Barney Frank

Barney Frank

Photo from Wikimedia Commons / Author of Photo: United States Government


* Former Democratic U.S. Representative from Massachusetts
* Voted numerous times to slash funding for the CIA, FBI, and U.S. military
* Worked to weaken immigration laws that barred entry to the U.S. by individuals with a history of terrorist ties or subversive activities
* Was reprimanded by the House of Representatives in 1990, for his involvement in a sex scandal
* Promoted government policies mandating that banks lower their mortgage-lending standards for nonwhite minorities
* Retired from Congress in 2013


Barnett “Barney” Frank was born in March 1940 to a Jewish family in Bayonne, New Jersey. He graduated from Harvard College in 1962, and in 1964 he volunteered for the Freedom Summer project in Mississippi. While pursuing a PhD in Government at Harvard during the 1960s, Frank also taught some undergraduate classes on campus. He left school before completing the degree program, however, in order to serve as executive assistant to Boston mayor Kevin White from 1968-197o. Frank then spent a year as an administrative assistant to U.S. Congressman Michael Harrington of Massachusetts (1971-1972).

From 1973-1980, Frank was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. In 1977 he earned a Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School; two years later he became a member of the Massachusetts Bar. Also during the 1970s, Frank was a part-time instructor at the University of Massachusetts (Boston), the John F. Kennedy School of Government, and Boston University.

Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives

In 1980, Frank, a Democrat, ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in Massachusetts’ Fourth Congressional District and won a narrow victory. In 1982 the Fourth District was reconfigured geographically, and Frank won re-election by a full 20 percentage points. He was subsequently re-elected every two years, usually by wide margins, until his retirement in 2013.

Ties to the Democratic Socialists of America

In May 1986, Frank co-sponsored — along with Eleanor Holmes Norton, Gloria Steinem, and several other political and activist leaders — a “New Directions” conference in Washington, D.C. which was “supported” by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

In July 1996, the Democratic Socialists of America Political Action Committee endorsed Frank in that year’s U.S. House elections.

In January 1998, Frank participated in a “Hearing on Economic Insecurity” organized by the Boston Democratic Socialists of America at Faneuil Hall in Boston.

On June 8, 2014, Frank was an honorary chair for the [Eugene] Debs[Norman] Thomas[Eduard] Bernstein Awards Reception held by the Boston Democratic Socialists of America.

1980s to 2013

In the 1980s, Frank criticized a federal domestic-spying program — which monitored the activities of teachers, clerics and political activists suspected of being disloyal to America — as a “Cold War hangover” and “a waste of time.” A key supervisor of the program was former FBI special agent Robert Hanssen, who at the time was selling U.S. secrets to the Soviet Union.

In 1988, Frank voted against U.S. aid to the “Contras” who were fighting against the Marxist-Leninist Sandinista government of Nicaragua.

According to the November 28, 1989 issue of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) newspaper Peoples Daily World, Frank received an award from the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee, a CPUSA ally, on December 1, 1989.

On February 3, 1999, Frank participated in a Council for a Livable World seminar titled “Is the Pentagon Budget Increase Needed?” Other notable participants included Robert Borosage, John Conyers, Peter DeFazio, Jim McGovern, Major Owens, Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders, Jan Schakowsky, and Lynn Woolsey.

In 2003, Frank served on the Advisory Committee of Progressive Majority, a political networking group dedicated to electing leftist candidates to public office.

In 2003 as well, Frank was the master-of-ceremonies at the annual Take Back America conference organized by the Institute for Policy Studies and the Campaign for America’s Future.

In 2005, Frank joined the Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus.

In 2006, Frank spoke again at the Take Back America conference organized by the Institute for Policy Studies and the Campaign for America’s Future.

In 2006, Frank was one of only three members of the House of Representatives to vote against the Respect for America’s Fallen Heroes Act, which restricted political protests — most notably those led by the anti-gay, anti-war activist Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church — at the funerals of U.S. soldiers. Frank opposed the bill, which the Senate passed unanimously, on civil liberties and constitutional grounds.

In January 2007, Frank chastised the Bush administration for its initial “incompetence” in responding to Hurricane Katrina, which had devastated the city of New Orleans in 2005. Claiming that the administration had done “virtually nothing to alleviate” the loss of housing by the (mostly black) poor in that city, the congressman said: “What I believe is, at this point, you’re not talking about incompetence, you’re talking about values … when in a calculated way you refuse to do anything for well over a year after the disaster. The policy, I think, is ethnic cleansing by inaction.”

