He's a fake and he doesn't know the territory!

NOTE:   Click here only if you’re interested in the latest developments in the Colorado Democratic U.S. Senate primary race between Andrew Romanoff and the Unelected Senator Michael Bennet.  The New York Times has a story that’s superbad for Bennet–some of you easterners may have seen this today shortly after the paper hit your doorsteps.  Otherwise, please read and respond to the previous post in which I ask for advice about how to free up some shelf space.

Something just smelled rotten about Unelected Senator Michael Bennet from the get-go:  the ease with which he got top jobs in fields he didn’t train in, and his short tenure in all of them.  The fact that he was appointed to the U.S. Senate as a political neophyte was mind-blowingly ridiculous.  No one has a career like that unless he is serving powerful interests.  Throughout it all, we had to wonder–who is this guy really working for?  We at always suspected, but now we know–he’s the Senator from JP Morgan Chase!

In the spring of 2008, the Denver public school system needed to plug a $400 million hole in its pension fund. Bankers at JPMorgan Chase offered what seemed to be a perfect solution.

The bankers said that the school system could raise $750 million in an exotic transaction that would eliminate the pension gap and save tens of millions of dollars annually in debt costs — money that could be plowed back into Denver’s classrooms, starved in recent years for funds.

To members of the Denver Board of Education, it sounded ideal. It was complex, involving several different financial institutions and transactions. But Michael F. Bennet, now a United States senator from Colorado who was superintendent of the school system at the time, and Thomas Boasberg, then the system’s chief operating officer, persuaded the seven-person board of the deal’s advantages, according to interviews with its members.

Rather than issue a plain-vanilla bond with a fixed interest rate, Denver followed its bankers’ suggestions and issued so-called pension certificates with a derivative attached; the debt carried a lower rate but it could also fluctuate if economic conditions changed.

.       .       .       .       .

Since it struck the deal, the school system has paid $115 million in interest and other fees, at least $25 million more than it originally anticipated.

To avoid mounting expenses, the Denver schools are looking to renegotiate the deal. But to unwind it all, the schools would have to pay the banks $81 million in termination fees, or about 19 percent of its $420 million payroll.

John MacPherson, a former interim executive director of the Denver Public Schools Retirement System, predicts that the 2008 deal will generate big costs to the school system down the road. “There is no happy ending to this,” Mr. MacPherson said. “Hindsight being 20-20, the pension certificates issuance is something that should never have happened.”

To be sure, the seven-member DPS board bears the majority of responsibility for essentially taking taxpayer money to the track and betting it all on a pretty pony.  But color me unsurprised that Bennet was a pitchman for taking school money and sending it off to Wall Street.  (Memo to the DPS school board:  the house always wins!)  This is probably bigger news for the general election campaign if Bennet wins his primary next Tuesday–since it’s a nearly all-mail ballot election this year, it’s unclear that this story has broken early enough to help primary challenger Andrew Romanoff.  But you can be sure that Ken Buck will go after this, hammer and tongs. 

There may also be implications for the governor’s race, since Bennet’s original political benefactor, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, will be the Democratic nominee.  (Or, there would be repercussions if both of the Republican candidates hadn’t imploded with scandal and the crazzy, and if former Republican Tom Tancredo hadn’t decided on a third-party run.)  Promoting and supporting Bennet is something that should be wrung around the necks of Hickenlooper, Governor Bill Ritter, and yes–Barack Obama, who has promoted Bennet from the start.  Thanks, Democratic D00dz!  With Democrats like this, who needs Republicans?

Like I said on Tuesday morning, “Bennet will either lose next week, or he’ll lose in November.  He’s going to have to clean out his desk in January, in any case.”  I feel a little badly about using a photo here of the magnificent Robert Preston as Professor Harold Hill, the flim-flam salesman of boys’ bands from The Music Man.  Preston as Hill had real charm and skills–unlike the Unelected Senator.

0 thoughts on “Instinks

  1. I’m interested! I’m interested!

    Nevertheless, I’d rather discuss our next Lieutenant Governor. Have you ever noticed that when you finally get a university president you really like, they go and get themselves another job. Don’t you hate it when that happens?


  2. I’ve never had that happen, Jonathan, because I’ve never met a university president I’ve liked! But I’m interested to hear that you like Garcia. Maybe he’ll be like no other Lt. Gov. in recent Colorado history and actually have a political career after his thankless service in that sinecure?

    (Tony Frank is OK, in the world of possible Baa Ram U. Prezzies, but until he zeros out the AD and makes the “student athletes” hold bake sales to buy uniforms and pay for gas, I don’t want to hear about any more cuts or salary freezes.)

    What’s your prediction for the outcome Tuesday night? Will this be the final blow to sink Bennet?

