I had to go digging into the archives to find this outtake from a shoot I had done for Alpha Magazine in 2004 of then-Senator Jon Corzine, Democrat of New Jersey. Corzine was a star bond trader for Goldman Sachs in the late 1980’s and by 1994 became CEO of the mightiest ship on the street.
During his tenure at Goldman he was instrumental in leading the bailout of hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management in 1998 but by the first few months of his Senate term he became known for stating that “an individual should not be allowed to manage both a hedge fund and a mutual fund.”
I learned a long time ago that my few minutes of time with busy, powerful people is best spent keeping the conversation pleasant and brief and to concentrate on doing the job at hand with a substantial amount of assurance and as little fuss as possible. Far be it for me (as my father advised me years ago) to discuss politics or religion.
Yet seeing Corzine in the news now, claiming he had no idea what was going on below him at MF Global, reminds me of our shoot and the almost laconic nature he put forth with his staff and with me and my crew. It strikes me as disingenuous at best (and more likely inaccurate) that with over a billion dollars of investor money vanishing one of the smartest men on Wall Street was ignoring his own experience regarding the monitoring of activity right in front of him. Granted, the layers of management at a place as big as MF precludes any one individual having knowledge of every trade or financial maneuver but it becomes more fascinating to watch someone who has sat on both sides of a testimony table squirm a little; challenging, powerful and imperious when representing the interests of the citizens — vague, beleaguered and feigning innocence when the buck has to stop at his own desk.