ETHICS CHARGES FILED AGAINST CORZINE
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2005 CONTACT: CARL MAYER
ETHICS COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST CORZINE
CRIMINAL PENALTIES, INCLUDING JAIL, APPLY
CAMPAIGN BESET BY ETHICAL PROBLEMS
USES ENRON ACCOUNTING FOR HIS OWN CASH
Here is how Jon Corzine described himself to eminent journalist William Greider in an interview in the nation magazine on September 11, 2002: “ a senator now who is interested in absolutely making sure, particularly in the current environment, that we have transparency and openness…”
“Jon Corzine broke his word to be open and honest about his financial dealings. Jon Corzine’s campaign for Governor has amounted to one ethical and dishonest misstep after another,” said Carl Mayer, a Princeton attorney who on Thursday, September 1, 2005 filed an ethics complaint against United States Senator Jon Corzine in the offices of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics in the Hart Senate office building.
“Corzine’s campaign chair is under investigation by the United States Attorney’s office. The largest recipient of Corzine’s largesse – New Jersey Boss George Norcross – is also under investigation. Corzine’s would be business partner Charles Kushner is in jail. Corzine has failed to honor his promise to place his assets in a blind trust. He lied about giving money to a New Jersey minister. Robert Torricelli, the disgraced ex-Senator is de facto running his campaign. And now we believe he has broken the law,” continued Mayer.
The substance of the complaint is that Senator Corzine failed to disclose, as required by the Senate Code of Conduct, a half million dollar mortgage loan that he made to his girlfriend Carla Katz in 2002 when Corzine was still married. Katz is the president of the largest union in the state representing state employees. Her union endorsed Senator Corzine for Governor after receiving the mortgage loan. As reported in New York magazine, former Senator Robert Torricelli introduced Corzine and Katz.
The substance of the complaint is similar to that brought against Senator Robert Torricelli who was stiffly rebuked by the Senate Ethics Committee for taking illegal gifts from convicted felon David Chang. Torricelli was the last Senator to be so censured, in a move that ultimately forced Torricelli to abandon his re-election efforts.
“The only difference between this case and the Torricelli case is that Robert Torricelli was caught taking bribes and not disclosing them and Jon Corzine has been caught giving bribes and not disclosing them,” said Carl Mayer, a New Jersey attorney who filed the complaint.
The complaint alleges that Corzine’s failure to disclose his assets was wide-ranging and intentional, subjecting the Senator to criminal penalties. “What did Senator Corzine own and when did he own it?” asked Mayer. “This is the most basic question that the Senate rules require each Senator to answer and Corzine has violated those rules by not disclosing.”
“Who would have believed that the Democratic Party, which historically stood for Main Street against Wall Street would tap as one of its emerging leader a Wall Street banker who helped engineer some of the greatest financial crimes in American history,” said Mayer.
Mayer said that Corzine’s deceptions began at his former investment bank, Goldman Sachs.
-- The Wall Street Journal criticized Corzine and Goldman Sachs for inventing their own peculiar device for Enron back in 1993 with a similar purpose--the "monthly income preferred shares" (or MIPS) that enabled Enron to sell fifty-year securities through an entity it created on a Caribbean island. For tax purposes, Enron described the preferred stock as "debt" and claimed tax deductions on the interest payments to investors. For shareholder reports, Enron called it "equity" that supposedly boosted the company's capital value. As Goldman's chairman, Corzine joined the lobbying efforts to overturn the Treasury Department's objections to this novel device. He signed an industry letter to members of Congress, urging them to keep the regulators off their backs, and Treasury eventually gave up the fight. The device is now used by other companies to raise somewhat cheaper capital offshore and, in the same stroke, reduce their US tax obligations.
-- Goldman Sachs has performed investment banking for such clients as Enron, Tyco and Worldcom. Executives of these companies, Kenneth Lay, Dennis Kozlowski, and John Sidgmore, respectively, received IPO shares from Goldman Sachs. The firm is suspected of having offered these and other investment banking clients large portions of IPO shares in return for their continued business.
-- Goldman paid millions in fines to settle charges brought by the SEC and NY State.
Carl J. Mayer is an attorney and formerly served on the town council in Princeton, New Jersey. He is the author of “Shakedown: The Fleecing of The Garden State.