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Opinion: Lowden stands by her man, no matter how corrupt



by Phoebe Sweet

nevdemparty-300x61-1205848-5134249LAS VEGAS–According to an investigative report, after Jim Gibbons served in the state legislature he allegedly used a former mistress as a courier to pick up bags and envelopes filled with cash from California businessmen, including one who later developed projects in Northern Nevada.

KLAS Channel 8 drew on court documents in a civil rights lawsuit against Gibbons brought by Las Vegas cocktail waitress Chrissy Mazzeo, who has accused Gibbons, then a candidate for governor, of attempting to rape her. Bizarrely, despite the source–sworn depositions–Gibbons threatened to sue KLAS and reporter George Knapp if the station ran the story.

But still Sue Lowden, a candidate for U.S. Senate, is standing by Gibbons. Even after several terms as a do-nothing congressman, three disastrous years as governor, a myriad of distracting personal scandals and several accusations of corruption, Sue Lowden has refused to put distance between herself and Gibbons. In fact, Gibbons hand-picked Lowden to be chairwoman of the Nevada GOP and she returned the favor by being one of the first and only people to endorse Gibbons for reelection.

So why does Lowden continue to ally herself with Gibbons?

The truth is, Lowden’s comfort consorting with a corrupt governor like Jim Gibbons should come as no surprise considering some of her business associates. Until recently Lowden served as a member of Colonial Bank’s Nevada Board of Directors. Colonial Bank’s 2008 application for funding from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was approved. But then C­­olonial Bank was investigated by the FBI for suspect accounting and possible mortgage-related criminal violations tied to their TARP application. The bank has since been seized and was sold off last year during the course of the investigation. Colonial’s failure was the largest bank failure of 2009.

Clearly dealing with shady characters is nothing new for Lowden.­­­­

“The kind of person who would not only associate with but also stand up for a corrupt politician like Jim Gibbons is not the kind of person we need serving Nevada in the Senate,” said Phoebe Sweet, communications director for the Nevada State Democratic Party. “We knew Lowden was willing to put insurance company profits ahead of women’s health, voting to make mammogram coverage optional. We knew she was willing to take advantage of her workers to get ahead while she was a Las Vegas casino owner. And now we know that she has the bad sense to get involved with Wall Street Banks accused of criminal dealings, even sitting on the state board of the biggest bank to fail in 2009. Standing by Jim Gibbons is just the latest example of the bad judgment that has characterized Sue Lowden’s political career.”

Additional information:

Sue Lowden’s biography mentions that she sat on Nevada Board of Directors of Colonial Bank. According to a brief biography of Suzanne Lowden filed in Archon Corporation’s Annual Report to the SEC dated January 9, 2009, “She is also a founding board member of Commercial Bank of Nevada which was acquired by Colonial Bank in 1998. Mrs. Lowden sits on the Board of Directors of Colonial Bank of Nevada.” [Archon Corporation, SEC Form 10-K, 1/9/2009]

Sue Lowden was specifically named on Colonial Bancgroup Shareholder Report. Sue Lowden was listed among the names of the Nevada Board of Directors in a report to shareholders for the year ended December 31, 2007. [Colonial Bancgroup 2007 Annual Report]

Sue Lowden filed amended financial disclosure to reveal her role with Colonial Bank.
In an amendment filed to her personal financial disclosure, Sue Lowden listed “Colonial Bank Advisory Board” as a position held from June of 1998 to February of 2009. Lowden also disclosed a $350 fee for her roles on the Colonial Bank Advisory Board under her sources of income.[Lowden Amended Financial Disclosure, 12/16/2009]

Colonial Bank applied for TARP funds In November of 2008. In November of 2008, Colonial Bancgroup issued the following statement in a press release: “The Colonial BancGroup, Inc. is making the following announcement in order to correct what it perceives to be misinformation in the market place. Colonial has, in fact, applied for participation in the TARP Capital Purchase Program. Its application was delivered to the FDIC in a timely manner. While assurances cannot be given as to the outcome of the application, Colonial has been given no information that would lead it to doubt that its application is not being processed through the normal channels. At this time, it is not possible to project when we will receive an answer to the application.” [Colonial Bank Press Release 11/13/2008]

Colonial Bank announced preliminary approval to receive TARP funds. In December of 2008, Colonial BancGroup sent out the following statement announcing its preliminary approval to receive funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). “The Colonial BancGroup, Inc. today announced that it has received preliminary approval to participate in the United States Treasury Department’s capital purchase program. Colonial BancGroup will receive $550 million from the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 aimed at enhancing the economy by restoring liquidity and increasing financing to businesses and consumers.” [Colonial Bank Press Release 12/2/2008]

Department of Justice investigated Colonial for possible criminal violations and “suspect accounting.” According to an August 2009 article in the Orlando Sentinel, “Colonial Bancgroup confirmed Friday that it is being investigated by the Justice Department for possible mortgage-related criminal violations and by the Securities and Exchange Commission for suspect accounting practices tied to its request for federal bailout money.” [Orlando Sentinel, 8/7/2009]

Colonial Bank was shut down by federal regulators, Nevada operations to be sold off.
“Colonial Bank’s parent, Colonial Bancorp, received a cease-and-desist order from the Federal Reserve and Alabama’s bank regulator to address its capital, liquidity and allowance for loan losses. Colonial Bank’s Nevada operation is in the process of being sold to Global Consumer Acquisition Corp., including its 12 branches in Las Vegas.” [Las Vegas Sun, 8/14/2009]

Colonial Bank had $850 million in deposits in Nevada at time of seizure. According to an August 18, 2009 article in the Las Vegas Review Journal, “Regulators seized Alabama-based Colonial BancGroup, which had 21 branches and $850 million in deposits in Nevada. Southeastern giant BB&T took over the former Colonial branches.” [Las Vegas Review-Journal, 8/18/2009]

Colonial Bank collapse “marks the largest bank failure of 2009.”
“BB&T Corporation of North Carolina took over the branches and deposits of Colonial BancGroup on Friday, averting a major financial collapse with a government-assisted deal that could cost the federal deposit insurance fund billions of dollars. The takeover agreement, announced by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, marks the largest bank failure of 2009 and could be the most costly since the sudden failure of IndyMac Bancorp last year.” [New York Times, 8/14/2009]

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