- 1 Televised criticisms
- 2 Banking ventures
- 3 "Progressive" Cabinet "nominee"
- 4 Left-wing politics
- 5 References
Marion Sandler, married to Herbert Sandler, is an American billionaire who aggressively funds left-wing political causes.
She is a former co-CEO of Golden West Financial Corporation and the World Savings Bank.
Sandler was born in Biddeford, Maine, and has a Bachelor's degree from Wellesley College and an MBA from New York University.
Marion Sandler's brother is Bernard Osher.
Saturday Night Live
The October 4, 2008, episode of the NBC comedy show Saturday Night Live, featured a sketch centering on how the economic bailout affected individuals who had either squandered their money or taken to predatory tactics to make more money. In the sketch, the Sandlers were caricatured as predatory lenders who caused the downfall of Wachovia Bank and were referred to in captions as "people who should be shot." (Executive producer Lorne Michaels spoke with the Los Angeles Times on October 7 and said he had no idea the Sandlers were real people and that there is "absolutely no evidence" that the Sandlers engaged in any wrongful behavior.)
The Sandlers were featured in a 60 Minutes segment that originally aired on February 15, 2009. This segment focused on a former World Savings employee's account of how the company was breaking the law, and how he brought it to his superiors' attention before the financial meltdown.
A quote from the show's transcript:
In 2006, just before the housing crash, the Sandlers sold their bank to Wachovia and pocketed $2.3 billion.
Trouble is, some of their money came from people like Betty Townes, who is financially ruined after being sold a series of World Savings mortgages she couldn't afford.
Asked how many times she refinanced, Townes said, "Well we refinanced practically every year."World salesmen convinced Betty to refinance her mortgage four times in four years. She got about $20,000 each time. "Well, all I know that they told me this loan was best for me," she told Pelley.
In 1963, she and Herbert Sandler bought Golden West Financial Corporation, a two-branch savings and loan company, for $3.8 million.
Golden West was sold in 2006 for $24 billion to Wachovia Bank. The acquisition was completed in October 2006. The Sandlers owned about 10% of the company at the time of the sale, making their share of the sale price worth about $2.4 billion. Of this the Sandlers gave $1.3 billion to the Sandler Foundation.
World Savings was once one of the largest S&Ls in the U.S. with assets of almost $80 billion, deposits of $46 billion, and 9,300 employees. Under the Sandlers' management, Golden West generated a 20 percent average annual compound growth over a 35 year period. This prompted Jason Jennings, author of Less is More, to describe their company as "one of the most efficient and productive money machines on the planet".
In the early 1980s, the Sandlers' World Savings Bank became the first to sell a home loan product called the option adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), which allows borrowers to defer paying their interest on mortgages. Analysts place the blame on the near failure of Wachovia in the fall of 2008 on the "Pick-A-Pay" mortgage portfolio they acquired from the Sandler's firm.
Financial crisis blame?
In its February 23, 2009 issue, Time Magazine named Herb and Marion Sandler "One of 25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis." According to the magazine, "In the early 1980s, the Sandlers' World Savings Bank became the first to sell a tricky home loan called the option ARM. And they pushed the mortgage, which offered several ways to back-load your loan and thereby reduce your early payments, with increasing zeal and misleading advertisements over the next two decades. The couple pocketed $2.3 billion when they sold their bank to Wachovia in 2006. But losses on World Savings' loan portfolio led to the implosion of Wachovia, which was sold under duress late last year to Wells Fargo."
"Progressive" Cabinet "nominee"
- We asked that contributors weigh ideological and political considerations, with an eye toward recommending people who have both progressive credentials and at least an arguable chance at being appointed in an Obama White House.
- This group of people would represent at once the most progressive, aggressive and practical Cabinet in contemporary history. Of course, it is by no means a definitive list. It is merely one proposal aimed at starting a longer discussion about the very concept of a progressive Cabinet—and why it will be important to a new administration, especially if that administration is serious about change.
- Firing up the printing press at the U.S. Mint and handing over billions in cash to Wall Street con artists isn’t a serious monetary policy — but that’s been Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s response to the housing and credit crisis. When Bernanke’s term expires in 2010, either Marion or Herbert Sandler would be a welcome replacement.
- Over four decades, the husband-and-wife team built Golden West Financial into one of the most stable and successful mortgage companies — and they did it through the kind of responsible lending practices that the greed-is-good crowd mocked.
- As the Wall Street Journal reported in 2007, “Golden West historically had very low levels of bad loans, which Mr. Sandler has attributed to his bank’s careful vetting of borrowers and their credit.” Indeed, the Journal noted that the Sandlers were “frequent critic[s] of competitors who required no down payment, set interest rates that reset quickly at high rates and sold bundled loans to far-off investors.” They also spoke out against “the lax lending practices that pervaded the industry for the past few years — even writing a letter to federal regulators last year in support of tighter standards.” That’s precisely the kind of foresight America’s bank of banks desperately needs.
- What’s more, the Sandlers are about as progressive as bankers come — and they put their money where their politics are. Their foundation underwrites, among others, the Center for Responsible Lending and the National Women’s Law Center.
- A Federal Reserve chairperson with a vague familiarity with — much less a connection to — such groups would inject a populist perspective into an institution whose secrecy and insularity has made it one of the elite’s most reliable weapons in the class war.
Center for American Progress
JStreet advisory council
Herb and Marion Sandler are major donors to ProPublica. In November 2007, Sandler announced that he had taken on the task of helming the board of the new organization ProPublica and that his family foundation would be giving $10 million a year to support the group.
Slate journalist Jack Shafer has raised questions about ProPublica's ability to provide independent nonpartisan journalism given the nature of Sandler's other political donations which include "giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic Party campaigns."
According to New York Times reporter Matt Bai, the Sandlers, along with Democratic donors George Soros and Peter Lewis, established America Votes "to coordinate various get-out-the-vote drives during the 2004 election." The Sandlers also sent their son-in-law Steven Phillips as their representative to the October 2005 meeting of the Democracy Alliance at the Chateau Elan near Atlanta, Georgia.
Other organizations funded by Sandlers
- Marion Sandler entry on Wikipedia
- 10-4-08 Saturday Night Live Bail-Out Sketch
- Los Angeles Times, 10-7-08
- CBS News, "World Of Trouble", February 15, 2009
- America's most generous donors
- "Less is More
- Business Week, "Pick-A-Pay Goes Away...", June 30, 2008
- Time, "25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis"
- In These Times, 22 to KnowOur Picks for an Obama Cabinet, By In These Times Editors and Contributors, September 26, 2008
- 2004-2005 Annual Report of the Center for American Progress
- JStreet website: Advisory Council (accessed on Oct. 26, 2009)
- Los Angeles Times, "Putting their money into the right to know"
- Investigating Herbert and Marion Sandler
- The Argument: Billionaries, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics