Friday, April 17, 2009

Pay to Play on New York Pensioners Money

The New York State pension investigation shows who matters in today's world. It's not the retirees expecting a livable pension. Investment firms, private equity underwriters (PEU's) and hedge funds, paid placement fees to politically connected intermediaries. One investment professional plead guilty to fraud for his role in moving pension funds to specific companies.

The heady world of big money is intertwined with red and blue politics. Two firms under investigation include The Carlyle Group and Quadrangle Group.

Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein introduced Hank Paulson and interviewed Larry Summers at the Economic Club of Washington. His stable of blue players goes along with Carlyle's longtime reputation of red stars, like George W. Bush, George Herbert Walker Bush, and James A. Baker, III.

Qaudrangle Group co-founder Steve Rattner is head of President Obama's auto task force. It's negotiating the restructuring of General Motors and Chrysler.

The money washes between friends in the various alliances. Pay for play is alive and well in our hallowed halls of government. It's a pox on our democracy.

The big money men didn't rob retirees with a gun. But neither did Bernie Madoff. Returns too good to be true? Consider Carlyle's 30% annual ROI. They see government's role as getting their profit train back on track. At whose expense? The taxpayer, the retiree, the employee ... Somebody has to fund Carlyle co-founder William Conway's unlevel playing field. (In the picture above, David Rubenstein is the man in the middle, William Conway is on the right.)