    More Bennet links:

    JP Morgan Chase deal a “bombshell,” plus WaPo story disses Bennet’s strategy

    DPS Chief Boasberg (a Bennet co-conspirator) is a patronizing d-bag (skip to the last 1/3 of the interview.)


  3. What a fucken skeezbag. Speaking of derivatives, I just read again the book about the Long Term Capital Management fuckup back in 1998. reading this book now, you’re all like, “Holy fucknoly. These fucken fuckwits didn’t learn a single fucken thing.”


  4. They never do. Remember all of that “Dow 36,000” bullcrap? They always think they’re the ones who have outwitted history, that the market will never collapse. This is due primarily to their training in economic theory rather than history.


    I should say that the lower-level chimps believe this. The top guys know that it’s all a game of hot potato, a giagantic ponzi scheme. They convince more and more people to accept the risk of getting stuck with the hot potato, on the hope that they’ll be able to pass it off before the music stops.


  5. Historiann:

    I think Bennet wins by a small margin. I’m less pessimistic (if you can call it that) than you about his chances in November as his opponent (whoever it ends up being) is going to be confronted by all the stark raving insane things they’ve said during the primary and Colorado just doesn’t strike me as all that crazy anymore.

    Slightly off topic, I was in Colorado Springs a couple of weeks ago during a major (but not THAT major) rainstorm and every street had like a foot of water in them. I’d swear they’ve stopped cleaning the sewers out due to lack of funds. I suspect even the crazy right there is giving this Doug Bruce induced destroy government by defunding everything thing a second thought. You read Colorado Pols. I’ll bet you $5 that the Dr. Evil initiatives go down to defeat by a large margin, assuming they’re even allowed to stay on the ballot.


  6. Here’s hoping that the crazzy is short-lived.

    As for the Senate: I’ll vote for Buck or Norton before I’ll vote for the Unelected Wonder(bread). Wasn’t it Harry Truman who said that given the choice between a real Republican and a Democrat trying to sound like a Republican, the people will choose the real Republican every time?


  7. Alas, I’m a yellow dog. Bennett wasn’t corporatist enough to vote no on health care reform. That’s good enough to get me to hold my nose in November and vote for him, but I really hope my prediction above is wrong so that I don’t have to.


  8. I’m wondering, again, whether the Fix is In with Romanoff.

    If he were to stay any damn good, or if he hasn’t promised to veer hard right after the primary, then we’d be seeing a shitstorm against him. That’s how Versailles works.

    We know that since the GOP candidates are DOA, the usual suspects will rush to give him cash through their employee flunkies, then show him the bill due once he’s elected and has to plan his campaign two years hence. We’ve been lied to, again and again, about the intentions and promises of Yellow Dogs who went blue faster than a choking victim. So, I ask again: Who’s bought Romanoff, and when will he show us what color he is politically?


  9. This is not to say I’m not glad Mr. Bennet’s return to the private sector will be upcomingly swift. I don’t give a damn how corrupt a man is at the beginning of his political life, as long as he realizes that if he wants to have a future, his constituency should be the people first, and his puppetmasters, second. That’s as close to honorable corruption as we can get, and America has survived it better than this open corporate contempt we have now.


  10. We’ll see, cgeye. I don’t hold out a huge amount of hope for Romanoff, but like I said: the NOT-Bennet option is good enough for me now.

    As of Sunday night 10:30 p.m. MDT, the New York Times has published one small correction and one addendum to its story, but neither of them exonerate Bennet or the deal he sold to the DPS Board. The paper merely notes that Bennet and Boasberg didn’t in fact know each other when they worked in the private sector, and it notes that one of the people quoted in the story, Jeannie Kaplan, is in fact a Romanoff supporter in the primary. (The correction is dated Aug. 9.)

    That’s important to note, but it doesn’t admit to any factual or analytical errors on the part of the reporter. The Bennet campaign has been circulating a list of 20 “errors” in the NYT piece that look to have been written by Boasberg, a Bennet supporter, and which mostly deflect blame rather than “prove” errors on the part of the story. I’ve kept an eye on this all weekend–I figured that if in fact these “errors” were true they’d be corrected by the Times. Like I said: looks like more spin from the desperate Bennet campaign.


  11. The creepy part of the evening wasn’t Don Draper buying a ho for Lane Pryce, nor this evening’s Howdy Doody or hillbilly jokes (you can tell I’m missing the MAD MEN recaps, right?); it was the Bennet children being pimped out for a campaign ad.

    How can men who’d be the first to tout draconian laws for the sake of Protecting the Children be the first to use their kids for political gain? If he can’t address his issue through well-done damage control ads, how in the hell will be survive the general election?

