Herb Sandler, Banker Who Financed ProPublica, Dies at 87


Mr. Sandler’s support of progressive causes drew criticism from the right, especially after some news outlets, including The New York Times, published articles suggesting that certain types of mortgage loans issued by Golden West had, after the Sandlers sold the business to Wachovia, contributed to the financial crisis of 2008. The Sandlers denied that their loans had played such a role.

“Sandler has the astonishing nerve to use his ill-gotten subprime billions to become a major political player,” Phil Kerpen, president of the conservative organization American Commitment, wrote in an opinion article published by a number of outlets in 2014, “funding a wide array of liberal organizations that purport to stand up for regular Americans.”

In 2008, “Saturday Night Live” broadcast a skit about the congressional bailout of the banks that labeled the Sandlers, portrayed by actors, as “people who should be shot.” After complaints, the show took the unusual step of editing the online version of the skit. Lorne Michaels, executive producer of the show, told The Los Angeles Times that he had not realized the Sandlers were real people.

Articles about the Sandlers in the heyday of Golden West sometimes described Herb as the strategist and Marion as handling anything to do with marketing and the consumer. “In reality, though,” The New York Times wrote in 2008, “they consulted on everything, and it was often impossible to know where Herb’s thoughts ended and hers began.”

Mr. Sandler is survived by a daughter, Susan Sandler; a son, James; and two grandchildren.

In its tribute to him, ProPublica noted that Mr. Sandler had read everything the site published but, aside from occasionally pointing out a typographical error, had kept a strict hands-off policy when it came to editorial control. His passion was the mission.

“When we won ProPublica’s first Pulitzer Prize in 2010,” the article said, “he congratulated us briefly by phone, and then quickly added, ‘This is not what’s important, you know.’ ”

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