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November 10, 2005

Well, this is odd

The news item is something like "Bush nominates billionaire Roland Arnall to be Ambassador to the Netherlands.  Arnall, the head of Ameriquest Capital Corp., co-chaired the second Bush inaugural, and Arnall's wife donated $5 million to an 'independent' political committee that ran anti-Kerry attack ads during the 2004 campaign.  Ameriquest is under investigation in 30 states for its mortgage loan practices - the company's business focuses on 'sub-prime' mortgages, and it has long been accused of predatory loan practices that take advantage of low-income borrowers.  Deval Patrick, the head of civil rights enforcement under President Clinton, forced it to pay $4 million to the Justice Department to settle charges of discriminatory lending."

"Ah," you say.  "Another bazillionaire Republican hack who made his fortune taking advantage of poor people is now picking up the classic hack job - an ambassadorship.  Sounds like business as usual at the Bush White House.  I assume that the Dems will squawk about it, but not too loudly because really, who cares about the Ambassador to the Netherlands, and he'll get through."

And you'd probably be right, though the nomination is stalled because of the 30-state investigation.  The DNC says the nomination is evidence of more "corruption and cronyism," and John Kerry (not surprisingly) opposes the nomination.  But here's the weirdness: one of Arnall's backers who wrote a glowing letter to the Senate on his behalf is the very guy who squeezed a $4 million settlement out of Arnall's company: Deval Patrick.

Huh?

Well, you see, Patrick joined Ameriquest's board of directors in 2004, at Arnall's invitation, and Arnall asked Patrick to write to the Senate on his behalf, so he did.

Whaaa...?

OK, look.  I don't reflexively hold people's service for big corporations against them - I actually think it's a good thing that a progressive sort like Patrick has worked for Coke and Texaco.  Nor do I necessarily think he shouldn't be on Ameriquest's board - he says he was asked to join the board to help them clean up the mess that they were in, and that seems to be a perfectly reasonable explanation. 

But this sort of "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" business is what makes people lose faith in politics.  Maybe Roland Arnall really is the great guy Patrick's letter makes him out to be, and maybe the company's previous problems with predatory lending weren't Arnall's fault.  (Then again, maybe they were.)  But there's no way for us to know that.  And one finds it difficult to imagine that Patrick would have written this letter for Arnall if Patrick weren't on Ameriquest's board - after all, Arnall's politics are about 180 degrees from Patrick's, so why stick your neck out?  Does their "friendship" (noted by Patrick in the Globe article) stem from some source other than Ameriquest's board?  Is Patrick compensated for his service to Ameriquest?  (I have asked the campaign that question - no response yet.)  How 'bout this: this guy Arnall obviously knows a lot about home mortgages.  Would Patrick write the same letter for him if Bush nominated him to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, or does he only merit a personal recommendation for positions in the hackocracy?

Patrick told the Globe that "my support for this guy was not a political calculation."  Well, that much seems clear.

Posted by David at 11:59 AM in Massachusetts, Vote 9.16.2006 | Permalink

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Comments

I've had a few concerns about Patrick all along (talking to much to the base--not a candidate that can win in a General) and this quote, "my support for this guy was not a political calculation" adds to my concerns.

Hello. You're running for Governor. Everytime you sneeze should be based on a political calculation. If you're so toned deaf to publicly support a huge GOP fundraiser, opposed by the DNC and despised by powerful and plentiful Kerry forces, what kind of political tools do you have to deal with the MA Legislature?

Patrick will no doubt feel he is being principled to help out someone he as worked with.

I think it shows he lacks basic political skills. I'm not advocating that he oppose this man's nomination, just not get involved.

As David Bartely (sp) said, "Good Politics is Good Government and Good Government is Good Politics". If Patrick can't get the Good Politics part down, he will never be able to practice good government.

Posted by: Frank Skeffington | Nov 10, 2005 12:22:11 PM

Are you kidding me?

First off, you comments are completely slanted. Did you mention that two extremely powerful Democratic Governors ( Rendell and Richardson ) support this nomination?

Or did you mention the angle about how he has donated to some Democrats?

