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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A Friend of Obama

- The New York Times reported today on the front page that, shortly after being elected to the Senate, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama invested in two companies whose principals included donors to his campaign.

One of the companies was a biotech concern that was starting to develop a drug to treat avian flu. In March 2005, two weeks after buying about $5,000 of its shares, Mr. Obama took the lead in a legislative push for more federal spending to battle the disease.

The most recent financial disclosure form for Mr. Obama, an Illinois Democrat, also shows that he bought more than $50,000 in stock in a satellite communications business whose principal backers include four friends and donors who had raised more than $150,000 for his political committees.
The Senator, who we of course have no reason to doubt at this stage, claims that the stocks were bought in a blind trust, and he was unaware of the conflicts. That leads some to wonder exactly why the Times deemed it to be worthy of the front page.

But it's of interest to us who have been following the New York franchise battle because, incredibly, it brings up an extremely familiar name. Obama purchased $50,000 worth of stock in a satellite communications company called Skyterra. And one of the major investors in that company is none other than our very own Friend of New York, Jared Abbruzzese.
He bought his Skyterra shares the same day the Federal Communications Commission ruled in favor of the company’s effort to create a nationwide wireless network by combining satellites and land-based communications systems. Immediately after that morning ruling, Tejas Securities, a regional brokerage in Texas that handled investment banking for Skyterra, issued a research report speculating that Skyterra stock could triple in value.

Tejas and people associated with it were major donors to Mr. Obama’s political committees, having raised more than $150,000 since 2004. The company’s chairman, John J. Gorman, has held fund-raisers for the senator in Austin, Tex., and arranged for him to use a private plane for several political events in 2005. Mr. Gorman declined to comment.

In May 2005, Mr. Abbruzzese, who was vice chairman of Tejas and a principal investor in Skyterra, contributed $10,000 along with his wife to Mr. Obama’s political action committee — a departure from his almost exclusive support of Republicans. Eight months earlier, for instance, he had contributed $5,000 to the Swift Boat group, and he has given $100,000 to the Republican National Committee since 2004.
Gee, when Tejas issued this recommendation, do you think they disclosed that their vice chairman was a "principal investor" in the company they were endorsing? Ha! You may recall that Tejas is the brokerage firm that Senator Bruno invested in, only to sell his shares at a loss. Obama also lost money investing in part of the Abbruzzese empire - he sold his Skyterra shares for a $15,000 loss. And though a Skyterra spokesperson denied that the company had knowledge of Obama's involvement, the whole chapter seems very strange given the fact that this name Abbruzzese pops up again, not to mention his record of contributing mainly to the GOP.

And this news that Abbruzzese donated to the despicable Swift Boat smear campaign, as well as to the RNC, thus contributing to the re-election of a dishonest Administration that now includes a convicted felon, certainly does nothing further to endear Empire Racing to this little corner of the blogosphere. Not that we thought much of them in the first place.

1 Comment:

Green Mtn Punter said...

Alan, the real news today is that Steve Wynn is jumping into what is now inevitably turning out to be an all out bidding war for the NY franchise. This is what we feared would happen all along when the new administration started pooh-poohing the Ad Hoc Committee recommendation soon after taking office on Jan 1. This thing is really getting out of hand, all due to the fact that the pols didn't (1) Cover their conflict tracks sufficiently and are now in high CYA- mode; and (2) They haven't yet extracted enough pounds of flesh from the supplicants. And still not too late for The Donald to jump in and lock horns with Steve Wynn, his big rival! Could be a few "real deal" shows on The Apprentice to boost the sagging ratings! The members of the Ad Hoc Committee and many avid NY racing fans will no doubt be dismayed by these latest developments. Then there is the late, stick-in bid of Catskill OTB, apparently trying to gin up support for a publically owned company, if I got the gist of the Albany Times-Union story correctly.
Any predictions as to the date this will all be settled? Will NYRA still be at the helm come Jan 1, 2008? A Wynn-NYRA joint venture in the making?