A message from CREDO Action: Back in January, President Obama announced during the State of the Union speech the creation of a new financial crimes task force to investigate the crimes and misdeeds that led to the economic collapse and "hold accountable those who broke the law."
Yet, despite the enormity of the issue, its direct impact on millions of Americans and the widespread nature of crimes and wrongdoing, the new financial crime unit has been allocated a paltry 55 staff members to undertake this enormous task.1
And now we're hearing from insiders in Washington DC, that the full complement of 55 promised investigators — which is already not nearly enough — haven't even been deployed to the task force.
Election year promises aren't nearly enough. President Obama needs to prove his commitment to the financial crimes task force is real and provide the task force with the resources it needs to investigate Wall Street criminals.
After the much smaller savings and loan scandal of the '80s approximately 1,000 FBI agents and dozens of federal prosecutors were assigned to prosecute related cases2. And 100 FBI agents were tasked with investigating the Enron scandal3, which involved just one company and caused none of the economy-wide damage we've seen since the collapse of the housing bubble.
The 55 investigators promised to the financial crimes task force is not nearly enough. And to find out that President Obama hasn't delivered on those investigators, let alone resourced the effort at the levels appropriate to the biggest financial fraud in U.S. history, is shocking.
President Obama's record on Wall Street accountability is abysmal. But because of enormous grassroots pressure from activists like you and polling that suggests he needs to take on Wall Street as a part of his election campaign, we have a real opportunity to move President Obama to meaningful action on Wall Street accountability. Time, however, is running out.
President Obama's first task force at the Department of Justice did little if anything to prosecute Wall Street for crimes that led to the financial crisis. But because of your activism, he announced a new task force and named progressive champion and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman one of its five co-chairs.
Now we need to pressure the White House to give that task force the resources it needs to pursue justice. Without sufficient staff to conduct thorough investigations, it's hard to see how this task force could bring indictments quickly or even beforesStatutes of limitations run out.
The economic crisis we're in demands a response commensurate with the damage done by Wall Street crooks. But the 55 promised investigators don't even come close to being adequate. If the White House hasn't even followed through on its promise of a paltry 55 investigators, it's clear that massive pushback is needed to get the level of staffing we truly need to bring Wall Street criminals to justice.
Aside from the appointment of Attorney General Schneiderman, none of the other co-chairs of the new task force has done literally anything that achieves our goal of holding banks accountable or prosecuting bankers for criminal activity.
In fact, three of his co-chairs served on the earlier failed Department of Justice task force that the new investigation was created to supersede.
In an election year when we know the Obama reelection campaign wants to frame his race as opposing the candidate of the one percent, President Obama will be particularly sensitive to public perception of whether his efforts to hold Wall Street accountable are meaningful and represent the full force of his office.
We want, and our country needs, indictments. The collapse of the housing bubble led directly to the economic crisis we're in. But not one of the Wall Street crooks who drove our economy off a cliff has gone to jail. And without aggressive investigations and prosecution for misconduct, none of them will.
President Obama needs to give the Department of Justice task force the resources required to launch a serious investigation that will bring about real accountability before the statutes of limitations run out for Wall Street's crimes.
It's been months already. We can't waste any more time. We must act now before we lose our opportunity to do anything significant at all.
Tell President Obama: 55 investigators are not enough. We need 20 times more staffing to launch a real investigation into Wall Street's crimes. Click the link below to automatically sign the petition:
Thank you for standing up for Wall Street accountability.
Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets
CREDO Action from Working Assets