Tuesday, March 06, 2007

What was he thinking?

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick seems to have some difficulty separating the public's business from his own.

Governor Deval Patrick, who was criticized during the gubernatorial campaign for his involvement with a controversial subprime mortgage lender, called a top official at Citigroup, former US Treasury secretary Robert E. Rubin, two weeks ago to intercede on behalf of the owners of Ameriquest Mortgage as they sought urgent financial assistance from the global financial giant.

Patrick's defense?

In a statement to the Globe, Patrick said he made the Feb. 20 call to Citigroup not in his role as governor but after a personal request to him from a top official at ACC Capital Holdings, the firm that owns Ameriquest Mortgage, which has frequently been accused of predatory lending.

That's funny. As long as he's not making the call "in his role as governor", there's no reason to think Citigroup would feel pressured by his day job. Uh-huh.

It could have been worse. Rubin is pretty high-powered himself, after all, and Patrick didn't pressure him to do a deal: he simply offered himself as a personal reference.

But besides the questionable ethics of vouching for a company known for predatory lending, it was an improper intervention. The governor -- whether acting in that role or not -- should not involve himself in the private dealings of private companies.

It's depressing that that apparently isn't obvious.

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