Mitt Loves N.Y.: Henry Cornell


With Mitt Romney as its de facto go-to candidate, the roster of Restore Our Future, Romney’s designated Super PAC slush fund, reads like a laundry list of New York City’s wealthiest denizens. And, according to the Center for Responsive Politics and contrary to popular belief, Super PAC’s are receiving a huge majority of their donations from these single individuals rather then enormous corporations.
So, here at the Voice, we’re going to tell you a little bit about our neighbors, one donor at a time:

In regards to cash flow, times are looking tough for the Obama campaign. The subject lines of the Obama campaign’s e-mails are starting to look more desperate than the plot line of a Jon Cusack movie from the Eighties. “I will be outspent,” read the last one. Yes, Mr. President, you are… by millions.

In the month of June, Romney raised $105 million, surpassing his challenger by nearly $40 million. The sheer numbers paint an election cycle that will be the most expensive one to date in American history. And, it also illustrates the weight in which the Citizens United decision has shifted in Mitt’s favor: Priorities USA, the Democratic version of Restore Our Future, has pulled a little over $14 million – a measly number in the absurd world of politics in the year 2012, compared to the nearly $63 million slush fund Restore has scrounged together.

With this ‘Mitt Loves N.Y.’ series, we’ve shown you the reader some of the faces behind these numbers. And we’ll continue to steamroll them out because, as these figures have shown, it’s the least we can do. Next up: Goldman Sachs golden child, Henry Cornell.

As far back as this might seem, there was a time at the beginning of the Obama Presidency when the masses were coming full circle with the reality of where their tax-payer’s dollars were actually headed. After Bush’s TARP had finally taken effect, this siphoning was clear: into the wallets of the bankers that had just blown the economy to smithereens. It was the scenario that unleashed the Tea Party, the Republican backlash of 2010, later Occupy Wall Street and a line of attack against the Obama administration for letting the biggest financial crime not only slip under the radar but proliferate into a treasure chest for its benefactors. And Cornell was one of them.

The vampire squid bank has employed Cornell since 1984; since then, he has risen to the top of the tribe, achieving the throne of Partner, Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of its Merchant Banking Division, where he oversees all real estate and infrastructure investments. Although his actual compensation package is unknown, he, like any other profiteer, he has placed his name on the boards of the Whitney Museum, the Council on Foreign Relations, a handful of corporations, his alma mater Grinnell College and the Asia Society. He is also chairman of the Citizens Committee for New York City – the community-building organization that offers grants and workshops to grassroots projects across the Five Boroughs.

After Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns hit the fan in the summer of ’08, the bank received a combined total of $18.4 billion from the U.S. government to bail itself out. In February of 2010, Gawker reported on how Goldman execs were using their “taxpayer-financed windfalls.” Let the luxurious spending spree begin.

With his bonus, Cornell demolished the 4th floor of his $11.5 million penthouse (and historical landmark) up on East 80th Street in order to build a larger 5th floor as well as a subcellar in the building. While this was happening, he was busy developing what would become the Henry Cornell Winery in Santa Rosa, California – an enormous piece of land that would include  10,000 cases of wine and a 10,400 square foot wine cave, presumably to hold all that vino. Spending the ordinary man’s hard-earned dollar could not get much more stereotypical than that, unless Cornell somehow bought out Nantucket Nectars.

And, now, two years later, as Goldman continues to push record profits, Cornell has donated a smidgen of what he has left to Restore Our Future – a decent contribution of $150,000. With the bonus in mind, his intentions seem clear: to be left alone by the White House with his renovated loft and winery on the West Coast.

We’ll have that Bush tax cuts for the middle class argument another time, America.