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Emails Between US Trade Rep. Froman and Wall Street Bankers Reveal New Degree of TPP Collusion

"My Citigroup payout was THIS big!"

“My Citigroup payout was THIS big!”

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A series of emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request show that there was collusion between big banks and the Obama administration in which Wall Street executives pushed hard for U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  The emails were obtained by the group Rootstrikers, revealing that Froman and a top Wall Street lobbying group coordinated efforts on “fast track authority” to pass the controversial and secretive trade agreement.  Froman, former Citigroup executive, was right at home with the Wall Street elite. 

Kurt Walters, campaign director at Rootstrikers, wrote:

“Wall Street knows it can get favors in closed door negotiations that could never survive the light of day in Congress.  One thing has been consistent during Michael Froman’s frequent trips through the Wall Street-to-Washington revolving door: He’s repeatedly used his official positions to deliver for his friends at the biggest banks on Wall Street.”

The emails also show that senior banking representatives successfully pushed Froman to expand the banks’ ability to challenge financial regulations in Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) tribunals. ISDS tribunals are among the most controversial provisions that have been discovered in the secretive TPP text as they will effectively allow companies to sue governments for a perceived loss of profit.  The tribunals have drawn criticism from both the left and the right for undermining the sovereignty of both the United States and its legal system.  If passed, the tribunals would take the concept of corporate humanism to new levels of corporate superhumanism and grant corporations more legal rights than humans.  

One email, likely from Goldman Sachs lobbyist Robert O’Connor, displays the chummy nature of the Froman-Wall Street relationship:

“Good for the US if u can get tpa and tpp; will do what i can to assist. At some pt, after present rush, perhaps we can discuss some thoughts on how to better position ttip in europe and the US for your successor. Also, if i pick up useful intell from Hill calls, i’ll try to relay. May be useful to be sure Matt N (former USTR congressional, now with me at GS) has a good contact in your office, since he will come to many of my Hill meetings. See you thurs, bob.”

Froman, in 1999 as Chief of Staff to the Treasury Secretary, was instrumental in the repeal of Glass-Steagall, so it is no surprise that the trade deal he oversaw is perceived as a Wall Street giveaway.  As Kurt Walters of Rootstrikers noted:

“It’s fair to ask whether Froman is negotiating on behalf of the American public or to benefit the financial sector that gave him a massive golden parachute bonus upon his shift from Citigroup executive to U.S. Trade Representative.

Before entering the Obama administration, Froman received over $4 million in exit payments from Citigroup.  

President Obama once prioritized passage of the TPP as part of his legacy, but it is perhaps the only topic that Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump agree on. The New York Times notes that opposition to TPP has become so strong that its best chance of passage is a vote during a lame duck session.


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