Bill Thomas, a senior advisor in Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney's Federal Government Relations Section, was featured in a number of recent articles discussing his role as vice chairman of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission — a 10-member committee created by Congress and President Obama to explain how the nation's financial institutions ended up in today's mess. Thomas was the focus of a December 26, 2009, article posted on the website Bakersfield.com. Additionally, he was noted in articles published in the January 8, 2010, editions of The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, as well as a January 12 article on TrueSlant.com.
As noted in the Bakersfield.com article, titled "Bill Thomas to shed light, not heat, on what collapsed U.S. economy," "Bill Thomas isn't out to get anyone. Rather, Bakersfield's tough, smart and powerful former Republican congressman is on a crusade to get the truth. … The bipartisan commission is headed by Democrat Phil Angelides, California's former treasurer. But leadership and administrative duties are shared by both men." The article went on to explain how the commission will shift into "high gear" come January. "[W]ith the first of eight public hearings scheduled and teams of investigators swarming over Wall Street financial records, Thomas and Angelides are presenting a firm, unified front.
According to the article the commission's job is to explain how the financial collapse happened and to "create a repository of information that can be used by the president, Congress and others to help fix problems and keep them from happening again. … The commission's job is to examine why Wall Street firms did not stop themselves and why regulators didn't stop them. … Angelides and Thomas agree the commission's job is to shed light, not heat, on the Wall Street scandal that has left many Americans struggling to make ends meet. … But the commission's fact-finding mission has teeth. If corporate giants or government regulators are uncooperative, commissioners have subpoena powers to compel cooperation. If evidence of wrongdoing merits it, cases can be referred to law enforcement."
"We are not out to embarrass people," said Thomas. "We are out to find the facts. As the facts come out, a number of people will have to be embarrassed because they were in positions of responsibility and didn't do what people in these positions should do."
As explained in the LA Times article, titled "Financial crisis panel set to question Wall Street execs," "The commission, based on the one that investigated the causes of the September 2001 terrorist attacks, has a Dec. 15 deadline to present its findings and conclusions. Thomas said the hope is to produce a book that contains an easily readable narrative of the crisis, similar to the report by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, which became a best-seller."
In The Washington Post article, titled " Financial crisis panel seeks bankers' testimony," Thomas expressed confidence that the committee's work could still make a difference.
"There are a lot of people who still haven't learned the lessons," he said.