the “billionaire investors of OneWest Bank,” says Stein, “to cover the cost of foreclosing on working-class, everyday, American folks,” many of whom lived in California.

Rex Schaffer, 86, and his wife Rose were among those who lost their homes, in a OneWest foreclosure. After living nearly 50 years in their home in La Puente, Calif., the Schaffers took a home equity loan but struggled to make the payments. They say they qualified three times for a government assisted modification, but OneWest failed to modify the loan.

The Schaffers evidently voted for Trump and then prayed that he wouldn’t choose Mnuchin as treasury secretary. Those prayers do not appear to have been heard any more than Trump has listened to or done what his loyalists wanted.

The Daily Beast reports that Mnuchin’s bank disproportionately foreclosed on senior citizens. And the East Bay Express elaborates on the accusations of discrimination against OneWest Bank:

The claim, filed by two nonprofits, alleges that the bank spent time and money maintaining properties in majority-white neighborhoods, but allowed buildings in Black, Latino, and Asian communities such as East Oakland to become blighted.

The bank is also being accused of redlining communities of color by opening few branches in minority neighborhoods, making it hard for non-white customers to open accounts.

 The latest conventional wisdom on Trump from people with the least to lose seems to be “let’s wait and see.” We don’t need to wait. We can see already, and it’s an ugly trail of broken promises and cronyism. The swamp was drained, all right. Of ethics.
Image via Wikimedia Commons; credit Svilen.milev

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