A banker ousted as Bill Clinton’s Deputy Treasury Secretary after lying to Congress to help his boss conceal an illegal real estate scheme is a top candidate to become President Obama’s next economic adviser.
Despite his scandalous past, Roger Altman is on a short list to be the next director of the president’s National Economic Council (NEC). Established nearly two decades ago, the NEC advises the commander-in-chief on all economic policy issues and the next director is expected to play a key role in stimulating the ailing economy.
A notoriously unscrupulous character like Altman seems like a bizarre pick, though Obama has previously assigned other Clinton cover-up figures to key positions in his administration. Altman is best known for his efforts to help the Clintons cover up a shady Arkansas real estate scam (known as Whitewater) that essentially bilked the uneducated and elderly.
Altman eventually admitted that he lied in congressional testimony about giving Clinton, his college friend, a “heads-up” on nine criminal referrals filed by a temporary federal agency that oversaw the disposal of assets from failed banks. During nearly 15 hours of testimony before the House and Senate Banking committees, Altman lied about his repeated contacts with the White House regarding Whitewater.
He never really came clean about his actions but alluded to them in a letter to then Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen that acknowledged his congressional testimony “wasn’t what is should have been.” After resigning from his college pal’s administration Altman bounced right back, creating an “investment banking advisory firm” that rakes in millions of dollars annually and has branches throughout the U.S. and Mexico.
In fact, Altman’s firm got $46 million to “advise” General Motors before the Obama Administration rescued it. After the government bailout, Altman’s company had the audacity to ask for an additional $17.9 million “success fee.” The request was blasted by a U.S. bankruptcy trustee that called it “staggering,” according to a news site that covers capitalism and cites various reliable sources.