So The TARP scrutinizer, Neil Barofsky, who is supposed to track how the bailout money is being spent, is finally going to be able to do his job without interference from the Treasury.
After several months of a tug of war with the Treasury, Barofsky finally achieved to gain the independence he’s been asking for–namely not to have to report to Geithner in addition to the president and Congress.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Treasury finally backed down form seeking a ruling that would make him answerable to Geithner.
The clashes have been going on since April, when the Treasury asked the the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel to clarify that Barofsky’s office falls under the Treasury secretary’s supervision.
From the Wall Street Journal:
In a letter Wednesday to members of Congress, Mr. Barofsky said the Treasury had withdrawn an earlier request to the Justice Department seeking a legal opinion on how much independence the Sigtarp office enjoys.
“We view such withdrawal as Treasury’s acknowledgment that Sigtarp is an independent entity within Treasury, and that my office and I are not subject to the supervision of the secretary,” Mr. Barofsky said in his letter to a group of lawmakers, including Sen. Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), who have pushed for his independence. “We applaud Treasury’s decision to bring to a close this needless distraction,” Mr. Barofsky said.
In June, Barofsky sent another letter to Congress, in which he said that an adverse ruling from OLC could potentially have “a serious impact on the independence of our agency and our ability to carry our mandate.”
Beyond the Treasury’s power trip that this misadventure reveals, it seems petty and odd that the department would spend that much time and effort in trying to rein in Barofsky. There would be little point in having the guy who is supposed to be monitoring the Treasury’s TARP operations reporting back to the people he is monitoring.
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