There is an elegance to a completely corrupt political system that anyone with an artistic sensibility has to admire.
The case in point is disgraced LA venture capitalist Elliott Broidy and the nearly $1 million he used to buy influence and access so he could get his hands on hundreds of millions of dollars in public pension fund money.
That’s quite a return on his investment, something made easier by Broidy’s own role as an appointee of both Mayors Hahn and Villaraigosa to the Fire and Police Pension Fund board where he could influence decisions directly.
While Villaraigosa is busy in Copenhagen with his entourage of pals and bodyguards cleaning up the global environment, his staff back home was busy doing damage control by announcing he was giving the $2,000 Broidy gave him to an unspecified charity.
So are a lot of other politicians, none of whom, you can sure, had a clue about what Broidy or any of the others like him were up as they spread around political contributions and used the access they got in return to enrich themselves — roughly a 1,000 % return, showing just how cheap a buy the pols are, the WalMart’s of political corruption.
Not that any of them could possibly have known what was going on. That would make them criminals just like Broidy who is singing to prosecutors as loudly as he can to reduce or even avoid the four-year sentence he faces for outright bribery.
Like Villaraigosa, most of the others identified by the LA Times as recipients of Broidy money have found generosity in their hearts appropriate to this season of giving.
Here’s the list: Insurance Commissioner and GOP gubernatorial hopeful Steve Poizner, $22,000 to Toys for the Troops’ Kids, $12,000 back to Broidy and his wife; Board of Equalization member Michelle Steel, $6,000 to charity; Attorney General candidate Rocky Delgadillo, the former LA City Attorney, $3,000 to charity; Assemblyman Van Tran (R-Garden Grove) $1,800 to charity.
There was no comment from state Republican Party ($79,000), state Sen. Tony Strickland
(R-Thousand Oaks) and Assemblywoman Audra Strickland (R-Thousand Oaks) ($8,500 combined) and LA City Attorney
Carmen Trutanich ($2,000).
”Because there is that level of impropriety with that donor, it’s important we not spend that money on the campaign,” said Steel spokesman Tim Clark.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ($86,000) and Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) ($3,200) were more sanguine, saying the money was already spent.
It’s clear Broidy, a billionaire and finance chairman of the Republican National Committee in 2008, displayed no partisanship when it came to buying favors from politicians.
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who has spearheaded the pension fund scandal investigation, laid out in detail how Broidy bribed officials and manipulated the system to win $250 million in investments for his firm, Markstone Capital.
What isn’t clear is how Broidy got investments from CalPERS or the Fire and Police fund or whether authorities in LA or California are actually doing much to find out. All the action so far has come from Cuomo and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Politicians in California have to be really stupid to actually violate the laws they have written on public corruption which require a confession or at least a recording that shows they were directly giving favors for cash.
Perhaps Broidy or the others who have pleaded guilty will shed some light on what went on.
But don’t hold your breath. Attorney General Jerry Brown and District Attorney Steve Cooley have done nothing but acknowledge they are “reviewing” developments in the unfolding scandal.
That leaves it to the Feds. So the question is just how far will the Obama Administration go to find out the truth about what is largely a Democratic scandal in New York, New Mexico and California.
Don’t hold your breath. What usually happens is they find some fall guys in the private sector and close the case against public officials because of insufficient evidence.
The evidence of mismanagement of public employee pension funds is quite sufficient.
As Jack Humphreville reports on City Watch LA, the Fire and Police Fund — the one Broidy was part of — has seen its unfunded liability triple to $5.9 billion.
That will require up to 80 cents in pension payments by taxpayers for every dollar of payroll. The same is true of the two other city pension funds and CalPERS as well.
The politicians have given sweetheart deals to public employees that are not affordable. They took campaign contributions from the investment industry in exchange for investments of huge sums of public pension fund money.
That’s a crime that must be prosecuted if we are to restore public trust in our government.