The Slatest

Trump Names Foreclosure King as Finance Chairman, Is Not Actually a Populist

Donald Trump in Lynden, Washington, on Saturday.

Matt Mills McKnight/Getty Images

Donald Trump has successfully run for the Republican presidential nomination as a friend of the common man. His speeches are about standing up for people who’ve been victimized by the recession, free trade agreements, and marauding hordes of Mexican rapists. His voters—relative to other Republicans, though not to Americans as a whole—skew working-class. He sometimes suggests that he wants to raise taxes on rich people.

And yet. Trump’s fortune is derived from having inherited millions of dollars and a real-estate company from his father. His own recent business history is one of fraudulently preying on regular people. His actual tax plan involves massive, hugenormous breaks for people in his income bracket. And now, the New Republic reports, he’s named a national finance chairman who made a ton of money running a bank that, per TNR, repeatedly committed fraud in the course of foreclosing on struggling homeowners during the housing crisis. That individual is Steve Mnuchin, former chairman and primary owner of OneWest Bank. Here’s a fact about that institution’s business practices:


Erica Johnson-Seck, a vice president of foreclosure and bankruptcy for OneWest, explained in a July 2009 deposition that she “robo-signed” 6,000 foreclosure-related documents per week, spending just 30 seconds on each sworn affidavit that attested to the veracity of all relevant information in the case. Johnson-Seck admitted to not reading the documents before signing them, to not knowing how the records were generated, and to not signing in the presence of a notary, all of which made the affidavits she signed false evidence in court.

Here’s another fun bit about OneWest’s foreclosures on reverse mortgages, which are marketed to seniors:

OneWest disclosed in its most recent annual report that it’s under investigation for this disproportionate share of “widow foreclosures” by HUD’s Inspector General. The victims include 103 year-old Myrtle Lewis of North Texas, who OneWest put into foreclosure after her insurance coverage lapsed; Karen Hunziker, who got a foreclosure notice from OneWest ten days after her husband passed away in 2014; and a host of others.


“Widow foreclosures”!

The TNR article mentions that Mnuchin was the subject of a 2011 protest in which activists threatened to help a California woman named Rose Gudiel move onto Mnuchin’s Bel Air lawn if she was removed from her home in eviction proceedings that OneWest had initiated. Gudiel said she had missed only one payment; she was eventually granted a loan modification and stayed in her home. Which is almost too bad, because moving onto the lawn of a rich mortgage executive’s mansion is a great protest idea.

Anyway, it’s starting to seem like a Donald Trump presidency would not actually be all that great for working-class Americans.

Read more Slate coverage of the 2016 campaign.