CBS’s 60 Minutes confronted Congresswoman Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA) about $150,000 she loaned to her campaign in 1998 at an astounding 18% interest rate, likening the profit margin to organized crime.
The Sunday night news program showed investigative reporter Steve Kroft asking Napolitano about the loan; he responded that the banks would not lend her money because she was a Hispanic woman, so she had to withdraw $150,000 from an investment account and lend it to her campaign.
Kroft later questioned why she would charge 18% interest, saying, “That’s what the Mafia gets.”
“It isn’t like I’ve really profited,” Napolitano responded. “I still live in the same house. I drive a small car. I am not a billionaire, or a millionaire, for that matter.”
Government Accountability Institute (GAI) President and Breitbart News Senior Editor-at-Large Peter Schweizer also appeared on 60 Minutes, and his new book Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets, explores how politicians like Napolitano take advantage of loopholes in campaign finance laws.
“I think Napolitano’s claim that she couldn’t get a loan, because she’s Hispanic or she’s a woman is ridiculous because no politician can get a loan for their campaign. It’s against the law for banks to make those loans,” Schweizer told Breitbart News. “It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female–black, white, red, yellow, or green, you’re not going to get those types of loans. It’s complete subterfuge on her part.”
Schweizer explained, “In the case of Napolitano, she went 20 years. She carried that loan for 20 years. That’s how she made so much money in interest. She was charging 18 percent in interest.”
“The first loan came in 1998 and she didn’t pay it off until 20 years later, so that’s why she made hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest payments,” he added.
Similar to a political annuity, Schweizer describes the issue as a guaranteed investment. “You know you’re going to get a return on your investment, because you’re going to get contributors to give to your campaign and then you’re putting the interest in your pocket,” he says, noting that Napolitano went up to the limit one can charge for interest on a loan and could have paid off the 1998 loan already in full.
“It’s ridiculous. She could have very well, if you look at the campaign records, paid off that loan in full. They chose not to, because for every one hundred dollars that her campaign took in, eighteen dollars of that was going into her pocket, that’s what was so stunning about that.”