Vittert: The Washington revolving door is now shameless

On Balance with Leland Vittert

(NewsNation) — We all know Congress is corrupt — we all know about the insider stock trading and the revolving golden door of Washington. But every once in a while, a congressman says the quiet part out loud — and frankly it’s insulting to all of us.

Meet Congressman Trey Hollingsworth, representing the great state of Indiana. He also sits on the House Financial Services Committee that is supposed to oversee the big banks. Emphasis on oversee. Sitting before him Wednesday were the CEOs of JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citigroup, U.S. Bancorp, PNC Financial and Truist. Combined, they represent roughly 75% of the U.S. banking industry.

You know, the banks that created the 2008 housing meltdown and financial crisis. The same banks accused of various indiscretions. The same banks now raising interest rates and likely getting ready to come after delinquent borrowers.

Hollingsworth got five minutes during an oversight hearing to ask them important and probing questions. He began by shouting out to a staff member of his named Ruthie that was about to go work for Bank of America.

The kicker: Her dad already worked for the company.

Now that we have that out of the way, let the oversight begin.

My dad once told me if you can’t figure out who the mark is at the poker table, it’s you. Hollingsworth and Bank of America CEO Brian Monahan were laughing. They get the joke.

WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 30: Representative Trey Hollingsworth, a Republican from Indiana, speaks at a House Financial Services Committee hearing on oversight of the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve coronavirus pandemic response on Capitol Hillon September 30, 2021 in Washington, DC. The Treasury secretary this week warned in a letter to congressional leaders that her department will effectively run out of cash around Oct. 18 unless Congress suspends or increases the debt limit. (Photo by Al Drago-Pool/Getty Images)

We — all of us who play by the rules, all of us who don’t have fathers at Bank of America to get us jobs in Congress (to then get hired back at Bank of America) — are the marks at the poker table.

Back to the panel. JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, who controls roughly one-third of the American banking system, was there. After Hollingsworth’s remarks about his employee going to work for Bank of America, Dimon turned to her and said, “You should have called us!”

He’s in on the joke too, and the joke is the revolving door of Washington.

It used to something to be ashamed of. When I lived in D.C., congressional staffers or retiring congressmen never bragged of the cushy corporate jobs they were heading to. They were rightfully ashamed, or at least a little chagrined, to admit they got the new job to curry favor with the old job.

To be fair, it’s not Ruthie’s fault. Our team tracked her down and found her resume. She appears to be a hard worker. We have her picture but are not going to use it. We know who she is. But embarrassing a young woman isn’t the goal here.

Congressman Hollingsworth is another issue, but he isn’t embarrassed. This is business as usual in Washington.

His office did not return repeated calls and emails for comment.

Hollingsworth knows the game: Send some staffers to Bank of America, don’t do any real oversight, and a cushy lobbying job awaits when he leaves Congress.

Monahan loves it. If there is ever a problem with the oversight committee, he will have Ruthie call her old friends on the committee staff. Maybe Ruthie will go back to Congress working for someone else on the oversight committee — then come back to Bank of America. He’s riding high.

Repeated emails to Bank of America also went unanswered. They literally don’t care that we know — or that we are reporting on it.

Dimon went along with the whole thing; can’t blame him. Don’t want to rock the boat. But don’t worry, he knows how the game is played and isn’t the least bit embarrassed by it. The truth is, there are a thousand Ruthies in Congress and in corporate America. What’s most embarrassing is nobody cares anymore.

It’s been 48 hours since they said the quiet part out loud and nobody noticed. Not the media. Not the House Ethics Committee. Not even the watchdog groups.

We, those who play by the rules, are the marks. We are the suckers. It’s worse that those picking our pockets aren’t even embarrassed anymore. They’re laughing.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and not of NewsNation.

© 1998 - 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. | All Rights Reserved.

Trending on NewsNation

Elections 2022

More Elections 2022