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Wednesday, April 22, 2009
24 Deals, $11.5M in Fees
By Thomas J. Cole
Journal Staff Writer
The years of Gov. Bill Richardson have turned out to be golden for Santa Fe investment broker Marc Correra.
In January, the state Racing Commission voted to license a Correra partnership for a horse-racing track and slot-machine casino in Raton.
Also, according to data released by the State Investment Council last week in response to a Journal records request, Correra has shared in $11.5 million in fees paid by recipients of state investments since 2003, the year Richardson took office.
The governor appoints the members of the Racing Commission, chairs the State Investment Council, appoints most of the council's members and hires the state investment officer.
Correra's wife once served as Richardson's international protocol officer and his father, Anthony, worked on the governor's transition and served on the board of a Richardson political foundation.
Richardson spokesman Gilbert Gallegos has said relationships played no role in the license for the Raton track. And Gallegos said Tuesday that the governor wasn't aware of Correra or any other third-party marketers involved in state investment deals.
So maybe we're making too much of the connections between Correra and the governor and the way Correra has benefited from state investment decisions. Maybe not.
This much is certain: The numbers released by the State Investment Council on Correra's fees are eye-popping.
Correra was paid the fees as a third-party marketer. That means he either marketed investments to the council through its advisers or marketed a state investment opportunity to those seeking investment dollars.
Third-party marketer fees are paid by those receiving investments such as a hedge fund or private equity fund and not by those making the investments, in this case the State Investment Council.
The council recently began gathering the data on third-party marketer fees as a result of an investigation in New York that centers on whether third-party fees in some cases were actually kickbacks for getting state business.
So far, the State Investment Council has been able to identify third-party marketers on 65 transactions totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. Correra was a marketer in 24 of those transactions.
The State Investment Council data show a total of $25.9 million in third-party marketer fees. Correra shared in $11.5 million of that amount. Exactly how much he got isn't known.
No other marketer was involved in more transactions or shared in more fees than Correra. The council's numbers aren't final; it is still gathering marketer and fee data on other transactions.
State Investment Council member Andrew Davis has expressed concern that the bulk of third-party marketer fees went to just a few agents like Correra. He said some large companies hired marketers when there was no need to do so.
Even State Investment Officer Gary Bland said he was "somewhat surprised" by the Correra numbers.
"I knew he was working the process pretty hard," he said. "I knew he was out trying to drum up business."
Bland said he talks to Correra regularly. The two serve together on nonprofit boards and Bland said they have been on a couple of horse rides.
He said he also talks to Anthony Correra frequently to get his viewpoint on investment matters. The father has worked as a broker and investment adviser.
"I know him (Anthony Correra) better than I know his son, actually," Bland said.
He said Marc Correra hasn't benefited from his ties to the governor.
"He doesn't get any favoritism" from the State Investment Council, Bland said. "I don't think the governor was aware he was doing business with us."
He said third-party marketers seeking state investment dollars on behalf of their clients are referred to the council's advisers, which then make recommendations on investments to the council and its staff.
Bland said he understands the interest in the large amount of fees paid to Correra and the number of transactions he was involved in.
"It raised my eyebrows, so it had to raise yours," he said. "That's doing real well."
He said Correra benefits from being local and from being familiar with the types of investments that are of interest to the State Investment Council.
"Some people are more aggressive than others," Bland said. "Some people are more successful at being aggressive."
Correra couldn't be reached.
Two others who worked on several council investments as third-party marketers were Alfred Jackson of Houston and Dan Weinstein of Beverly Hills, Ca.
Jackson shared in more than $3.4 million in fees on three investments. He was a marketer for a fourth investment but the fee, if any, for that transaction isn't known.
Weinstein, a principal with Wetherly Capital Group, shared in $2 million in fees on six investments.
Jackson is a former principal in the firm of Davis Hamilton Jackson & Associates. He and another principal in the firm donated a total of $16,000 to a Richardson political committee after Davis was selected in 2003 as a money manager for the State Investment Council.
Jackson contributed to Richardson's presidential campaign, as did Weinstein and two other principals with Wetherly. Weinstein is a longtime Democratic fundraiser.
Two others with strong Democratic ties also received third-party marketer fees. They were Marvin Rosen, a former finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and Eileen Kotecki, a top adviser to the presidential campaigns of former Sens. Al Gore and John Edwards.
Kotecki shared a $1.2 million fee with Guy Riordan, a former Richardson appointee who was accused by Michael Montoya of paying kickbacks to Montoya while he was state treasurer.
Riordan has denied wrongdoing and has never been charged with a crime, although an administrative law judge for the Securities and Exchange Commission has banned him for life from the securities business and ordered him to pay $2.2 million in restitution to the state.
The third-party marketers on state investments also have been contributors to Republican causes.
UpFront is a daily front-page opinion column. Thom Cole can be reached in Santa Fe at (505) 992-6280 or at email@example.com.