Wall Street, "K" Street Take Aim at a Poor Black Woman
Reported by Marie Therese - April 25, 2006
News Hounds Editorial
The ultra-rich protect their own. They'll stomp on anyone who dares to intrude on their world of wealth, privilege, power and prerogative. As we News Hounds have reported extensively, the pundits at FOX News have, to a man and a woman, abandoned their self-proclaimed support for victims of assault and mercilessly denigrated the young African-American woman who has accused members of the Duke University Lacrosse team of rape. The white power elite is out in force to crush a single young woman who had the courage to come forward and do what all those pompous "pro-victim" hypocrites at FOX News told her to do: Report it to the police so the perpetrators will not be able to walk the streets and do it again.
Apparently the "presumption of innocence" does not apply when the perps are the children of people you meet at the White House, in line at the Kennedy Center or at posh soirees at the Plaza Hotel!
Well, it's time to let the world know just what kind of power brokers this young woman is up against, especially since her family reported last night on FOX News, that they have received death threats and that the young woman is "frantic".
What follows is a little glimpse into the intricate web linking some of the Duke player's families to Wall Street and K Street, who'd like nothing better than to see this young woman disappear.
Kevin J. Finnerty, father of Collin Finnerty, sits on the Board of Directors of Newcastle Investment Corporation, a subsidiary of Fortress Investment Group LLC, a $15 billlion hedge fund. In addition he is Founder and Managing Partner of F. I. Capital Management. In a bizarre twist, on April 10th bizjournals.com reported that Michael Jackson "has concluded refinancing with affiliates of Fortress Investment Group, the lender that currently holds secured debts that were previously held by Bank of America. Citigroup structured the transaction for the parties. The terms of this new financing deal will not be disclosed." A few weeks earlier, FOX's own gossip columnist Roger Friedman wrote
Jackson sneaked back here [New York] on Wednesday, according to my sources. The purpose was to give a deposition in the $48 million lawsuit filed against him by Prescient Partners, aka Darien Dash, cousin of hip-hop entrepreneur Damon Dash.
The Prescient case is a typical Jackson dilemma: the pop singer or someone representing him — possibly his brother Randy — signed an agreement that if Prescient could find him financing to buy out his Bank of America loans, Jackson would pay them a 9 percent fee.
Prescient claims it found over $500 million in financing from Fortress Investments. Now Dash wants his money.
Jackson has other pressing financial problems at the moment which brought him back to the United States from Bahrain. Fortress could foreclose on him at any time on $270 million in loans.
Sony Music, Jackson's partner in Sony/ATV Music Publishing, is trying to buy the loans from Fortress with help from Citigroup. The latter is asking for a small piece of Jackson’s holdings in order to do this. Fortress, my sources say, won’t give up, and wants a 20 percent piece of Jackson’s pie.
Fortress Investment Group describes itself as "a global alternative investment and asset management firm founded in 1998 with approximately $15 billion in equity capital currently under management. With headquarters in New York, Fortress and its affiliates have offices in Frankfurt, London, Rome, Geneva, Toronto, and Sydney."
It would appear that Fortress Investment (F.I.) is like an octopus, with its fingers in all kinds of pies both here and overseas.
A few hours of online reseach reveals that the following businesses are subsidiaries of or have fiscal relationships with Fortress: Newcastle Investment Corporation, Liberty Publishing Group, Centex Home Equity Co., GAGFAH (Germany), Eurocastle Investment Ltd., Northcastle Trust, the Consumer Finance Division of Conseco, Inc. (in joint partnership with Cerberus Capital Management L.P. and J. C. Flowers & Co.), Mapeley Ltd. (United Kingdom), Dolphin Capital Investments, Brookdale Living Communities/Alterra Health Corporation, Drawbridge Capital (United Kingdom), Italfondiario SpA (Italy), Banca Intesa (Italy) and Prison Realty Trust (Tennessee). On March 10, 2006 the Associated Press reported that, in order to clear its debts, the City of Dresden, Germany sold 48,000 apartments to a German-based subsidiary of Fortress Investment Group for $2 billion.
