Here\’s a shocking transcript from the Frank Beckman show, broadcast on Newstalk 760 WJR from Detriot. Frank Beckman is interviewing Tom Lauria, the attorney for most of Chrysler’s non-TARP creditors:
Beckmann: So what’s the matter with your vulture clients who are so greedy and selfish. Why won’t they go along with this?
Lauria: Well, they bought a contract that says that they get paid before anyone else does by Chrysler. And they have been told by the government who is in complete control of Chrysler, oddly enough, that despite their contractual right, they do not get paid before everyone else.
So they are standing on their rights, standing on the law, trying to defend in effect what is the Constitution of the United States, to make sure that they get what they’re entitled to for their investors.
Beckmann: Tom, let me make the argument against you in another way. We’ve heard the President say this, “I wouldn’t want to stand on their side.” Ron Gettelfinger says “Everyone else has made concessions. These people won’t; they’re greedy.” Why not take a concession that is being asked of everybody else and is being accepted by everybody else, including other hedge funds that had bought some of these bonds in Chrysler?
Lauria: Well that’s a great question, because let me tell you it’s no fund standing on this side of the fence opposing the President of the United States. In fact, let me just say, people have asked me who I represent, and that’s a moving target.
I can tell you for sure that I represent one less investor today than I represented yesterday. One of my clients was directly threatened by the White House, and in essence compelled to withdraw its opposition to the deal under threat that the full force of the White House press corps would destroy its reputation if it continued to fight. That’s how hard it is to stand on this side of the fence.
Beckmann: Was that Perella Weinberg?
Lauria: That was Perella Weinberg.
President Obama appears to be determined to follow through with his threat, as evidenced by his statement this past Thursday:
“A group of investment firms and hedge funds decided to hold out for the prospect of an unjustified taxpayer-funded bailout.”
So, what about this “unjustified taxpayer-funded bailout”??
BizziBlog posted a letter from a group of 20 Chrysler secured lenders calling themselves the “Committee of Chrysler Non-Tarp Lenders” who rejected the government’s offer of 33 cents on the dollar to settle on their portion of Chrysler’s $6.9 billion dollar debt:
NEW YORK, Apr 30, 2009 (BUSINESS WIRE) — As of last night’s deadline, we were part of a group of approximately 20 relatively small organizations; we represent many of the country’s teachers unions, major pension and retirement plans and school endowments who have invested through us in senior secured loans to Chrysler. Combined, these loans total about $1 billion. None of us have taken a dime in TARP money.
As much as anyone, we want to see Chrysler emerge from its current situation as a viable American company, and we are committed to doing what we can to help. Indeed, we have made significant concessions toward this end – although we have been systematically precluded from engaging in direct discussions or negotiations with the government; instead, we have been forced to communicate through an obviously conflicted intermediary: a group of banks that have received billions of TARP funds.
What created this much-publicized impasse? Under long recognized legal and business principles, junior creditors are ordinarily not entitled to anything until senior secured creditors like our investors are repaid in full. Nevertheless, to facilitate Chrysler’s rehabilitation, we offered to take a 40% haircut even though some groups lower down in the legal priority chain in Chrysler debt were being given recoveries of up to 50% or more and being allowed to take out billions of dollars. In contrast, over at General Motors, senior secured lenders are being left unimpaired with 100% recoveries, while even GM’s unsecured bondholders are receiving a far better recovery than we are as Chrysler’s first lien secured lenders.
Our offer has been flatly rejected or ignored. The fact is, in this process and in its earnest effort to ensure the survival of Chrysler and the well being of the company’s employees, the government has risked overturning the rule of law and practices that have governed our world-leading bankruptcy code for decades.
We have a fiduciary responsibility to all those teachers, pensioners, retirees and others who have entrusted their money to us. We are legally bound to protect their interests.
Threatening people who simply wish that the rule of law be followed with the destruction of their reputation is classic thuggery.
The thing is…why would anyone expect any different from a Chicago politician?