ShoreBank and the 'Weatherization Underground'

ShoreBank’s connections to the White House and Capitol Hill, as well as to the green jobs movement, have been documented here at Yesterday, Angela Caputo of Chicago Now revealed that the “community development” bank became a predatory lender in African-American and Hispanic communities when it ran short of cash.

New video evidence (after the jump) reveals that Rep. Jan Schakowsky promoted ShoreBank to consumers in January 2010, even as she was trying to get taxpayers to bail it out.

And the recent mob protests of the SEIU, also exposed at, illuminate another aspect of the scandal: the use of intimidation and even illegal tactics to force Americans to comply with the corrupt self-dealing of the Obama administration–before it even took office.

SEIU rallies workers at illegal Republic Windows strike, Dec. 2008

ShoreBank is about to receive $75 million in federal taxpayers’ money for a bailout that has become the prime example of “crony socialism” under the Obama administration. It is not the first federal money ShoreBank has received. In May 2009, it was awarded $35 million in stimulus credits for “green projects” in Chicago, Detroit, and Cleveland. The grant was part of Van Jones’s “green jobs” push, with a focus on home weatherization.

President Barack Obama was so enthusiastic about weatherization that he made it the centerpiece of his jobs program, prompting a nonplussed Jon Stewart to comment on the Daily Show: “These ideas sound like the people we got tired of.” President Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden praised one company in particular, Serious Materials, which was the only “green” window company to receive tax credits in the stimulus bill.

It was later revealed that the White House official in charge of weatherization is married to a senior executive at Serious, and that the two owned stock in the company. Serious was also the company that stepped in to resurrect a bankrupt Chicago company called Republic Windows and Doors in 2009.

Here is where the pieces of the weatherization story begin to come together to reveal another piece of the complex ShoreBank puzzle.

Republic was the target of a famous–and illegal–strike in December 2008, when workers, egged on by the SEIU, occupied the factory for several days. Several Chicago politicians endorsed the strike, including President-elect Obama himself. The company was unable to pay its debts to Bank of America, and so the SEIU and its political allies targeted the bank, urging the city government to cut off all financial dealings with it.

The SEIU complained at the time that Bank of America was interfering with the future President’s plans to stimulate the economy by weatherizing homes: “Bank of America’s withdrawal of credit also contradicts and undercuts President-elect Barack Obama’s plan to stimulate the depressed economy by investing in weatherization of existing homes and buildings and in other infrastructure and energy-saving construction.”

The illegal strike, and the attack on Bank of America, was also endorsed by Governor Rod Blagojevich. In one of his last public statements before being arrested for trying to sell the Illinois senate seat being vacated by Obama, Blagojevich endorsed the SEIU’s campaign by announcing that all Illinois state agencies would be encouraged to stop dealing with Bank of America until it bailed out Republic Windows and Doors.

It was a bizarre episode, and a warning that the new administration would endorse such radical tactics. Fast-forward to the present day, when the SEIU is leading mobs to the homes of Bank of America officials.

Its political allies continue to play their part: Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who supported the Republic strike, publicly withdrew her money from Bank of America and suggested that she might put it in–wait for it!–ShoreBank.

As pointed out on, ShoreBank requires new home lenders to audit their homes for energy efficiency and weatherization. (It offers borrowers a free, energy-efficient refrigerator in return–another idea that made its way into the Obama stimulus bill.) The beneficiaries of home weatherization, as the Central Illinois 9/12 Project notes, are those manufacturers that enjoy official approval and receive generous tax credits.

To recap:

  • ShoreBank requires low-income borrowers to buy “green” windows.
  • The local “green” windows company fails.
  • The unions stage a dramatic, illegal protest against Bank of America.
  • The company gets bought out by another company with Obama ties.
  • That new company gets exclusive tax credits.
  • ShoreBank also gets tax credits to buy “green” windows from the new company.
  • When ShoreBank gets into trouble, government bails it out–with help from BofA.
  • Repeat.

Call it the “weatherization underground.”

That is how the Obama administration steers the private sector for the benefit of its political allies, using thug tactics as the stick and taxpayer dollars as the carrot. Jobs and opportunities are destroyed for everyone else.

As for Serious Materials, the legacy of Republic endures. Republic’s former owner was arrested last fall on charges of money laundering and wire fraud. And as of last September, only 20 of the former Republic workers had been brought back to work.


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