According to the Newcastle Investment website
"Kevin J. Finnerty was appointed to Newcastle Investment Corp.’s board of directors and its Audit Committee, Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee and Compensation Committee in August 2005. Mr. Finnerty has been a director of the Newcastle Investment Holdings LLC (formerly Newcastle Investment Holdings Corp.) since its inception in 1998. Mr. Finnerty is a founder and the Managing Partner of F.I. [Fortress Investment?] Capital Management, an investment company focused on Mortgage related strategies. Previously, Mr. Finnerty was a Managing Director at J.P. Morgan Securities Inc., where he headed the Residential Mortgage Securities Department. Mr. Finnerty joined Chase Securities Inc. in December of 1999. Prior to joining Chase Securities Inc., Mr. Finnerty worked at Union Bank of Switzerland from November 1996 until February 1998, where he headed the Mortgage Backed Securities Department, and at Freddie Mac from January 1999 until June 1999, where he was a Senior Vice President. Between 1986 and 1996, Mr. Finnerty was with Bear Stearns & Co. Inc., where he was a Senior Managing Director and ultimately headed the MBS Department and served as a member of the board of directors from 1993 until 1996. Mr. Finnerty was Co-Chair of the North American People Committee at JPMorganChase and Chairman of the Mortgage and Asset-Backed Division of the Bond Market Association for the year 2003."
Finnerty and his wife, Mary Ellen, were among the contributors to the purchase of the Falcone-Arena House, near the Duke University campus and on the same street as the scene of the crime. The historical landmark has been renovated and renamed the Duke Newman Catholic Student Center. According to their website "The versatile house will be used as a meeting place for all types of Catholic ministries, including Newman Groups, Alpha Omega, Tuesday Night Dinners, and various retreats. By being in a nearby Durham neighborhood, it can serve as a stepping-off point for many volunteer and outreach programs. It can also be a place to study or just hang out and talk to other Catholics."
In another quirky development, on October 17, 2005 Fortress made the following announcement: "Former Senator John Edwards has joined Fortress Investment Group LLC as a Senior Advisor. Mr. Edwards will provide support in developing investment opportunities worldwide and strategic advice on global economic issues."
One wonders if Mr. Edwards will be reconsidering this decision in the near future?
While there is plenty of information on Collin Finnerty's family, the same cannot be said of Reade Seligmann.
His father, Philip, claims to be a "financial services executive" yet there is little on the internet about him, other than the fact that, when younger, he spent five summers at Camp White Oaks, New Jersey. The family lives in Essex Fells, New Jersey, an upscale enclave located in Essex County**, populated by financiers and stock brokers and about 27 miles from the town of Chester, where FOX's own Neil Cavuto lives.
According to The News-Observer, their house is valued at $1.3 million. Local Mayor Edward Abbot has known Philip Seligmann since 3rd grade and claims that Essex Fells is "like Mayberry." He also noted that Philip and Kathleen Seligmann who are both 49 years of age have a reputation for being "in-charge parents who support the academic and athletic pursuits of Reade and his three brothers."
In a bit of historical whimsy, this is the same area of New Jersey where Beatrice DeMille, mother of the famed director Cecil B. DeMille, ran the Henry C. DeMille School, whose most famous student was 17-year-old Evelyn Nesbit, the "Girl in the Red Velvet Swing". Ms. Nesbit's tuition and eventual "appendicitis" operation was paid for by her lover, architect Stanford White, who was murdered in 1906 by Ms. Nesbit's then-husband, Harry K. Thaw.
The surname "Seligmann," is well-known in this region. The Seligmann Homestead is a local landmark, having been the home of surreal artist and magician Kurt Seligmann, whose circle of friends reads like a who's who of the avant-garde scene. None of the biographies I've read include references to children, so I assume that Seligmann and his wife Arlette were childless. The similarity the last names leads one to speculate about a possible connection.
One wonders why Philip Seligmann, who can afford an expensive home and lives in an upscale neighborhood, has virtually no record of employment online? Seems like an enigma wrapped in a mystery.
Among the other Duke University players, one parent's name jumps right off the page.
Bruce E. Thompson Jr., father of Bret Thompson, has been a major figure in the Republican Party for years.
Here is his biography as shown on the website of The Policy Council, a lobbying group:
Bruce E. Thompson, Jr., is a First Vice President of Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., and Senior Director of Government Relations.
In this capacity, he is responsible for representing Merrill Lynch in all Legislative and Executive Branch matters of interest to Merrill Lynch and the financial services industry. He is also responsible for policy analysis and development, and for keeping Merrill Lynch and its clients apprised of government policy developments.
