Tim Geithner's Secret Crash Pad
While the federal debt spirals out of control, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is a model of frugality.
Since moving to Washington in January, Geithner has been secretly crashing at his old friend Daniel Zelikow's posh manse in the District's tony Kalorama neighborhood. Zelikow, a former Wall Street hotshot who now serves as executive vice president of the Inter-American Development Bank, is a college buddy of Geithner's.
And why shouldn't the Treasury secretary -- who by Wall Street standards makes a modest $191,300 a year -- live in style, rent-free, while his wife (a social worker) and kids are back in New York?
After all, there's plenty of room at Zelikow's place, and lots of comforts. His six-bedroom, six-bath home -- which he bought nearly two years ago for $3.6 million -- "has a library, three parking spaces, and a solarium overlooking a garden and lap pool," according to a celebrity real-estate listing in Washingtonian magazine.
Geithner has known his generous friend since they were 17, when they were freshmen at Dartmouth College, Zelikow tells The Sleuth. But that's about all he would say of the Treasury secretary's living arrangement.
"I won't talk about it," Zelikow told the Sleuth when we ran into him last week. "That's why he's living with me."
Expounding on his vault-like trustworthiness, he added, "If I had known you since we were 17 and you came to live with me, no one would know it." (Of course, no one would care if it were The Sleuth instead of the Treasury secretary, but we appreciate Zelikow's egalitarian view of roommates.)
Geithner and Zelikow worked together at the Treasury Department during the Clinton administration, managing the U.S. government's response to the Mexican peso crisis. Later, Zelikow worked as a managing director at J.P. Morgan when Geithner ran the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. (Coziness between the New York Fed and Wall Street executives is nothing unusual, as our colleague Neil Irwin reports today.)
Geithner is even more tight-lipped about his secret crash pad than Zelikow. When asked for comment, Geithner's spokeswoman, Meg Reilly, finally wrote back saying, "Declining on this one."
But a Geithner aide did subsequently tell us that the Treasury secretary consulted ethics counsel before agreeing to stay as a guest of Zelikow and "they determined that the arrangement is appropriate under ethics laws."
We also heard from a well-placed source that the Treasury secretary's days as a house guest are numbered. Geithner will give up his luxury housing deal and get his own place when his family moves to Washington next month, our source says.
Mary Ann Akers
July 20, 2009; 11:32 AM ET
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