Report: Cronyism at Export-Import Bank

Export Import Bank Chairman Frank Hochberg will likely face questions at a Wednesday House Financial Services hearing about a Wall Street Journal report indicating that the bank has suspended or removed employees in connection with cronyism.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Ex-Im officials have been investigating four employees for receiving gifts and working to direct the bank to help certain businesses, leading to suspension or termination.

ADVERTISEMENT
The report comes as Republicans are divided about whether to reauthorize the bank. Supporters say it helps U.S. businesses make inroads in emerging markets, while securing domestic jobs.

But critics -- including House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) -- say it's nothing more than corporate welfare. Hensarling is slated to chair the Wednesday hearing.

"Ex-Im Chairman Hochberg should come fully prepared to discuss all details surrounding these troubling accusations with Chairman Hensarling and the committee on Wednesday," quipped a House Financial Services Committee spokesman.

Congress must reauthorize the bank, which was created in 1934, by September 30 or it will expire. 

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Monday that he and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) will likely unveil a reauthorization bill this week that will include some transparency revisions, though he wouldn't say which provisions would be included. [LINK]

No such legislation has been introduced in the House. And even if legislation is introduced in the House, it's unclear whether Hensarling would allow the Financial Services Committee to take up the bill. 

Democrats largely support Ex-Im's reauthorization.