Prior to coming to Merrill Lynch in February 1986, Mr. Thompson served as the Assistant Secretary of Treasury for Legislative Affairs. As the Treasury Department's chief representative to Congress on all legislative initiatives, his areas of responsibility included tax policy, domestic finance, and international affairs. Upon leaving the Treasury Department, he was awarded the Alexander Hamilton Award, the department's highest honor, by Treasury Secretary James A. Baker, III.
Prior to his May 1984 Senate confirmation to the Legislative Affairs position, Mr. Thompson served as the Assistant Secretary for Business and Consumer Affairs, to which he was named in June 1983. In that role, he was the Department's principal liaison with all business, financial and consumer groups. For the preceding 16 months, he was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, where he was responsible for all tax legislation.
Before joining Treasury, Mr. Thompson had been legislative assistant to Senator William V. Roth, Jr. from 1974 to 1981, serving as the Senator's chief advisor on tax, budget and economic policy issues.
From 1971 to 1974, he was senior policy analyst for the Government Research Corporation, a business-government consulting firm to major corporations which also published the National Journal.
Bruce Thompson, who donated $2,000 to the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign, enjoyed himself at the Republican Convention in New York:
"Wall Street stood out among this week's hosts. Of the 78 major contributors to the New York host committee, 31 are accounting firms, investment banks, mutual fund or insurance firms. Together they contributed as much as $25 million - and threw a dizzying array of soirees honoring congressional committees, chairmen and state delegations. 'For us, it's just a matter of building relationships,' said Bruce Thompson, vice president of government relations at Merrill Lynch. He is attending four parties a day." (Source: "NY Newsday, 9-4-04, cached copy)
The hypocrisy at FOX News in this case is just staggering.
Holier-than-thou types like Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Wendy Murphy, John Gibson and the FOX & Friends batch of mix-and-match hosts spend hours each day advocating for "victim's rights," telling victims that they must be strong and report sex crimes. They merciiessly attack judges who "go easy" on sexual predators, many times accosting them in their own front yards. Yet, when the accused sexual predators are highly connected rich kids, all that "think of the victims first" posturing goes right out the window. Suddenly all the resources of FOX News Channel are aimed squarely at the VICTIM. For every pro-victim guest they've interviewed on this story, there are four others who show up to verbally hang, draw and quarter the victim. Then as a little extra dollop of racist bilge, FOX will toss out some new little tidbit about African-American Congressswoman Cynthia McKinney, just to reinforce the image of the "uppity" black woman whose sole purpose in life is the destruction of the white male.
Two nights ago Greta van Susteren cross-examined - oops! - "interviewed" - the former husband of the victim. She stopped the segment as soon as it became obvious that he was a genuine human being who supported his ex-wife, whom he claimed is not a drinker or a drug user and is the kind of woman who would walk across the street to help someone in trouble.
The latest polls show that a mere 2% of African-Americans will vote Republican.
In the mad, mad world of FOX News, maybe they think that this gives them license to savage the reputation of a poor black mother who's allegedly* been raped and sodomized!
In FOX Land, excessive drinking, partying, drug use and casual sex are nothing more than - wink, wink - rites of passage for white people.
But, let a person of color behave in the same manner and immediately the O'Reillys of this world label them "out of control" hoodlums who will ruin the fabric of American life unless they are imprisoned for many, many years or eliminated altogether.
As a woman I am torn. The warrior in me wants this young lady to go the distance and prevail against her attackers. But I certainly would understand if she did not want to be dragged gleefully through the mud by heartless sycophants like those at FOX News.
Had this been a white woman claiming to have been raped by an all-black sports team, FOX News would be asking for the death penalty. You know it. I know it. We all know it.
Somewhere in their deepest hearts, the FOX News hosts know it, too.
In the meantime, we here at News Hounds will continue to the best of our ability to keep you, our readers, informed about the daily distortions on the "fair and balanced" channel that claims it is "most powerful name in news".
If you would like to contact FOX News, click the link below for a complete list:
* Special Note: a big "Thank You" to our readers who pointed that I neglected to use the word "allegedly" here. Marie Therese at 9:35 PM EDT, 4/25/06.
** Erroneously identified as "Orange County" earlier. "Orange County" is in New York and is the location of the Seligmann Homestead about 60 miles north of Essex Fells. Again, thanks to an astute reader for picking up on this. Marie Therese at 2:00 PM EDT, 4-26-06