Politico.com has concluded a groundbreaking investigation into the cars owned President Obama's cabinet members and top aides. And what did they find? A very sorry state of affairs, that's what. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is the proud owner of a 2008 entry-level Acura TSX, and he previously owned a 1999 Honda Accord, none of which is entirely surprising considering he's worked government jobs his whole life, has an atrociously designed home, and has lousy taste in ties, too. Larry Summers, however, will have a harder time excusing his 1995 Mazda Protégé (or his previous car, a 1996 Ford Taurus GL), since he worked for David Shaw's hedge fund for long enough to invest in a 3-series BMW (at least one that was manufactured at a plant in the U.S.) Naturally, the one person noticeably absent from Politico's list is the one that matters most: Steve Rattner, the man appointed by President Obama to redeem the American auto industry. But it's not all that complicated to determine at least one of the cars in Rattner's fleet. The couple's 2006 black Mercedes-Benz 350 (New York license plate #CSL1498!) was entered into the public record when his wife, Maureen White, was arrested for drunk driving last October.
It looks like financier Steve Rattner's long-held dream of going to Washington has been dashed once again. In 2000, Rattner was on Al Gore's short list for Treasury secretary; more recently, he made a big bet on Hillary Clinton's candidacy, only turning his fundraising prowess to assist Barack Obama's campaign after Clinton dropped out of the race. But now it seems the one job in the Obama administration that Rattner was in the running for—as the nation's "car czar"—is no more. Obama has indicated he no longer plans to appoint a single person to oversee the auto industry, leaving the task to several of his key advisors. No word on whether Rattner's little scandal last week had anything to do with the president's decision, but feel free to let your conspiracy theories run wild. [NYT]
Last October, Maureen White, the former finance chair for the Democratic National Committee and wife of Steve Rattner, was arrested for drunk driving. According to the police report, White was pulled over in her Mercedes at the Throgs Neck Bridge and failed a field sobriety test, registering a blood-alcohol level that was twice the legal limit. (She subsequently pleaded guilty to the charges, paid a fine, and had her driver's license suspended for 90 days.) That the Democratic fundraiser and wife of one of the city's most prominent financiers had been arrested was certainly news, and the Daily News covered the arrest a day later in an article titled "Democratic Money Queen in Booze Bust." But the paper pulled the article down soon after—it was originally located here—and now we know why. A source inside the News tells us the order came from "the very top," namely Daily News publisher Mort Zuckerman.
Steve Rattner is the very prominent financier, the man who manages Michael Bloomberg's money, and a leading candidate to fill the post of "car czar" in the Obama administration. The nomination process, however, has stalled in recent weeks, according to today's Journal, and now there's a possible explanation for the delay: Rattner's wife, Maureen White, was arrested for drunk driving in October. Ironic, yes, and probably most unwelcome news for President Obama considering how many controversies have already been stirred up by his nominations over the past few days. But there's another layer of mystery to the story.
More trouble seems to be brewing for Steve Rattner, the mega-financier who runs Quadrangle Capital and the man responsible for managing Michael Bloomberg's vast fortune. Last week the firm announced plans to shut down a $500 million hedge fund focused on media investments after the value of the fund declined and investors started demanding their money back. Now comes word that Quadrangle's magazine holdings are in trouble. In 2007, Quadrangle paid $250 million for Alpha Media, the company that publishes Maxim and Blender, and lured Jann Wenner's former right-hand, Kent Brownridge, to run the company. Brownridge departed Alpha in August amid rumors the publishing company was in trouble. Today the Journal reports that the company really is in deep trouble, having fallen behind on its debt payments to Steve Feinberg's Cerberus Capital. Rattner may ultimately be forced to hand over Alpha to the company's creditors. But that's not the only disappointing news that has landed at Rattner's feet in recent weeks.
Miss the big Obama fundraiser at the Regency the night before last? Tech guru Esther Dyson sure didn't: She was one of a few dozen high-profile Democrats who forked over $33,100 to see Obama and Hillary embrace awkwardly and talk about "unity" and "common goals." She was even kind enough to snap a few pics, too, and upload them to her Flickr account, including this photo of mega-financier Steve Rattner and his wife, former DNC fundraising chief Maureen White—both former Hillary backers—talking with the big man himself. Thanks, Esther! But there's more.
Looking to spend some quality face time with Barack Obama? Got some spare cash sitting around? Good news: Barack will be spending the next couple of days in New York and he'd love your help in filling up his campaign war chest! After the jump, details on where the Democratic nominee will be raising funds in Manhattan, and exactly how much loot you'll be able to stuff into his pockets at the events if you so desire.
The high rollers who raised millions for Hillary Clinton's campaign are getting (another) visit today from the man who helped dashed their dreams—Obama's campaign manager. And guess what? He's going to be asking them for millions more. David Plouffe, one of Obama's closest advisors, will be stopping off at a Midtown law firm today to meet with a group of HillRaisers who oiled and operated Hil's vaunted money machine.