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Tim Geithner's Secret Crash Pad

(Eric Piermont/AFP/Getty Images

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.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  July 20, 2009; 11:32 AM ET
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Geitner's 'secret crash' pad...where's the transparency on accomodations? Why can't Geitner just be a normal person and crash in the C Street House and be part of the Holier Than Thou Gang? Those good ol' boys would minister to him to keep the wife away, fix him up with a girlfriend and teach him the ins and outs of using the ultimate defense, when caught, of God made me do it.

Posted by: Patriot3 | July 20, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

He's getting free rent in a valuable property from a private individual. If Zelikow is an old friend, then presumably it comports with the ethics rules. Still, if the Inter-American Development Bank does any business with treasury, I assume Geithner recuses himself. It's interesting that the Post laughs this off, though.

Posted by: tomtildrum | July 20, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

They are college buddies, for goodness sakes! It is time to give Mr. Geithner a break. He does more for his country in one month than most of us have done in our lifetimes.

Posted by: jwerthan | July 20, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Holly,Psychedelic, Batman!

Posted by: edtroyhampton | July 20, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Holy, Psychedelic, Batman!

Posted by: edtroyhampton | July 20, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

"It is time to give Mr. Geithner a break. He does more for his country in one month than most of us have done in our lifetimes."

Posted by: jwerthan


Stop posting here Mrs. Geithner.

Posted by: Jeff08 | July 20, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Wow! With news like this, I can take the day off tomorrow!

Posted by: pgr88 | July 20, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Now that I know, I'll sleep well tonight.

Posted by: whocares666 | July 20, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

In a time when we are learning that there is a shortage of space on the internet and broadband, etc. this kind of nonsense doesn't need to take up space. If Tim were staying in the penthouse at The Watergate, that might be news; especially since it is up for auction tomorrow; but if he's staying with a college friend, I say bravo. It says more about his character and worth as a roomie than anything I've learned from the WP or media in general. And cudos to Mr. Zelikow for keeping his mouth shut. Maybe we can find him a job at the CIA or VP's office?

Posted by: peery | July 20, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

It is past time for Geithner to resign "for personal reasons." He was and is part of the problem and has an ethical tin ear.
I think Krugman who predicted this mess at least 3 Y ago is available.

Posted by: miriamac2001 | July 21, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Doesn't the Treasury Department consider this a gift, from which taxes should be paid to the IRS. We know how forgetful Mr. Geithner is when it comes to paying taxes.

Posted by: leasador | July 23, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

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