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November 4, 2011
OWS should turn their wrath on Democratic crony capitalists
Hey occupiers, occupy this!
If you're opposed to billionaires and crony capitalism Jon Corzine just might be your man. The former Democratic senator from New Jersey who is also the former Democratic governor of that highly taxed state also happens to be an extremely generous donor and bundler to Democratic President Barack Obama and the Democrats.
donated the maximum of $5,000 that an individual can give for a presidential campaign, according to campaign finance records.
He also held a lavish $35,800-a-head fundraising dinner for Obama at his home in April and raised or "bundled" donations of at least $500,000 so far for Obama's 2012 re-election effort.
His bundlees, people from whom he raised half a million dollars, were those evil Wall Street millionaires and billionaires Obama so publicly berates--but whose money he thankfully takes.
Generous to the Democrats as well, Corzine
has also donated $15,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this year and $25,000 to Senate Democrats in 2010, according to regulatory filings.
In return Obama worked mightily for Corzine as governor of New Jersey, praising him at a pre election rally
I want you to know I'm proud to stand with a man who wakes up every day thinking about your future and the future of Jersey -- and that's your governor, Jon Corzine. (Applause.)
Like many of us in public life today, Jon is a leader who's been called to govern in some extraordinary times. He's been tested by the worst recession in half a century -- a recession that was caused by years of recklessness and irresponsibility and a do-nothing attitude. It was caused by the same small thinking that has plagued our politics for decades -- the kind of thinking that says we can afford to just tinker around with our problems, we can put off the tough decisions, defer the big challenges. We can just tell people what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear.
Well that's not the kind of leader that Jon Corzine is. (Applause.) Jon Corzine didn't run for this office on the promise that change would be easy. He hasn't avoided doing what's hard. This isn't somebody who's here because of some special interest or political machine -- this is a man who is here because he cares about what is right in New Jersey and for New Jersey. (Applause.)
The American people have decided it's time to move forward. You've decided it's time for change. You're willing to face the future unafraid. If you do that, if you stand with us, if you talk to your neighbors and your friends and your coworkers, you call your members of Congress and your senators, if you reelect Jon Corzine -- (applause) -- if you work hard to believe in a future that is good for our children and our grandchildren, there is nothing that's going to stop us, New Jersey. (Applause.)
Obama's lofty words and plans for spending more money didn't help: Corzine lost to Republican Chris Christie. Picking himself up from the loss, Corzine then zipped over to head MF Global, a highly respected commodities firm, where his highly leveraged and risky trades in European debt just bankrupted the firm.
Well, these things could happen as the former CEO and Chairman Goldman Sachs was well aware.
What wasn't supposed to happen though is mingling and using monies from customer accounts for use in company trades. Did this happen under Corzine's watch? Over $600 million is missing from these accounts, moved shortly before the bankruptcy. The FBI is investigating. Also looking into the money's disappearance is Gary Gensler, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), who worked with Corzine for several years when Gensler was co chair of finance at Goldman Sachs under Corzine's tenure. Gensler also donated $10,000 to Corzine's re election. He may turn over the investigation to others. As of now neither Corzine nor MF Global have been accused of anything; this could change or the missing millions could just be an accounting error, soon discovered and corrected.
As a result of his company's bankruptcy though investors in the firm lost their money and 2800 traders and secretaries, office workers and tech support are all unemployed, joining the thousands of unemployed financial workers in New York thus reducing the city's and state's tax revenue.
Will Corzine join them on the unemployment line? Unlikely. He had a so called golden parachute guaranteeing him $12 million if he left the firm unless it was "for cause"; ie, illegal activity. But some speculate that even if he is innocent he probably won't get the money because the company owes its creditors over $2 billion in unsecured debt.
"He's at the bottom of the pile," said Brian Foley, who runs an executive compensation consultancy in White Plains, NY. "His severance rights are basically worthless." (snip)
But it's not like Corzine is broke. As the former head of Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500), Corzine made hundreds of millions of dollars when the storied investment bank went public in 1999. Later he used that wealth to pursue a career in politics, serving as a New Jersey senator and then governor of that state before taking the job at MF Global in 2010.
Despite the large severance he was entitled to, it doesn't appear that Corzine was an example of execs-gone-wild while at MF Global, at least in terms of pay.
He received $4.3 million in total compensation through March of 2011, the latest period for which figures are available, according to Equilar. The next four highest-ranking executives received between $550,000 and $2.1 million over the same time-frame.
Stay tuned. Meanwhile, Europe is effectively broke. Occupy them. Or take a chance and buy their debt.
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