    One more thing — it was SO CUTE when the folx at Colorado Pols were shocked, shocked, I tell you, at the lack of civility Romanoff partians showed their site — not Bennet, mind you, THEIR SITE. A sample:

    “Romanoff shills, metastasizing like cancer cells, go beyond vilifying Senator Bennet to attacking their host, Coloradopols itself, calling for the humiliation and vilification of the very community of which they are an integral, if frequently disrespectful, part.”

    And, this is where I started snorting:

    “It can be said, however, that the warring Romanoff/Bennet factions could learn from the relative civility of the Norton/Buck partisans on this site. And two years ago, many of us blogged valiantly and hopelessly for the Fair Hillary, only to be overwhelmed by Team Obama. The Democrats got over it and went on to win in November.”

    It hurts when the wolves of the OFB turn their snouts to *your* political faves, huh?

    And, another site aims a gimlet eye at possible site-wide biases:

    “…And on and on from then, up till the present day.
    Colorado Pols has belittled every positive story about Andrew Romanoff – even the recent poll that shows Andrew Romanoff pulling ahead of Bennet, meanwhile Bennet gets positive press here.

    And the whole time, they have kept ridiculous odds on the Big Line, always citing Bennet’s money for the reason Romanoff was 20-1 or 25-1. Now its 17-1 and Romanoff is ‘out of time’ even though Bennet is down in latest polls.

    So what happened? How does a website go from impartial to in the tank for a candidate?

    And should editors here have to disclose that they support Bennet – or is it so obvious?”


  12. Yeah–ColoradoPols has just been weird about the primary. They once posted some clearer-sighted things about the Bennet selection in 2009, as your link notes. What I find so hilarious is that their position is essentially the same as the Major Denver Daily they can’t link to any more: endorsing Bennet and irrationally pouring the hate on Romanoff because he had the temerity to launch a primary challenge. I got suspicious of them not so much for their Bennet partisanship, but for the fact that they refused to admit that anything Romanoff did was smart.

    For example: there was a lot of chatter over there last spring about how the Romanoff campaign was DOA and Andrew should just quit. Well, anyone with 2 brains to rub together could see that his was a timing game–with much less money to spend, he had to be crafty and hold his fire until the summer, which is exactly how he played it and what has worked for him. (BTW, this isn’t any kind of genius surprise strategy–this is just what the Bennet people should have expected. That they didn’t shows just what a bunch of idiots they really are.)

    That’s politics, folks. Maybe “career politicians” know a little something about how the game is played, after all. (But, that’s my prejudice as a “career historian” married to a “career pediatrician.” We think expertise matters, and that bouncing around from sinecure to sinecure courtesy of Daddy’s Friends isn’t in fact such an impressive resume.)

    We’ll see tomorrow. Jonathan thinks Bennet will pull it off. I think it may well be a late night because it will be close. It certainly will bode ill for Obama this election season if Bennet becomes yet another hand-picked and carefully-groomed incumbent he supported who doesn’t make the cut.


  13. I think one of the subtexts of the last political year-and-a-half or so is that actual voters are resistant to the apparat-notion that parties shouldn’t have primary contests because they consume resources, leave bruised feelings, take focus off of the general election, etc. That may well(or well may not) be true in an orthodox playbook or political science sense, but voters seem to think they should have as many chances as possible to consider their choices. Even at the expense of repetitive t.v. ads and robocalls. It seems ironic that the best live example available to Team Obama, the, what was it, oh, yeah, 2008 campaign, seemed to show that a vigorous spring fray could lead to a favorable outcome in the fall. It seems like one more example of the new politics leading to the old playbook.

    It has been interesting to watch the Times paying almost as much attention to Kolorado as to Kabul, or maybe even Konnecticut. Of which, an interesting piece there today on Netroot disillusion with Ned Lamont. I had to smirk.


  14. Indyanna–great point about the new insurgencies yielding all to easily to old school strong-arm tactics. I just think it’s a bad year to be an incumbent with the “advantage” of being Obama’s hand-picked little senator in short pants.

    You’re totally gloating over that turn against Lamont! I thought he was worthy of the not-Lieberman vote myself, but never had any illusions about his progressive Jesus awesomeitude. (Maybe that’s what makes me different from most of my fellow Netizens.)


  15. I’m still stinging over the Netroots’ ass-shaking, endzone-dancing act in late winter and early spring of 2008 when they had advanced the Obama ball to about the 45 yard line, and there were (as we knew) miles and miles to go before anybody was going to sleep. Not that different from the boomers claim in circa 1998 to have invented “economics without gravity.” No brief whatsoever for Lieberman here. I just thought it was kind of funny the way he actually knew how an election in Connecticut was going to turn out, and the Dean-team alumniae still hadn’t passed their prelims yet!


  16. Pingback: Monday round-up: we’ve got primary fever! : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present

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