The AP is reporting that Obama’s campaign is wooing an important cog in Hillary Clinton’s New York machine. [Hat tip: Curry]
Just because New York’s former state comptroller is backing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton doesn’t mean rival Sen. Barack Obama can’t call.
H. Carl McCall said Thursday that Obama is trying to make inroads on Clinton’s home turf, and he was among the Democrats to hear from Obama’s campaign. McCall ran for governor in 2002, the state’s first black candidate for governor from a major political party.
Who is Carl McCall? Well, he’s connected to Joe Cari and Stu Levine, two prominent players in Illinois corruption. Cari and McCall were managing directors for HealthPoint Partners, which made a full-on press in Illinois and California for pension fund investments in their firm. Levine was the power at the Illinois Teachers Retirement System board of directors.
HealthPoint held a 2003 fundraiser in New York City for Gov. Rod Blagojevich that still has people scratching their heads with wonder because right after the funder, HealthPoint got some big investments from Levine’s Teachers Retirement System.
HealthPoint Partners, a New York investment firm, held a fund-raiser for Blagojevich at the Harvard Club of New York City on Oct. 29, 2003. It was one of three money-raising events for the governor in New York that day, and his campaign stressed HealthPoint had nothing to do with the other two.
Two days later, TRS voted to invest $15 million with HealthPoint, following up on a $20 million investment it made with the firm in April 2003.
Former TRS board member Stuart Levine paid for the private plane that flew Blagojevich to New York, but Blagojevich flew home separately. Also aboard the flight there was prominent Chicago lawyer Joseph Cari, who at the time was a HealthPoint managing director.
Levine and Cari have since been indicted in the TRS corruption probe, and the Blagojevich campaign has returned or donated to charity the cost of the flight and all other contributions the two gave — nearly $20,000 total. The $3,500 HealthPoint spent on meals for the event also has been donated.
Not mentioned in the article is that McCall reportedly organized a second fundraiser on that trip at an exclusive New York club.
Levine’s juice in the Blagojevich administration was Tony Rezko. Rezko was scheduled to be on the New York flight with the governor and his pals, but mega Blagojevich fundraiser Chris Kelly went instead.
And then there’s this.
Remember that Joe Cari was the first person to describe to the feds a “fundraising scheme” involving Public Official A and two of his henchmen, since revealed to be Blagojevich, Kelly and Rezko. The scheme essentially involved using the teachers pension fund to raise campaign cash.
One of Carl McCall’s major political patrons was James A. Harmon, an international financier whom Clinton appointed chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. Harmon also sat on the global advisory board of an outfit called J. E. Robert Companies, an asset and real-estate management company based in McLean, Virginia. Harmon’s daughter, Deborah, was president of the company.
J. E. Robert had solicited the teachers’ retirement board for an $85-million investment, and McCall phoned Levine on Harmon’s behalf. Here is where the fundraising scheme described by Cari allegedly came into play. Levine, Cari says in his plea agreement, was willing to use his sway on the teachers’ pension board to award $85 million to J. E. Robert if, in return, the company would hire a consultant of Levine’s choice (which turned out to be for 1 per-cent of the investmentâ€”$850,000). Cari claimed the consultant would then contribute some of the money he or she made (without doing any work) to certain political or charitable organizations â€œas directed by Levine.â€
McCall indirectly popped up in Illinois news again last month.
A state pension fund has decided to postpone dropping minority-owned money manager Ariel Capital Management LLC for poor investment performance, after lobbying by two state senators and a former aide to Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
The Illinois State Board of Investment (ISBI), which had decided to terminate Ariel at the end of this month, voted last Friday to keep Ariel through the end of next year as a mutual fund investment option for self-directed state employee pension plans. […]
Top ISBI officials were contacted by state Sens. James Meeks and Don Trotter, both Chicago Democrats, and by Cheryle Jackson, who recently left the Blagojevich administration to become president of the Chicago Urban League, where two Ariel executives are directors.
McCall sits on Ariel’s board of trustees.
One of the reasons McCall lost his 2002 race for New York governor were allegations like this:
During the gubernatorial campaign, Republicans unearthed letters McCall had written to executives of companies in which the fund was invested. These documents, written on official letterhead, sought jobs for three family members.
In the most egregious example, McCall wrote to Verizon executive Fred Salerno congratulating him on the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX.
â€˜I am particularly pleased because New Yorkâ€™s Retirement Fund, which I manage, owns 3,833,300 shares of the combined companies,â€™ McCall wrote. â€˜I hope you will keep me informed of your progress, and call me if I can help in any way. Under separate cover, I am sending the resume we discussed.â€™
Months later, McCallâ€™s daughter was hired as a â€˜specialist.â€™ She was terminated in early 2001 after improper personal use of a company credit card and later charged with larceny, according to the September 27, 2002 edition of the New York Post.
As noted above, HealthPoint, through McCall and Cari, were also involved in a big push for pension fund investments in California.
State Controller and gubernatorial candidate Steve Westly steered California’s giant pension system to invest in a fledgling venture capital fund whose politically connected partners helped him raise campaign cash.
Before Westly’s involvement, the pension board’s outside advisors had rejected the fund as ill-suited for its portfolio. After the investment was made, one of the partners became enmeshed in an unrelated pension-fund scandal in Illinois, pleading guilty to attempted extortion.
If Obama is gonna run as a breath of fresh air, then the campaign needs to vet their contacts a bit better. Or at least stop bragging to the press about them.