Obama's tainted bundler
Jon Corzine, the former Goldman Sachs executive, senator and New Jersey governor, seems to embody everything the 99 percenters hate about Wall Street.

White House

President Barack Obama stands with Senior Adviser Pete Rouse backstage at the Rothman Center, prior to rally for New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, N.J., Oct. 21, 2009.

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  • #Obama is guilty of the kind of cronyism he claims to be fighting against @JonahNRO

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  • Obama continues to let Jon Corzine solicit money for his campaign despite an ongoing investigation of Corzine

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  • Romney will be dragged through the gutter for his success. Meanwhile, #Obama took cash from a true denizen of the gutter

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Jon Corzine left Goldman Sachs with a net worth far exceeding even that of Mitt Romney's today. Many accounts of his tenure at Goldman suggest he "failed up" the corporate ladder.

Pushed out of Goldman in a power struggle, he nonetheless pocketed somewhere between $350 million and $500 million when the company went public. He used the cash to buy himself a Senate seat, spending $62 million out of his own pocket.

After the Senate, he spent nearly $40 million of his own money to win the New Jersey governorship. While he was running for senator, the married-but-separated Corzine struck up a romantic relationship with Carla Katz, also married and head of Local 1034 of the Communications Workers of America. They broke up in 2004, but in 2007, Katz and Corzine were both involved in negotiations over a state workers contract. In one email during that time obtained by the Newark Star-Ledger, Katz informs the governor, "BTW, I had an over the top erotic dream about you last night. Bad boy!!"

"Romney is going to be demonized for his success and dragged through the gutter. Meanwhile, Obama took cash from a true denizen of the gutter." -- Jonah Goldberg

Bad boy indeed. When the couple broke up, and after her union had endorsed Corzine and worked for his reelection, the governor's lawyers negotiated a settlement whereby he reportedly paid Katz more than $6 million and forgave a half-million-dollar loan he made to her when they were still an item.

When Corzine ran for reelection as governor, both President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden stumped for him. Biden explained that from the moment he and the president sat down to figure out their economic strategy, "Literally, the first guy I called was Jon Corzine. It's not a joke. It's not a joke. First of all, he's the smartest guy I know in terms of the economy and on finance, and I really mean that."

Despite that ringing endorsement, Corzine lost his 2009 reelection bid to reformer Chris Christie. So Corzine went back to Wall Street, as chief executive of MF Global Holdings, a bond trading firm. A research note from the firm of Sander O'Neill Partners summarized what the Street expected from Corzine: "We suspect that his contacts in Washington could prove useful as MF Global navigates a shifting regulatory environment."

Corzine proceeded to do exactly the sorts of things Wall Street has become infamous for: making crazy bets with other peoples' money, counting on governments to bail out the private sector and, allegedly, expecting to get friendly treatment from regulators Gary Gensler, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, was an old friend and colleague of Corzine's at Goldman Sachs and in Washington. Gensler had been a key aide to Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.) and had reportedly worked closely with Corzine on the bill. At MF Global, under Gensler's watch, Corzine bet more than $6 billion on the European sovereign debt crisis, using borrowed client money. MF Global also apparently commingled client and company funds to pay off financial obligations, which is illegal.

Under Corzine, MF Global lost well over a billion dollars, and I don't mean in the profit/loss sense. I mean it was physically misplaced and Corzine cannot account for where it went. The Justice Department is investigating, and news media accounts suggest a criminal prosecution is likely. At least Gensler recused himself after MF Global went bankrupt.

So, why the trip down memory lane? Because the Obama campaign just announced that Corzine is still on the list of the select group of top-tier bundlers for the Obama reelection campaign. Corzine has raised more than half a million dollars for Obama.

Obama is constantly denouncing "millionaires and billionaires" for playing by their own rules. It's true that the campaign told one reporter in February that it wouldn't take more money from Corzine himself, but it's been happy to let the man solicit donations for him even as he's under investigation by Obama's own Justice Department. How cozy.

Tell me, what's the point of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and its countless sympathizers in the Democratic Party and the media, if that's good enough? Whatever happened to changing how Washington works?

We're about to enter a very long campaign in which where an apparently squeaky clean Mitt Romney is going to be demonized for his success and dragged through the gutter. Meanwhile, Obama took cash from a true denizen of the gutter.

Jonah Goldberg is a fellow at AEI.

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About the Author

 

Jonah
Goldberg

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    A bestselling author and columnist, Jonah Goldberg's nationally syndicated column appears regularly in scores of newspapers across the United States. He is also a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, a member of the board of contributors to USA Today, a contributor to Fox News, a contributing editor to National Review, and the founding editor of National Review Online. He was named by the Atlantic magazine as one of the top 50 political commentators in America. In 2011 he was named the Robert J. Novak Journalist of the Year at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). He has written on politics, media, and culture for a wide variety of publications and has appeared on numerous television and radio programs. Prior to joining National Review, he was a founding producer for Think Tank with Ben Wattenberg on PBS and wrote and produced several other PBS documentaries. He is the recipient of the prestigious Lowell Thomas Award. He is the author of two New York Times bestsellers, The Tyranny of Clichés (Sentinel HC, 2012) and Liberal Fascism (Doubleday, 2008).  At AEI, Mr. Goldberg writes about political and cultural issues for American.com and the Enterprise Blog.

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