Michael Barr–Liaison on Foreclosure Fraud Investigation–Leaves Treasury

Just one week ago, Iowa’s Attorney General Tom Miller told Chris Dodd that Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Institutions Michael Barr was the key person from Treasury working with the Attorneys General investigation into foreclosure fraud.

Miller: We haven’t had any contact with the [Financial Stability Oversight Council]. We have had repeated contact with the Department of the Treasury, with Assistant Secretary Michael Barr and his staff. We’ve developed a terrific ongoing relationship with them. We talk about these issues and try and help and support each other on these issues. So we’ve had a lot of discussions with Treasury but not with that particular Council.

That’s funny. Because Barr is leaving Treasury. Imminently.

Diana Farrell, deputy director of President Barack Obama’s National Economic Council, and Assistant Treasury Secretary Michael Barr are leaving the administration, adding to the turnover in the ranks of the White House economic team that worked on the government’s response to the worst financial crisis in more than 70 years.

Farrell will leave by the end of the year and Barr’s last day at Treasury will be Dec. 3. Both played key roles in shaping Obama’s financial regulatory overhaul plan, which was signed into law in July.


Treasury spokesman Steve Adamske said Barr would continue his academic career at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

(Note, Barr is not currently listed as teaching next semester.)

In addition to working with the Attorneys General “investigating” the banksters’ foreclosure fraud, Barr had been considered a leading candidate–after Elizabeth Warren–to lead the Consumer Finance Protection Board and/or the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (the agency that regulates the big banks) and (as the Bloomberg piece makes clear) had a key role in Dodd-Frank.

As you recall, the same day that Tom Miller told Dodd he was working closely with Barr, at almost the moment when Miller said the investigation would take months, sources that sounded an awful lot like the banks were suggesting a deal on the “settlement” ending the “investigation” was close. But even that article didn’t seem to suggest it’d be done by December 3.

Also note, the Financial Stability Oversight Council–the entity set up by Dodd-Frank to stave off systemic crises–meets on Tuesday; they promise to address efforts so far on the foreclosure fraud problem.

The group will provide an update on what various agencies are doing to investigate widespread paperwork problems that have called into question millions of foreclosures across the country, as well as how regulators are coordinating with the Justice Department, state attorneys general and other officials scrutinizing the mess.

Mind you, I don’t know what Barr’s departure means. But I find it notable that–after recently being floated for key positions going forward and given his role in efforts to respond to the foreclosure mess–he is leaving now.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

    • klynn says:

      On the N-S Ko conflict. S Ko has been running military drills in a disputed sea border area. No Ko asked So Ko to stop running the drills due to the sign of aggression. S Ko said, “No!” so No Ko responded.

      This border skirmish should not be pinned on No Ko this time.


      Thanks for the post. This is troublesome news. Sure hope the Asst Sec didn’t play the States and then run. If he is two-timing the rule of law in this fraud confrontation, he is part of the fraud game too.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      This is just weird.
      My first thought was, ‘Who at those hedge funds the FBI raided is Barr in deep with?’
      Then again, perhaps there is no connection worth noting.

      Nevertheless, this seems very strange.
      God help those poor students taking out student loans to be tutored by someone who’s hand-in-glove with the banksters.

  1. timbo says:

    Oh, and the fact that today the Financial Stability Oversight Council is going to try to fudge how bad things are? Or tell the truth? Uh oh…

    • bmaz says:

      You have got to be joking. Warren has been put in a box where she is not going to ever accomplish diddly shit of consequence; her mere presence there is only to offset the horse manure the Obama Administration is doing to capitulate to the bankster set and screw the general public.

  2. prostratedragon says:

    OT I guess (It’s hard to know these days.):

    Recall a few days ago, I think it was here at EW’s, there was some ruminating about a run of skier-tree collisions and other rare ski accidents back in the 1990s. Well, it looks as if some of the cream of the edumacating classes have decided to make the temptation of fate a recurring exercise. As the flyer says, Save the Date!

    Last year, a group of about a dozen education reformers, entrepreneurs and investors met in snowy Sun Valley for a series of discussions on the progress of education reform and the opportunities and risks associated with private sector investment in the space. The result was three days of creative thinking and camaraderie, collaboration and planning. And of course, skiing.

    Not surprisingly, this group of intermediate-to-expert skiers and thought-leaders had the time of their lives—which included, for many, their first heli-skiing experience. We pledged to return again, and build a tradition by combining education policy, business, and outdoor adventure.

    (Thread music, which just struck up on my radio, below.)

  3. radiofreewill says:

    Barr must not have read the playbook, and missed a few practices, too.

    “Systemic Failure Due to Corruption” is the hot potato that no one wants held in front of the camera – certainly not Dodd – not before he finishes his job of privatizing Social Security for Wall Street, first.

    If the Financial System is revealed to have been callously, brazenly and greedily gamed by Wall Street and the Banksters – well then that would mean that Dodd wasn’t doing his Oversight job, now wouldn’t it?