In 2008, Frank called for a 25 percent reduction in U.S. military spending. “The math is compelling,” he said. “If we do not make reductions approximating 25 percent of the military budget starting fairly soon, it will be impossible to continue to fund an adequate level of domestic activity.”

In February and November of 2008, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, president of the Party of European Socialists Delegation, met with Frank in Washington D.C.

In 2009, Frank spoke at the annual America’s Future Now conference — which was the new name for the old “Take Back America” conference — organized by the Institute for Policy Studies and the Campaign for America’s Future.

As of 2009, Frank was an honorary president of Americans for Democratic Action, along with such notables as John Lewis, Jim McDermott, George McGovern, Charles Rangel, Joseph Duffy, Don Edwards, and Donald Fraser.

Frank was also a member of the socialist-leaning Congressional Progressive Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives.

On July 27, 2009, Frank articulated his hope that the implementation of a “public option” — a government-run insurance plan to “compete” with private insurers — could pave the way to a universal healthcare system run entirely by the federal government: “I think that if we get a good public option it could lead to single-payer and that is the best way to reach single-payer. Saying you’ll do nothing till you get single-payer is a sure way never to get it.… I think the best way we’re going to get single-payer, the only way, is to have a public option and demonstrate the strength of its power.”[1]

On December 2, 2009, Congressman Frank and Senate Banking Committee chairman Chris Dodd together proposed, in the House of Representatives, a financial-reform bill designed to minimize the chances that another financial crisis like that of 2008 would occur. The conference committee that reported on June 29, 2010, voted to name the bill “The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.” Nearly 2,000 pages long, this legislation, according to the Heritage Foundation, “represents the largest expansion of Washington’s role in the financial industry since the Great Depression” and increases the likelihood of another crisis. To view the Heritage Foundation’s analysis of the bill, click here and here.

In October 2011, Frank said that he supported the Occupy Wall Street movement “to the extent that they obey the law.” Frank added that he wished “that kind of energy was around two years ago when we were voting on the financial reform bill. We’d have a tougher bill.”

In 2011, Frank was one of the 158 speakers who addressed that year’s Take Back the American Dream Conference hosted by the Institute for Policy Studies and the Campaign for America’s Future.

In 2011 as well, Frank was honored with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” by the Midwest Academy, a leftwing activist training center whose teachings are based on the philosophy of Saul Alinsky.

In October 2011, Frank was a guest speaker at a meeting of the Harvard Law School branch of American Constitution Society. There, he made a case for the legalization of marijuana, saying: “The fact is, the prohibition on marijuana does enormous amounts of harm, and no good that I can see…. A large number of people in our society have smoked marijuana and have suffered no ill effects from it, and, knowing that, are sympathetic toward it not being illegal.”

On November 28, 2011, Frank announced that he would retire from Congress at the conclusion of his term in January 2013.

On May 26, 2012, Frank was a guest speaker at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth undergraduate commencement, where he received the Chancellor’s Distinguished Service Medal. In the course of his remarks, Frank made a controversial comment (eliciting an audible gasp from the audience) about Hubie Jones, an African American who was receiving an honorary doctorate. Referencing a recent incident where a “white Hispanic” man in Florida had shot and killed Trayvon Martin, a black teenager whose hooded sweatshirt may have led the gunman to suspect that the youngster was engaged in criminal activity, Frank said the following about (and to) Hubie Jones: “I’m particularly pleased that Hubie got an honorary degree today. You know, when you get an honorary degree they give you one of these [a hood signifying the recipient’s honor] and Hubie, I think you now got a hoodie you can wear and no one will shoot at you. So, I think you’ll feel, I hope, pretty protected by that.”

On July 7, 2012, the 72-year-old Frank wed his longtime partner, 42-year-old James Ready, thereby becoming the first sitting congressman to enter into a same-sex marriage.

Frank retired from the House of Representatives in January 2013.

Frank & U.S. Immigration Law’s “Ideological Exclusions” [2]

From 1981 onward, while the incidence of Islamic terror attacks around the world was rising dramatically and America’s intelligence agencies were being neutered by the Left, Congressman Frank legislated to loosen America’s immigration controls. At the same time, he consistently voted to slash funding for the CIA, the FBI, and the U.S. military.