Or did you mention that he donates to Bush simply for his support for Isreal, as if that is not GOP dominated issue?

Or that this is a tiny Washington issue that no one outside of Capital Hill cares about?

Yet the most important point is that this shouldn't be about politics. Patrick knows this guy, and he wrote him a letter. Big deal! Do we really want character letters to be a partisan issue now? Do you think anyone even looked at that letter? Or it made the DC pols think twice? Have we really reached the point where everything in the world has to be a binary system of Pro-Bush or Anti-Bush?

Can't we all just get along?

This is a stupid issue, lets take a deep breath and remember that no one cares about the Ambassador to the Netherlands. I love Bush basing just like anyone else, but lets fight real fights, not eat our own.

Posted by: Rex | Nov 10, 2005 1:11:53 PM

I agree completely that this was a terrible idea, from a party standpoint. An Unenrolled might see it as a sign of independence.

That said, we're talking about Ambassador to Netherlands. Perhaps someone else can tell me why (and this is true of nominees from both parties) we're going to apply a litmus test to inconsequential ambassadorships? Check into Clinton's appointment of Larry Lawrence as Ambassador to Switzerland. Should Kennedy have given Weld so much love in advocating the Gov as a potential AG under Clinton and then the ill-fated Ambassador to Mexico?

So I'm saying, this too shall pass. It was politically naive to say the least, but it's not as if I'm seeing much that would qualify as political savvyness out of the other guy.

Posted by: Steven Leibowitz | Nov 10, 2005 1:14:51 PM

I want to be Ambassador to the Netherlands. That sounds like fun.

Posted by: mike | Nov 10, 2005 1:31:09 PM

Rex...calm down, my point is the same point Leibowitz made...it was politically naive.

I don't recall me making this a Bush bashing thing. My point was it was bad politics. I agree, it is a stupid issue. But this just reinforces my point about it being bad politics.

Rendell and Richardson are sitting Govs who will get not push back in their home state for supporting some obscure Ambassorship--they are practicing good politics because there is very little downside for them.

But a first time candidate backing a guy who spent $5 million (oh ya, it was his wife) to give one of this state's most powerful politican a new orafice...that is bad politics.

And exhibit A to prove it was bad politics--todays Boston Globe. If it was such a smart political move, why the article?

Posted by: Frank Skeffington | Nov 10, 2005 2:36:26 PM

I think Frank brings up an issue that I have been thinking about but not found the right way to express. One of the big arguments, and please correct me if I'm wrong, in support of Patrick has been that he is "something new" not a "career politician" ... in theory I agree with some of that, although I have not hidden my preference and support for the AG. As much as experience, to some degree, can be dismissed, I think a slip like shows us all how experience does matter.

Listen, I don't pretend to know everything about the case, and I am 100% convinced if you asked DP if we need to do A LOT more about predatory lending, especially the odd prevalence of subprime mortgages in minority communites, he'd say yes in a heart beat. But the thing is, you make a mistake like this in the general and you waste a week if not more trying to get rid of the story and your message, no matter who is running is drowned out.

Posted by: Ben | Nov 10, 2005 4:30:29 PM

Arnall is a classic bad guy. I worked for him, so I can speak from experience. He is a mean spirited bully who abuses his employees. He knows all about the lending scams; he acted via proxy through senior management, whom he subsequently fired. Also, the computer software that is used to make or “board” loans to is called “Empower”. Ameriquest spent over $20 million to customize the software to its, Ameriquest’s, specifications. Over charging fees on loans would have to have been built into the system. No one knows more about the inner workings of Ameriquest than Roland Arnall.

Posted by: Rather not say. | Nov 10, 2005 6:38:46 PM

I was disappointed in Deval's decision to write that letter. I think it was naive. I think it was a mistake. I think Democrats have a right to be disappointed.

But let's not make this a larger issue than it is. It was one man was brought onboard a corporation to try to fix things who gave a recommendation to the man in charge of that corporation. I don't believe Arnall's politics are 180 degrees from Deval's, as Arnall was a one-issue voter, and that one issue is not one that will have much impact on this governor's race.

