Some politicians get dirtier with each second they spend inside the beltway, but Newark Mayor Cory Booker is a man who thinks ahead. The candidate for the Democratic Party Senate nomination in New Jersey has found away to start procuring national political goodies before the primary for the office he is seeking.
According to a story in the New York Times (which I heard about in the Hugh Hewett Show) Cory Booker, has found a new way to grease up his palms—he got the folks in “Silicon Valley” to buy him an internet start up.
.…..Silicon Valley leaders joined forces again on Mr. Booker’s behalf. But this time, their efforts resulted in giving Mr. Booker, until then an admired outsider, the equivalent of full-fledged membership in their elite circle: an Internet start-up of his own [which happens to be a flop].
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Mr. Booker personally has obtained money for the start-up, called Waywire, from influential investors, including Eric E. Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman. A year after its debut, Waywire has already endured a round of layoffs and had just 2,207 visitors in June, according to Compete, a Web-tracking service. The company says it is still under development.
To put that into perspective, on a good day this site has more than 2,207 visitors before lunch.
Yet in a financial disclosure filed last month, Mr. Booker, 44, revealed that his stake in the company was worth $1 million to $5 million. Taken together, his other assets were worth no more than $730,000.
Think about that for a second…this corporation represents more than half his total assets.
That revelation, with just a week left in Mr. Booker’s campaign for the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate, shows how a few tech moguls and entrepreneurs, many of them also campaign donors, not only made a financial bet on the mayor’s political future but also provided the brainpower and financing to help create a company that could make him very rich.
Waywire has also provided jobs for associates of Mr. Booker: the son of a top campaign supporter and his social media consultant, who is now on his Senate campaign staff.
Oh and Booker conveniently forgot to disclose his ownership in the company on the financial forms filed with Newark or the form he filled as part of his senate candidacy. Booker’s spokesman
James Allen, said that the city form was amended Tuesday, which was conveniently the day before the Times produced their story.
A graduate of Stanford, Mr. Booker has nurtured close ties to Silicon Valley: he amassed more than $400,000 in campaign contributions from tech executives and employees for his 2010 mayoral re-election and nearly $700,000 this year for his Senate bid, an analysis of state and federal campaign finance records shows. This spring, the widow of Steve Jobs, Laurene Powell Jobs, and the power couple Marc Andreessen and Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen held a fund-raiser for him.
The 15-year-old son of the head of CNN Jeff Zucker, was given a seat on company’s board with stock options but supposedly Booker was not the decision maker, once the story broke today the kid resigned ( to spend more time with his paper route?). Does anybody really believe that the kid’s place on the board had nothing to do with his father’s job running CNN? Going even further what chance is there that the kid’s job and equity wasn’t just a way for Booker to guarantee good coverage and the Zucker family a little extra income? There is no proof….but the deal stinks. If the job placement was legit, why did the young Zucker resign as soon as the story broke?
Interviews show he [Booker] took a significant role in obtaining financing, however, sending notes to friends, soliciting interest and opening doors for his co-founders, Ms. Ross and Mr. Richardson, who like several investors in Waywire have also donated to Mr. Booker’s Senate campaign. Among those he approached was Oprah Winfrey, who also was among the first investors announced in June 2012.
Mr. Booker said it was not hard to raise $1.75 million in seed capital “because of the power of the idea.”
Well that and the fact Booker was seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party.
He reached out to Eric Schmidt of Google, who agreed to become the first investor, though the precise amount of his investment has not been disclosed.
“Cory introduced me to the team and I liked their approach,” Mr. Schmidt, who is also a campaign donor, said in response to e-mailed questions about Waywire, adding that he also admired Mr. Booker’s thinking and oratory.
Mr. Booker and Mr. Schmidt have close ties: Mr. Booker has made multiple appearances at Google events, including its private “Zeitgeist” conference for advertisers and business partners in Paradise Valley, Ariz., in 2011. And last summer, he flew Mr. Booker on a jet he chartered to a three-day, private Aspen Institute-style conference in Yellowstone, Mont.
While Booker would have to step down from the board if elected, but that doesn’t change the facts, Booker’s connection with this company, with Silicon Valley, and CNN, reeks of cronyism. If Booker is elected to the Senate can anybody reasonably believe that he will not be in the pockets of the technology giants who doubled his net value? Especially when those same people have given almost three-quarters of a million dollars to his Senate campaign? And can viewers of CNN be certain that coverage will not be tainted by the young Andrew Zucker’s short employment with Booker’s internet start-up?
This is an example of the disgusting part of politics, and the Mayor of Newark Cory Booker seems mired in the political slop.