Monday, September 24, 2012

Obama's Jacobson-SNR Denton and Gips-LightSquared Connections

“Some of President Barack Obama’s choices for U.S. ambassador have touched off foreign concerns over nominees being better known as FOOs (friends of Obama) or big-time fundraisers... Jacobson worked briefly at a prominent New York law firm before accepting a job at Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal LLP, an international law firm with operations in Europe and the United States, including a lobbying office in Washington, DC, that worked on behalf of failed insurance giant AIG…. Jacobson ended up making partner at Sonnenschein and spending 30 years at the firm, specializing in complex commercial, class action, securities, insurance and business litigation, including E-commerce. His clients included prominent companies like Prudential, Allstate, Travelers, The Chicago and North Western Railway, and General Motors.

“…Before meeting Obama Jacobson raised money for Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton...After joining the Obama camp, Jacobson forged “Lawyers for Obama” and became deputy finance chair for the national campaign. He helped raise between $50,000-$100,000, according to
“Following the presidential transition, Jacobson joined the White House in January [2009] as a special assistant to the president for the Office of Presidential Personnel. His focus was on filling slots on executive branch boards and commissions.”

--from an Aug. 2, 2009 site blog post

“…Huron, which seeks $30 million in damages, accuses Sonnenschein of tortious interference for encouraging Huron employees to contact their current and former coworkers and persuade them to come work for Sonnenschein.

“It accuses five ex-Huron executives, now all at Sonnenschein, of recruiting coworkers in violation of a nonsolicitation agreement, downloading confidential Huron documents and client lists, and soliciting Huron clients after leaving the company.

“It also accuses them of keeping Huron laptops filled with client lists and confidential information about clients like the city of Chicago well after they were allowed to have them...Among the juicier details, the complaint says the alleged ringleader of the Huron group, a partner in Sonnenschein's health care group, told colleagues the firm was a place to get easy money….A second defendant, a managing director at Sonnenschein's health care group, assured one Huron employee that she could expect a 62 percent raise if she jumped to the law firm, the complaint says….The tortious interference aspect of the case centers around...Sonnenschein's health care practice…"

--from the AmLaw Daily website on June 11, 2009

SNR Denton announced today that former US Ambassador Robert S. Gelbard has joined the firm as a senior advisor in the firm’s Public Policy and Regulation practice. He will be resident in the Washington, DC office.

"`With the ever growing importance of government in both regulating and driving commerce, Bob’s seasoned background in business and diplomacy throughout the world will prove an invaluable resource to our clients and colleagues worldwide,’ said Mike McNamara, SNR Denton’s US Managing Partner.

“During his career in the United States Foreign Service, Ambassador Gelbard held numerous senior foreign policy positions, including the President’s Special Representative for the Balkans, Ambassador to Indonesia and Bolivia, Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement...and Deputy Director for Western European Affairs. Gelbard also served as…President George H.W. Bush’s personal representative for the 1992 San Antonio Summit…. Gelbard received the Presidential Meritorious Award...

"`SNR Denton brings a world-class sector focus to serving clients globally,’ said Gelbard. `My longstanding relationship with a number of the Firm’s partners and engagement on projects throughout Asia and the Middle East will facilitate our work together.’

“Gelbard is a member of the Boards of Directors of Raydiance, Data Technologies & Analytics, and P.T. Toba Bara (Indonesia), and the Boards of Advisors of PAE, Good Technology and Atlas International Investments….His non-profit activities include the… Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the Atlantic Council, the Boards of Directors of Phelps Stokes and the US-Serbia Business Council...

SNR Denton is a client-focused international legal practice...We serve clients in key business and financial centers from more than 60 locations worldwide, through offices, associate firms and special alliances across the US, the UK, Europe, the Middle East, Russia and the CIS, Asia Pacific and Africa... Joining the complementary top tier practices of its founding firms—Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP and Denton Wilde Sapte LLP—SNR Denton offers business, government and institutional clients premier service…in eight key industry sectors: Energy, Transport and Infrastructure; Financial Institutions and Funds; Government; Health and Life Sciences; Insurance; Manufacturing; Real Estate, Retail and Hotels; and Technology, Media and Telecommunications…. “

--from a Feb.22, 2012 SNR Denton press release

SNR Denton announced today that Lisa M. Ledbetter has joined the firm as a partner in its Financial Institutions Regulatory practice. Ledbetter joins SNR Denton from Freddie Mac where she was most recently vice president and deputy general counsel. She previously served in several senior positions at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Ledbetter is resident in the firm's Washington, DC, office.

