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Wall Street might be shocked to learn it is helping bankroll the anti-Trump “resistance” movement that’s aggressively fighting policies it favors — including corporate tax cuts and the repeal of Obama-era banking and health-care regulations.
The Obama administration’s massive shakedown of Big Banks over the mortgage crisis included unprecedented back-door funding for dozens of Democratic activist groups who were not even victims of the crisis.
At least three liberal nonprofit organizations the Justice Department approved to receive funds from multibillion-dollar mortgage settlements were instrumental in killing the ObamaCare repeal bill and are now lobbying against GOP tax reform, as well as efforts to rein in illegal immigration.
An estimated $640 million has been diverted into what critics say is an improper, if not unconstitutional, “slush fund” fed from government settlements with JPMorgan Chase and Co., Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp., according to congressional sources.
The payola is potentially earmarked for third-party interest groups approved by the Justice Department and HUD without requiring any proof of how the funds will be spent. Many of the recipients so far are radical leftist organizations who solicited the settlement cash from the administration even though they were not parties to the lawsuits, records show.
“During the Obama administration, groups committed to ‘revolutionary social change’ sent proposals and met with high-level HUD and Justice Department officials to try to get their pieces of the settlement pie,” Cause of Action Institute vice president Julie Smith told The Post.
Some of the chosen beneficiaries are now actively militating against the Trump administration and its policies, including:
THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF LA RAZA
The Hispanic-rights group strenuously protested the Republican-led “skinny” repeal of the Affordable Care Act after receiving at least $1.5 million from the Obama regime’s bank settlement funds, congressional researchers say.
The notoriously radical organization, which advocates on behalf of illegal immigrants, argued the Trump proposal would have a “harmful impact” on the Hispanic community, including stripping potentially “8 million Latinos” of medical coverage.
“The Latino community cannot afford a repeal of the ACA,” La Raza warned its members, while encouraging them to fight the legislation in email alerts.
In July, the group held a large rally to protest the repeal effort in Arizona — GOP Sen. John McCain’s home state. The event is said to have influenced McCain’s decision to cast the deciding vote to kill the proposal.
La Raza has a long and checkered history of promoting illegal immigration and advocating for welfare benefits and even driver’s licenses for undocumented Latino immigrants. Currently, it’s lobbying (under a new and less controversial name, UnidosUS) against what it calls “the Trump administration’s senseless and Draconian anti-immigrant policies,” fighting specifically GOP bills “to fund [the] immoral border wall” with Mexico.
“President Trump has again chosen to appease the bigots in his base,” La Raza asserted in a statement posted on its website. “It’s time to translate injustice into action.”
During last year’s presidential campaign, La Raza’s Chicago branch was among the groups that deployed thousands of protesters to the University of Illinois at Chicago, forcing then-candidate Trump to cancel a scheduled event there for safety reasons.
La Raza works closely with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and has teamed up with the anti-Trump resistance group, Indivisible, which was co-founded by La Raza alumnus Angel Padilla. Indivisible is working with La Raza and its affiliates to make sure “any bill that punishes sanctuary cities never goes to Trump’s desk to become law.” They are encouraging activists to send postcards with pre-printed messages on immigration and health care to moderate GOP senators.
NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE
After receiving at least $1.2 million from the bank-settlement slush fund, the African-American advocacy group solicited its supporters to oppose efforts to repeal ObamaCare by signing a letter to senators arguing “African-Americans stand to be disproportionately impacted.” It claimed more than 5 million black people would lose coverage under repeal legislation.
NATIONAL COMMUNITY REINVESTMENT COALITION
Since hauling in at least $2.6 million in funds under settlement in the Obama-era mortgage suits, the liberal housing-rights group has slammed tax-reform proposals by the Trump administration as unfair, while trying to block efforts to privatize mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, claiming doing so would “deepen the racial wealth gap.”
NCRC is also actively lobbying against regulatory repeal of many provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
The Washington-based group boasts more than 600 member organizations who lobby lawmakers through list-serves, mailings, sign-on letters and conference calls. Though it’s assumed that funds distributed to such “qualified organizations” will be used for housing assistance, the bank-settlement agreements do not enforce how the funds are spent.
“It stands to reason that some of the settlement funds have helped bankroll the resistance” bent on stopping the Trump agenda for America, Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow John Berlau said.
It’s not clear how much money, in all, has been diverted from settlement funds to these and other left-wing organizations. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered a full audit of the funds while discontinuing the practice of funneling Justice Department settlements to third-party groups.
“Any settlement funds should go first to the victims and then to the American people [through the US Treasury] — not to bankroll third-party special interest groups or the political friends of whoever is in power,” Sessions said in a recent statement.
Still, The Post has learned that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau continues to force financial institutions it prosecutes to donate to third-party community organizers. More, penalties in such cases are deposited into the Bureau’s now-$170 million-plus Civil Penalty Fund, which has, in turn, channeled almost $30 million to “consumer advocacy” groups.
CFPB director Richard Cordray is an Obama holdover, whose special five-year term doesn’t expire until 2018.
The Independent Community Bankers of America, a national voice for more than 5,700 large and small banks, said it opposes the government practice of providing back-door funding to unrelated groups.
“ICBA believes the funds should go towards affected victims,” a spokeswoman for the banking trade association told The Post.
Paul Sperry, formerly Investor’s Business Daily’s Washington bureau chief, is author of “The Great American Bank Robbery: The Unauthorized Report About What Really Caused The Great Recession.”