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Have Ford Will Travel: Harold Ford to Challenge K. Gullibrand?

The darling of the DLCers might be on the road back. The model Harold Ford jalopy, which performed like an Edsel in the Tennessee Senate race in 2006, could see fresh life as a New Yorker.

According to The New York Times:

Encouraged by a group of influential New York Democrats, Harold Ford Jr., the former congressman from Tennessee, is weighing a bid to unseat Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand in this fall’s Democratic primary, according to three people who have spoken with him.

Mr. Ford, 39, who moved to New York three years ago, has told friends that he will decide whether to run in the next 45 days. The discussions between Mr. Ford and top Democratic donors reflect the dissatisfaction of some prominent party members with Ms. Gillibrand, who has yet to win over key constituencies, especially in New York City.

The same article cites about a dozen prominent (read people with boatloads of bucks) people who are supporting Ford. They include Steven Rattner, who with his wife, Maureen White, is a prominent fund raiser for the Democratic party. Others include the head of HBO, Richard Plepler; James Tisch, CEO of Loews Corp.; and perhaps even Michael Blomberg who the article notes "has tangled with Gillibrand."

Interesting to see how easily Ford, Chairman of the Centrist-Corporate Democratic Leadership Council, who lost an election in Tennessee, could become a Vice President of Merrill Lynch. The Times article notes Ford’s ties to Wall St.:

In New York, Mr. Ford took a job as vice chairman of Merrill Lynch, where he cultivated close ties to many of the Wall Street executives who are now encouraging him to run. A telegenic politician, he has also maintained a high profile through NBC and MSNBC, which feature him as a regular political commentator.

And why not? Merrill Lynch and NBC know how Harold Ford will vote on interests affecting them: he’ll always take the side of big corporations just like Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama, two other DLCers. The Times notes that Ford might have to retool himself on some issues like his opposition to gay marriage, but isn’t that essentially what Obama did too, the guy who sold himself as a "fierce defender" of the gay community only to turn into a toothless terrier? If Ford decides to challenge Gillibrand, and if he were to prevail (not really a sure thing given his poor showing in Tennessee in a Democratic year like 2006) one can only wonder what position Harold Ford would eventually take on DADT, DOMA and other such issues. Ford is another one of those Blue Dog types that Rahm and Obama are so fond of.

The Steven Rattner-Harold Ford-Obama-Rahm-Tim Geithner-Larry Summers connection is an especially interesting one (and one that might find itself the subject of a corruption investigation should the Republicans take over the House). Rattner comes from Wall St. and he’s the same guy Obama appointed in February as 2009 as lead adviser to the Treasury Department on the auto industry bailout although he had no expertise in car manufacturing. Then, a major scandal intervened, as reported in a separate New York Times article:

Named a lead adviser to the Treasury Department on the auto industry bailout… Mr. Rattner is leaving the post at a time when an investigation into his former Wall Street firm’s role in a scandal involving public pension funds has intensified. …

Mr. Rattner counseled Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and Lawrence H. Summers, the director of the National Economic Council, on reorganization efforts by General Motors and Chrysler, two carmakers receiving federal bailout money.

In April, Mr. Rattner, although unnamed, was described in Securities and Exchange Commission documents as having arranged for his investment firm, the Quadrangle Group, to pay more than $1 million to obtain New York State pension business. The S.E.C. complaint, filed as part of an expansive state and federal investigation into corruption at the state pension fund, details the efforts of Quadrangle to gain business from the pension fund beginning in 2004.

Edward Jay Epstein over at the Daily Beast provides more information how this scamming of retirement funds benefited certain people and groups:

New York state investigators may yet unravel one of the more intriguing mysteries of new financial order: why officials in charge of pension funds and endowment funds outsourced more than $100 billion of other people’s money to buyout partnerships. These institutions, in fact, provided about three-quarters of all the investment equity used by the top 100 private-equity firms to fuel the leveraged buyout craze of 2004-2008. In 2006 alone, the 10 largest, led by Calpers, the New York State Common Retirement Fund, and the Washington State Investment Board, sunk over $101 billion into private-equity partnerships. These groups, after borrowing another 60 to 70 percent for leverage, would then buy entire businesses with the aim of re-organizing and re-selling them.

He goes on to describe how New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is investigating the matter and Rattner’s involvement in it:

One part of this investigation involves the activities of the Quadrangle Group, a private-equity firm co-founded by Steven Rattner, the veteran dealmaker and Democratic Party fundraiser, who is now serving at the Treasury Department as President Obama’s auto-industry czar. What has brought it into focus is a Securities and Exchange Commission report describing how in late 2004, just prior to getting $100 million from New York’s pension fund, a “senior executive” at Quadrangle made an arrangement with a politically connected “consultant” acting as a placement agent. The executive was then identified as Rattner and the consultant as Henry “Hank” Morris, a top adviser to then-New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi. Afterward, Quadrangle paid a $1.1 million placement fee to a small firm, Searle & Co., with which Morris was affiliated. In addition, Quadrangle had one of its subsidiaries pay $88,841 for the DVD rights to Chooch, a low-budget movie that had been co-produced in 2004 by David Loglisci, New York’s deputy comptroller, who was the top investment officer of its pension fund. (In March 2009, both Morris and Loglisci were charged in a 123-count criminal indictment with “enterprise corruption” in regard to selling access to New York’s pension fund. Both men, through their lawyers, deny the charge.)

So Rattner essentially is close to hoods duded up in Wall St. clothes, who appear to have been attempting to suck the life blood out of New York pensions. Quadrangle faced potential civil charges and was "eager to settle" according to the Times. I wonder why?

He and his wife, Ms. White, says the Times:

together have been referred to by New York magazine as the "D.N.C.’s A.T.M.," have been the hosts of many Democratic fund-raisers at their lavish apartment on Fifth Avenue.

Doesn’t this all give you confidence in Harold Ford Jr. and his ability and willingness to fight for average Americans? It would be almost worth the price of admission to see what Obama’s skillful and manipulative public relations team could re-make Harold Ford Jr. into. Maybe: "Put a Ford to Work for You". Or, "Step up for Change to a Ford"! Or even, "Harold=Hope"? Any team that could gussy up the pig of a bill that is being sold as "insurance reform" should have no trouble with the good looking Ford, even as it had no trouble passing off the inexperienced junior senator from Illinois as an agent of change and reform.

Another article, in NYMag, calls Rattner "the saddest little billionaire on fifth avenue." Why? Because this ambitious man, who once worked for Morgan Stanley, only achieved number two status at investment bank, Lazard Freres, and he didn’t get the Treasury Secretaryship he wanted. But I guess owning and manipulating Harold Ford as a Senator would be a trophy for this slime ball. As shown in the Godfather, having a top politician like a Senator on the payroll also tends to discourage investigations. Note too that Rattner has a connection to Mayor Bloomberg because Rattner manages Bloomberg’s vast fortune.

So what would be good for Bloomberg would be good for Rattner would be good for Harold Ford. Too bad that what is good for Harold Ford and company would not be good for average New Yorkers or the American population at large.

It’s the Obama-Rahm-Tim Geithner story written all over again: billions for Wall St. and especially banks, billions for bailouts, billions for wars and expansion of American Empire and bread and circuses for the masses.

New York state doesn’t need another Edsel Ford, especially one with a carpet bagger interior.

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