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August 4, 2005
Corzine Loaned Money To Girlfriend ... And?

When money gets moved between politicians and labor unions, conservatives get concerned about the relationship between the two and rightly suspect foul play. Of course, having union officials loan money to politicians, especially on a personal basis, raises an issue of impropriety or at least a conflict of interest. However, when the money goes the other direction on the basis of a clearly personal relationship, it hardly seems newsworthy ... except at the New York Times:

Senator Jon S. Corzine provided a $470,000 mortgage to the president of a union that represents thousands of New Jersey state employees in late 2002, then forgave the debt two years later.

The union president, Carla Katz, was Mr. Corzine's girlfriend at the time. The senator said on Wednesday that an investment company he owns gave her the mortgage, then canceled it in December 2004, several months after they had stopped dating.

The loan was not illegal, and Mr. Corzine said he took care of the required gift tax on the money he ended up giving to Ms. Katz.

But if Mr. Corzine succeeds in his race for New Jersey governor this fall against the Republican candidate, Douglas R. Forrester, he could find himself negotiating opposite Ms. Katz, whose union, Local 1034 of the Communications Workers of America, represents 9,000 state workers and is one of a handful of labor groups that will seek billions of dollars from the state for wage increases and a bailout of the state's troubled health care and pension funds.

Perhaps this should concern CWA members, who might wonder if Corzine could pressure Katz on the basis of the forgiven debt. She certainly has a debt of honor with Corzine, and that might present some questions for the rank-and-file of the union, if push comes to shove. Will she stand up to the man who basically gave her a half-million-dollar gift? Does she have the nerve to stage a walkout and possibly embarrass the man who let her off the hook?

However, it hardly appears to be any kind of problem for New Jersey voters. They have plenty of reasons to vote against Corzine, but this really doesn't mean anything. Obviously, she didn't buy him, and given that the debt forgiveness came after the end of the relationship, he didn't buy her either. He paid the taxes necessary and they both got on with their lives. Does the Times really think that this has anything to do with the election?

Meanwhile, as David Kocieniewski valiantly reports on this substanceless financial arrangement as the #2 headline in their Regional news section, the entire paper continues to ignore the Air America financial scandal happening in their own back yard. That's quite a demonstration of news priorities ...

UPDATE: Enlighten NJ thinks that I missed the point on Corzine and this loan, and that his "gift" was meant to ensure union support in the primary. Could be, but I think that's a big stretch. Read their post to see what you think.

UPDATE II: I've copied the post about the Times investigating the adoption of John Roberts' children into a separate post. The developments on both stories made it difficult to keep a coherent thread on this post.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 4, 2005 12:29 PM

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