Defending Steven Rattner
Friday, December 10, 2010 - 01:40 PM
Ira Stoll says Andrew Cuomo is acting like Eliot Spitzer when it comes to prosecuting Steven Rattner:
However sinister Mr. Cuomo makes this all sound, none of it amounts to Mr. Rattner doing anything wrong. The investment, far from harming the state pension fund, actually performed relatively well. From March 2005 to September 2009, the net internal rate of return for the Rattner-managed fund in which the state invested was +4.6%. That's a period for which the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 8% and the S&P 500 was down 11%. Since then, the Quadrangle fund's returns have grown to about 7%.
It's the memorandum of law arguing for that ban in which Mr. Cuomo goes most over the top. On not one, not two, not three, but four occasions, Mr. Rattner had answered questions posed by Mr. Cuomo's lawyers. At the fifth meeting, Mr. Rattner exercised his Fifth Amendment right under the Constitution. "He expressly declined to answer based on his exercise of his Fifth Amendment rights," Mr. Cuomo's memo says, "Rattner's refusal to answer sixty-eight material questions in a Martin Act inquiry constitutes prima facie proof that he has been engaged in the fraudulent practices set forth in the complaint." If exercising the Fifth Amendment to avoid a prosecutor's perjury trap is seen as "prima facie proof" of guilt, we may as well repeal the Fifth Amendment, because it's no longer worth the parchment on which it's written.
The disparate treatment has given rise to quiet speculation that the attorney general is mad at Mr. Rattner and Mr. Rattner's wife for siding with Kerry Kennedy in the Kennedy-Cuomo divorce or that Mr. Cuomo is peeved that Mr. Rattner rebuffed all of Mr. Cuomo's efforts to solicit him and never gave a penny to his campaign, putting Mr. Cuomo in the rare position of being a high ranking Democrat in New York to whom Mr. Rattner had never contributed. Spokesmen for Mr. Cuomo did not respond to my questions about that, though Mr. Cuomo himself has dismissed as "laughable" the idea that his treatment of Mr. Rattner is politically motivated.