Bernard Madoff has been crowded out of the MSM’s political coverage. Granted they have Blago-gate which is simply unbeatable for human drama, political deception and comedy gold, but the lack of attention to the political aspects of the Madoff story, one might suspect, has something to do with the fact that he was a Democratic donor, a huge one. The chances of him becoming the next Ken Lay are slim — he’s a problem for “our side,” as far as the liberal press is concerned.
Politico is one of the only outlets to explain Madoff’s lobbying and political donations. First on the lobbying front:
The lobbying effort was just one of the ways Madoff peddled influence in Washington. His brother, Peter, is the senior managing director of Madoff Investment Securities, and he’s serving his second term on the board of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, a lobbying group that represents financial services firms.
Bernard Madoff sat of the board of directors of the Securities Industry Association, an advocacy group that merged with the Bond Market Association in 2006 to form SIFMA. The two Madoff brothers have given $56,000 to the lobbying organization over the past nine years.
But that’s a drop in the bucket:
The Madoffs were also hefty donors to political candidates. In total, the Madoff family has donated more than $380,000 to political candidates, parties and political action committees since 1993, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The giving skewed largely Democratic, although donations were made to several Republicans, including scandal-ridden Rep. Vito J. Fossella (R-N.Y.).
One of the largest recipients of Madoff largess was Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who received $39,000 from the family for his two Senate races. Bernard Madoff has given an additional $100,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee since Schumer took its helm in 2005.
If the allegations against him are true, Madoff, the former chairman of the Nasdaq stock market, could be guilty of the largest financial fraud ever. And he may have defrauded an A-list group of clients that includes real estate magnate Mortimer Zuckerman, the foundation of Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel and a charity of movie director Steven Spielberg, according to The Wall Street Journal.
In his lobbying efforts, Madoff “had the same kind of interests that you would expect any other major Wall Street player to have. … His focus was on market structure,” [Maddoff lobbyist Norman] Lent said, noting that the lobbying “was related to the broker-dealer part of his business.”
Forms on file with the Senate show that Lent and the other lobbyists were also interested in “market data fees” and “monitoring congressional oversight hearings [regarding] financial markets and market regulation developments.”
Lent declined to provide more specifics into Madoff’s legislative concerns, but the 70-year-old financier clearly had a lot at stake on Capitol Hill and before Washington regulatory agencies.
Needless to say there is a big story here, akin to Enron’s political wheeling and dealing. It would seem some major oversight hearings are in order to determine how the SEC failed to catch Madoff and how he may have deflected or impeded regulatory steps or legislation which could have uncovered his crime. But first, all of those politicians who accepted his donations need to give back the money. (Sens. Schumer and Lautenberg have said they would, but the Democratic Senate Campaign Committe says it is “under review.”) Perhaps they could give some of it to the Jewish charities wiped out by Madoff’s scam.