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Corzine for Treasury? Don't Bet on It.

I was going to crack wise about all the (potentially manufactured) buzz that President-elect Obama is considering New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine for secretary of the Treasury. And then I saw that "Wally Edge" of politicsnj.com beat me to the punchline.

If the leader of the Garden State had to fill out Obama's rather probing questionnaire for executive branch hopefuls, there's no way he could honestly answer Question No. 8 ("Briefly describe the most controversial matters you have been involved with during the course of your career") or Question No. 13 (on electronic communications "that could suggest a conflict of interest or be a possible source of embarrassment to you, your family, or the President-Elect if it were made public") -- or Questions 25, 31, 57 or 63 for that matter -- without blowing his chances in Washington or creating more trouble for himself in Trenton.

Surely, Obama transition officials know the world of trouble Corzine's in over e-mail traffic with Carla Katz, his ex-girlfriend, who happens to be the leader of a labor union that represents the largest number of state workers. Enemies of both Corzine and Katz have been trying to uncover whether the two, who also live in the same condo building in Hoboken, conducted secret labor negotiations. Their attorneys were in court on Thursday fighting an order from a New Jersey Superior Court judge to release nearly 800 pages of e-mail.

But the presidential vetting process could uncover a lot more about Corzine that could "be a possible source of embarrassment." For, in the parlance of Facebook, the relationship between Corzine and Katz is complicated.

I know of what I speak because Katz is a friend, and I have given her advice at various points in the drama that has unspooled since Aug. 4, 2005, when then-Sen. Corzine was a candidate for governor and the New York Times broke the story that he had given and forgiven Katz a $470,000 mortgage to buy her house.

The media pressed the candidate and the union leader to reveal any other financial ties. They both demured. But once Corzine won the statehouse and everything had settled down a bit, he stirred the pot again during a March 2007 interview with The Star-Ledger, when he mused hypothetically that he could have set up trusts to fund the education of Katz's two children. This set off another flurry of reports, revealing that Corzine's generosity to Katz was in excess of $6 million.

That Corzine's name is now being bandied about for Treasury secretary isn't surprising. The former chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs is a very smart man. He thrives on chaos and on being able to find the way out of whatever problem he must confront. No doubt this skill set would be useful with the economy in freefall and solutions to slowing the global slide few and far between. But Corzine would be one odd cabinet choice for a president-elect allergic to drama. That's why you shouldn't be surprised if Obama tells Corzine to stay put by borrowing former Garden State governor Tom Kean's famous tagline: "New Jersey and you, perfect together."

By Jonathan Capehart  | November 15, 2008; 5:45 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Comments

I don't the journalistic rules regarding writing about a story in which you have a prior relationship with one o fthe principals.

When Capeheart says - "I know of what I speak because Katz is a friend, and I have given her advice at various points in the drama that has unspooled since Aug. 4, 2005" - something started to trouble me. Is it kosher for Capeheart to insinuate something more than what he is willing write, and in essence, say "trust me, I know, personally".

I hope someone familiar with journalistic etiquette come forward to comment.

Posted by: pKrishna43 | November 15, 2008 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Remind me not to be Capehart's friend.

Posted by: Bud0 | November 15, 2008 8:46 PM | Report abuse

The big disqualification is that Corzine is from Goldman Sachs. Rubin of Goldman was in charge of the utterly irresponsible policy of inflating consumption and that of the utterly irresponsibility decisions at Citi.

Paulson of Goldman has been involved in the most corrupt conflict of interest in American history, and the core principle of his policy has been to save his own fortune and that of his friends. Instead of giving the third straight Administration to Goldman Sachs, it would be better to let it go bankrupt.

Posted by: jhough1 | November 17, 2008 12:19 AM | Report abuse

John Chambers, CISCO Systems CEO, has the inside track on being the next Secretary of Treasury. A monumental first choice for the Obama team.

Posted by: booke | November 18, 2008 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Ah, the numbers are mind numbing. 800 emails, you say! I haven't written that many in a lifetime. What on earth could they have been "talking" about?! How did they find time to work!?

Hmm, as for Katz, I admire her: she's feathered her nest with a golden egg. Why not? All's fair in love and war.

I doubt Corzine will "accept" the position since there are GS alumni in abundance over at Treasury like Paulsen, Kashkari, Ruben Jeffrey, Edward Liddy, Robert Zoellnick. Enough already! GS has also given over $700k to Obama's campaign so maybe Corzine was part of the contribution deal. Perhaps the Katz affair will keep the governor's fingers safely in his pockets rather than counting treasury cash. Though ailing GS needs all the help it can get especially as Buffet is in the Obama-GS mix both with his input the $5billion bailout via his purchase of no-vote preferrred stock.

Posted by: boredwell | November 18, 2008 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Rosanne says we're too stupid to know enough to equate her cause with our ancestial struggle.
But NEVER should we allow you to use the blood of our fathers and mothers to support your decadence.
It's your fathers and mothers that deemed our black skin cursed and tore into their flesh as well as
our humanity with their bigotry. Shame on the NAACP for letting you ride the coat tail of our
desecrated families.
Be grateful you live in a country that allows you to chose your own poison. You're the bigot!
You hate anyone who won't let you force your poison down their throat. No credible science can
support that you were born homosexual. You chose that, and can just as well not choose it.
We can't choose and unchoose, nor do we need bad science to justify our fight.
I guess you haven't bought enough prominent and hollywood blacks to fool us all yet.
we're thankful for democracy. the people have spoken and they should never allow
you few elite to corrupt our political process and overturn what we deem to be decent.
we aren't as "ignorant" as you think we are witch.

Posted by: rogersi | November 19, 2008 4:21 AM | Report abuse

Wow. What is up with the comment above mine? Gotta love the conspiracy theories on the WaPo.

Posted by: sgurd0187 | November 19, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Living in NJ I can only say...pleaee take Corzine -- worts and all. He may be a smart financial guy...but he's not cut out to be governor. He panders -- especially to public employees. He has no feel for the middle class. He has no ability to sell a big idea. He is better behind closed doors, as he was at GS. He should go back there.

Posted by: horatio2 | November 20, 2008 11:39 PM | Report abuse

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