Frank’s most far-reaching work on immigration law occurred in the context of a major overhaul of the McCarran-Walter Act of 1952. Its overhaul during the 1980s culminated in the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of 1990. The project was divided into two parts: (a) an overhaul of legal immigration laws, and (b) a separate overhaul of illegal immigration laws. Congressman Frank wanted to reform the exclusion provisions of legal immigration laws, laws that codified the things for which a prospective legal immigrant to the U.S. could be denied entry. “The exclusions were part of the legal immigration provisions, and as a member of the Democratic majority on the immigration subcommittee, I asked for and was accorded by my colleagues the right to take the lead in rewriting the exclusion provisions,” said Frank.

Frank concentrated on removing the ideological exclusions, which were used to prevent people with totalitarian views from immigrating to the U.S. and causing unrest. They were also used to deport legal aliens who had caused unrest or engaged in subversive activities in America. Frank categorized such exclusions as “relics of the McCarthy era” — even though Senator Joseph McCarthy had concentrated his anti-Communist efforts on U.S. citizens, not aliens or visitors.

Moreover, contrary to Frank’s assertion, ideological exclusions were not in fact “relics of the McCarthy era.” They originated from the Alien Registration Act of 1940, signed into law by President Roosevelt as a national security measure on the eve of World War II. The bill made it a federal crime for anyone to “knowingly or willfully advocate, abet, advise or teach the duty, necessity, desirability or propriety of overthrowing the Government of the United States or of any State by force or violence, or for anyone to organize any association which teaches, advises or encourages such an overthrow, or for anyone to become a member of or to affiliate with any such association.”

Passionate about removing ideological exclusions, Frank said: “I was in an ideal situation because while I was in favor of the overall bill, I cared most of all about the exclusions, and I was prepared to try to defeat the bill if I was not successful in reforming what I considered to be the most outrageous aspect of American immigration law, the antigay, anti-free-speech McCarthyite hangover.”

To Frank, the ideological exclusions were inconsistent with the notion of free speech. But the question was: Should the full First Amendment right to free speech be extended to non-U.S. citizens while they were in America? Frank said yes. He then flipped the issue on its head by arguing that denying entry to foreigners with subversive or “dangerous” views and radical ideologies was a de facto violation of American citizens’ First Amendment rights to hear those views.

“Beginning around the turn of the century,” said Frank, “American law contained a large number of exclusions to protect what legislators apparently thought was a fragile citizenry from all manner of dangerous foreign influences. Anarchists, people who believed in polygamy, Communists, people who knew people who were related to Communists, people who thought and said unpleasant things about America — the list of those kept out of America was egregious and in total violation of the spirit of free expression.”

Clearly, Frank considered foreigners who held totalitarian views to be of no concern to national security. Though Frank’s final exclusion amendment included language making deportable “any alien who participated in Nazi persecution,” there was no clause barring any alien who participated in Communist persecution.

When Frank’s exclusion amendment became law, it said that aliens could not be excluded or deported “because of any past, current, or expected beliefs, statements, or associations which, if engaged in by a United States citizen in the United States, would be protected under the Constitution of the United States.”

Frank tailored his attack on ideological exclusions to expedite the removal of the sexual preference exclusion, an exclusion that denied homosexual immigrants entry to the U.S. Given the cultural climate of the 1980s, a stand-alone effort to have the sexual preference exclusion removed would not have been supported by many Congressmen, regardless of their private views on homosexuality. So in a legislative sleight-of-hand, Frank crafted the comprehensive immigration exclusion amendment to define the only reasons that entry to America could be denied — and he left the sexual preference exclusion out.

That strategy of omission put anyone wanting to continue the ban on admitting homosexual immigrants in the unsavory position of having to sponsor a separate amendment seeking to continue that ban. In his essay “A Case Study in the Effective Use of the Political Process,” Frank explained his strategy:

“My intention was to take the legitimate bases for excluding people from this country — namely, that they would in some real way be dangerous to our well-being — and embody them in a new section that would replace the existing obnoxious [ideological exclusion] sections. I would deal with the anti-gay exclusion simply by leaving it out of the re-draft. Thus, no separate vote would be taken on whether or not to repeal this provision, because its abolition would be accomplished by omission. And since I was part of the majority that would be presenting the new bill, the burden in Congress would thus be shifted to those who sought to preserve this homophobic aspect.”

In other words, Frank took an issue concerning national security and parlayed it into a significant victory for gay rights.

In 1987, over the objections of the State Department because of security concerns, Frank’s exclusion amendment was made temporary law. Though President Reagan also objected to Frank’s ideological exclusions amendment, he accepted it in compromise to get broader aspects of the McCarran-Walter Act revamp passed into law. For the first time in American history, the full First Amendment right to free speech and free association, once exclusively enjoyed by full U.S. citizens, had been granted to non-citizens and visitors to the United States. The moment Barney Frank’s exclusions amendment was made law, it became illegal, on the basis of their beliefs alone, to deny entry to immigrants or other foreign nationals with radical ideologies. It also made it nearly impossible to deport them once they were in America.

Three years later, the overhaul of McCarran-Walter was finished, and it became law as the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1990. Frank’s ideological exclusions amendment remained intact, except for a single word. The final amendment said that an alien could not be excluded from entry into the U.S. nor deported once there ‘’because of any past, current or expected beliefs, statements or associations which, if engaged in by a United States citizen in the United States, would be protected under the Constitution.” Frank had also wanted to prevent the U.S. from denying entry to immigrants based on past “activities,” but under pressure from the Bush State Department, Frank was forced to drop “activities” from the amendment’s final wording.

The New York Times, which vigorously supported Frank and his fellow Democrats’ drive to remove ideological exclusions, reported on October 26, 1990: “Representative Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who was the chief House negotiator in the conference committee, said the new provisions worked out Wednesday night and today ‘made rational the reasons a person can be excluded,’ and added, ‘We are saying you can’t exclude someone because of their speech, their beliefs, or their associations.’” [Emphasis added]

Some changes were made to the 1990 exclusion amendment in 1996, but Frank’s ideological exclusions amendment remained untouched and in force until after the al Qaeda terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The 1996 exclusion list allowed immigration officials to bar aliens from entry or deport them for the following terrorism-related reasons:

(1) has engaged in a terrorist activity,

(2) a consular officer or the Attorney General knows, or has reasonable ground to believe, is engaged in or is likely to engage after entry in any terrorist activity .

(3) has, under circumstances indicating an intention to cause death or serious bodily harm, incited terrorist activity,

(4) is a representative of a foreign terrorist organization, as designated by the Secretary under section 219, or

(5) is a member of a foreign terrorist organization, as designated by the Secretary under section 219, which the alien knows or should have known is a terrorist organization is inadmissible.

But U.S. immigration officials could not deny entry to, or deport, aliens solely on the basis of their political or ideological beliefs or the associations they formed while in America. And the remaining exclusions, as they related to terrorism, were filled with ambiguities that monkey-wrenched the process of deporting suspect aliens expeditiously. The Center for Constitutional Rights, National Lawyers Guild, and other left-wing groups lined up to exploit those ambiguities. They filed endless litigation in defense of aliens arrested for suspicion of involvement in crime, terrorism or terrorist-related activity.

James R. Edwards of the Hudson Institute summed up the overall effect of Barney Frank’s elimination of ideological exclusion:

“History teaches that foreign ideologues have long sought to promote their beliefs and advance their causes on American soil. Alien subversives have spied, spread propaganda and stolen state and industrial secrets. Foreign anarchists, communists and other radicals have sought to make converts, raise funds, organize followers and otherwise exploit American freedoms…. In short, the 1990 Immigration Act’s revision of exclusion grounds preserved the spirit of the McGovern and Moynihan [Frank] Amendments. Indeed, this law made it much easier for aliens who hold radical, dangerous, anti-American or subversive political beliefs to enter and remain in the United States. This perversion of the First Amendment means the guy who preaches hatred, pollutes hearts and minds, steeps persuadable people in reasons to harm Americans and wage war from within against America … gets a free pass.”

A Graphic Warning Ignored [3]

At 11 a.m. on January 26, 2000, in Room 2237 of the Rayburn House Office Building, the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims — of which Congressman Frank was a member — held a hearing wherein testimony was given by experts on terrorism and immigration regarding the vast influx of Islamist ideologues and other extremists into the U.S. and Canada. One of those experts, Steven Emerson, described, in great detail, the large number of foreign Islamic radicals and radical clerics who were entering the U.S. each year. Said Emerson: “U.S. officials say they are virtually powerless to stop the influx of known militants into the United States for reasons ranging from lack of adequate intelligence to easy circumvention of the watch list to legal restrictions in stopping self-described religious clerics from entering the United States.”

Those “legal restrictions” were a clear reference to Barney Frank’s ideological exclusions amendment, which made it unlawful to deny entry to or to deport, aliens based solely on their beliefs, ideologies, or associations. Nineteen months later, Muslim radicals murdered nearly 3,000 Americans on the morning of 9/11.

Sex Scandal

In 1987, Frank publicly announced that he was a homosexual.

Three years later the House of Representatives, acting on the recommendation of the House Ethics Committee, voted by a 408-18 margin to reprimand the congressman for having “reflected discredit upon the House.” At issue was the fact that Frank had paid for sex from a male prostitute named Steve Gobie, whom he had originally met by answering an ad in the Washington Blade that read, “Hot bottom plus large endowment equals a good time.” Sometime after that initial meeting, Frank: (a) hired Gobie as a personal “aide”; (b) paid for Gobie’s psychiatric treatments; (c) used his political influence to dismiss 33 parking tickets for Gobie; and (d) wrote, on congressional stationery, an intentionally misleading letter on Gobie’s behalf to his probation officer in Virginia. And Gobie, for his part, used Frank’s Capitol Hill basement apartment as a male-and-female house of prostitution for 18 months. The congressman would later claim that he had been unaware of Gobie’s illegal activities inside the apartment, and that he had fired the aide upon learning of them.

But a woman who worked for three months in the prostitution ring inside Frank’s apartment told CNN that the congressman was fully aware of the brothel’s existence. “He would call and he would say ‘Hi, it’s me. I’m on my way in, are there any clients there?” the woman said.

Reflecting later on the nature of his relationship with Mr. Gobie, Frank characterized himself as an unwitting “good liberal” who had gotten “suckered” and “victimized” while “trying to help” the young sex worker. “Thinking I was going to be Henry Higgins and trying to turn him into Pygmalion was the biggest mistake I’ve made,” Frank said at a news conference. In a 2004 retrospective discussion about the Gobie affair, Frank accused Republicans and conservative media outlets of “plotting to ruin my social life,” and suggested that he, like the sex-scandal-plagued former President Bill Clinton, was fighting a “fundamental battle for the soul of America.”

Frank and the Housing / Financial Crisis of 2008

Frank had numerous close ties to the mortgage-lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, both of which suffered economic collapse in 2008 as a result of government policies — most notably the Community Reinvestment Act — mandating that they lower their lending standards in order to ensure that larger numbers of undercapitalized borrowers — particularly nonwhite minorities — could be approved for mortgage loans (so-called “subprime loans”). Frank, who between 1989 and 2008 received campaign contributions totaling $42,350 from Fannie and Freddie, actively promoted these policies.

Starting in the early 1990s, Frank sought to stifle efforts by regulators, Congress, and the White House to place some oversight over Fannie and Freddie’s risky lending practices. In 1991, when Frank was just beginning a seven-year personal relationship with Fannie Mae executive Herb Moses (who helped develop many of Fannie’s housing-related lending programs), the congressman pushed for reduced restrictions on two- and three-family home mortgages, even though they were defaulting, respectively, at two and five times the rate of single-family homes. During that 1991-98 period, Frank was a member of the House Banking Committee, which had jurisdiction over Fannie Mae.

When Republican Congressman Jim Leach sought to impose stronger regulation on Fannie and Freddie in 1992, Frank worked to block the move. In 2000 Frank rejected yet another attempt to regulate the Fannie-Freddie loans, calling such regulation unnecessary because there was “no federal liability there whatsoever.”

In 2001, White House chief economist N. Gregory Mankiw warned that the government’s “implicit subsidy” of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, coupled with loans to unqualified borrowers, was placing the entire American financial system at great risk. Frank, who wielded immense influence as the ranking member of the House Committee on Financial Services (which oversees the housing and banking industries), denounced Mankiw and declared that he (Frank) had no “concern about housing.”

Even after federal regulators discovered in 2003 that Fannie and Freddie executives had inflated their earnings statements by some $10.6 billion in order to boost their own bonuses, and after President Bush called for what the New York Times described as the housing-finance industry’s “most significant regulatory overhaul” in a decade, Frank maintained: “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are not facing any kind of financial crisis…. The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.”

Also in 2003, Frank lauded Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for having “played a very useful role in helping make housing more affordable.” Critics of their lending practices, he said, “exaggerate a threat of safety” and “conjure up the possibility of serious financial losses to the Treasury, which I do not see.”

