Special Topic

Could The 99 Percent Movement And Tea Party Find Common Ground Protesting Bank Regulators Corrupted By Wall Street?

ThinkProgress filed this report from the Western Republican Leadership Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Occupy the Securities and Exchange Commission?

The Tea Party and the 99 Percent Movement currently occupying Zuccotti Square and town centers across America could find a lot of common ground. For one thing, both movements can trace their values to the Boston Tea Party, a revolt against a private British corporation and its grip over American democracy. Polls show that both movements demand that the government should do more to reign in banker bonuses and work on job creation. But one actionable item could be this: protesting the revolving door at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the nation’s primary Wall Street regulator.

In August, Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi detailed a jaw-dropping scandal at the SEC. For nearly 20 years, a whistleblower complaint alleges that regulators systematically deleted files related to investigations of fraudulent activity at major financial institutions as well as cases of insider trading. The document-destroying regulators, who trashed investigations related to Bernie Madoff and Goldman Sachs, then took jobs at the same banks they protected from prosecution. Investigator Paul Thacker reported for Forbes.com that current SEC enforcement head Robert Khuzami was recommended for his position by Richard Walker, a regulator who spun through the revolving door to work at Deutsche Bank after allegedly squashing an SEC inquiry into a case of suspected insider trading at Deutsche Bank.

Since the Occupy Wall Street movement protests bank-domination of government and the Tea Party protests incompetent government, perhaps the SEC is the place for common cause. The Project on Government Oversight and ThinkProgress have detailed many cases of bank lobbyists infiltrating government at the highest levels and currying favor for the big banks.

We asked Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), a far right lawmaker who has made a habit of leading Tea Party protests, about the prospect for synergy. Even Price, who typically promotes big bank interests as a member of Congress, conceded that current protest movements are “frustrated by a lack of regulation” on “certain sectors of society,” like the banking industry:

Watch it here:

For an extended transcript, click more.

FANG: Rolling Stone and New York Times reported that one of the reasons why maybe there weren’t prosecutions for the firms involved in creating the financial crisis was because of the revolving door at the SEC. A lot of the banks got too close with the SEC, got their people in there—

PRICE: Sure.

FANG: –corrupted a lot of the bureaucrats. Do you think there’s a synergy between the Tea Party and the Occupy Wall Street movement, that they should be protesting the corruption at the SEC?

PRICE: Well I think that both of them recognize that the regulatory regime in our country is broken and now it’s being used solely for political purposes and not for a regulatory oversight of whatever entity you have in this country. We didn’t have the challenge that we have because of too much regulation, er, too little regulation. We have the challenge that we have because the regulators didn’t doo their job. And so, as far as these current protests are frustrated by the lack of regulation, or regulatory oversight on certain sectors of society, in some ways, that’s correct because they didn’t do their job. That doesn’t mean you need more regulation, that means you need regulators who do their job.