“`Lisa is one of the financial services industry's top bank regulatory and legislative lawyers,’ said Robert Bostrom, co-head of SNR Denton's global Financial Institutions and Funds sector and former Freddie Mac executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary, who himself joined the firm in the past six months. `…Her experience has given her a wealth of contacts in various financial institution regulatory agencies and on Capitol Hill,’ added Bostrom….Prior to Freddie Mac, Ledbetter held several senior positions at the FDIC…. As senior counsel for FDIC legislation and regulation, she was responsible for bank safety...Ledbetter's extensive responsibility for regulatory and legislative initiatives involving banks and financial institutions included banking reform, the thrift cleanup, Glass-Steagall and interstate banking….

"`I am energized to use my 25 years of experience in financial services to help SNR Denton manage the extraordinary challenges clients face…’ said Ledbetter...”

--from a March 6, 2012 article

Sonnenschein reported gross revenue of $472.5 million in 2009 and profits per partner of $780,000…”

--from a May 26, 2010 article in The American Lawyer

Donald Gips, the top Obama aide who became ambassador to South Africa, cashed in his stock options for LightSquared, a new wireless Internet firm, for as much as $500,000 ten days after the company won a favorable decision from the Federal Communications Commission, newly released documents show.

Gips, a friend and major campaign fundraiser of President Obama, was the White House personnel chief until being appointed ambassador to South Africa in 2009.

“In his 2009 personal financial disclosure form, Gips reported owning stock options for 176,250 shares of the wireless firm. At the time, the FCC was weighing a request by hedge fund billionaire Philip Falcone to take over the company, then known as SkyTerra.

“According to the proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Falcone offered the owners of SkyTerra stock $5 a share. The sale was subject to several conditions, including FCC consent.

“The FCC staff gave Falcone its approval on March 26, 2010.

Gips’ 2010 financial disclosure, newly obtained by iWatch News, shows that he sold his shares on April 5, 2010—ten days after the FCC okayed the merger. Gips reported earning between $250,000 and $500,000 from the sale.

“iWatch News recently reported that LightSquared’s ties to Obama’s supporters and the administration’s policy interests run deep and that several major Democratic campaign contributors and longtime Obama supporters have held investments in the company and its affiliates during its tangled decade of existence.

"Obama installed one of his biggest fundraisers, Julius Genachowski, a campaign `bundler' and broadband cheerleader, as chairman of the FCC, which granted LightSquared a special waiver to operate…

"Gips served on the Obama transition team with Genachowski before they were appointed to top administration positions…"

.—from a July 22, 2011 Center for Public Integrity article

Obama’s Jacobson-SNR Denton and Gips-LightSquared Connection

Between 2009 and 2012 the Democratic Obama Administration failed to produce much radical change in either the militaristic foreign policy of the U.S. government or the special influence of U.S. corporations, Wall Street banks and white U.S. corporate lawyers over U.S. federal government policy. One reason might be because Obama apparently appointed corporate lawyers from firms that hire ex-U.S. government officials to represent corporate clients before federal government regulatory agencies (like SNR Denton) or white corporation executives from firms that benefit from FCC decisions (like LightSquared)—but who were either members of the 2008 Obama Campaign National Finance Committee or big campaign contributors—to both apparently recommend appointees to federal regulatory agencies and to be U.S. ambassadors to countries like Canada and South Africa—despite their lack of much diplomatic experience. As Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter noted in his 2010 book The Promise: President Obama, Year One:

“…For…political sports…a Chicago lawyer named David Jacobson (soon joined by Donald Gips, director of presidential personnel) identified a small handful of standouts among the 500 members of the campaign’s National Finance Committee…Jacobson and Gips…accepted ambassadorships themselves, Jacobson to Canada and Gips to South Africa…”

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