Opinion

Obama fundraiser, donor sat on boards of federal subsidy agency --- and a finance company it subsidized

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Timothy P. Carney,Barack Obama,Cronyism,Pat Toomey

James Torrey of Greenwich, Conn., has bundled more than $1 million for Barack Obama's presidential runs, is a huge donor to Democratic Senate campaigns (including Obama's 2004 race) and gave about $80,000 combined to Obama's 2008 and 2012 presidential races.

This couldn't have hurt his appointment to the board of directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corp. -- a federal agency that subsidizes U.S. businesses investing in foreign countries.

Torrey is also on the board of the microfinance company MicroVest. After Torrey joined OPIC’s board, MicroVest went from being a moderate customer of OPIC to a leading recipient of OPIC subsidies: $57 million in taxpayer-backed financing and another $20 million in OPIC-provided insurance.

Nine conservative senators, led by Sen. Pat Toomey, have sent a letter to OPIC, asking for Torrey's role in these financing deals and the agency's conflict-of-interest rules.

OPIC’s charter expires this fall, and plenty of conservatives think it ought to be retired.

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