Jon Corzine, The Lodestone
There is a certain arrogance that often creeps into the behavior of the wealthy and powerful. And it is this egotism that leads to a rationalization of unethical and at the extreme, criminal behavior.
A case in point is Corzine's teaming up with Charles Kushner in an attempt to buy the Nets basketball team. Could Corzine have chosen a more corrupt person as a business partner?
Corzine expressed interest in buying the Nets and explained why he believed he was qualified for the job:
Millionaire Senator Jon Corzine says that he might be interested in buying the New Jersey Nets. When asked why, Corzine explained that after several years in the Senate, he feels qualified to manage a bunch of spoiled, overpaid prima donnas.Jon Corzine hooks up with wealthy New Jersey businessman and major contributor to the Democrat Party, Charles Kushner to buy the Nets. In keeping with Corzine's philosophy of taxpayer investment in private businesses, the duo looks to the State of New Jersey for a bit of help:
We start with last week's news that U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine, D-N.J., and real estate developer Charles Kushner were considering making a bid to buy the New Jersey Nets. That sounded pretty good. The men, it seems, have the money to buy the Nets and keep the team in New Jersey. But now it surfaces that the senator and developer want the state to contribute $125 million to help them purchase the team.As we’ve written numerous times, taxpayers are only asked to become "silent partners" in business ventures that can't attract sufficient funds from private investors. The Corzine-Kushner partnership wanted New Jersey's taxpayers to kick in because investment in the Nets basketball team was risky and a potential money loser.
The Star-Ledger, the Asbury Park Press of Neptune and The Record of Bergen County all reported Monday that the partners sought the help because they are wary of the financial problems facing the team. The Nets, who played in the NBA finals the past two seasons, have not made money and are expected to operate at a loss this year because of a rising payroll.It also seems that Corzine may have needed some financial help from New Jersey because he may not have as much money as we have assumed. After spending over $60 million on his Senate bid, $40 million more in charitable and political donations to further his "public service” ambitions, Corzine may have also paid a hefty price to divorce his wife:
A former chairman of Goldman Sachs investment bank, Corzine is worth a reported $300 million though he said he expects to forfeit half of his fortune as a result of his pending divorce. Kushner is wealthy as well. As chairman of Kushner Companies, he oversees one of the New York City region's leading privately held real estate organizations.The Corzine-Kushner partnership ultimately would have have to go without help from the state and their final bid for the Nets was placed in January of 2004. In a case of “isn’t it a small world” one of the bankers handling the sale just happened to work for Goldman Sachs.
In a dramatic attempt to keep the team in New Jersey, Kushner, the well-connected developer, and his partner, U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine, submitted an all-cash offer of $300 million just before 3 p.m. yesterday. It was spelled out in a one-paragraph fax sent to Stier and one of the bankers handling the sale, Joe Ravitch of Goldman Sachs.The Corzine-Kushner bid came too late to be taken seriously and a Brooklyn investor won the right to buy the Nets:
Bruce C. Ratner, the New York real estate developer who wants to move the New Jersey Nets to an arena in downtown Brooklyn, reached a tentative agreement to acquire the team for $300 million, defeating a similar offer by Charles Kushner and Senator Jon S. Corzine of New Jersey, the Nets' ownership group confirmed tonight.The next thing you know one half of the Corzine-Kushner partnership is pleading guilty to a slew of federal charges:
Real estate mogul Charles Kushner pleaded guilty in federal court to 18 charges, including retaliating against a federal witness and violating campaign finance laws. He also pleaded guilty to 16 counts of filing false tax returns through various real estate partnerships..Charles Kushner is now serving a two-year prison sentence in Alabama and has paid some pretty stiff fines for his various criminal acts:
A federal judge sentenced multimillionaire developer and Democratic Party political donor Charles B. Kushner to two years in prison Friday, declaring Kushner's wealth, power and widespread charity don't trump criminal acts that included tax fraud, campaign-finance violations and witness retaliation.Kushner was charged with hiring a hooker to have videotaped sex in a scheme to silence potential witnesses. The guy caught on tape was Kushner's brother-in-law and the tape was sent to Kushner's sister.
Kushner, who has given more than $5 million to Democratic campaign committees in New Jersey during the past decade, was ordered this month to pay at least $12.5 million in fines for violating federal banking laws. He also paid $508,900 in 2004 — the fourth largest fine of its kind — to federal regulators for campaign-finance violations.Is Jon Corzine the man to clean up political corruption in New Jersey? If not the instigators of corruption, New Jersey Democrats have certainly managed to attract the worst elements in the state and Corzine seems to be the lodestone. Is there any reason for us to assume a Governor Corzine would lose his unrivaled attraction?