Obama’s ‘great friend’ and ‘ally’ gets a golden parachute

C.J. Ciaramella Contributor
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Former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine is out of a job now that the Wall Street firm he headed, MF Global, has gone bankrupt, but don’t worry. He’ll be just fine.

Corzine has a couple of things to keep him out of the unemployment line. First, he’s a “great friend” and “ally” of President Barack Obama, as the president himself has said.

And second, he’s expected to receive a $12.1 million severance package — the kind of things that critics of Wall Street excess, like Obama, often call “golden parachutes.”

In a 2008 campaign ad, Obama attacked then-GOP presidential candidate John McCain for his ties to campaign adviser and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who was paid a little more than $20 million in severance.

“You’ve got corporate executives who are giving themselves million dollar golden parachutes and leaving workers high and dry,” Obama said in the 2008 ad. “That’s wrong. It’s an outrage.”

In February, 2009, Obama pledged to take “the air out of golden parachutes” by capping executive pay of companies receiving federal bailout money at $500,000.

But don’t expect President Obama to take the air out of Corzine’s sails any time soon.

Corzine — also a former Goldman Sachs chairman — is one of Obama’s point men for reaching out to Wall Street. Corzine co-hosted an Obama fundraiser at his house in April where tickets sold for a cool $35,800 a piece. He was also present at a White House meeting between Obama and two dozen Wall Street execs and longtime donors.

Overall, Corzine has raised more than $500,000 for Obama’s re-election campaign.

But here’s the president, in his own words:

  • “First of all, I’m going to have a lot to say about this guy, but I just want everybody to know that one of my earliest supporters, somebody who had faith and confidence in me before I was a United States senator was the man standing next to me right here — Jon Corzine,” Obama said.
  • “I’m among a lot of friends and I, first of all, obviously want to thank Jon and Sharon for hosting us in this extraordinary venue,” Obama said. “These guys have been just great friends from the start. Some of you know that Jon was a big supporter of mine in my first U.S. Senate race when nobody could pronounce my name.”
  • “And Jon Corzine wasn’t just the first governor to pass an economic recovery plan for his state; he was an ally in helping the federal government, my administration, develop the national recovery plan,” Obama said.

In addition to bankruptcy woes, MF Global is also being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the FBI for misplacing hundreds of millions of dollars in customer money.


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