allies of George Soros and Peter Lewis
Played a key role in the financial crisis of 2008
Born in 1931, Herbert M.
up on the Lower East Side of New
York. During the 1950s, he became assistant counsel to the
Waterfront Commission, combating crime in the port of New York and
New Jersey. Marion Sandler, two years Herbert’s senior, was born
Marion Osher in Biddeford, Maine. She received her BA from Wellesley
College and her MBA from New York University.
In 1963, two years after
marrying, the couple moved
to California and opened the Golden West Financial Corporation. With
their new holding company, the Sandlers were able to secure bank loans
plus additional funds from Marion’s family to purchase, for $3.8
million, the Oakland-based Golden West Savings and Loan, which had
assets of $38 million.
In 1975 the Sandlers
Golden West S&L with another California firm, World Savings, which had 107
offices and $1.8 billion in assets. Taking advantage of regulations passed in 1981, the
Sandlers’ World Savings Bank steadily grew, specializing in the
first-of-their-kind adjustable rate mortgages that allowed borrowers to defer paying their interest.
By 2000, the World Savings Bank
-- with 450 locations and assets of $58 billion -- had
become the second largest savings
and loan in America. On
July 19, 2001, Nancy
the Sandlers into the Bay Area Business Hall of Fame for their
“longstanding entrepreneurial and philanthropic commitment to the
San Francisco community.”
The Sandlers have
had noteworthy connections to ACORN
and the Center
for Responsible Lending (CRL), an
ACORN ally that championed the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA)
before the financial meltdown of 2008. In 2002 the Sandlers co-founded CRL and
gave it $20 million over the next six years.
From 2001 to 2008, the
Sandler Family Foundation also gave ACORN and its various front groups -- particularly
Vote and the American Institute
for Social Justice -- more than $7 million. Former ACORN
claimed that the Sandlers paid
to dispatch protesters to harass Wells Fargo Bank, a major competitor of the Sandlers' Golden West.
In contrast to their
allies George Soros and Peter Lewis, the Sandlers were able to
maintain a low public profile for years. They made headlines in October 2006, however, when they sold their World Savings Bank for $24.3 billion to the
Wachovia Corporation, pocketing
$2.4 billion and putting $1.4 billion into their foundation, making it one of the thirty largest foundations in the America.
At the time of the sale,
the Sandlers’ World Savings Bank carried $122
billion in adjustable rate mortgages. In 2008, Wachovia began
to implode due to a lack of
liquidity and was eventually bought out by Wells Fargo in October of
that year. Many analysts contend
that the “soaring portfolio of World Savings” helped
to sink Wachovia. Herbert
Sandler, however, has defended his business practices: “I didn’t
mislead anybody, and to the best of my knowledge, our company didn’t,
though there may have been an isolated case here and there.” “If
home prices hadn’t declined by 50 percent, nobody would be raising
these questions,” he stated in 2008.
On October 4, 2008,
however, Saturday Night Liveaired a skit in which the Sandlers were depicted as predatory lenders.
Under their names, SNL placed the caption “people who should be
shot.” Compounding the Sandlers’
negative press was a Time magazine
list that identified them as
two of the “25 people to blame for the financial crisis.” The
York Times also labeled
the Sandlers “pariahs” – and on December 24, 2008, the
that their mortgages were the “Typhoid Mary” of the housing
crisis. On February 15, 2009, CBS’s 60
minutes also aired
a segment that featured the Sandlers’ World Savings Bank as one of
the primary examples of how the mortgage industry had destroyed
itself and unleashed an economic collapse.
On April 22, 2009, the
a letter to Bill Keller of the New York Times,
criticizing the paper’s news coverage of them. The Sandlers
defended the adjustable rate mortgages that had defined their
financial success, distinguishing between those which their bank had
offered consumers and the kind that had caused so much economic disaster. While issuing some corrections,
the Times defended
its original reporting: “We still stand by our Golden West story
and believe it was a very strong piece to pursue and that we framed
On April 26, 2010, the
Sandlers also wrote
to CBS in an attempt
to discredit the 2009 60 minutes
episode that had so damaged their reputation. CBS did
not issue any correction.
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