Because he saw no threat that financial calamity might result from the subprime loans that had become so commonplace in the mortgage industry, Frank pushed for Fannie and Freddie to make even greater numbers of those loans. “I believe that we, as the Federal Government,” the congressman said, “have probably done too little rather than too much to push [Fannie and Freddie] to meet the goals of affordable housing and to set reasonable goals.” “I would like to get Fannie and Freddie more deeply into low-income housing and possibly moving into something that is more explicitly a subsidy,” added Frank. “… I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidized housing.”

In 2004 Frank and 75 other House Democrats (including such notables as Nancy PelosiMaxine Waters, and Charles Rangel) took exception to George W. Bush’s public expression of concern about the risky loans that Fannie Mae and and Freddie Mac were making. The Representatives sent the President a letter warning that “an exclusive focus on safety and soundness is likely to come, in practice, at the expense of affordable housing.”

In June 2005, Frank said the following about his – and the House Financial Services Committee’s – efforts to promote home-ownership for low-income people:

“Obviously, speculation is never a good thing. But those who argue now that housing prices are now at the point of a bubble seem to me to be missing a very important point. Unlike previous examples we have had, where substantial excessive inflation of prices later caused some problems, we are talking here about an entity, home ownership. Homes, where there is not the degree of leverage that we’ve seen elsewhere. This is not the dot-com situation, where you had problems when people invested in a business plan where there was no reality. People building fiber optic cable for which there was no need. Homes that are occupied may see ebb and flow of price at a certain percentage level, but you’re not going to see the collapse that you see when people talk about a bubble. So those of us on our committee will continue to push for home ownership.”

When the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, or OFHEO (the agency responsible for overseeing Fannie and Freddie), in 2004 issued a 211-page report condemning irregularities in Fannie Mae’s accounting, Frank said: “It is clear that a leadership change at OFHEO is overdue.”

In 2007 Frank became chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. That same year, the mortgage crisis first began to manifest itself as a result of the large number of defaults on the subprime loans which Frank had long advocated. Yet the congressman attributed the crisis not to the lending policies he had been espousing, but rather to the allegedly greedy practices of banks and inadequate regulatory oversight. “The subprime crisis,” he said, “demonstrates the serious economic and social consequences that result from too little regulation.” In 2008 Frank similarly blamed the crisis on “excessive deregulation” and “bad decisions that were made by people in the private sector thanks to a conservative philosophy that says the market knows best.”

Frank defended ACORN and other, likeminded activist groups that spearheaded the movement demanding that underqualified minority borrowers be given access to subprime loans and lower eligibility standards. According to the congressman, these organizations were composed of “people who are trying very hard to preserve some equity and some social justice,” and “people whose only crime was to offend powerful political interests because they cared about equity.”

In 2008 Frank was asked how the U.S. government ought to address the nation’s financial crisis. He replied:

“I think at this point there needs to be a focus on an immediate increase in spending, and I think this is a time when deficit fear has to take a second seat. I do think this is a time for a very important kind of dose of Keynesianism. Yes, I believe later on, there should be tax increases. Speaking personally, I think there are a lot of very rich people out there whom we can tax at a point down the road and recover some of this money.”

Frank endorsed the massive government bailouts of the banking industry (under the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP) in 2008 and 2009, saying: “This is equivalent to what FDR had to do … to save capitalism from its own excesses.” In February 2009, Frank pledged that he would not accept campaign donations from any banks that had received TARP money, or from political action committees (PACs) tied to such institutions. But in fact, he went on to take more than $40,000 in contributions from such banks and their PACs in 2009 and 2010.

In December 2008, Frank improperly inserted into the TARP bill a provision which helped OneUnited Bank, a minority-owned institution with close ties to Rep. Maxine Waters (whose husband was a former OneUnited director) and a long history of mismanagement, to get $12 million in TARP funds. When he was later asked about the scandal, Frank admitted that he had spoken to a “federal regulator” but said he could not remember who it was. In 2010, however, Judicial Watch revealed that the supposedly nameless bureaucrat was actually then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

On September 16, 2009, the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services met to discuss the Community Reinvestment Modernization Act of 2009, which was designed to expand the scope of the original Community Reinvestment Act to include non-bank financial institutions, such as credit unions. Presiding over those hearings was the Committee chairman, Barney Frank.

Voting Record

For an overview of Frank’s voting record on an array of key issues during his career in Congress, click here.

