Governor Deval Patrick, who was criticized during the gubernatorial campaign for his involvement with a controversial subprime mortgage lender, called a top official at Citigroup, former US Treasury secretary Robert E. Rubin, two weeks ago to intercede on behalf of the owners of Ameriquest Mortgage as they sought urgent financial assistance from the global financial giant.
In a statement to the Globe, Patrick said he made the Feb. 20 call to Citigroup not in his role as governor but after a personal request to him from a top official at ACC Capital Holdings, the firm that owns Ameriquest Mortgage, which has frequently been accused of predatory lending.
Pretty much speaks for itself, I’m afraid. I’m amazed and appalled that Patrick didn’t just say, “Sorry, I can’t make that call. I’m governor now.” His constituents have a right to expect that he’s going to be governor, all the time, and not take some time out to help out old employers.
The caddy didn’t matter. The drapes don’t matter. This matters.
Update: I’m actually less sanguine about this than Jay:
“OK, checked the time line and the conversation occurred just before CaddyDrape-gate reached its Feb. 21 peak. It’s concerning. But it would have been even more concerning if it occurred after the lessons-learned crest. …
Doesn’t seem like a lesson you’d have to “learn”, to me.
FURTHER UPDATE (by David): WBUR reports that Patrick has conceded that the phone call was “a mistake,” and is refusing further comment.
FURTHER FURTHER UPDATE (by David): And here is the text of Deval Patrick’s statement (HT: Herald):
“Today’s Globe reports about a telephone call I made to a Citigroup executive as a reference for the current management of ACC Capital Holdings.
I have no financial interest in ACC Capital Holdings or its subsidiary, Ameriquest Financial. I neither knew nor had any interest in the details of the transaction that ACC Capital and Citigroup were considering.
As a former board member, I was asked by an officer of ACC Capital to serve as a reference for the company and agreed to do so. I called Robert Rubin, a former colleague from the Clinton administration and an executive at Citigroup, to offer any insight they might want on the character of the current management. The conversation with Mr. Rubin lasted at most a couple of minutes.
Even though I made this call solely as a former board member, and I believe that was clear to Mr. Rubin, I appreciate that I should not have made the call. I regret the mistake.”
A good statement — acknowledge responsibility, confess error, and move on. Often, with these things, one has to choose between winning the argument and ending it. In this case, ending it is clearly the right choice.