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Corzine Understands the Need for Congressional Oversight?

Samuel Staley
December 8, 2011, 4:06pm

Jon Corzine, the former governor of New Jersey and Goldman Sachs executive, told a Congressional committee that he didn't know where the money that investors had trusted to MF Global Holdings went. What I thought was more interesting was he reasoning for testifying before Congress unprepared and without access to critical information and documents that would allow him to answer key questions forthrightly. In written testimony delivered on December 8, 2011 to the House Agriculatural Committee, he says:

"Considering the circumstances, many people in my situation would almost certainly invoke their constitutional right to remain silent – a fundamental [Fifth Amendment] right that exists for the purpose of protecting the innocent. Nonetheless, as a former United States Senator who recognizes the importance of congressional oversight, and recognizing my position as former chief executive officer in these terrible circumstances, I believe it is appropriate that I attempt to respond to your inquiries."

This begs the following question: Congressional oversight of what? The economy?

Perhaps this is a core part of the problem. Congress isn't responsible for whether businesses make good decisions, bad decisions, are profitable or lose money. To the extent Congress has oversight, it oversees the actions regulatory agencies, not private businesses. And the courts adjudicate criminal activity such as fraud and civil disputes such as negligence.

Corzine's appearance before the House Agricultural Committee seems more like political gamesmanship and posturing than anything else.


Samuel Staley is Research Fellow


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