Rattner and Rangel

November 18, 2010 12:31:45 PM PST
It's all about power. And if you have any doubts about that, just look at what happened today to two New Yorkers.

Let's start with Steve Rattner, the investment banker who was also the so-called "auto czar" for the Obama administration. Rattner today settled a lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission by paying $6.2 million and banishment from the securities business for two years.

At the same time, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed two suits against Rattner, demanding that he return $26 million and be banned from the securities industry for life.

The cases center on alleged kickbacks paid by Rattner to get $150 million in investments for his Quadrangle company from the New York State retirement fund.

I'm no lawyer, but I suspect if the average Joe were accused of paying bribes to get a piece of a public retirement fund, he would be spending some time in prison. Perhaps a long time.

Mr. Rattner, whose firm reportedly manages the fortunes of Michael Bloomberg, has become feisty with Mr. Cuomo's suit. He said he settled the SEC suit, but he's not going to be bullied by the Attorney General (who will soon become the Governor).

But settling a federal lawsuit for $6.2 million means that he has already acknowledged some wrongdoing for the same acts that Mr. Cuomo is alleging.

And so what lesson are we to impart to our children for all this?

That's what's stuck in my mind today. If the lesson is that bribing and cutting corners will get you just a fine (and while $6.2 million is substantial, Mr. Rattner by all public accounts will have no trouble writing the check), then the consequences of wrongdoing seem not very substantial.

I'm just sayin'.

There's another example of this, in the person of veteran New York Congressman Charles Rangel. He could have faced expulsion from Congress at the punishment phase of his ethics hearings. But instead he's been censured, which amounts to something more than a slap on the wrist. Like two slaps on the wrist.

We're interested in your takes on these two cases. Send me your thoughts by CLICKING HERE .

We're also digging into the latest proposed drastic budget cuts by Mayor Bloomberg, as New York City faces yet another budget gap of $3.3 billion. Every City department is affected, but even with the Mayor's proposed slashings, the gap would still be $2.4 billion.


Also at 11, our Darla Miles takes a look at childhood obesity because it's more than just a frightening phrase. One recent study found an extraordinarily high number of youngsters with high cholesterol. How does this happen? And how can we reverse it?

We'll have the latest on both Rattner and Rangel, tonight at 11.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Lee Goldberg with his AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark will have the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.


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