Steve Rattner, Obama's putative "car czar," was named in an SEC investigation claiming his investment firm funded distribution of a movie named "Chooch" in exchange for NY pension business. But what is "Chooch?"
Steve Rattner, the former NYT reporter and the man tasked with leading the Obama administration's efforts to restructure the auto industry, has been described in Securities and Exchange Commission documents as having arranged for his investment firm, the Quadrangle Group, to pay more than $1 million to obtain New York State pension business.
The S.E.C. complaint, released Wednesday, describes steps the Quadrangle executive took to win $100 million worth of business from the pension fund in 2005. That amount accounted for nearly 5% of a Quadrangle private equity fund and helped the company raise money from other investment funds. Here's where "Chooch" comes in — and where things get murky enough here that we've got to enlist the help of our friends at the NYTimes:
In October 2004, the executive met with Mr. Loglisci to seek the pension fund investment and Mr. Loglisci "reacted favorably" and "began taking the necessary steps to secure approval" for the investment, the complaint said.
Two months later, in December, the same executive met with Mr. Morris, who, according to prosecutors, was working in tandem with Mr. Loglisci to generate millions of dollars in fees from the investment firms, and within weeks had agreed to a deal to pay an obscure securities firm that employed Mr. Morris 1.1 percent of any money that the retirement fund invested with Quadrangle, as a placement agent fee. That worked out to $1.1 million, of which Mr. Morris received 95 percent.
The timing of the meeting with Mr. Morris was significant, the complaint indicated, because the Quadrangle executive had already met with Mr. Loglisci and would presumably not need a placement agent. In addition, Quadrangle had previously retained a separate placement agent.
The executive also met with Mr. Loglisci about a low-budget movie Mr. Loglisci was producing, "Chooch." Soon afterward, GT Brands Holdings, a company owned by one of Quadrangle's private equity funds, made a deal to acquire the DVD distribution rights to "Chooch," an agreementthat made the film's producers nearly $90,000.
So basically, if we get this right, Rattner's investment group agreed to help fund the "Chooch" in order to get paid. What the hell is a "Chooch" and why is it the title of a movie the car czar effectively greenlit the distribution of?
UrbanDictionary.com says "Chooch" is a term "derived from the Italian word "ciuccio" and means jackass, dummy, idiot, or moron. A chooch is a person, who against better judgement, acts inappropriately." OK, so the movie is about a jackass? Well, yes. According to IMDB, "Chooch," directed by J.C. Bari and Rajeev Nirmalakhandan, is a heartwarming tale of jackassery and douche-baggery before eventual enlightenment.
"The life of Queens resident Dino Condito is about to take a surprising turn. After letting down his softball team by striking out in the bottom of the ninth against Hoboken, his crew brands him the chooch. Trying to cheer up his cousin Dino, Jubilene Condito cashes in his savings from his first holy communion and springs for a vacation to Cancun. You mean leave Queens? asks Dino, as if the thought had never occurred to him. But there's a mix-up on the way to the airport involving a mysterious bag of money. As soon as Dino and Jube land in Mexico, they're abducted by a pair of thugs and left in the desert at the mercy of a trio of soldiers. It takes reuniting Dino's old Queens crew, including Dino's beloved pet dachsund, to save the two cousins. Only after a jail bust, donkey ride, chicken coop explosion, and a life-changing love affair at the local bordello does the crew finally arrive to save the day. Returning home in triumphant glory with his reunited crew and newfound love Ladonna, Dino discovers the meaning of family, friendship and neighborhood."
But the best part is probably the movie's tagline:
"In the neighborhood of Bocci Park, Queens, God forbid you mess up and someone gives you a nickname. It can stick with you the rest of your life."
Or Detroit for that matter, which is why Steve "Chooch" Rattner's now got a new nickname. Our fervent desire is for Rattner's new nickname sticking with him for the rest of his life. [via NYTimes, IMDB, Gawker]
Photo Credit: Brad Barket / Getty Images Entertainment