Saturday, April 18, 2009
Vote of confidence: Auto czarito Rattner "not likely" to face charges, says Obama spokesman. ...
Update: Henry Blodget calls Rattner's payment to a "placement agent" a non-issue, because of the "additional information" that Rattner made the payment to the agent before meeting with the state official who could steer pension money to him, rather than after the meeting:
Quadrangle retained the placement agent who received the $1.1 million finders fee prior to the first meeting with the state official. The SEC complaint says that the finder's fee was negotiated after the original meeting. This difference is important. The SEC's version of the story makes it sound like an after-the-fact, pay-to-play deal. If Quadrangle actually retained the placement agent prior to meeting the state official for the first time, this is more likely a case in which the firm employed multiple placement agents. The latter is a common practice in the industry, and it would not be a concern here. [ Emphasis not added. ]
Huh? Blodget seems impressively clueless at best here. The "placement agent" in question was Hank Morris , political consultant for now-disgraced N.Y. State Controller Alan Hevesi, whose office controlled the pension funds. If the allegations against Morris are true--that private equity firms in effect had to pay Morris to get access to the pension money--why does it make a difference whether Rattner took care of Morris before or after he met with the relevant "state official"? It's not as if Rattner would have hired Morris and then happily discovered, hey, he's the guy you have to pay to get N.Y. pension money! What luck! Rattner knew who Morris was. Of course, even if the full acccusations are true none of this may amount to a crime, on either Morris' or Rattner's part . But it still stinks. If Rattner weren't at this very moment deciding the fate of the American auto industry, he'd be under intense pressure to quit, no? ... P.S.: I'd just as soon Rattner got to finish the GM and Chrysler restructuring. Then he can quit--and become a columnist for Slate ! If current columnist and former N.Y. governor Eliot Spitzer moves on , the Slate rehab slot would be open. It's worked for Spitzer, and it can work for Rattner! Ask Henry Blodget . ...
More: You knew Bill Richardson's New Mexico couldn't be far behind . A private invesment firm (not Rattner's) appears to have been suspended by that state for doing essentially what Rattner's firm is accused of doing .. ... WSJ mostly exonerates Rattner on the grounds that this was a "shake down." But there are those who have shaking down thrust upon them and those who seek shaking down (perhaps because paying someone off is easier and cheaper than competing in the regular application process). It's not clear that this latter group of shakees is clean. [ via Insta ]...
Bonus Question: How plausible is the following, regarding the efforts of Rattner's firm, Quadrangle, to get New Mexico business ?
A Quadrangle spokesman said the company worked with Morris’s firm, Searle & Co., but said there was no payment.
See also . ... 3:18 P.M.