Treasury nominee Lew grilled by senators
WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans pressed President Obama's choice to head the Treasury Department on Wednesday over an investment in a Cayman Islands fund as well as a bonus deal that came as his then-employer Citigroup was about to need a taxpayer bailout and just before he left the bank to return to the government.
Jacob Lew's confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee lived up to expectations that the longtime Washington insider would face a frosty reception. During more than three hours of questions, Lew sidestepped some of the pointed questions about his brief tenure at banking giant Citigroup.
The questions weren't likely to derail his expected Senate confirmation.
At the hearing's start, committee Republicans pummeled Lew over his participation in an investment fund offered by Citigroup that was headquartered in the very Cayman Islands building that President Obama lambasted as a tax sham in 2009.
The ranking Republican, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, grilled Lew on his time at Citigroup from 2006 to 2008 as a managing director and chief operating officer of a wealth-management unit and an alternative-investment unit at the heart of the near-meltdown of the U.S. financial system.
Hatch noted that the unit Lew managed later was accused of betting against the very financial product it sold, like other Wall Street banks.
The hearing grew notably tenser when Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, asked Lew whether it was morally acceptable for him to have received a nearly $1 million bonus from Citi a day before the bank was forced to take the huge taxpayer bailout. Lew answered that he was “compensated in a manner consistent with other people” in the financial sector.
When Grassley asked whether it was the right decision in retrospect, Lew replied, “I'll leave it for others to judge.”
Hatch returned to the issue in a second round of questioning, getting Lew to acknowledge that the bonus was on top of a $350,000 base salary at Citi and that it would have been clawed back for most employees who departed the following year. Lew's contract had a clause that allowed him to collect the large bonus if he left to take a top-level government job, which he did.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- States ask judge not to lift stay in immigration lawsuit
- Oil spill in Washington river endangers wildlife
- $4.8M in gold taken in armored truck hijacking in North Carolina
- Physicians’ organization cites shortages of doctors will grow, mostly in senior care
- Expanded background checks pushed again on gun show, Internet purchases
- Tribune-Review poll: Cable news rises as network news falls
- Lawmakers press Veterans Affairs for improved access to rural health care
- Carnegie Mellon expert to school Congress on security
- Railroad measure awaits House approval
- GOP admits defeat as Congress approves Homeland funding
- Petraeus, Justice Department reach plea deal on secret info given to mistress