I think it's silly to think that Deval has to be wary of every sneeze. He's going to be himself, and he's going to make mistakes. And please, don't try to convince me that Tom Reilly is some genius politician. Exactly how many competitive political races has he won in the last decade? One? Against Lois Pines?

I am awaiting a further explanation from Deval. I think he'll have some late regrets for writing this letter. Nonetheless, let's get WAY over this idea that Deval is not electable. Of course he's electable. He has a message and knows how to deliver it. He's a progressive who is reaching out to western Mass, southern Mass, suburbs, cities, to the left and to the right. He is not running a campaign of feeding his base. He is running a campaign talking about what he believes and why he believes it--something we haven't seen much of other than maybe Robert Reich. (Before we dismiss Deval because of Reich's failures, let's not forget that Reich was in a primary with three other progressives and one moderate, and it's not all that surprising that the three progressives cancelled each other out.)

It's way too early for anyone to view this letter as anything more than a minor mistake and something which he never expected would become public. I feel confident there will be plenty more mistakes from all political camps in the coming year, with dramatic overreactions like this one to each mistake. Let's wait for something real, an mistake that actually affects people and affects lives, before we get our knickers in a bunch.

Posted by: Qane | Nov 10, 2005 10:21:55 PM

Before we dismiss Deval because of Reich's failures,

... let's remember that Reich got nowhere with black and other minority voters, but did very well with progressive whites in Middlesex county. If Deval Patrick does well with both groups, as he definitely has the potential to do, well... the Reich vote + the minority vote = a win.

Posted by: Cos | Nov 10, 2005 10:27:40 PM

Good point, Cos, though I don't think progressive whites and minority voters are enough to win a general election. To do that, I think Deval would need to reach across the state, and be able to attract independent voters as well.

Posted by: Qane | Nov 10, 2005 10:49:10 PM

I concur with Ben. Arnall is the poster boy for predatory lenders. Ameriquest specializes in stripping the equity out of poor neighborhoods. They were actually thrown out of Georgia and Connecticut for bait-n-switch tactics. My only questions are how much does Deval get paid to be on the Ameriquest Board and is THAT salary the reason he calls Arnall a "friend"? More of the same from the hypocrites we hope will save our Party.

Posted by: ACORN1 | Nov 11, 2005 5:49:17 PM

Acorn, board members aren't typically paid. They're elected by shareholders to make macro decisions about the general direction of the company. They don't manage day-to-day operations by any stretch of the imagination -- it's not really a "job."

Posted by: dan | Nov 12, 2005 4:31:06 PM

Roland Arnall is not a "bazillionaire republican who made his money off the backs of poor people". He came to America as a child survivor of the Holocaust, after having been hidden in a French convent. Upon his arrival he sold fresh flowers on the street corners of L. A. along with other poor immigrant children! He is a self made billionaire, who supports both the Democrats and the Republicans, as he is a proud and participatory American. In addition, he and his wife give countless dollars each year to a wide variety of charities, ranging from m.s. research and other medical causes to conservation, education and animal rights. As to any questionable lending practices, there will always be people, in any borrowing situation, who feel they have been mishandled by their lender. Mr. Arnall will no doubt, serve as a fine ambassador to the Netherlands.

Posted by: Jonah | Nov 12, 2005 11:37:55 PM

My Name Is Lawrence Green


I have a story to tell about Ameriquest and a loan that I obtained, unfortunately I cannot tell it myself but I hope I have left enough information for Bob, George and their friends to tell my story for me…

All of the photos are of my home and the condition it was in when I did the loan , I can prove this is the same condition when the appraiser came out!

On January of 2003 I obtained a loan from Ameriquest Mortgage Company, who now wants to be known as A.M.C. I wanted to get 10 – 15k for home repairs and medicine for the prostate cancer I was suffering from. My home was not on three acres.

My house was the most valuable asset I have ever had besides my family and faith in the Lord, I am a religious man who believes man should trust one another, so I did, I trusted Ameriquest and their employees to do the right thing for an old man sick with cancer.

