Curmudgeon's Corner

cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

Spitzer's Trail Of Carnage...

Political, Potpourri, Quality of Life, U.S., Wisconsin

Eliot Spitzer was the New York State Attorney General before he became Governor of that state.  Spitzer has the well-deserved reputation as a 'pit bull'.  The Wall Street Journal editors brought up his trail of carnage (my term) today discussing what he did to major organizations in America with his 'pit bull' style of threatening companies with enough damage to cause them to 'voluntarily' do as he directed they do. He made himself the investigator, the accuser, the judge and the jury.

The two companies mentioned this morning are AIG, the world's largest insurance organization, at least at that time, and Marsh & McLennan, a leading U.S. insurance brokerage organization.  Spitzer's threats caused both companies to fire their Chairmen.  Both companies have been on a downhill slide ever since costing shareholders huge sums of money in retirement funds, stock portfolios and so forth.  Many of these investors are you and me, whether or not we know it.

Those were companies caught up in Mr. Spitzer's web in New York City.  There was another that is much nearer and dearer to many in the Milwaukee area.  Strong Funds, and the related companies in Dick Strong's business holdings at the time, found themselves caught up in the Spitzer meat grinder.  The charges were of a questionable nature but that didn't stop the meat grinder that was Eliot Spitzer.  The Strong organization's good name was soon damaged beyond repair.

In the end, Dick Strong was forced to sell his companies at essentially 'fire sale' prices.  He paid significant fines for the trading activities in which he supposedly engaged.  The remains are now operated as part of the Wells Fargo organization.  The hundreds and hundreds of Strong employees who lost their jobs have, I hope, found their way into other organizations and may have forgotten much of the anguish they were personally subjected to by the Spitzer meat grinder.

Dick Strong, who was, and is, one of the finest men our community could hope to have in it, has survived.  Certainly his personal wealth probably has diminished somewhat although he is not in danger of losing a home or having nothing to eat.  There are some who will look at his situation and feel good because one of the 'haves' got what he deserved.  Those people are sadly misinformed and will simply have to live with their misshapen ideas.

The real loss has been for our community.  The companies Dick ran were major contributors to the community.  Those companies are gone and I doubt that Wells Fargo has taken over the philanthropy that was once the domain of the Strong group of companies.  Few buyers would have done so.  I am sure that Dick is still doing good works because that is who he is.

All this because a man named Eliot Spitzer managed to bull his way through the office of Attorney General of New York state in his quest for the Governor's chair and maybe even a run for President at some point in his political career.  I'll remember to my last day, and I'll remain saddened over what this man brought upon us...in the name of justice.

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