Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Barbarians at the political club gate! Wall Streeter makes a grab for a New York State Assembly seat the old fashioned way – with a brutally cold-blooded raid.

What's the difference between a barbarian,
a corporate raider, and a political raider?
Read on and you'll learn: not much.

Now comes the next question. Is the raider really a Democrat? Or is he a Republican or a Tea Party vandal in sheep’s clothing?

In the beginning, there were the barbarians. Not the Wall Street kind. I’m talking about the good old-fashioned kind, the ones with the swords, and the maces, and the spears, and the battering rams, and the flaming torches.

They found a target. They attacked. They burned. They raped. They killed. They pillaged. They took what they wanted and then moved on, leaving another hapless corner of civilization in ruins as they went.

Their destructive, merciless, and ultimately unredeeming method of filling theirs pockets – and passing along barbarian DNA by getting to rape women as a fringe benefit – was so unforgettable and so reviled for its anti-social brutality that it its perpetrators have lent their name to other forms of anti-social behavior ever since. These have ranged from a moniker for litterbugs in a 1960s public service advertising campaign, to the perpetrators of hostile corporate takeovers.

Wall Street barbarians:
equally barbaric for their time

You know the quintessential impression of a corporate takeover: the raider grabs a company by making its stockholders an offer they can’t refuse. Then the barbarian rapes the company, breaks it up into little pieces, ships jobs overseas, throws loyal workers with years of experience out into the street, sells off the corporate pieces like a barbarian selling off prisoners at a slave market, pockets his profits, and then moves on.

Now a Wall Street investment banker has brought almost the same technique, and certainly the same lack of conscience, to Manhattan politics.

The victim in this instance is a middle-of-the-road Democratic Party political organization called the Lenox Hill Democratic Club, in Manhattan’s chic “silk stocking district” on the Upper East Side. And the perpetrator of an entirely new variety of political travesty, according to press reports in two different newspapers, is a Wall Street investment banker named Gus Christensen.

The man who bought the votes

A story in the New York Daily News, reports that Christensen wrote a lots of small checks “to cover the dues of his pals who joined the Lenox Hill Democratic Club.”  Incidentally, it’s probably the cheapest political putsch in history. He bought control of the club for $2,600, says the Daily News. A similar report appeared in a chain of Manhattan neighborhood newspapers called The New York Press.

The new voting club “members” evidently had little or no interest in strengthening the future of the Democratic Party. In fact, says the Daily News, among them are “some who neither live on the East Side nor belong to the Democratic Party.”

By packing the membership rolls and outnumbering the legitimate and mostly long-term club members, Christensen, newly married for the second time, got himself elected to the presidency of the club.

This is important because in New York, the local political clubs supply the manpower to solicit signatures for nominating petitions of candidates for office. The Daily News reports “Christensen has aspirations to run for State Asssembly in the 76th district, and presumably will use Lenox Hill as a springboard for his campaign.”

Christensen’s former firm
aids corporate raiders

Where does this political barbarian get his bright ideas? Well, a quick check of his former investment banking firm, Evercore Partners, reveals that Evercore is no stranger to the corporate raiding business. While it has worked both sides of the street, advising some raiders and some defenders against raids, in the last few years it’s worth nothing that it has “advised” on a number of high profile attacks.

Specifically, Evercore advised International Paper Company in its hostile takeover of Temple Inland, a large manufacturer of containerboard. It also advised NASDAQ on a hostile takeover bid for The New York Stock Exchange and Euronext.

One wonders, given his Wall Street associations and his roundup of paid non-Democrats to overwhelm the vote in a Democratic club, whether Christensen is even a Democrat himself.

A secret Tea Party operative?

 Christensen’s evidently total lack of regard for his fellow Democrats causes me to wonder. Could Christensen actually be another kind of character from the not-always-mythical past, a wolf in sheep’s clothing? A Trojan Horse? How do we know his private agenda isn’t that of an ultra-conservative Republican? Or a Tea Party stalwart? Of an abortion rights buster, or an NRA gun nut, or a Club For Growther? We can’t, because even if he ever denies it, who can trust the word of a smash-and-grab political raider?

However, Christensen evently doesn’t even trust himself to say where he stands. He’s simply not talking.

“Christensen declined repeated interview requests, and a spokesman would not directly address club members’ complaints that Christensen stacked the deck before the club’s vote,” the Daily News reported


Cirze said...

We know them by their actions.

And should take action in kind?

Anonymous said...

If it walks like a duck, talks like a rule, whoever has the most money, don't vote for him/////her.

Anonymous said...

Apparently its now confirmed that he was a Republican until 2008.