My name is Lawrence Green I am a seventy two year old African American Man and have a limited income from SSI and my Pension in the amount of $1.423 my mortgage payments were With Fairbanks Mortgage Company at 11.6%, payments at $404.18 0n a $40.000.00 loan . My eyes were not too good and I had to rely on the Ameriquest people to get me through this confusing and complicated loan process.

I obviously got in over my head with Ameriquest because when I did the loan for repairs , to be done on my house; it was appraised at seventy three thousand dollars which there is a photo of the appraisal


The actual value of my property was probably in the mid 20k area so it looks like my previous lender got me too! The LOAN amount , ameriquest stuck me with , was for sixty thousand , I didn’t know I was getting this much, my loan application clearly states 10-15k for repairs.


There are some issues with my home and I don’t believe Ameriquest should have approved me for a loan in the first place.
Maybe I needed some money to help me survive this cancer but the loan Ameriquest gave me could only make my health worse, so much stress. Truthfully the Ameriquest people should have called the health department and reported me living there. I did not make $3.000.00 a month like the stated income letter said.

Maybe I could have lived in a facility with A/C or Heat without water leaking into my rooms from the roof… The photos are the condition of my home today just the way I left it when the guys in white coats came with a stretcher and took me out. As you can clearly see by the pictures,the work ordered on the invoice below was not done.
AMERIQUEST PHONY WORK ORDER WHERE'S THE PHONE NUMBER, OF THE CONTRACTOR?

THE ROOF LEAKS WHEN IT RAINS.

After I got the loan I had more debt than I originally had, with a higher monthly payment than I previously had along with my bills and meds to pay for my cancer treatment, I am 72 years old, I didn’t need this stress, it was only five months before I couldn’t pay the bills and the rent any more, one thing became more important than the other, I had cancer to beat and in my current monetary situation I was trapped. I did not have $10.000.00 in a checking account like the form below states , I had about five hundred in the bank.


My first non payment date was 06- 01- 04, only 5 months later. I had lived a long life and all I wanted to do is live or die in peace in my home.


My interest rate was 10.8% The closing costs were about $5.469.00 Many unexplained fees and in some cases explained wrong on the disbursement sheet.Why did the notary get a $300.00 appraisal fee on my closing doc.


Fortunately I had a close friend and a daughter to look after me for a short time, but they were not able to help out with the bills much.

AMERIQUEST STATED , THE LOAN I WAS GETTING WAS TO HELP ME DO THE REPAIRS

I don't recall getting any money at the closing , in order to do the repairs . my eye sight was really bad , and the ameriquest representative who came to my house to do the closing , helped me sign my name to these documents , they never gave me any signed copies , i put my trust into ameriquest , and they did me wrong - look at my monthly ameriquest statement - higher then Fairbanks statement ..

The repairs never got done , the mold and mildew from the roof leaking , no heat for the winter months - i was freezing on cold winter nights , AMERIQUEST JUST DIDN'T CARE !!!!!

Ameriquest said they would send the men out to install the heat , but no one showed up , I called many times , the winter was getting colder , still no heat

I told my daughter that I didn’t ask for this much of a loan amount and that it was too much for me to handle. I told my daughter that I was becoming even more ill because of the stress I was enduring along with the cancer and this bad loan; things are not too good for me these days.

Cancer is no longer an issue for me nor is the bad loan but I hope I have touched some of you who have taken the time to read my story and keep this from happening to others.

Don’t feel bad for me because I am now the richest man I know, I have a new home actually it’s a kingdom. My Name Is Lawrence Green, I died from a heart attack in January 2005, not in what was once my home but in an Ameriquest Mortgage Company foreclosed home almost exactly one year later.

