U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and video journalist James O’Keefe at Project Veritas have both opposed key flaws at the Export – Import Bank. If they can agree, why can’t Congress?
The federal government’s Export – Import (Ex-Im) Bank is up for re-authorization by Congress with a deadline of June 30. Now, some of the staunchest proponents and critics are inadvertently finding common ground.
For years, Ex-Im Bank President Fred Hochberg claimed that exporting support to "small businesses" is vital for competitiveness. It’s an argument used by the bank for re-authorization and has been promoted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in editorials across the country.
Yet, Warren’s questions to banking officials and chamber executives during a recent Senate Banking Committee inadvertently debunked this Ex-Im is for "small business" myth. As Politico reported
, Warren’s questioning unearthed a surprising admission: small businesses don’t need Ex-Im. Warren’s efforts to legislatively mandate increases in Ex-Im small business lending are unwelcome and not needed.
Despite her populist stances against ‘big bank bailouts’ and corporate welfare, Warren is a surprising supporter of the Ex-Im Bank re-authorization. But she found that Ex-Im rarely meets its congressional small business mandate. U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturer officials grilled by Warren testified that they don’t see a marketplace need for more export support for small businesses and don’t agree with Warren’s effort to increase help.
Through entirely different methods, James O’Keefe at Project Veritas unearthed the same admissions from Ex-Im employees, vendors, and supporting congressional staffers and representatives. O’Keefe’s organization videotaped very candid moments of Ex-Im truth
by going undercover at the Washington, D.C. Ex-Im Small Business Conference from June 11-12. O’Keefe’s video shows Ex-Im’s very existence depends on the flow of political cash at the intersection of big business and big government.
Washington, D.C. June, 2015: Project Veritas undercover reporters document congressional staffers admitting pay-to-play, Congresswoman Maxine Waters – a CREW ‘most corrupt in congress’ – pushing hard for re-authorization, and employees admitting that Ex-Im is a slush fund for big business. Watch video here.
We even fact checked small business "success stories" on the Ex-Im website. We found Zero Motorcycles dialed into every level of government subsidies including Ex-Im: local municipal tax breaks and credits ($500,000), California state grants ($2 million), potential millions in federal and state sales rebates, and $3 million of Ex-Im export support.
Touted on the Ex-Im website, Dan’s Fish in Sturgeon Bay, WI received $500,000 in SBA loans, a state grant to study Great Lakes caviar, and over $5 million in Ex-Im financing. But in November, 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife conducted raids after a two year investigation
of alleged violations of "illegal fish resource trafficking."
These types of stories can be found throughout the Ex-Im lending portfolio. For example, Forte Automation Systems, Inc was a fan favorite of former IL governor Pat Quinn. Forte received $2.15 million in state development aid, plus $11.46 million from the Small Business Administration. Since 2007, Forte received $7.2 million in export support from Ex-Im. That’s $20 million of state and federal government support.
Then there’s the case of Chindex Medical Limited – a women owned small business that received Ex-Im support every year since 2007. After $26.53 million in export support to Chinese hospitals, Chindex is now owned by the Warren Buffet of China, Guo Guangchang and is a subsidiary of the $8.3 billion Fosun company.
Then there’s Ex-Im "pay-to-play" with a de facto tax deduction over at the Clinton Foundation. Investigative journalist Christine Lakatos documented the intersection
of Ex-Im officials, corporate beneficiaries and executives, political cash and relationships, interlocking corporate and Ex-Im board directorates, federal agency grants, and flow of massive Clinton Foundation gifts. The depth and scope of the "legalized money laundering schemes" are nauseating.
We found the Saudi Arabian state-owned America subsidiary Aramco Services Company ($139.3 million Ex-Im support) in the energy business is a big donor to the US Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) – while CFR claims no "direct support from foreign governments."
Analysis across the political and policy continuum suggests our economy would be far more competitive if government got out of the "business" in which it is so easily defrauded. Research is proving that Ex-Im is simply a tool for advancing the back door deals of Washington politics.
If an odd couple like Warren and O’Keefe can highlight key flaws with Ex-Im it might be time for Congress to let it go.
Adam Andrzejewski is founder of OpenTheBooks.com, Chairman of American Transparency and the author of the Federal Transfer Report – Export – Import Bank.