Thursday, September 3, 2009
Pension fund is Thompson's Achilles heel
The Daily News has a story titled, “Some doubt Mayoral hopeful Bill Thompson can escape pension fund scandal mess”
The Village Voice has a story titled, “Thompson's Pension Pals: A Wound waiting to be Re-Opened”
And True News has a story Titled, “Wolf at Thompson Door, Part II: Avella Opens a Cut”
The stories go on to note that when mayoral candidate Councilman Tony Avella was given the opportunity to pose his opponent City Comptroller Bill Thompson a direct question in last weeks first Democratic debate, he didn’t pull any punches. Avella asked Thompson flat out if he were under investigation for his role in the Pensiongate scandal because two of Thompson’s top deputies left their jobs in the City Comptroller’s office and then promptly set up a private company which received contracts to manage millions of dollars of the City’s pension fund. Avella also pointed that both of those former employees Josh Wolf-Powers and Adam Blumenthal were now major donors to Thompson’s campaign for Mayor.
Thompson denied he was under investigation, but the facts that have come out to date in the newspapers about the Pensiongate scandal cast serious doubt of Thompson’s denial. Wolf-Powers, a former top aide to Thompson, and Blumenthal, who served as First Deputy Comptroller and CFO from 2002-2005, left their jobs at the Comptroller’s office in 2005 to co found the company Blue Wolf Capital Management right after Wolf-Powers rewrote the rules in the Comptroller’s office to ease restrictions on private money managers gaining access to the City’s retirement funds. In the coming years, Blue Wolf Capital received $60 million from the City’s pension funds to invest, yielding Blue Wolf $500,000 in fees. Then Wolf-Powers donated the maximum amount of $10,000 to Thompson’s while Blumenthal gave $4,050 and Blue Wolf Management as a corporate entity donated $4,950.
But Wolf-Powers’ central role in the Pensiongate scandal extends beyond this clear-cut illustration of pay for play between Blue Wolf Management and the City Comptroller’s office. According to a April 21st, 2009 article in the New York Times, it was Wolf-Powers, when he was still working in the Comptroller’s office, who advised Steven Rattner’s private equity firm Quadrangle Group to hire Hank Morris as his “placement agent” if Quadrangle wanted to get the New York City pension fund to invest money with Rattner’s company. The New York Post revealed on April 23rd, 2009 that Quadrangle subsequently received $85 million from the City pension fund to manage and failed to report that it had hired Morris as a placement agent. Morris has since been indicted for his role in the Pensiongate fund scandal and Rattner had to quietly resign his role as President Obama’s “Car Czar” under a growing cloud of suspicion about his involvement with Morris and Wolf-Powers.
After the debate, Avella brushed aside Thompson’s denial, saying that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. “How can Thompson claim his office is clean, when according to the New York Times, it appears that the Rattner Morris four state pension fund crime spree was launched inside Thompson’s office?” asked Avella. “As soon as the media starts really probing Thompson’s connection to the abuse and theft of hundreds of millions of dollars of City workers’ hard earned money, his campaign is going to unravel in disgrace and Bloomberg will win a third term by default. We, Democrats, have already embarrassed ourselves enough this year with the shameful shenanigans in Albany. We can’t afford to let the City’s Democratic Party crumble in scandal too.”
And with Howard Wolfson waiting to pounce on Thompson with a campaign called, “Kill Bill” the question has to be asked, Can Bill Thompson clear his name before the primary? I do not think he can. So the next question is, do we want to elect him to run against Bloomberg? I believe that Tony Avella is the only person who can beat Bloomberg. If Tony defeats Thompson it would be Bloomberg’s worst nightmare, a candidate that has none of the baggage Bill Thompson has. Tony Avella has the fire and desire to be our Mayor. He would clean up the scandals at City Hall and return decision making to us! Democrats have a big decision on Primary day, Lets make the right one.
Vote for Tony Avella on Primary day. It’s looking more and more like Thompson has no chance to win.