Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Let's talk about the money.

Yes, please, let's talk about the money.

A Newsday article published a few hours ago does a fairly good job of assessing the new money scandals on both sides of the gubernatorial races.

First, the Dems: as we all know by now, Jon Corzine lent his then-girlfriend Union boss Carla Katz several hundred thousand dollars, then forgave the loan. He said he paid the gift tax, and it was years before he was a candidate for governor. The NJ GOP has picked it up as a HUGE scandal, mainly because they've had very little to actually pin on Corzine so far. My favorite line, seen quoted in a couple places lately, by Republican State Committee Chairman Tom Wilson: "A year later, we can substitute the name Jon Corzine for Jim McGreevey and the name Carla Katz for Golan Cipel."

In your dreams, Tom. It was a legal loan, it was a legal gift, and Corzine didn't make any big moves to hide it. He also didn't give her a high-ranking job for which she wasn't qualified, nor did she threaten to blackmail him. It was a gift from an extremely wealthy man to an ex-girlfriend. (My husband gave me a mixer while we were dating; Carla got $470,000. We live very different lives from the wealthy.) Yes, there's a chance they may be on opposite sides of the negotiating table from one another someday, and I guess some may think that Corzine's ability to negotiate will be compromised by the fact that they dated once. These aren't people who took any kind of a look at his record as a businessman, and aren't people who may have voted for him anyway.

Now, the Forrester money. He has a 51% stake in Heartland Insurance Co., based in Washington D.C., which does most of its business in Our Fair State. Under NJ law, insurance companies and those with majority holdings in them are barred from contributing to political campaigns. But, Forrester is spending his own money in this race, as is Corzine. Forrester's campaign immediately defended him, saying Heartland "is a D.C. company. It is not regulated by the State of New Jersey," he said through his campaign spokeswoman, Sherry Sylvester. "The statute is not intended to reach beyond the boundaries of New Jersey." (quoted in Phily Inquirer article.) PoliticsNJ.com has posted these "documents" relating to the GOP candidate's financing of his campaign and donations to other campaigns. (To me they look like Dem talking points or another article.)

This one may be in (Dem state chairman)Bonnie Watson Coleman's dreams. It looks like one for the lawyers to sort through, but in the meantime, it'll be on the front pages. Steve Kornacki at Politics NJ takes a good look at the candidates' stances on this one, and it looks as if this story doesn't have too much teeth; Forrester's folks are rather confident and Corzine's folks aren't pushing too hard for a formal investigation. However, if it comes out that the law applies and Forrester can't donate to candidates or fund his race, the implications are huge. I find it interesting that the GOP is already trying to push it off the front page with this little "stick with your candidate" stunt.

But everyone likes to talk about the money, don't they?


Janet said...

Wasn't it Tom Cruise that said Show me the money?:)

Andrew said...

And Cuba Gooding, Jr., who was the one insisting that Cruise shout it repeatedly into the phone.

I have a feeling that they'll find Forrester's contributions to be legal because Heartland is a D.C. company. But it sounds like a technicality to me.

Bill Weber said...

The smarter move for Corzine would be to promise to recuse himself from negotiations with the union. I would believe he was sincere then, isn't that possible?
Personally, I find it reprehensible that the 9 members of that union in DYFS who lost their jobs because of starving a family of kids in South Jersey received their jobs back after the union intervened. It still sickens me to hear the "Commincations Workers of America".

DBK said...

These stories just break fast and furious sometimes. The Forrester story was that the insurance company was based outside of New Jersey, etc., but now he admits "the employees of his Washington, D.C., insurance company work in New Jersey, and the company's manager conceded its day-to-day business is conducted in the Garden State." (That's quoted from a piece on The Corzine Connection.)

Sharon GR said...

It was on the cover of The Times of Trenton today too. Andrew's right- if he gets away with it, it will be only on a technicality- but I'm less convinced today than I was yesterday that he will.

I see your point, Bill, that Corzine could offer to recuse himself to appear sincere. But I absolutely don't think it's necessary. If they're dating/married/sig. oths. or recently broken up and it comes up, you bet he should. But those union contracts won't come up for a while- YEARS after their breakup. I have confidence that most professionals can put a long-past breakup behind them and get on with business. Corzine didn't build a fortune by letting people sweet-talk him into what they want, I don't expect he'll start now.