A friend says: "Rubin is a certified friggin genius. He goes out to these okie dokie artichokie towns in the south and helps them issue bonds in return for a fat fee. It is like taking candy from a dead baby."
Since August, federal investigators have been examining how CDR Financial Products Inc., of Beverly Hills, Calif., got two consulting contracts in 2004 worth about $1.4 million to advise the state on a large bond issue for building infrastructure, one of Mr. Richardson’s initiatives. The investigation was first reported in The Albuquerque Journal.
In 2003 and 2004, CDR’s president, David Rubin, a major Democratic contributor, gave about $100,000 to two political action committees controlled by Mr. Richardson, as well as $10,000 to his re-election campaign in 2005, according to published reports.
A spokesman for Mr. Rubin, Allan Ripp, said the company had won the consulting work fairly after a lengthy review by state officials. He flatly denied that Mr. Rubin had been given state business in return for donating to Mr. Richardson’s committees; he also noted that Mr. Rubin had given hundreds of thousands of dollars to various Democratic candidates and committees.
“David Rubin makes a lot of contributions to a lot of causes, especially liberal Democratic causes,” Mr. Ripp said. “It’s unfortunate that people are trying to connect dots that aren’t there.”
Mr. Rubin’s company was one of six that answered a request for proposals in December 2003 on a $1.6 billion-bond program to pay for transportation projects. In March 2004, the company scored second-best in the bidding process and lost the main contract to a joint venture between Smith Barney and Ryan Labs.
…On June 18, 2004, three months after receiving the consulting work, Mr. Rubin’s firm gave $75,000 to a political action committee Mr. Richardson had formed to pay for himself and his staff to attend the Democratic National Convention in Boston that year, which he headed. The committee is called “Si Se Puede! (Yes We Can) Boston 2004.” Other companies that benefited from the bond sales gave $55,000, according to The Associated Press.
But Mr. Rubin’s largess to Mr. Richardson did not stop there. On Oct. 31, 2003, he gave $25,000 to Moving America Forward Inc., a political action committee controlled by Mr. Richardson and devoted to signing up Hispanic and American Indian voters, according to state election records.
Mr. Rubin also gave $10,000 to the Democratic Governors Association on March 25, 2004, according to Moneyline.cq.com, a Congressional Quarterly Web site. That December, Mr. Richardson became the group’s head.
Mr. Ripp said Mr. Richardson had never personally solicited Mr. Rubin for these donations. Mr. Ripp said Mr. Rubin had donated because, like Mr. Richardson, he had grown up in Mexico City, was passionate about Mexican-American causes and was a strong supporter of Israel. That some of the money came at the same time the state was giving CDR business was a coincidence, Mr. Ripp said. “You can’t get contracts because of money,” Mr. Ripp said. “This isn’t Nigeria.”
Gitel Rubin was recently strolling with her son in her Hancock Park neighborhood when, she said, a neighbor drove by, rolled down her window and yelled out. The driver was upset that Rubin’s family was expanding a newly purchased home to 10,000 square feet to make room for their six children, said Rubin, an Orthodox Jew.
“We’re watching your project carefully!,” Rubin said the driver yelled. “You better make sure you’re leaving enough yard space and not overbuilding for your large family!”
A year or two before, Rubin said, a longtime neighbor turned a cold shoulder to her and her father at a community meeting over whether to renew the conditional use permit of their neighborhood Jewish day school.
“Don’t talk to me,” Rubin said the man told her father. “I’m on the other side.”
…David Rubin, a former Yavneh president, said Orthodox Jews began increasing their presence more than a decade ago. The area is within walking distance of the many synagogues in the La Brea Avenue area, a requirement for Orthodox families, who may not drive or turn on electricity on their holy days.
…David Rubin, whose wife said she was shouted to on the street about their project, said he has fully complied with all building codes and is lovingly restoring the home’s original features, including redwood siding and gutters. He said his current three-bedroom home on Hudson Avenue was too small for six children.
Rubin said some of the tension could be traced to cultural and religious ignorance. Religious rules of modesty inhibit Orthodox Jews from hailing strangers of the opposite sex on the street, leading to possible perceptions that they are unfriendly, he said. Many Orthodox families walk down the middle of the street, a practice that annoys some neighbors, but do so to avoid setting off motion detector lights on the Sabbath or because their large families can’t comfortably fit on a narrow sidewalk, he said.
Aware of such perceptions, Korobkin, the rabbi, said he has urged families to initiate greetings to neighbors on the street, attend block parties, engage in community service and otherwise reach out to demystify themselves to non-Orthodox neighbors.
CDR has never been charged with any crimes. But The New York Times and other newspapers have reported that the company has been closely linked with legal "black box deals" used by American International Group (AIG), J. P. Morgan Chase and other companies to sell municipal bonds that benefit the issuing companies, but rarely benefit the low-income people who are supposed to get help.
CDR’s Los Angeles offices were reportedly searched more than two years ago in a federal probe of local government officials across the country who were getting financial help from agencies that manage sales of the agencies’ municipal bonds. No charges were filed after that search, either.
On its Web site, CDR Financial Products describes itself as a capital markets service company that has put together more than 5,358 bond sales totaling 158 billion dollars in transactions.
The donations to Richardson’s charities were made by CDR’s owner, David Rubin. He is a former Los Angeles Housing Commission member, appointed by then-mayor James Hahn in 2002.
A press release issued back then announcing Rubin;s appointment said Rubin’s CDR company had “created the Lease-To-Own program, in concert with Freddie Mac, which enables low-income families to acquire housing.”
On its Web site, CDR Financial Products describes itself as a capital markets service company that has put together more than 5,358 bond sales totaling $158 billion in transactions.