U.S. Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski recently warned the heads of several large banks that took government bailout funds they’ve put themselves in a situation that opens them up to tough questions and criticism.
“You once lived behind a one-way mirror, unaccountable to the public at large,” said Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke, during the Feb. 11 committee hearing. “When you took taxpayer money you moved into a fishbowl.”
Two local professors said Kanjorski needs to heed his own warning.
King’s College professor David Sosar said that being in a leadership position on the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government Sponsored Enterprises makes Kanjorski “someone everyone in the media needs to talk to. It gives him a lot of clout and a bit more to say.” But the spotlight also brings questions about where Kanjorski was the past two years as the financial markets were crumbling, banks were failing and bailouts became the flavor of the month for Wall Street.
It’s been pointed out in media reports that Kanjorski has taken his fair share of contributions from those companies he’s been charged with overseeing, including many that have received bailouts, including AIG, the focus of a hearing last week regarding millions of dollars of performance bonuses the company paid out.
Kanjorski received $12,000 in AIG contributions during the 2008 political cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Of all national candidates, that was the 11th highest total. Among those in the top 10 were President Barack Obama, Sen. John McCain, Sen. Hillary Clinton and now Vice President Joe Biden.
Sosar said rather than Kanjorski asking the questions, people should be asking him and other members of the financial committees in Congress, “What did they know and when did they know it?” regarding the financial meltdown.Wilkes University professor Tom Baldino said the question is fair.
“There’s a lot of blame to go around,” Baldino said. “Yes, we can say, ‘Mr. Kanjorski, can you explain your roll and your failure to act?’ ”
Efforts to reach Kanjorski for comment over the weekend were unsuccessful.