TARP

In case you missed it, Republican candidate for Governor Dave Spence made a bold claim this past Saturday. Quoted in the Joplin Globe, Spence made the assertion that he has “told the truth from the very beginning” about his involvement in Reliance Bancshares decision refuse repayment of funds it received from the Federal Troubled Assets Relief Program.

If 'telling the truth from the very beginning' means 'changing one's story as uncomfortable facts come to light,' then Dave Spence has been one heck of a straight shooter. 

Even a brief review of previous statements indicates that Spence has had problems keeping his story straight.

In November of 2011, Spence told the St. Louis Beacon that he resigned from Reliance Bank's holding company and board “because he objected to Reliance's decision not to make the $2.2 million payment to TARP.” Spence made no mention of casting a vote to deny payment.

Spence later changed his story and said that “he couldn't remember how he voted. Bank boards take a lot of votes.”

In April of 2012, Spence finally came clean telling the Associated Press that “he voted with the rest of the bank board in early 2011 to forgo payments to the U.S. Treasury.”

These shifting statements are part of why The Star's Steve Kraske wrote:

Spence continues to struggle — dogged by questions about his resume, involvement with a St. Louis-area bank that received a $40 million bailout, and the news that he was late paying taxes.

Worst of all, he changed his story on the pivotal question of how he voted as a bank board member on repaying the bailout.

And why The Post-Dispatch wrote:

Considering the national controversy over the TARP bailout and the GOP's obsession in bashing it, Mr. Spence should have been prepared to answer questions regarding his role in it when he entered the governor's race.

He wasn't. First, he said he resigned from the board over the TARP issue, even though federal documents indicated otherwise. Then he said he couldn't remember how he voted. Bank boards take a lot of votes, Mr. Spence said.

Then he told Mr. Lieb the truth, that he voted against paying back the taxpayers. This occurred after he built a political campaign by criticizing the same government help that saved the bank he served.

Mr. Spence wants us to believe he and his fellow board members were scrupulously careful in following the rules when loaning each other money but didn't really pay attention enough to remember stiffing taxpayers of their $40 million.

Not only do Mr. Spence's answers lack the ring of truth — as did his previous explanation for confusing his college home economics degree with an economics degree — but they also perfectly illustrate the country's overwhelming struggle with income inequality and privilege for the wealthy.

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