Steve Rattner, Financial Genius, Felled By Jackass Movie
Ex-auto bailout king Steve Rattner is reportedly settling his pay-to-play charges stemming from his state pension fund schemes with the Securities Exchange Commission. He'll take a two-year bar from the securities markets, plus ante up $6 million, says the Wall Street Journal. The Times goes with an unusually vague description of the length of the ban its ex-star financial reporter will serve, leaving it as a "few years." That somehow sounds like the phrase Rattner himself might be using with close friends, such as Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. who only last week was toasting his pal's new book Overhaul, about his brief reign as national auto czar at The Four Seasons with Mike Bloomberg and other Rattner fans. The paper of record also says he's shelling out just $5 million.
And there's another shoe still to drop: The office of Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is supposed to announce its own separate deal with the star financier by the time the SEC's board votes on the deal later today.
Whatever the terms, chalk up one more scalp for a vast scandal that spilled out from two of the looniest escapades in recent New York political history.
The overarching pension fund schemes were unearthed thanks to the lust of an aging Queens political hack who watched the door for now-convicted ex-state comptroller Alan Hevesi. Jack Chartier's hapless pursuit of ex-Mod Squader Peggy Lipton with a state car and driver ultimately led him to tell all about the pension fund's scandalous ways, as carefully revealed in the Voice here and here.
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Rattner's downfall is equally embarrassing for those who take their investment kickbacks seriously: He was felled by his decision to have his Quadrangle Group invest in a slapstick movie about a Queens softball team that goes astray in Mexico. Someone -- lead suspect being the still innocent-until-proven-guilty political guru Hank Morris -- told Rattner that the way to make friends with the comptroller's investment manager was to sink some dough into the DVD version of Chooch which was produced by the manager's brothers. The title is a term of Italian-American derision meaning something along the lines of lazy jackass. Rattner was so rightly embarrassed by this venture that he initially claimed to the AG's investigators that he had nothing to do with the movie. This turned out to be not quite true, and even the friendly Times notes that he could face perjury charges.
Those wishing to contribute to the Steven Rattner defense fund can purchase a DVD of the movie here. If you don't want to buy, at least watch one of the trailers .
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