Two Californians to lead financial market meltdown probe

Democratic former state Treasurer Phil Angelides and Republican former Rep. Bill Thomas of Bakersfield were named Wednesday to co-chair a national commission probing what caused the financial meltdown that has cost thousands of Americans their homes and retirement savings.

Angelides, treasurer from 1999 through 2007 and an unsuccessful 2006 gubernatorial challenger to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said in a telephone conversation Wednesday, "The charge is very direct: to undertake a thorough inquiry to find the facts about why our financial system melted down and leave no stone unturned."

Angelides, 56, a Sacramento native who currently chairs a Los Angeles-based investment fund for rental housing, said the 10-member Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission's aim is to "hopefully avoid this kind of calamity in the future."

In a statement announcing the appointments, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said "the American people deserve nothing less than a full explanation of why so many people lost their homes, their life's savings and their hard-earned pensions."

The commission is modeled on the 1930s Pecora Commission, which probed the roots of the 1929 stock market crash and led to creation of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

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