Sen. Jon Corzine (D-N.J.) addressed a group of business presidents and CEOs Tuesday morning in Funger Hall talking about his move from the Wall Street to Capitol Hill. The event was part of “The Morning Call,” a forum hosted by Washington Business Forward, a regional business magazine.
“When you work as a business manager you are more concerned about specific objectives,” Corzine said. “As a political leader, you’re looking for more broad goals.”
Corzine, a freshman senator and former CEO of investment firm Goldman Sachs, spent about $60 million – mostly his own money – to win an open Senate seat last November.
The event was geared for GW students and business executives.
“They’re looking for something new and different for the business executives,” said Jim Hess, director of University Special Events. “Instead of having a typical event at a hotel or restaurant or a normal business setting, it puts them in a more relaxed atmosphere.”
Eamon Javers, editor in chief of Business Forward, which has a circulation of 42,000, said the event’s early start sometimes hurts attendance.
“We don’t see too many students here at 7 a.m,” Javers said.
Hess said the forum attracted a number of GW students, mostly from the School of Business and Public Management.
“Our goal was to have 30 or so students, but we had closer to 20,” Hess said.
University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg entertained the crowd of about 80 executives with an appeal to the hosts and sponsors and introducing Corzine.
“All I can think is that I have written out checks to all these groups at one point or another, so I feel at home with all of you here,” Trachtenberg said, referring to the long list of sponsors.
Jeremy Brosowsky, publisher and founder of Business Forward, interviewed Corzine.
Corzine said that just like in the business world, his political career has a series of benchmarks.
“You get the ultimate benchmark. Six years from now, someone will tell me whether I’m doing a good job or not,” Corzine said.
Although Corzine has been criticized for waging the most expensive Senate campaign in the country, he offers no apologies.
“When you look at being a newcomer, particularly in a fragmented state like New Jersey, I knew it would be an expensive process,” he said.
Following the interview, Corzine fielded questions from audience members.
Among the questions was whether he supported campaign finance reform.
“Believe me, I don’t find this an efficient use of resources,” said Corzine, referring to his own campaign spending. “I’m not embracing the concept.”
Corzine said the key to campaign reform is to provide publicly funded access to the media for all candidates. He said that although he likes the campaign finance reform measures proposed by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Russell Feingold (D-Wisc.), he feels it will not go far enough.
Corzine said he plans to continue pushing for universal health care access even though he realizes that it is unlikely given the current political climate.
Attendees from the business community said that the quarterly event was interesting.
“I had a background in politics, so hearing someone like Jon Corzine who entered the political world was compelling,” said Pete Snyder, CEO of Dupont Circle-based New Media strategies.
Dave Copenhafer, director of filing services from sponsor Bowne and Company said the event provides his company the opportunity to meet with potential clients. “We do meeting and greeting and PR,” Copenhafer said.
Hess said the event benefits the University.
“By hosting the event, GW’s contribution is not a costly one, but to provide a space for (Business Forward) to do this,” Hess said. “In exchange for that, we do give a number of students the ability to attend each time they come on campus.