Mark over at LA Biz Observed hopped quickly on the death today of Roland Arnall, founder of subprime loan giant Ameriquest. Arnall has been a major money guy for Republicans and Democrats, even helping bankroll Jerry Brown's runs for governor, later advising Gray Davis and, later still, Arnold Schwarzenegger. In Los Angeles politics he goes back to the Art Snyder days on the Eastside and, of course, features prominently in Villaraigosa lore. It was Arnall's jet that the mayor grabbed a ride on to the funeral of Rosa Parks, then when questions were raised, Villaraigosa returned with the defiant vow that he'd do it again. From last year's New Yorker profile:
As speaker, Villaraigosa acquired new friends who happened to be billionaires: Ronald Burkle, the supermarket magnate; Roland Arnall, the founder of Ameriquest, one of the biggest sub-prime lenders in the country (which recently agreed to pay $325 million to settle accusations of predatory lending practices); and Eli Broad, a leading Los Angeles philanthropist in the fields of education, scientific research, and the arts. He also formed a close friendship with Keith Brackpool, a British-born businessman, who had previously pleaded guilty to securities fraud in England, and who was promoting a California water-storage scheme that could have brought him hundreds of millions of dollars if the state had approved it. With these companions, Villaraigosa travelled on private jets and developed a taste for expensive wine. (When he summoned the sommelier at a restaurant recently, a friend joked, “Antonio, I knew you when you drank Manischewitz!”) According to one legislator (though Villaraigosa denies it), he even began getting out of his car “in an almost regal way,” extending his arms while waiting for his driver, a highway-patrol officer, to help him into his jacket.
Here's a 2005 LAT piece by E. Scott Reckard detailing a lot of Arnall's political and business dealings. "Roland was responsible for Gray becoming governor,'' Davis adviser Garry South said.