Thank you Antoinette Green - Daughter of Lawrence Green , for all your help and support and God Bless you Mr. Green, You are home…

http://groups.msn.com/AmeriquestMortgagefraud/shoebox.msnw?albumlist

Posted by: Markie | Nov 14, 2005 7:06:25 AM

http://www.clevescene.com/Issues/2005-10-19/news/feature.html

This is the guy Deval calls a friend? Too much time in Washington DC and the mahogany board rooms have warped his senses. Also, for Jonah---yes Arnall is a "bazillionaire who made his money off the backs of poor people" (ED NOTE: Ameriquest is the succssor in interest to the former Long Beach S & L that folded in the S&L crisis). His Holocaust experience is noteworthy but mostly irrelevent to the issue of him screwing over poor people in the sixty since his emigration. Finally, Ameriquest (ACC) is a PRIVATE company which means that it never discloses its financials, it has no stcok holders so the board are the lap dogs of the Arnall family (Roland, his wife and now their nephew who is the new CEO). And yes board members do get paid---why won't Deval tell us how much he gets paid? More hush money from a big corporation (Texaco, Coke and now Ameriquest). A very bad trend is forming.

Posted by: shizbang | Nov 15, 2005 9:21:27 AM

So much for the politics of hope...Mr. Patrick should go back to the corporate world and earn back some of the money he's wasted in this quixotic campaign...

Posted by: Disillusioned | Nov 15, 2005 11:46:47 PM

This guy is a real jerk!

Boston Globe (MA) November 17, 2005 Union Is Pressing Patrick To Renounce Bush Nominee http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2005/11/17/union_is_pressing_patrick_to_renounce_bush_nominee?mode=PF

A major Massachusetts-based union is calling on Democratic gubernatorial candidate Deval L. Patrick to withdraw his support for President Bush's nominee as US ambassador to the Netherlands, Roland Arnall, a controversial Republican fund-raiser and principal owner of a mortgage company that is under investigation in 30 states.

The National Association of Government Employees has also called on Patrick to resign as a director on the board of Arnall's firm, Ameriquest Capital Corp. The union said his backing of the nominee contradicts Patrick's campaign promise to offer a ''fresh look" for state government.

''We view your backing of Mr. Arnall as just more 'business as usual' and acceptance that important positions such as an ambassadorship should go to the highest bidder," David J. Holway, NAGE national president, said in a letter to Patrick this week.

He noted Arnall's strong political financial support of Bush. Arnall and his wife, Dawn, were described by The Washington Post in January as ''the single biggest source of financial support for Bush since 2002. Over the period, they gave and raised at least $12.25 million."

Patrick rejected the union's demands yesterday, saying he has committed himself to helping Arnall's company settle the investigations into Ameriquest's business practices, which critics say involved predatory lending aimed at low-income people, minorities, and the elderly. The company is in settlement talks with the investigating states.

''My commitment is to provide independent oversight that will help the company in its continuing effort to be the very best in the industry," Patrick wrote to Holway. ''If keeping that commitment costs me the endorsement of NAGE, then I am prepared to live with those political consequences."

Patrick submitted a letter last month to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee praising Arnall, telling the senators, ''This is a good man." He said he disagrees with the nominee's political views but doesn't ''regard political affiliation as the only possible measure of a person."
_____________________________________________

Posted by: NAGEguy | Nov 17, 2005 9:37:36 AM

I'll try not to rehash things already said. I mostly agree with Qane's latest post, except that I don't see this letter as "a mistake."

I disagree with those who have called this "politically naive" -- that is laughable to anyone who knows Deval at all; he is quite aware of the controversial nature of issues like this, and he doesn't shrink from them. Which is one of the reasons I support him. Voters respect a candidate with conviction, even if they disagree with his position.

And, I disagree that he should avoid such issues -- why should he? To those who call his letter "politics as usual" I say that for him to sidestep involvement in such controversies would be "[Democratic] politics as usual" -- the usual lily-livered avoidance of any deep moral commitment that has doomed the Democratic Party to minority status in this country.

I don't pretend to understand the details of this particular case, but I know Deval well enough to trust his judgment on this.

If Ameriquest needs fixing, who better to represent the interests of the disadvantaged than Deval?

And, hey, are these same complaints coming from those who wring their hands over the fact that the name "Deval Patrick" has 80% "never heard of him" in the polls? Nothing like a little controversy to get some name recognition...

Posted by: Lord Alford | Nov 27, 2005 8:03:50 PM

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