I have to wonder if that wasn’t the Homer Simpson-like sounds coming from the countless board rooms of banks and financial institutions across this country when they first learned of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act.  Especially with the recent wave of stories in the media about the lack of oversight this program has received.  So let me throw out my opinion.  Well, brace yourselves.  I’m going to give you another one of my opinions/rants.  Bear with me…

Yesterday, I blogged about Wells Fargo giving the City of Fort Wayne $15,000 towards the Green Business Outreach Program while receiving $25 million in TARP funds.  While looking through the TARP information (towards the top of page 3) on the web, I discovered that First Defiance Financial Corp. was given $37 million in exchange for preferred stock/warrants.  A quick google of the bank’s name revealed one of its subsidiaries is First Federal Bank.  This was the bank of my grandfathers and probably my mom and dad have/had some dealings with this bank as well.  I still remember entering the lobby of their headquarters on Clinton Street in the 70s and being told to mind my manners as we were on “official” business.

Today, while checking my RSS feeds on google, I ran across this post from the Chamber of Commerce.  It seems that First Federal Bank, among other businesses, is sponsoring a networking event with the Chamber of Commerce.  To be honest, I’m sure this can’t be that much of an outlay for First Federal, and I’m also sure this was probably planned long before TARP was thought of.  

However, that’s not the point.  Why are these institutions that have received TARP funds allowed to spend it on such things as a networking event, community outreach, helping a government entity find energy savings or even advertising?  (I’ll admit that energy savings one might have some merit.)  Shouldn’t these banks be required to cut back on their advertising/outreach/charitable contributions?  I can understand if an institution is underwriting the electric and or food bills of say, a homeless shelter, but this is really ridiculous.

Where does it end, you ask?  Hopefully with our new President who takes office next Tuesday.  I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see some action out of him within hours of the Inauguration.

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