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Expect Few Answers From Former Governor Jon Corzine Today [LIVE]

Jon Corzine
Mario Tama, Getty Images

Former New Jersey Governor and United States Senator Jon Corzine will be on the hot seat when he testifies before the House Agriculture Committee this morning about his role leading MF Global. He’s scheduled to appear before the Senate Agriculture Committee Tuesday.

Both panels voted to subpoena Corzine to compel his testimony. The AG committees have jurisdiction over commodities and futures markets.

MF Global filed for bankruptcy on October 31 after a doomed bet on European debt. Nearly $1.2 billion is estimated to still be missing from customer accounts. Regulators are investigating whether the brokerage firm used money from customers’ accounts for its own needs as its financial condition worsened. That would violate securities rules. The FBI is also investigating to see if the firm violated any criminal laws.

Corzine’s spokesman is not commenting but most legal experts feel the best course of action for Corzine is to refuse to answer any questions based on his Fifth Amendment rights. They say that by choosing to answer some questions, but not others, he may create more of an impression of guilt than by refusing to answer any. This may lead you to ask, “What’s the point of forcing him to testify?”

“It’s an opportunity to embarrass a former Democratic Governor and former United States Senator and the public spectacle of having him take the Fifth Amendment for example or be evasive on questions will certainly be generally embarrassing,” explains Rutgers University political science professor Ross Baker.

Rep. Frank Lucas of Oklahoma is the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and a Republican. Corzine is a Democrat. Baker says, “Holding up a member of the opposite party to public ridicule and scrutiny is considered to be fair game.”

Baker thinks things could be different for Corzine next week if he testifies before the Senate Panel because its chair, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan is a Democrat. Possibly not because Stabenow says, “It’s important that citizens come forward and testify when asked by our committee, especially in a matter this serious.”

Corzine resigned as chairman and CEO of MF Global on November 4. He was CEO of Goldman Sachs from 1994 to 1999, before he served in the Senate. He was New Jersey’s Governor from 2005 to 2009.

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