Mr. Frank, by his own account, wrote into the TARP bill a provision specifically aimed at helping this particular home-state bank. And later, he acknowledges, he spoke to regulators urging that OneUnited be considered for a cash injection.
As President Barack Obama's team sets about revising the $700 billion TARP program, following last week's release of the second half of the money, among the issues it faces is widespread dissatisfaction with way the program has been implemented. Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy Geithner, testifying Wednesday at his Senate confirmation hearing, acknowledged "there are serious concerns about transparency and accountability...confusion about the goals of the program, and a deep skepticism about whether we are using the taxpayers' money wisely."
Bankers, regulators and politicians complain of a secretive and opaque process for deciding which banks get cash and which don't. The goal of aiding only banks healthy enough to lend -- laid out by the Treasury when the program began -- clearly seems to have shifted, but in a way that's hard to pin down and that the Treasury has declined to explain. Part of the problem is that some powerful politicians have used their leverage to try to direct federal millions toward banks in their home states.