Even if this is a coincidence, it still looks bad. The WSJ reports that Howard Marks, the L.A. billionaire investor and major contributor to NY Sen. Charles Schumer, was looking at IndyMacís books just weeks before Schumer raised questions to regulators about the bank's solvency. Those concerns were made public and no doubt had a hand in the further deterioration of IndyMac, leading to July takeover by government regulators. Nothing came of Marks' interest, which included a proposal from his firm, Oaktree Capital Management, to meet IndyMac's "liquidity and capital needs." Now it should be noted that Oaktree looks at lots of businesses as potential investments - and Schumer has lots of contributors with all kinds of agendas. But considering how the Democrats are so fervently tying big bad business with the GOP... well, you see the problem. Schumer's office said he wasn't aware of Oaktree's interest in IndyMac until after the bank failed. And Marks said he never talked to Schumer about IndyMac. In other words, nobody knows nuttení.
Sen. Schumer's tie to Oaktree illustrates how complicated this political terrain can be for Democrats in the election. The group of investors led by Oaktree are big political contributors, predominantly to Democrats. They have donated more than $700,000 to Senate Democrats and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee during the four years that Sen. Schumer has chaired the campaign committee. Oaktree's Mr. Marks gave the Democrats' Senate Campaign Committee $20,000 in late March. Executives of his firm and three other equity firms that considered investing in IndyMac along with Oaktree -- Thomas H. Lee Partners, Ares Capital Management LLC and Fortress Investment Group LLC -- have been generous donors to the DSCC under Sen. Schumer's chairmanship, as have many Wall Street financial-services firms.