- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Sen. Tom Daschle's appointment of Sen. Jon Corzine to head the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) is chocked full of irony. For the second time in less than two years, the DSCC will be headed by a New Jerseyan. Mr. Corzine succeeds Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, who replaced Sen. Robert Torricelli of New Jersey, who gave up his bid for re-election this year after the Senate Ethics Committee concluded that he had improperly accepted cash and gifts from a political contributor.

Less than two years before he was forced to end his re-election bid in disgrace, Mr. Torricelli was riding high thanks to his remarkable success at the helm of the DSCC during the 2000 election cycle. Even as the Democrats lost the White House that November, they picked up four Senate seats, bringing their total to 50 and putting themselves in position to become the majority party after Jim Jeffords of Vermont defected from the Republican Party last year. All of this made Mr. Torricelli quite popular with fellow Senate Democrats at least until the Ethics Committee's July 30 rebuke, which triggered the political demise of "The Torch."

No senator was closer to Mr. Torricelli than Mr. Corzine. Two years ago, Mr. Corzine, the former head of Goldman Sachs, spent $60 million of his own money to win election to the Senate with 50.1 percent of the vote. Since coming to Washington, Mr. Corzine looked to Mr. Torricelli as a political mentor. Mr. Corzine campaigned for Mr. Torricelli this year, touting his service to the state even as the press began to focus on the latter's receipt of gifts and contributions from David Chang, who was serving an 18-month federal prison sentence for obstruction of justice and making $53,700 in illegal contributions to Mr. Torricelli's 1996 Senate campaign.

In addition to Mr. Corzine, many of Mr. Torricelli's other Democratic colleagues rallied to his defense. Roll Call reported that Mr. Daschle enlisted numerous senators, among them Patrick Leahy and Joseph Biden, in an orchestrated campaign to publicly question the motives of the Justice Department investigation. Mr. Torricelli's defense fund received the maximum allowable contribution of $10,000 each from the DSCC, the Democratic National Committee, House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt and Mr. Corzine.

Mr. Corzine, though, is no stranger to controversy himself, as Goldman Sachs has come under scrutiny for its role in the stock-market bubble on his watch. A class-action lawsuit filed last year charged that Goldman Sachs underwriters were involved in manipulating numerous initial public offerings when Mr. Corzine was in charge. Nicholas Maier, syndicate manager at the Wall Street firm Cramer & Co., told Security and Exchange Commission investigators that Goldman Sachs routinely forced him to buy stocks at inflated prices if he wanted to participate in the red-hot initial public offering market.

While Mr. Corzine denies any such involvement by Goldman Sachs, and the courts will have to determine the truth of the matter, there is no question about his firm's role in the Enron debacle. No investment bank on Wall Street earned more in underwriting fees from Enron since 1986 than Goldman Sachs, or was more absurdly bullish on the company over a long period of time than Goldman Sachs.

We hope for the Democrats (and, more generally, the causes of good government and clean elections) that Sen. Corzine has learned a few ethical lessons from what happened to Enron and Mr. Torricelli.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide