Herb and Marion Sandler and the Financial Crisis

I just received an email from Herb Sandler:

Dear friends

We are living in a benighted time. It is hard to believe that the attacks on Marion and me, and the company, are really happening. As you know, we were one of the very few companies which was monomaniacally  focused on loan quality, doing what’s right for the customer, and operating at all times with the utmost integrity. Unfortunately, there is much pain out there, and the media and those with hidden and not so hidden agendas are looking for scapegoats. It’s especially difficult to be accused of practices which we abhor and fought against. The factual misstatements and false innuendos are astonishing.

We have created a web site which sets forth facts about the company’s history. You may link on at


We will update it from time to time and if you have any suggestions or corrections, please send them to me or


Herb and Marion

The background for this email is a series of attacks – beginning with a skit on Saturday Night Live – that all but accuse the Sandlers’ of triggering the mortgage crisis (you can read about some of this on their Wikipedia page). I know very little about the mortgage industry, so I will let the Sandlers website speak for itself. But I will say that I have known the Sandlers for many years and consider them to be amongst the most decent and honorable people I have met.

I came to know the Sandlers because of the support their family foundation gave to the Public Library of Science (which I co-founded) during a critical time in its growth. Prior to our initial meeting, I researched the Sandler’s company – Golden West Financial (whose sale to Wachovia is at the center of the attacks on them). I was astonished at how well-regarded the company and the Sandlers were – as entrepreneurs, as executives, as employers, and as people. Not the kind of reputation usually possessed by bankers. And in all of my interactions with them I found them to be tough, hardnosed, practical and wise. I respected their opinions, even when they were taking us to task. And above all else, I always found them to be exceptionally good people (and lest you think I am kissing up to donors – PLoS no longer receives money from the Sandlers, nor have we asked for support for the future). 

So, if any of you saw the SNL piece or have read things trying to scapegoat the Sandlers for the current financial mess, or if you are just interested in learning more about the financial mess we are currently in, I urge you to read the Sandlers’ website. 

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