Jewish World Review Jan. 6, 2003 / 3 Shevat, 5763
Global double Crossing
Attorney General John Ashcroft chose Christmas Eve to make the announcement because he didn't want you to know about it. Mr. Ashcroft is excellent at not seeking indictments. His department was unable to indict Senator Robert Torricelli, despite solid evidence he was on the take. It was unable to pin down any wrongdoing in the vote-buying investigation involving the town of New Square, N.Y., where, in the 2000 senatorial election, 1,400 citizens voted for Hillary Clinton, and 12 did not. A month after that vote, four incarcerated town leaders had their prison sentences reduced by President Bill Clinton. It was all just a strange coincidence, of course, and we should all have a good laugh over it, right, Mr. Attorney General?
But let's give Ashcroft a rest for a moment and get back to the wicked Winnick. As chairman of the Global Crossing company, Winnick moved the corporate headquarters to Bermuda so he could dodge U.S. taxes, was paid millions in salary and made more than $730 million from various deals involving the company's stock. The problem was that at the same time Winnick was winning, the company was losing. Finally, it sunk. A year ago, Global Crossing declared bankruptcy with as much as $42 billion in debt.
Gary Winnick was chairman throughout the entire process and lived large whether times were good or bad. If you are ever in Los Angeles, take a ride to the Bel Air neighborhood. Turn off Sunset Boulevard onto Stone Canyon Drive. Then ask anyone where Gary lives. You should have no problem checking out his $60 million home, which has been embellished by $30 million in renovations. It's quite a place, especially for a guy who drove a company into bankruptcy.
There is a chance that the leader of the Democratic National Committee, Terry McAuliffe, has had a cocktail or two at the Winnick abode. That's because McAuliffe and Winnick were golfing buddies when President Clinton was in office. And not only that, McAuliffe was an early investor in Global Crossing. He put up $100,000 and a few years later cashed out for $18 million. When asked about the windfall, McAuliffe said he was simply a good capitalist, and if you don't like capitalism, you should move to China or Cuba. Any suspicion of insider info in his Global Crossing adventure is nonsense, says McAuliffe. How could any responsible person think that?
Well, certainly John Ashcroft has no problem with McAuliffe or Winnick reaping obscene profits from a failed company. Santa Ashcroft gave Winnick the best Christmas gift of his life -- a stay-out-of-jail-free card. After all, prison would have put a major crimp in Winnick's style, I mean, who would care for the yacht and lavish homes all over the country? Terry McAuliffe, maybe?
Anyway, last week, the few souls left standing at Global Crossing forced Winnick to resign, and the rogue issued this statement: "I deeply regret that so many good people involved with Global Crossing also suffered significant financial loss."
Also? Is Winnick implying he has suffered? His statement went on to point out that Gary, himself, has put up $25 million to compensate current and former employees who lost money investing in the company's retirement plans. No word yet on how much McAuliffe will put up.
Of course this whole thing smells worse than a paper mill in August, but no aroma can permeate the solid walls at the Justice Department. Things there smell just fine, thank you, and the people's work is getting done. America, you see, was founded on equal justice and opportunity for all, especially for connected rich guys like Winnick and McAuliffe. This is a great country, and if you don't believe me, just imagine yourself failing dismally at your job and then driving home to your $90 million house, passing everyday folks who lost thousands in Global Crossing stock along the way. That's a real Norman Rockwell image for you. Or maybe a John Ashcroft image.
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12/30/02: The villains of 2002