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Alum to advise Treasury on bailout of U.S. automakers

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

As stock markets continued to plummet and uncertainty about the economic stimulus package lingered, President Obama appointed another Brown alum to his administration.

Steven Rattner ’74 P’09, a prominent Wall Street financier and member of the Brown Corporation, will serve as a top adviser to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on the difficult task of rescuing America’s troubled “Big Three” automakers, multiple media sources reported Monday.

Last month, President Obama was considering Rattner for the unprecedented position of “car czar,” in which the private equity mogul would have supervised the government bailout of the automobile industry. But last week, Obama instead selected a Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry, to be led by Geithner and National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers.

The Task Force – described in a White House press release as a cabinet-level group – was set to include the secretaries of Transportation, Commerce, Labor and Energy, as well as representatives from other groups, including the NEC and Environmental Protection Agency.

The committee convened on Feb. 20 to discuss requests from two of the car companies, Chrysler LLC and General Motors Corp., for additional bailout money, according to the release. In December, the government gave the two auto giants loans amounting to $17.4 billion. Last Tuesday, the companies requested an additional $14 billion in bailout money.

Though the White House statement did not name Rattner as a member of the Task Force, both the Associated Press and the New York Times reported yesterday that he will join the committee as a lead adviser to the Treasury secretary.

Rattner will work alongside former colleague Ronald Bloom, senior adviser on the auto industry. Bloom was vice president of investment bank Lazard Freres & Co., LLC from 1985 until 1990. Rattner served as deputy chairman and deputy chief executive officer of Lazard from 1989 until 2000.

In 2000, Rattner co-founded Quadrangle Group, LLC, a New York-based investment firm. He will leave his role as managing principal of Quadrangle to accept the Treasury position, according to reports.

A member of Brown’s highest governing body since 1994, Rattner was also editor-in-chief of The Herald as an undergraduate.

The White House also announced the appointment of another Brown alum, Dana Singiser ’92, yesterday. Singiser, who served as a senior advisor for the women’s vote on Obama’s campaign, was appointed special assistant to the president for legislative affairs. She will be part of a team responsible for promoting Obama’s legislative priorities in the Senate.

Singiser worked on the presidential campaigns of both Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and President Obama, first as director of women’s outreach for Clinton.

The Chicago Tribune also reported last week that Jill Zuckman ’87, a Tribune reporter and regular guest on cable news shows like “Hardball” and “Fox News Sunday,” was leaving the publication to join the Obama administration in the Department of Transportation.

According to a Feb. 15 story on the Tribune’s Web site, Zuckman will serve as assistant to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, and the department’s director of public affairs.

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