Tim Geithner Getting Crap For Trying To Save A Little Cash, Maybe Helping A Friend Get A Job

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Around these parts, we’ve talked about Tim Geithner’s housing troubles at length. The Treasury Secretary and his wife Carole bought a Larchmont Tudor in 2004 for $1.602 million. Then buddy boy got a gig in DC and they tried to sell it March for $1.635 million. When that didn’t take, the price was dropped to $1.575 million. No dice. T. Geith was then reduced to renting the place out for $7,500/month, which many helpfully pointed out probably didn't even cover the li’l fella’s mortgage payments. For perhaps not having a good read on the housing market and for also thinking anyone would pay over a mill for a ghastly-looking bathroom in desperate need of a re-tile, Geithner took a lot of shit. But hey! At least he had the good sense to not then take out, say, a mortgage on a second home he couldn't afford before selling his Westchester palace, right, instead choosing to bunk rent free with a college buddy living in the District, which some people are now giving TG shit for, because his ex-roomie just took a gig at JPMorgan.

JPMorgan Chase, has just rehired one of Geithner’s oldest and dearest friends, Daniel Zelikow, as a top executive, only a year after the Treasury secretary moved out of his rent-free accommodations in Zelikow’s $3.5 million Washington townhouse. Geithner lived with Zelikow’s family in the six-bedroom house, which is next door to the residence of the ambassador of Monaco and not far from the home of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, during most of his first eight months running the Treasury Department. At that time, Geithner was overseeing the bailout of several huge Wall Street banks, including JPMorgan, which received $25 billion in federal rescue funds from the TARP program. Zelikow, a friend of Geithner’s since they were classmates at Dartmouth College in the early 1980s, begins work this month running JPMorgan’s new 12-member International Public Sector Group, which will develop foreign governments as clients.

Geithner did not, technically speaking, break any rules by accepting the free housing. He disclosed his living arrangement, ran it past the Treasury Department’s ethics officers—who approved it—and moved out of the house before his friend was hired back by JPMorgan. And the bank last December completed repayment of the government’s bailout money. But...Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University who is a specialist in government ethics and author of a leading textbook on legal ethics, described Geither’s original decision to move in with Zelikow last year as “just awful”—given the conflict-of-interest problems it seemed to create. He tells The Daily Beast that Geithner now needs to avoid even the appearance of assisting JPMorgan in any way that suggested a “thank-you note” to Zelikow in exchange for last year’s free rent. “He needs to be purer than Caesar’s wife—purer than Caesar’s whole family,” Gillers said of the Treasury secretary.

Right, and he also needs to be a man of his word. That word being-- and I'm just paraphrasing here-- "You scratch my back with dinosaur sheets, a race car bed, a packed lunch in the morning, a net and some neighborhood kids on which to practice my jump shot, I'll scratch yours with a gig at any bank you want."

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's Wall Street Conflict Of Interest [TDB]

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Let's Help Tim Geithner Name His Book

As you may have heard, Obama is apparently close to nominating Jack Lew for Treasury Secretary, giving Tim Geithner his late Christmas wish: a one-way ticket outta there. And while he's previously said to have no interest in writing about his time in Washington (and at the NY Fed before that), friends o' TG claim that his plan for the next year or so involve "a round of 'detox' and writing a book." Obviously we're still very far off from anything concrete but publishers will undoubtedly be banging down his door in no time and when they do, it might be nice to at least have a title to wet their palates. While Geithner packs his bags, let's do him a solid and come up with some options. The year spent sunning himself off the coast of Ko Samui (or puttering around Larchmont, or taking a job with the least amount of responsibility possible, whatever the detox entails) will presumably do wonders to take the edge of the last 48 months but if he's still in an angsty phase by the time he sits down to bang out his story, perhaps one of the following would work?