There’s been a lot of debate online recently on Twitter and in the more enlightened circles of the Left about the progressive nature of the Dirk Adams campaign for the US Senate. Adams has positioned himself squarely on the left, focusing on his opposition to Keystone XL and coal development to make him the “progressive” alternative to John Walsh and former Republican John Bohlinger.
A closer look at what Adams has said in the last year and done in the last twenty call into question just how sincere those progressive values really are.
A profile by the Missoula Independent’s Alex Sakriassen back in September helps paint Adams in a somewhat different light than how Adams is presenting himself today. Back then, it seems, he planned to run from the right:
It’s not just the resume that gives Democrats pause. Bond says he was shocked to hear Adams tell the Gallatin County Democratic Central Committee recently that “no Democrat would be able to fall to the right of him” in 2014.
He’s also won favor in some Democratic circles for his opposition to coal development. When Adams met with Gallatin County Democrats back in September, though, he expressed both support for Montana coal development and hydraulic fracking:
He also sees no problems with fracking. Asked about coal he told us three major coal mining companies in Appalachia have declared bankruptcy. But never fear, it is to MT’s advantage that those reserves have dwindled.
These are important contradictions. While Adams now wants Democratic voters to believe that he comes with strong credentials as a progressive, as little as a year ago he was defending the very environmental practices he now decries and was planning to run as a conservative Democrat.
That tendency to speak one way and act another has characterized Adams from the outset of his campaign. Rather than acknowledging the fact that was in senior leadership of a number of banks that failed before, during, and after the crisis of the 2008 recession, Adams has suggested he was some sort of lone voice of reason, predicting the collapse and advocating reform before anyone else. Two or three closed banks paint a somewhat different picture.
Back in September, James Conner detailed some of the problems with Adams’s past as a banker, calling his story “Adventures in SubPrimeville.”
Politico explained that Adams directed a bank closed because for “questionable activities” by its directors:
In fact, his last bank failed only 18 months ago: the Controller of the Currency closed Home Savings of America of Little Falls, Minnesota in February 2012 when Adams was chairman and CEO of the holding company.
The Treasury Department’s Inspector General chalked the failure up to “an aggressive growth strategy” based on adjustable-rate mortgages and poor risk management practices, among other “questionable activities by the management.”
It seems Adams’s last job in banking came as president of Guaranteed Home Mortgage Co., a job he took in July 2012, before being fired eight months later. This video from 2010 suggests that GHM was anything but a responsible, mature lender when Adams joined the company:
My take on Adams is that he’s a smart guy who made an excellent living for himself by finding needs in markets and exploiting them. Initially, when he announced his intention to run for the Senate, he perceived the market needed a conservative candidate, but as the political winds have shifted, so has his position.
Seeing Senator Walsh as the moderate, mainstream candidate, Adams has shifted left, but it’s hard to the candidate who has expressed opposition to increasing the minimum wage, support for the Citizens United decision, and support for fracking seriously as the “progressive choice,” no matter how hard he tries to sell himself that way or no matter how much some Democratic voters want to be able to vote for a more liberal candidate.
I understand the impulse to support progressive Democrats. It’s just important to make sure that the progressive we support actually is one.