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How Deval Patrick’s Presidential Bid is Another Attempt to Thwart Progressive’s 2020 Hopes

Then Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick speaks at a 2008 Health Care Caucus in Denver.
Then Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick speaks at a 2008 Health Care Caucus in Denver. (Photo: Alison Klein, WEBN News)

Deval Patrick “didn’t just make a lot of money; he made a lot of money helping a Republican billionaire rip off the black middle class.”

Former Bain Capital managing director and former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick is the latest entry into the Democratic primary, joining Michael Bloomberg as the Democratic donor class’ last-ditch attempt to prevent a progressive from winning the nomination and transforming the party.

Critics argue that Patrick embodies the fusion of superficial social liberalism and oligarchic fealty that has defined the Democratic party establishment in recent decades. As a “black man who can remember his mother cashing welfare checks on the South Side of Chicago,” HuffPo’s Zach Carter writes, Patrick’s rise seems symbolic of “what makes America an exceptional country.”

But “told from a different angle, Patrick’s biography isn’t an uplifting rags-to-riches story but an ugly tale of corruption among the American power elite,” writes Carter. “Patrick didn’t just make a lot of money; he made a lot of money helping a Republican billionaire rip off the black middle class.”

Who is Deval Patrick?

As Carter details, Patrick’s history is defined by unsavory trips through the revolving door to profit from policies that hurt average people.

In 1996, Patrick befriended Republican mega-donor Tom Arnall while leading the civil rights division at the Department of Justice. After Patrick’s department issued a $4 million fine on Arnall’s subprime mortgage company for racial discrimination, Arnall developed his company into Ameriquest, the world’s largest subprime lender during the housing bubble. Carter accounts how the company’s foreclosures disproportionately hurt black families: “A 2010 study by researchers at Ohio State University found that Ameriquest disproportionately targeted black neighborhoods in Minneapolis.”

“Ameriquest’s business model used high-pressure sales techniques to push homeowners with existing mortgages into new loans with sky-high interest rates,” writes Carter. “If the family couldn’t pay, investors who bought the loans would acquire the house through foreclosure. When home prices were soaring during the housing bubble, it was a tremendously profitable strategy, turning Arnall into a billionaire.”

But by 2004, Patrick was making $360,000 a year sitting on Ameriquest’s board. In 2005, Patrick vouched for Arnall when he was nominated for an ambassadorship by George W. Bush, calling him “a good man,” and Arnall’s Ameriquest “a good company.” Two months after praising Arnall, Ameriquest settled for $325 million against predatory lending allegations in 49 states and the District of Columbia.

Patrick left the collapsing company to run for Massachusetts governor in 2006, winning the race despite his shady history and refusal to share his tax returns. But as Ameriquest sunk deeper into insolvency in 2007, Patrick called Citigroup executive and former Clinton Secretary Robert Rubin to bail out his friend’s company, in what critics view as a grossly unethical use of public power.

Carter details how Patrick originally left the DOJ in 1997 to work at Texaco, with whom he had signed a $176 million settlement for racial discrimination just a year earlier. Patrick went on to work for Coca-Cola in 2003, which was facing condemnation for hiring paramilitary squads in Colombia to murder labor union leaders.

“In corporate America, Patrick was not so much a reformer as he was a public relations figure,” writes Carter. “He gave corporations a story to tell about the good things they were supposedly doing ― even if when they were simultaneously busying themselves with very bad things.”

Warren Says She’d Put Deval Patrick In Her Cabinet

The Hill’s Krystal Ball argues the most significant outcome of what Warren supporter Murshed Zaheed calls Patrick’s “kamikaze candidacy” is its potential to hurt the Democratic frontrunner. Ball notes that Patrick is well-known among wealthy white liberals in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and could chip away at Warren’s support in the crucial states.

Perhaps even more importantly, Warren recently said she would put Deval Patrick in her cabinet when asked what 3 African Americans she would nominate to her administration. Progressives have been critical of Warren in recent weeks, from her back-tracking on Medicare For All to her support for US subversion in Venezuela and her reluctance to condemn the coup in Bolivia. Her expressed admiration for Patrick, a predatory financier, further casts doubt on whether her presidency would live up to her campaign rhetoric.

The Delusion Of The Democratic Donor Class

Critics argue that Deval Patrick and billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s late entrees into the Democratic primary reflect the Democratic establishment’s growing fear that a progressive like Sen. Bernie Sanders or Sen. Elizabeth Warren will win the nomination and disrupt the status quo.

The New York Times recently described the internal panic of “party elites” who are worried about the election and have been considering late entrees by Hillary Clinton, Deval Patrick, John Kerry, or former Attorney General Eric Holder to prevent a progressive from winning.

Former President Barack Obama has expressed solidarity with this line of thinking, warning against allowing “certain left-leaning Twitter feeds” or “the activist wing of our party” to embolden progressive policies.

“Even as we push the envelope and we are bold in our vision we also have to be rooted in reality,” Obama said. “The average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it.”

Deval Patrick, a Wall Street-friendly Democrat party insider, would appear to be a perfect fit for the former president’s preference of maintaining the status quo. The two are friends and “much of the 44th president’s inner circle is promoting Patrick at elite gatherings,” according to HuffPo’s Zach Carter.

However, Obama’s electability advice ignores the fact that he also ran as an outsider in 2008, promising ‘Change’ before stuffing his cabinet with Wall Street insiders, supporting predatory financiers, overseeing mass foreclosure fraud, expanding mass surveillance and unchecked imperialism, and brokering the most arms deals of any president since World War II.

Journalist Matt Taibbi argues that establishment candidates like Deval Patrick, “a poster child for the practices that caused the 2008 financial crisis,” are tone-deaf to what voters want and in denial about the structural problems in American society they have enabled and created:

“America’s political establishment has created vast inequities not only in the economy, but in criminal justice (where street crime is heavily punished, but white collar crime is not), war (it’s mostly not the sons and daughters of politicians and CEOs getting killed in overseas conflicts), health care (where much of the population lives in fear that getting sick will trigger bankruptcy), debt forgiveness (Wall Street bailout recipients got to write off losses, but people suffering foreclosures and student loan defaults are ruined), and other arenas.”

Sanders and Warren have brushed off the threat posed by Patrick, who has seen weak turnout to his campaign events so far.

“I think the high-dollar donor class of the Democratic Party is extremely nervous about having a president of the United States who is not in their pocket,” Ari Rabin-Havt, Sanders’ deputy campaign manager, told Politico.

Warren also appeared to walk back her praise for the former Massachusetts governor after being questioned about his and Bloomberg’s entries last week: “I’ve noticed that billionaires go on TV and cry. Other billionaires encourage their billionaire buddies to jump into the race. I believe that what our election should be about is grassroots.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also criticized the “plutocratic” bids, arguing money would be better spent on down ballot races:

“Call me radical, but maybe instead of setting ablaze hundreds of millions of dollars on multiple plutocratic, long-shot, very-late presidential bids, we instead invest hundreds of millions into winning majorities of state legislatures across the United States? Just a thought!”

Peter Castagno

Peter Castagno is a co-owner Citizen Truth.

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