Rebuke for Staffer
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank issued a scathing press release last week tearing into Peter Roberson, a former staffer who helped write the derivatives section of his financial reform bill.
Roberson left recently for a job with Intercontinental Exchange, which operates regulated exchanges, trading platforms and clearing houses.
The Huffington Post and other news organizations had picked up the potential conflict of interest, with the HuffPost quoting an anonymous Democratic staffer on the committee saying of Roberson, "It was always obvious he was playing for the other side."
The Massachusetts Democrat criticized Roberson's actions and indefinitely barred his staff from communicating with him. According to congressional records, Roberson started working for the committee in 2007.
Frank said he never expected Roberson would leave so soon and immediately cut him off from the committee business once Roberson acknowledged he was considering the job.
"When he called me to tell me that he was in conversations with them, I told him that I was disappointed and that I insisted that he take no further action as a member of the committee staff," he said.
Frank said he would indefinitely extend a current one-year ban on lobbying the committee.
"I do not think that is adequate," he said. "I am therefore instructing the staff of the Financial Services Committee to have no contact whatsoever with Mr. Roberson on any matters involving financial regulation for as long as I am in charge of that committee staff."
A spokeswoman for ICE said that neither Roberson nor ICE would comment. The House passed its bill in December and Roberson's employment with ICE began in February.
GOP Mea Culpa
Rep. Mike Pence, the chairman of the House Republican Conference apologized for personal attacks against Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd last week that were included in a policy brief trashing the Connecticut Democrat's financial reform bill.
The brief was titled, "Taxpayers should not trust the 'Friend of Angelo,' " taking a jab at Dodd by referencing a flap over allegations that he had unethically received favorable treatment on mortgages from the now-defunct Countrywide Financial Corp. (The Senate Ethics Committee cleared him of any wrongdoing last year.)
Pence, according to The Hill newspaper, called Dodd to personally apologize for the brief, which was apparently written by a GOP staffer. The memo was later edited to remove the mention of the Friends of Angelo, a VIP program named after Countrywide's former CEO, Angelo Mozilo.
Dodd had told The Hill in a story the week before that criticizing his bill was fair game but personally bashing him was crossing the line. "They'd do better to argue about the bill," he said. "It's a pointless accusation from people who are kind of, you know, pathetic individuals."
Working the Crowd
After 14 months on the job, and a few hiccups, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner may be learning how to play to a crowd.
During remarks last week at the Treasury's Women in Finance Symposium, Geithner said it is a no-brainer that had women run the financial system two years ago, the results would have been much different. He referenced a March 21 New York Magazine story entitled "What If Women Ran Wall Street?"
"That's an excellent question, but it's kind of a low bar," Geithner said, getting laughs in the Treasury's Cash Room. "How could women have not done better?"
The symposium featured a panel moderated by CNBC's Maria Bartiromo with the heavy hitters among D.C.'s financial policymakers: Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary Schapiro, Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Christina Romer and Congressional Oversight Panel Chair Elizabeth Warren.
Among the questions discussed by the panel was how women can navigate the difficult job market.
Said Bair, "Well, we're hiring."
Another OTS Exit
The Office of Thrift Supervision has lost its Western Region director. C.K. Lee announced that he is leaving the OTS after just two years in the position.
Lee became the Western Region director in March 2008. Previously, he was managing director for complex and international organizations at the agency.