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Letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senator Mitch McConnell, Representative John Boehner, Re: Special Inspector General to Oversee Proposed Economic Bailout of Wall Street

Letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Minority Leader John Boehner, Re: Special Inspector General to Oversee Proposed Economic Bailout of Wall Street

Harkin Joins Colleagues in Calling For Special Inspector General to Oversee Proposed Economic Bailout of Wall Street

U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today called for the creation of a Special Inspector General to provide oversight of the United States Treasury during the emergency efforts to bailout the failing financial sector. In a letter to Senate and House leadership, Harkin was joined by a bipartisan group of 32 other Senators in urging them to include an Inspector General position in any Treasury legislation they ask their respective chambers to act upon.

"Stringent oversight must accompany any proposal to give nearly a trillion dollars to the troubled financial sector," said Harkin. "We have a responsibility to the taxpayers of this country and must demand that their money be spent wisely. The creation of the Inspector General position is one step in the direction of ensuring the appropriate oversight is in place to see that happens."

The text of the letter is below.

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker
U. S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Minority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable John A. Boehner
Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Madam arid Sirs:

We write to urge you to include in any legislation funding federal purchases of troubled assets a provision creating a Special Inspector General to oversee the emergency efforts of the Treasury Department. The most rigorous oversight possible must accompany this legislation if Congress is to approve a program that puts taxpayer dollars at risk.

This effort to take billions in bad assets off the books of America's financial institutions is destined to be one of the most complex and difficult tasks ever undertaken. Congress owes American taxpayers the strongest oversight possible - not just after the task begins, but as it is planned. Proper oversight will require not only our constant effort, but the full time attention of an office with only one task: to monitor this extremely complex effort with a team of expert personnel who will not be distracted by other duties. This office must be given the power to investigate and audit, with the ability to issue subpoenas for any necessary documents. It must report to Congress a complete set of facts about the activities of the Treasury Department and its contractors every 120 days. Timely, comprehensive and independent reporting is critical to good oversight.

This proposal is based on the Special Inspector General appointed to investigate waste, fraud, and abuse in the Iraq reconstruction program - an office that has worked in extremely challenging circumstances. But this Special Treasury Inspector General would be on the job long before waste, fraud, and abuse has a chance to take hold in the Treasury program.

The Special Inspector General would be nominated by the President within 30 days of passage of the financial market rescue plan. Once confirmed by the Senate, the Inspector General will appoint Assistant Inspectors General for Auditing and for Investigations, and will have the authority to hire other staff and to contract with outside entities. The Office would be charged with collecting the following information:

* categories of assets purchased (or procured by some other method)

* a list of assets in each category

* an explanation of how the assets were valued

* an explanation of why it was necessary to purchase each asset or groups of assets

* a list of financial institutions from which the assets were purchased

* a list of and information on each person or entity hired to purchase and manage the assets

* a current estimate of the total purchases made, the amount of assets on the books of the Treasury, the amount of assets sold and the profit and loss incurred on each sale or disposition.

The administration is asking the American people to put up $700 billion in a crisis, to execute a rescue plan for a faltering financial system. If Americans are to assume that level of risk, they deserve the action and advocacy of a team that wakes up every morning with one mission in mind: to track in the greatest detail possible the efforts of the Treasury Department in order to hold the officials executing the plan accountable, allowing Congress to properly monitor this unprecedented effort.

We urge you to include this proposal in any Treasury legislation the Congress considers in the coming days.

Sincerely,

Max Baucus (D-MT)
Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
John Barrasso (R-WY)
Susan Collins (R-ME)
George Voinovich (R-OH)
Larry Craig (R-ID)
Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
Thomas Carper (D-DE)
Norm Coleman (R-MN)
Ben Nelson (D-NE)
Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Ken Salazar (D-CO)
John Kerry (D-MA)
Tom Coburn (R-OK)
Gordon Smith (R-OR)
Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
Michael Enzi (R-WY)
Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
Carl Levin (D-MI)
Kent Conrad (D-ND)
Ben Cardin (D-MD)
John Thune (R-SD)


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