Signature Bank threw fundraiser for Rep. McHenry of NC. He’s now probing how it failed

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Ten days before Signature Bank collapsed, the House Republican overseeing an inquiry into the bank’s failure was inside its boardroom on New York’s Fifth Avenue.

Patrick McHenry was there to raise thousands of dollars from bank executives.

The mood inside the Signature boardroom at the March 2 fundraiser was calm, according to a person who was at the event and asked for anonymity to discuss the private affair. There was no overt anxiety or tension, the person said; instead there were questions about the debt ceiling.

McHenry’s campaign decided last week it won’t process any of the contributions from the event, according to a spokesperson.

Donors were invited to the fundraiser for the North Carolina Republican by Signature co-founder and chairman Scott Shay. Attending cost $1,000, sponsoring the event went for $2,900, and hosting duties were sold for $5,800, according to the invitation. The money supported Team McHenry, a joint fundraising committee backing his congressional campaign, his Innovation PAC, and the National Republican Congressional Committee. Shay declined to comment.

McHenry is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, which has announced a bipartisan hearing into the collapse of Signature and Silicon Valley Bank next week, “the first of multiple.”

He’s a 47-year-old Republican from Denver in Lincoln County, now in his ninth term in Congress. He became the youngest member of Congress in 2004 when he was first elected at the age of 29. He represents North Carolina’s 10th Congressional District.

On Monday, McHenry and Senator Tim Scott, the top Republican on the Banking Committee, demanded the Federal Reserve and FDIC provide information on their oversight of the two failed banks for the last two years and save all records.

McHenry has been the bank’s favorite member of Congress since 2017. Signature’s employees have given him a little more than $188,000, almost triple the $66,000 they’ve given to Minnesota’s Tina Smith, a Democratic member of the Senate Banking Committee who has received the second highest amount from them.

Among current members of Congress, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer was next with $45,000. All other Republican candidates got a little more than $41,000 in total from Signature’s employees over the same period, a Bloomberg analysis of Federal Election Commission records shows. Overall, Democrats took in $284,000 from Signature employees, about $53,000 more than Republicans.

The bank’s board enjoyed connections to both parties. Barney Frank, who was co-author of the Dodd-Frank Act after the 2008 crisis, joined the bank’s board after the Massachusetts Democrat left Congress in 2013. Ivanka Trump was a director, too.

Regulators lost faith in Signature’s management and seized the New York-based lender on March 12. It isn’t clear why, though prosecutors had been investigating its work with crypto clients.

“Their downfall came when they got into this crypto business,” Al D’Amato, the former senator for New York, who was a director from 2005 to 2021, said last week. “They took their eyes off of that small entrepreneur.”

Bloomberg’s Max Reyes contributed to this report.