She used to hawk around her hedge fund connections and talk about how important Wall Street was to the health of the city, but that was before she decided running for public advocate was her next career move.
Now she wants you to forget she has connections to the hedge fund crooks on Wall Street and believe that she's a progressive Democrat out to protect the people while her opponents are tainted by their connections to wealth, power, privilege and the status quo.
As such, she launched an attack against one of her opponents in the race, Dan Squadron, calling him "Trust Fund Dan" because he was born into a wealthy family and inherited a trust fund from his father.
So far so good, right - Saujani's framing her opponent as a child of privilege who is tainted by his wealth while trying to get voters to overlook her Wall Street past.
But that's where the story gets complicated:
In what had been a low-key race for New York City public advocate, Reshma Saujani's campaign has begun to attack her rival, Brooklyn state Sen. Daniel Squadron, by calling him "Trust Fund Dan," to imply that he has been the beneficiary of money earned by his late father, Howard Squadron, a prominent media attorney whose clients included Rupert Murdoch.
In fact, the story of that money had a very sad ending, according to Mr. Squadron, 33, who said it was lost in 2008 in Bernie Madoff's infamous Ponzi scheme.
In the 1980s, the elder Squadron and his wife, Anne, became one of Mr. Madoff's early investors, and were friends with the now-disgraced fraudster.
When Mr. Squadron was 22, his father died, leaving a savings account for Mr. Squadron and 18 other family members, including Anne and his four older siblings. In December 2008, according to Mr. Squadron, that savings vanished: It had been invested with Mr. Madoff, whose Ponzi scheme financially devastated a number of families and nonprofits, especially in New York's Jewish community.
"Like so many others, my family and I were victims of Madoff. I—and all of us—lost virtually everything that my late father had left for us," Mr. Squadron wrote in a statement to The Insider.
Indeed, a 2009 article in Forbes recounts how Mr. Squadron's mother, Anne, had to sell her Manhattan apartment after Mr. Madoff's Ponzi scheme collapsed. She was also sued by fellow family members because the account was worthless.
Mr. Squadron, who grew up in Riverdale, an upscale Bronx neighborhood, has had advantages in life, including a Yale education. His grandfather had immigrated via Ellis Island, and his father grew up in the Bronx and went to the elite Bronx High School of Science and the once-prestigious City College before making a small fortune in the legal field.
Informed of Mr. Squadron's Madoff story, Ms. Saujani's campaign doubled down, saying that Mr. Squadron was simply "whining" and that a lawsuit shows that Mr. Squadron's family made more through Mr. Madoff than it lost. Her campaign noted that Mr. Squadron and the 18 relatives are named in a complex "clawback" lawsuit filed by a Madoff bankruptcy trustee, who has launched some 1,000 similar cases. The suit states that the Squadron family invested $10.8 million in Mr. Madoff's fund and received $11.8 million in "fictitious profits," and that some of that money should go to Madoff victims who suffered a net loss. Mr. Squadron and his family, who have not been accused of any wrongdoing, differ with the trustee's accounting.
The trustee's case has not been resolved, but Ms. Saujani's campaign took issue with Mr. Squadron's tale of woe.
"Trust Fund Dan is not a victim of Bernie Madoff, but a beneficiary," a said Saujani spokesman. "Irving Picard, the trustee for the real victims, has rejected Squadron's poverty routine as totally bogus. The money he claims to have lost is chump change compared to the millions in fictitious profits he made before the scam was exposed."
"Now Trust Fund Dan is whining and fighting in court to avoid paying the true victims of the Ponzi scheme. Only someone from incredible privilege whose Dad was close personal friends with Bernie Madoff would have the audacity to plead poverty after making millions off so many ruined lives," he continued.
The attacks from Ms. Saujani's campaign may be designed, in part, to blunt any attacks against her own history working as a hedge fund lawyer on Wall Street. Ms. Saujani touted that history in her 2010 run for Congress against Upper East Side Rep. Carolyn Maloney, but this year is seeking to position herself as a progressive. Mr. Squadron's campaign said that her campaign's statements were insensitive.
"Ms. Saujani has a long history of misleading and mean-spirited personal attacks against progressive Democrats who get results, so we're unsurprised by her campaign's latest outburst," a Squadron spokeswoman fired back in a statement. "Attacking a candidate's deceased father is, for Ms. Saujani, as predictable as it is inappropriate. Our campaign won't stoop to her level. Ms. Saujani should practice what she preaches, release her household's tax returns, and stop the mudslinging." (Ms. Saujani has released some of her own tax returns but not any of her husband's.)
Brooklyn Councilwoman Letitia James and Staten Island's Cathy Guerriero are also in the race for the Democratic nomination, which is tantamount to victory in the November general election.
Leaving aside the efficacy of the Saujani campaign's attacks on Squadron, let's take a look at the hypocrisy they're engaging in by launching these attacks.
Alex Pareene reported on the Saujani campaign back in April on Salon and noted how she conveniently forgot to mention her career on Wall Street working for some very scummy firms:
Oddly, her campaign biography doesn’t mention anything about Saujani’s career, which, before she began running for things, was spent working for Wall Street. Tom Robbins got Saujani to give up her closely guarded résumé in 2010. Saujani has worked at one prestigious law firm and three hedge funds. At the law firm, Davis Polk & Wardwell, Saujani defended securities fraud cases. She worked for two years as an affiliate of the Carlyle Group, Carlyle-Blue Wave Partners Management, that invested in mortgage-backed securities. Then she went to Fortress Investment, a fund that “was revealed to own a subprime mortgage lender that foreclosed on New Orleans homeowners who fell behind on their payments after Hurricane Katrina.”
Saujani's campaign vanity edited Hedge Fundie Reshma's Wikipedia page to remove any evidence of her working on Wall Street and even removed how badly she lost to Carolyn Maloney in the 2010 primary she waged against the Congresswoman (81%-19%).
But all that information is back and, helpful person that I am, let me put it here for you:
Saujani worked at the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell, where she defended securities fraud cases, and on a pro bono basis handled asylum cases. In 2005, she joined the investment firm Carret Asset Management. After Saujani left Carret, its principal owner, financier Hassan Nemazee, was convicted on felony charges relating to bank fraud carried out over the course of several years at Carret, including during Saujani's time at Carret; she later told the news media that she had had no knowledge of any illicit conduct at Carret. Subsequently, she joined Blue Wave Partners Management, a subsidiary of the Carlyle Group, the global alternative asset management firm specializing in private equity with a wide variety of investments ranging from defense contractors to nursing homes. She was an associate general counsel at Blue Wave, which invested in mortgage-backed securities; it was closed in the aftermath of the 2008 market collapse. Immediately prior to running for Congress, Saujani was a deputy general counsel at Fortress Investment Group, which had previously gained notoriety after it was reported that Fortress had invested some of its assets in subprime mortgage lenders who had foreclosed on the homes of Hurricane Katrina victims in the Gulf Coast.
Her Wikipedia page also notes the vanity editing her campaign did of her Wikipedia entry:
In January 2013, Saujani's Wikipedia page was heavily edited to remove traces of Saujani working for Wall Street firms such as hedge funds. Her campaign admitted to this, arguing they did it because they disagreed with the stated facts.
So here we have Wall Street Democrat Reshma Saujani, once supported by the hedge fundies at the Democrats for Education Reform, once proudly running for Congress as the candidate who was “running on my Wall Street record, not from it," now attacking Dan Squadron as the Wall Street crook.
That takes some chutzpah, doesn't it?
Well, we'll just have to make sure that Hedge Fundie Reshma's proud Wall Street past isn't forgotten as she runs away from her record and tries to fool people into thinking she's something she isn't - namely a progressive Democrat who will look out for the little guy.
Reshma Saujani is one of the more despicable people in politics in this city.
Her attacks on Squadron as a Wall Street crook tied to Madoff while Saujani herself worked for Wall Street firms that helped bring about the 2008 collapse and foreclosed on Hurricane Katrina victims is just the latest example of that.
No matter how many times her campaign tries to scrub her Wikipedia page, they won't be able to scrub the taint off Reshma Saujani herself.