PROBES

The Auto Czar's Pension Scandal

Regardless of whether President Obama's auto czar Steven Rattner ends up indicted in the unfolding New York state's pension-kickback scandal, the debacle is, according to The Wall Street Journal "useful in drawing attention to the real story here, which is the growing evidence of corruption by officials who use their power over public pension funds to shake down private companies." Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has indicted several political players who moonlighted as "placement agents"--connected figures who essentially conveyed a message of "pay to play" to investment firms. In Rattner's case, he acquired DVD rights to an unheard of low-budget movie called Chooch, which was produced by the brother of the former deputy comptroller. Several weeks later, Rattner’s company Quadrangle received a $100 million investment from the state pension fund. It is unclear whether Rattner is guilty of any wrongdoing, but either way, the Journal's editorial board hopes that since he "holds sway over the U.S. auto-industry...his judgment about cars will be better than his taste in cinema."