A pair of New York City political powerhouses took major public hits today in Andrew Cuomo’s latest round of sanctions in his pension fund fraud investigation.
The biggest is Steve Rattner, the ex-Times reporter who counts Mike Bloomberg and Arthur Sulzberger Jr. among his close pals. Here’s the money quote from that one, issued by Rattner’s former investment firm, Quadrangle, today:
“We wholly disavow the conduct engaged in by Steve Rattner, who hired the New York State Comptroller’s political consultant, Hank Morris, to arrange an investment from the New York State Common Retirement Fund. That conduct was inappropriate, wrong, and unethical.”
Ouch. That’s a serious spanking to dish out to a major city financial figure, not to mention a guy who was briefly the White House’s point man in tackling the auto crisis.
Cuomo says the Quadrangle settlement “expressly” doesn’t include a settlement covering Rattner’s performance, so his end of the probe continues. The former auto czar isn’t returning calls to the Wall Street Journal, so we’ll have to wait our turn to get a non-response.
For Quadrangle’s part, the company will pay a $7 million fine to the state, another $5 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission, and embrace the Cuomo Code of Good Conduct, meaning it will forswear campaign contributions and the use of placement agents to help win investments from public pension funds.
The other big headliner is Global Strategy Group, the big political consultant outfit that has been a massive player in state and national elections (mostly Democrats, with Eliot Spitzer, David Paterson, Kirsten Gillibrand, and one Andrew Cuomo among the recent past customers of their services).
Global was a late entry into the pay-for-play game. According to the settlement, the Global CEO Jon Silvan and a rep from Global’s then lobbying partner, the MirRam Group, met with current state comptroller Tom DiNapoli in April, 2007, to help an investment outfit called Intermedia land pension fund business. The MirRam partner isn’t named in the legal papers, but the Times reported last year that it was the Bronx’s own Roberto Ramirez.
The scheme is the first one to surface that involves DiNapoli, who is up for reelection this year. DiNapoli says that he has reformed the bad old ways that festered under his predecessor, Alan Hevesi, when political guru Hank Morris was calling the shots on pension fund investments.