I had never heard of Charles Ponzi or the Ponzi scheme when I met my husband. What can I say? I was young, idealistic, and I did not believe in alchemy. But the news of the last several years has forced me to confront the dubious distinction associated with my surname and see it used in connection with a host of shameful efforts to deceive people out of their money with the promise of untold (and unrealized) riches. Still, of all the embarrassing connections--from Madoff to Social Security--it is hard to say that any of them tops this one
. Hassan Nemazee is indicted for stealing over $290 million--much of it used to promote the election efforts of prominent Democrats (he was the national
finance chairman for Hillary Clinton's run for the Presidency in 2008) and other charitable causes.
On the other hand, Hassan Nemazee is a true portrait in the modern permutation of the virtue of liberality. That is, he took other people's money and, in his infinite and inscrutable wisdom, he used it to support causes (like the campaigns of John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama) that he believed were worthy. And if he made himself a very prominent Democrat in the process, he differs very little from his counterparts who hold elected office. Except . . . well, he doesn't hold any elected office. He's just a former finance chairman . . . so he doesn't get any cover from saying that he persuaded people to hand over their money voluntarily or that he thought the things he longed to finance were too important to bother about actually having the collateral to back up his debt. In exchange for all of Nemazee's trouble, he will not be re-elected so as to be ensconced within the grand confines of the Capitol building or the White House. Instead, he will very likely have a chance to become intimate with the confines of a prison cell.