The FDIC issued a news release Friday to let the world know the agency’s board had approved a letter of intent to sell IndyMac Bank to a thrift holding company controlled by IMB Management Holdings LP. Though one of the men involved in purchasing the bank shares the same last name as Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, members of the mainstream news media have failed to acknowledge that fact.
A Los Angeles Times report Saturday listed John Paulson as one of two hedge-fund operators (the other being billionaire George Soros) among a small group of owner-investors, while an article published Friday in the San Jose Business Journal noted that the limited partnership includes John Alfred Paulson, the same man. Neither article, however, deemed it worthwhile to report that the man involved in purchasing a large failed bank shared the same last name as the man who oversees the nation’s banking system, Secretary Paulson.
Noticing that, I decided to see if any other news outlets had seen fit to address the nagging question, “Is John Alfred Paulson related to Henry M. Paulson?” After all, even the pseudo-journalists behind the desk at ESPN Sports Center know enough to toss in an occasional “No relation” upon noticing that two unrelated players who share the same last name.
Surprising me again, none of the articles I found — neither the above-mentioned articles nor others published in the Wall Street Journal Jan. 5, at Bloomberg.com Jan. 3 and via Associated Press Jan. 3 — addressed the question. That’s when I decided to ask people who should know.
I called IMB’s corporate offices early this afternoon and was told to send an e-mail inquiry to Armel Leslie at Walek & Associates, IMB’s Madison Avenue public relations counsel. Twice given the opportunity to respond to the question, “Is John Alfred Paulson related in any way to Secretary of the Treasury Henry M. Paulson?” the PR specialist responded by e-mail as follows: “No relation” and “Yes, no relation.”
Though I had an answer, I was not yet convinced; therefore, I called the Treasury Department Public Affairs Office in Washington, D.C., and asked them to field a nearly-identical question, “Does Secretary Paulson have any immediate relatives by the name of John Alfred Paulson?”
With true bureaucratic efficiency, the buck was passed at least twice during my phone call before I was dispatched with a promise that someone would call me back with the answer. Unfortunately, that was almost five hours ago.
Is John Alfred Paulson related to Henry M. Paulson? Perhaps not, but that’s not what motivated me to write this article. Instead, my chief concern was the news media’s seemingly-collective decision to ignore any possible connection between the men. That kind of collusion, I fear, might portend a much greater problem for our nation’s future than banking failures.