    And, an investigation might even discover that Dodd was actively helping the Money Gang by ‘looking away’ from all the wire-pulling designed to mislead the investing public – enabling the greatest theft in history, too…

    And, we can’t have that – Nooooooooo! – It might cause the Public to stop the privatization of Social Security!

    So, Barr has to go…before the ‘truth’ gets out of the bag.

  4. Kassandra says:

    God. It really seems like we’ve been conquered, doesn’t it? No laws, except the ones which enrich the occupiers and the imposed sexual harassment of citizens who would like to fly but have no voice.

  5. Mason says:

    Mind you, I don’t know what Barr’s departure means. But I find it notable that–after recently being floated for key positions going forward and given his role in efforts to respond to the foreclosure mess–he is leaving now.

    Why, it’s almost as if Barack Obama’s very own bad self asked him to resign for his own good, and the greater good of the insolvent criminal banks, or get fired because he’d wandered off message and was actually doing something trying to help the bankster’s victims in Forfeiture Gate. But of course Brutus, er Barack Obama, wouldn’t do that because Barack Obama is an honorable man.

    So, yes indeed. Where is Elizabeth Warren? Will she be the next person to suddenly and unexpectedly decide to drop everything and return to teaching?

    Seems like she’s been rendered silent and invisible within a cone of silence.

    • thatvisionthing says:

      I’ve got Capitalism: A Love Story checked out right now…

      BILL BLACK: Geithner has been a failure at pretty much everything he’s done in life. Most of the institutions that destroyed the economy were under his direct regulatory authority.

      MICHAEL MOORE: How did he get the job as Treasury Secretary?

      BILL BLACK: By completely screwing up his job as President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

      MICHAEL MOORE: That makes no sense.

      BILL BLACK: Of course it makes perfect sense. This is not new to Washington. People who will give you the wrong answer, but the answer you want, are invaluable. And they often get promoted precisely because they’re willing to say and do absurd things. These are the people that promised us that financial deregulation would make all of us rich. And these are the people who were personally made rich.

      Ya think Barr wouldn’t give the right answer?

  6. bgrothus says:

    eCAHN, I could not find the article.

    I would put another plug for the movie “Inside Job” in case it is in a theater near anyone reading this.

    The criminals, the actual terrorists, who have trashed the economies of so many nations, put people out of work and homes across the globe, and continue to pillage for every last dollar will never be prosecuted. They will not be caught with explosives in their underwear. The WOT is a total distraction to keep us from getting the real terrorists. What OBL or anyone in his name or any other did to the WTC or in any other attack is really nothing compared to what the banksters did and continue to do.

      • bgrothus says:

        Nice to see you.

        I was in Houston with my Dad the January that charges against Delay were announced. They had an eraser board in the hospital room that they wrote discharge info on. I put Delay’s name on the discharge board. Isareli PM Sharon went into a coma at the same time. He’s still in a coma, and Delay is still in limbo.

        Not much has changed.

  7. greenwarrior says:

    OT: Here, the big question I greet each morning’s paper with is, “Is there a chance in hell a Texas court, Texas Supreme Court, U.S. Supreme Court will put Tom Delay away for putting corporation money into his redistricting fight?” My cynicism (the new reality) wins every morning, I’m very saddened to say.

  8. Surtt says:

    On the N-S Ko conflict. S Ko has been running military drills in a disputed sea border area. No Ko asked So Ko to stop running the drills due to the sign of aggression. S Ko said, “No!” so No Ko responded.

    This border skirmish should not be pinned on No Ko this time.

    Did So KO attack No Ko?
    Do you think shelling civilian villages is a proper response to the non-attack?

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Perhaps Mr. Barr has taken a lesson from the Dawn Johnsen playbook: when the coach uses you to sell tickets, but never puts you in the game, find a new coach.

  10. myshadow says:

    I had always with the President because of the insane rabidness the right heaped upon him ceaselessly from the beginning.
    It waned as I saw time after time, from the onset of his reluctance to ‘look back, then his refusal to hold accountable the banksters for collapsing the economy of the world, dropping the case against AIG, any one of the civil liberties transgressions, collusion with BP with the 20 billion dollar fig leaf, his don’t look back policy on robo signing, and now this.
    There would have been no effective tea party if banksters, AIG and BP had been dealt with aggressively and progressively.
    I am wondering how long Ms. Warren will allow herself to be chloroformed to silent ineffectiveness.
    The republicans will find a way around the funding the dems had secured for her department with some help from treasury.
    This is so in our face, so craven, it is a disgrace we were duped on such a monumental scale.
    I’m feeling this is the second Civil War, the kleptocracy against the middle class, and they have drawn blood.

  11. papau says:

    Unless the Treas Sec moves on, Barr will be back as head of the Consumer Agency. This is just a vacation and possibly a college class or two to teach.

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, I think that is a real fair possibility. With all the success of the GOP in the midterms, even Barr may now be too “liberal” though.