A Georgia Republican and prominent Atlanta real estate developer sparred Tuesday in a Congressional hearing with officials from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and a lender accused of receiving sweetheart deals from the government.

Scott Leventhal of Atlanta-based Tivoli Properties and Rep. Lynn Westmoreland accused the FDIC of acquiescing to vulture lenders looking to shake down borrowers.

After putting an FDIC official in the hot seat for allegedly awarding sweetheart deals to Rialto Capital Management, likened by another GOP member to a school-yard bully, Westmoreland aggressively quizzed the chief executive of Rialto’s parent company, Lennar Corporation.

Pressed why Rialto’s loan collection efforts often begin with litigation rather than an amicable negotiation, Lennar Corp. chief Stuart Miller objected and explained his business is “adversarial and sometimes contentious.” The response didn’t sit well with Westmoreland.

“Your answers are the equivalent of giving me and this Congress the finger,” Westmoreland lectured Miller.

– James Richardson