With reporting from Marcus Baram
Yesterday's New York Times featured a story on the unfolding investigation into private equity firm Quadrangle Group and its co-founder, Steven Rattner, who is alleged to have played a part in a substantial kickback scheme involving the New York State pension fund. Quadrangle was one of many firms to have allegedly made pay-to-play arrangements with the pension fund, arrangements which are now being probed from Andrew Cuomo's office and the SEC. Meanwhile, if you've not been keeping score, Rattner has since decamped from Quadrangle to head up President Barack Obama's ongoing auto bailout negotiations. Which is just great, I guess!
Anyway, yesterday's paper made good and careful note of some of Rattner's political connections. He's pals with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, for instance, who told the paper that Quadrangle was doing "a great job" managing his fortunes. But the paper delves deeply into Rattner's connections with the State of New Mexico, and one of its Democratic Senators, Jeff Bingaman:
Mr. Rattner forged close personal ties in New Mexico, which invested $20 million in Quadrangle. He met with Senator Jeff Bingaman, a Democrat from that state, on at least one occasion, according to a person with knowledge of the meeting. From about 2004 until early this year, Quadrangle also employed the senator's son as an associate.
A spokeswoman for Senator Bingaman said that the senator's son did not raise money for Quadrangle, but instead helped make investments. Senator Bingaman was not involved in the pension process, she said.
Funny that the good state of New Mexico should be so prominently mentioned, absent an important connection:
former [Sorry. Not "former." I have no idea why I typed that!] New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. As it turns out, Richardson has some significant ties to Rattner, as well as the aforementioned "pension process."
Steven Rattner, the head of President Barack Obama's auto-bailout program and a man who has been linked to a New York pension scandal that has tentacles in New Mexico, gave $5,000 to Gov. Bill Richardson's 2002 gubernatorial campaign and $15,000 to Richardson's 2006 re-election bid.
That's according to the money-in-politics Web site followthemoney.org.
Richardson heads the State Investment Council (SIC), which manages the state's investments. In October 2005, the SIC voted to invest $20 million with Quadrangle Group LLC, according to minutes of the meeting. At the time of the 2002 and 2006 campaign contributions, Rattner was a managing principal in the company, which he left in February of this year to take the auto-bailout job.
And, as the NM Indy's Heath Haussamen helpfully reminds, what is it that scotched Richardson's own appointment to Commerce? Allegations that he participated in a pay-to-play scandal. All of which seems to be at least as worthy of mention as Jeff Bingaman's entanglements.
New Mexico Governor Raised $197,300 From Brokers, Investors [Bloomberg]