Israel partisan Jacob "Jack" Lew, Obama's nominee for Treasury Secretary, received big bucks from banking interests in a job arranged by former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin...
A Jan. 9th news story in Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper, Obama to nominate Jack Lew, an Orthodox Jew, as next U.S. Treasury Secretary, reports that Lew has close ties to Israel:
Over recent years, Lew, whose son studied in a yeshiva in Israel, has developed a close working relationship with Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, and has met several times with Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz.
Lew has been Obama's chief of staff, and before that he was the White House budget director. His humorous signature has sometimes been noted, particularly because if he is nominated it will be stamped on all newly printed cash.
A profile in the Jewish Daily Forward notes some of Lew's Israeli connections. It reports that Lew has traveled to Israel on family trips and occasionally on official business, and in 1987 Lew worked with David Makovsky (who became a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, an Israel advocacy organization), in hosting and assisting Natan Sharansky as he toured the U.S.
In 1992 Lew founded an organization called "The Center for Middle East Research," but it is difficult to find much information on it. The CEO appears to have been Lester Pollack, whose many titles include Executive Committee Member, AIPAC; Honorary Chairman, Anti-Defamation League; and Chairman, The Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University. It seems to have been based in Washington DC and may have closed down in 1997.
Lew lives part time in Riverdale, New York, where JTA and others report that he, his wife, and son Danny Lew are active in the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, an Orthodox synagogue that sponsors numerous activities on and for Israel; the following video of its rabbi is featured on its website.
While Lew is often considered a progressive, he also has close ties to the banking industry, which are now being discussed in regard to his nomination.
A Reuters story in the Foward reports, "... Lew, who has publicly said that he has scant expertise in financial markets, spent two years at the [Citigroup] bank during Wall Street’s meltdown, earning a combined $2.65 million in 2007 and 2008, according to a transcript of his confirmation hearing in 2009 for a State Department post."
Reuters reports, "Lew was hired with a recommendation from then-Citi executive and former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin." Lew became chief operating officer of Citigroup’s global wealth management division in July 2006.
Just before the bank received a taxpayer funded bailout, Reuters reports, Lew was given a bonus of about $940,000. This came as Lew was about to serve as a deputy in the State Department.
Reuters reports that Republican Senator Charles Grassley, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, said in an email statement: “The Treasury secretary can’t owe anyone on Wall Street any favors. He has to be independent from special interests and put taxpayers first.”
While this may seem sensible, others apparently disagree. The Huffington Post reports, "Lew's record at Citigroup came up during his confirmation hearing for the State Department position, but it failed to prove a stumbling block."
Jared Bernstein, a former adviser to Vice President Joe Biden who is now with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, opined at the time: "It just doesn't seem to me that there's a smoking gun there."
Bernstein has a B.A. in Fine Arts from the Manhattan School of Music (he studied double bass), a Masters Degree in Social Work, a Masters Degree in Philosophy, and Ph.D. in Social Welfare. It does not appear that he as a degree or any formal training in economics. It is unknown whether he has personal or family connections to Israel.