Policy Positions

As matters of principle, Frank believes that:

  • all women should have an unrestricted right to abortion-on-demand at any stage of pregnancy – subsidized by taxpayers, in cases of economic hardship;
  • public and private employers alike should be legally required to implement affirmative-action hiring and promotion policies that give preference to African Americans and women, as compensation for historical injustices;
  • the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is an excellent statute that can serve as a strategic stepping stone toward the eventual implementation of a government-run, single-payer healthcare system;
  • Social Security should remain entirely and permanently under federal control, with no movement whatsoever toward any degree of privatization;
  • the principle of church-state separation is inviolable and should preclude permitting prayer in the public schools, or the posting of the Ten Commandments in public places;
  • voucher programs designed to enable low-income parents to send their children to private schools rather than to failing public schools, constitute bad policy because they rob the public schools of vital resources;
  • the discretion of judges and juries should not be diminished by formulaic sentencing policies like “Three Strikes” laws;
  • the death penalty should be abolished as “cruel and unusual punishment”;
  • more guns in the hands of private citizens inevitably result in higher levels of crime, thus the availability of firearms should be restricted by whatever means are effective;
  • wealthy people and high income earners should pay dramatically higher tax rates than those with less wealth or lower incomes;
  • restrictions on immigration are basically racist because they tend to prevent Hispanics and other non-whites from entering the United States;
  • social services should be available to all U.S. residents regardless of their immigration status;
  • illegal aliens should be offered amnesty if they have been productive members of society; and
  • an ever-increasing reliance on “green energy” sources such as wind and solar should be put in place, along with the phasing out of fossil fuels, the imposition of carbon taxes, and the raising of vehicle CAFE standards.

Claiming That Justice Scalia Favored “Fag Burning”

During a November 29, 2016 appearance on MSNBC’s Hardball, Frank (D-MA) quipped that President-Elect Donald Trump’s recent assertion that Antonin Scalia was his favorite Supreme Court Justice, was based on Trump’s misinterpretation of certain facts. After noting that Scalia was opposed to bans on flag-burning, Frank said of Trump: “I think there was a pronunciation problem there. Scalia was actually the leading advocate of fag-burning, not flag-burning, and I think that’s where he [Trump] got himself a little confused.”

Board Member of Signature Bank, Which Failed in 2023

From 2015 to March 2023, Frank sat on the board of Signature Bank, a New York-based financial institution that collapsed in March 2023. Below are some key facts about the bank’s history and its ultimate failure, as enumerated by

  • “Signature Bank functioned as an FDIC-insured, New York state-chartered commercial bank, primarily working with privately owned businesses. [It] had clients in middle-market companies but was especially known for catering to law offices, real estate buyers, and cryptocurrency companies.”
  • “Signature Bank was listed as the 19th largest bank in the United States by S&P Global, with assets worth $110.36 billion and $88.59 billion in deposits in December 2022.”
  • “Signature Bank affirmed a commitment to creating positive social impact, including diversity awareness events and time donated to charitable causes. The bank also matched client funds for the Impact Certificate of Deposit (CD) Program supporting sustainable development initiatives.”
  • “Signature Bank was shut down on March 12, 2023, after depositors withdrew large sums of money on the heels of the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB). Regulators feared continued contagion in the banking sector and closed Signature Bank to try to contain the panic.”
  • “In late April [2023], the FDIC issued a report on Signature Bank’s failure, concluding that the root cause was ‘poor management,’ namely: (a) management failure to understand the risks of its concentration in the crypto sector;… (b) an abnormally large [90%] share of uninsured deposits;… (c) the bank’s poor governance and risk management made the bank unable to manage its liquidity in a time of stress;… (d) the bank didn’t respond quickly to concerns and recommendations made by the FDIC].”


  1. Pacific Research Institute fellow Sally Pipes explains the significance of a public option: “By drawing on taxpayer dollars, [a] public option would be able to out-price almost every private insurer in the country. Unable to compete, private insurers would be ‘crowded out,’ leaving Americans with just one choice: a government-operated [single-payer] health care plan that brings the entire health sector under government control.”
  2. This section is drived from the article “Immigrating Terror,” by Rocco DiPippo, FrontPage Magazine, (April 3, 2006). The original URL was
  3. This section is drived from the article “Immigrating Terror,” by Rocco DiPippo, FrontPage Magazine, (April 3, 2006). The original URL was

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