Cooper quits as lead writer of FCIC report
By Jia Lynn Yang
The lead writer for a report ordered by Congress on the causes of the financial crisis has quit just four months before the investigation is due.
Matt Cooper, a former writer for Time magazine, has left his post working for the ten-member Federal Crisis Inquiry Commission to "pursue opportunities that would not wait until the end of the year," according to FCIC spokesperson Tucker Warren.
Cooper's last day was August 13, said Warren. Cooper, who sat in the limelight during the Valerie Plame scandal in 2003, did not respond to calls or e-mails seeking comment.
The sudden departure of the report's lead writer could further hobble the ten-member commission, which has already been beset by delays and is supposed to submit its final report on the 2008 financial crisis by Dec. 15.
Warren said the commission wasn't worried about missing its deadline because it has a full-time staff of 58 employees, a group that includes writers other than Cooper.
"Matt was never the sole person writing this report," Warren said. He added, "We appreciate Matt's time here and his contributions. The commission's work continues."
Critics have accused the FCIC of being unfocused. In splashy public hearings, commissioners have asked Goldman Sachs executives to discuss conflicts of interest at the investment bank and solicited the opinion of billionaire investor Warren E. Buffett on troubles at credit-ratings agencies. (Buffett is a member of The Washington Post Co. board.)
Late last year, the commission requested more funding from lawmakers after concluding that its $8.million budget would not support what it hoped to accomplish. The House approved a $1.8 million increase earlier this summer. But Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has raised questions about the request, sending a letter to the FCIC asking for an explanation of its spending.
The FCIC is led by former California treasurer Phil Angelides and former congressman Bill Thomas. It is modeled after the 9/11 Commission, which produced a final report that became a national bestseller.
The FCIC report is likewise slated to produce a book to be published by Little, Brown and Co. The publisher is supposed to pay an advance to the government with some of the proceeds going to the U.S. Treasury.
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