Morning Edition: May 19, 2015

 

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POOR GEORGIE: DID HE BREAK ETHICAL GUIDELINES IN THE WHITE HOUSE?

The contribution scandal isn’t the first time ABC main man George Stephanopoulos apparently breached ethical guidelines.

Back in his White House days in 1994, Mr. Stephanopoulos obtained a questionable mortgage loan of $668,000 or more than five times his annual salary when he was on the Clinton payroll. The last time we bought a home the bank would only loan us 2.5 times our annual salary.

Moreover, NationsBanc Mortgage Corp., the lender, gave Mr. Stephanopoulos the loan at almost prime—something that we and many others could not get.

The information came from Matt Labash, then of The American Spectator and now of The Weekly Standard, and the late columnist Jack Anderson.

“Stephanopoulos got a great deal,” one source in the banking world told Mr. Labash back then. “They waved it in front of him. The only thing he did wrong was he should’ve known NationsBanc wasn’t giving him this deal because he was Joe Schmoe off the street. He was given this deal because of who he was.”

Mr. Anderson’s column claimed Mr. Stephanopoulos had received a three-year adjustable-rate mortgage at a 6.375 percent interest rate, which was locked in until June 1, 1997. At the time, NationsBanc’s prime residential rate stood at 6.25 percent. Such loans generally lock in at 2 percent over prime.

So how did Mr. Stephanopoulos get such a great deal? Mr. Labash wrote back then that the White House adviser and Hugh McColl, the owner of the bank, had a friend in common: President Bill Clinton.

“[Mr.] McColl has frequently been identified as Clinton’s banking swami and was once referred to by [Mr.] Clinton as ‘the most enlightened banker in America.’ Heading the third largest bank in the country, and regularly called ‘the most influential banker in America,’ McColl was rumored to be up for consideration as treasury secretary.”

At the time, Mr. Labash noted, the Standards of Ethical Conduct of Employees of the Executive Branch spoke about comparable situations. The guidelines stated, “An employee shall not, directly or indirectly, solicit or accept a gift: 1. From a prohibited source; or 2. Given because of the employee’s official position.” A gift is defined as “any gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, forbearance or other item having monetary value.” Excluded as gifts were “loans from banks and other financial institutions generally available to the public.”

Interpreting the exclusion, an Office of Government Ethics told Mr. Labash, “If it is a loan that’s not on terms generally available to the public, then it potentially is a gift. It depends on whether it is given because of government position or from a so-called ‘prohibitive source’ that does business with the agency.”

It would seem Mr. Stephanopoulos was guilty on both counts, but he wasn’t forced to give the money back.

We are shocked and saddened by such behavior in the Clinton White House!

Mr. Labash’s article from October 1994 is available at http://www.unz.org/Pub/AmSpectator-1994oct-00030:30

WHAT SHOULD ABC DO?

We think Mr. Stephanopoulos should be fired, but that is unlikely. Following are options we would endorse absent of dismissal or suspension:

–ABC should strip him of his title of chief political correspondent.
–Someone else should host “This Week.”
–He should only appear on Good Morning America and have nothing to do with the 2016 campaign.

We spent 15 good years—well, mostly good years—at ABC. We are sad to see how far the standards at the network have fallen. For more details, see http://pge.sx/1LeH7zz

MRS. CLINTON AND THE PRESS

The mainstream media don’t like Mrs. Clinton’s lack of availability to answer questions. We may be with the Democratic hopeful on this one–a rare instance indeed. After the idiotic questions of Sen. Ted Cruz about his favorite Cuban foods and singers or the hypothetical inquiries about Iraq, we would advise a candidate to avoid the press as much as possible. It worked for President Reagan.

Send suggestions and tips to charper@temple.edu.

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