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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

GOP attempt to tarnish Alex Sink sullies Jeff Atwater

The Republican Party of Florida clearly thinks that being a banker in the 1990s is a toxic asset. That's why they've sent out two missives against "banker Alex Sink" alleging that she was complicit in "predatory lending practices'' that led to the subprime mortgage crisis.

The e-mail sent late Tuesday night had RPOF chairman Jim Greer calling on Sink to "release all information relating to her involvement with NationsBank, Barnett Bank and Bank of America’s subprime predatory lending practices.''

The release said: "According to information in Barnett Bank’s SEC reporting forms, during Alex Sink’s tenure they used predatory lending practices - 1 out of 3 mortgages in Barnett Bank’s portfolio consisted of sub-prime mortgages. These mortgages were often given to homeowners who couldn’t afford to make the payments usually resulting in them falling behind on their mortgage payments and defaulting on their home loans causing them to lose their homes.''

Big problem: Alex Sink was never at Barnett Bank, a large, Florida-based bank. She was at NationsBank, which merged with Barnett in August 1997. The SEC report the RPOF used was Barnett's 10-K form in 1996.

Who was at Barnett Bank in 1996? Jeffrey H. Atwater - the Republican Senate president who announced this week he wants to succeed Sink. He's listed as the president of the Fort Lauderdale branch, on page 65 of the SEC report the RPOF cites.

Problem 2: The conclusion that one out of three mortgages consisted of sub-prime mortgages is based on the 10-K report that "mortgage-backed securities" constituted 36 percent of the bank's total mortgage portfolio. According to Princeton University's Worldnet, a mortgage-backed security is not the same as a sub-prime mortgage. Instead, it is "a security created when a group of mortgages are gathered together and bonds are sold to other institutions or the public.''

Sub-prime mortgages are also mortgage-backed securities and are also sold to other institutions and investors, but the financial term refers to higher risk loans.

Problem 3: RPOF reports in a May 19 press release that Sink oversaw "both Barnett and Bank of America.'' Technically, Sink never worked at Barnett. Atwater did.

(For the record, when the Dems start doing this for Bill McCollum, we'll be checking their facts too.)


[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 6:02pm]


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