By Peter Schroeder - 05/09/12 04:45 PM EDT
Grimm suggested that even if the Obama administration does eventually prosecute Corzine for his role in the messy collapse, the eighth-largest bankruptcy in U.S. history, the Justice Department might delay it until after the election.
"Do you think that maybe the administration would not be so fast to push the prosecution now and wait until after the elections because he is tied to the administration because he’s a major bundler? I think that’s obvious," he said. “I don’t think anyone would say that’s not a strong possibility."
Corzine was listed as a top-level bundler for the president's reelection campaign and hosted fundraisers for the president before the bankruptcy. After the collapse, the campaign and the Democratic National Committee said they would return more than $70,000 in contributions from Corzine and his wife. When asked what role, if any, Corzine still was playing in the president's reelection efforts, a campaign spokesman said, "None."
Corzine has been subpoenaed multiple times to testify before Congress on the October bankruptcy, and several other MF Global employees and regulators have also been called to the Capitol for questions. Of particular concern to lawmakers is how $1.6 billion in customer funds that should have been kept segregated were moved from protected accounts leading up to the bankruptcy, and who authorized such a move. Corzine, who resigned shortly after the firm went down, has maintained he does not know what happened to the funds.
Grimm and other Republican lawmakers said they do not have evidence that the ongoing investigation has been stifled, but that the mere appearance of a conflict is sufficient justification for bringing on an independent party.
They also point to Corzine's ties to the head of MF Global's regulator, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), as evidence of a conflict. CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler previously worked with Corzine when the two were at Goldman Sachs, and later overlapped when Corzine served on the Senate Banking Committee while Gensler was a top adviser to Committee Chairman Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.). Gensler recused himself from all matters related to MF Global shortly after the bankruptcy.
"We're here to ... send a message that it does not matter who you are, that it does not matter how much money you have raised for your political allies, you will not receive special treatment or escape justice," said Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio).
While the call has so far garnered only GOP support, Grimm said he thinks a few Democrats could end up signing onto the letter as well.
"Believe it or not, but we have several Democrats that are on the fence, really considering it," he said. "I understand their position. They don’t want to take a strong line against the administration."
The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment.