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A Journalist's Guide to Bachus' Claims about the Financial Reform bill

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Washington, DC, April 7, 2011 | comments

“Out of sympathy for journalists who are having trouble keeping track of Spencer Bachus’ pattern of making statements about Committee business and subsequently claiming he never said them, I offer the following guide to the most recent controversy.”

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Congressman Barney Frank today released the following statement in response to Congressman Spencer Bachus’ most recent claims regarding alleged discussions about changes to the financial reform law.

“Out of sympathy for journalists who are having trouble keeping track of Spencer Bachus’ pattern of making statements about Committee business and subsequently claiming he never said them, I offer the following guide to the most recent controversy.”

“Earlier this week I read a story in Congressional Quarterly in which Mr. Bachus is quoted as having said that he and I were currently working together on two or three changes involving the Financial Reform bill, including a provision regarding the rating agencies.  I issued a statement to the press denying this because it is simply not true.  When I asked Mr. Bachus about it, and he told me that he had not said that.”

“When asked by a journalist about my statement, I told the journalist that Mr. Bachus had just told me that he never said that.  The journalist, in turn, told me that he was in fact the person to whom Mr. Bachus said it.  When Mr. Bachus was asked for comment, his office had none.”

“Subsequently, Mr. Bachus and his staff obviously decided that some counterattack was necessary.  So they issued a very long statement which noted that in June of last year – before the Financial Reform bill passed Conference – I had said that some corrections would be necessary.  At that time, I did.  Not only did I say it, in the months after the passage of the Financial Reform legislation, we did make two changes that were not major, but did go beyond the purely technical changes of corrections of errors, misnumberings, etc.  Specifically, we undid an overly-broad FOIA exemption for the SEC, and we reinstated the right of attorneys to contribute funds to their Interest On Lawyers Trust Account (IOLTA) funds. Those were done last year while the Democrats were still in the majority and I did in fact talk to Mr. Bachus about them at that time.”

“This year, I have had exactly one conversation with Mr. Bachus about changes in the Financial Reform bill, specifically the interchange fee provision.  Thus, his statement that I now believe he did make although he denied to me that he did – that we are currently engaged in conversations about changes – is simply wrong.  As to his “refutation of my statement,” I acknowledged that I did say in June of 2010 and again in September of 2010 that changes in the bill were desirable, and I note, as I said, that we have already made two changes last year, and that I favor a third with regard to interchange fees.”

“I now await Mr. Bachus’ clarification of his plans with regard to bills involving the Government-Sponsored Enterprises.  Last Thursday, when we were in the midst of a hearing on eight separate bills involving Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Mr. Bachus went to the Senate and announced that he was going to bring up the broader bill sponsored by Congressman Hensarling – which had heretofore not been given any indication of support – before the full Committee considered the eight bills which we were about to mark up.  When I asked him about that, he said that he had never said that – although he was widely reported in the press as having done so – and that he intended to bring them up simultaneously.  We now hear that there as many as sixteen more individual bills to be brought up at some point. This has created a great deal of uncertainty, not just in our Committee, but much more importantly, among the Homebuilders, the Realtors, the Financial Services Roundtable, and virtually all other groups that have any concern with housing policy.”

"I await learning from Mr. Bachus, which of the other statements he is reported to have made, he will tell us he never made."

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