Former Vice President of the United States and current Chairman of Cerberus Global Investments Dan Quayle. Elise Amendola/AP
This story originally appeared at Truthdig. Robert Scheer is the author of The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street (Nation Books).
How fitting that Dan Quayle, a bumbling excuse for a vice president of the United States, should end up as a top executive of a $20 billion private equity firm mired in controversy. Quayle, who signed on with Cerberus in 1999, was with that company during its takeover and subsequent bankruptcy of Chrysler, questionable military contracting deals in Afghanistan and, most recently, manufacturing the assault rifle used in the Newtown massacre.
The former Indiana senator, to whom most of us in the press corps covering George H.W. Bush’s presidential campaign in 1988 referred to as the Ken doll, must have found life in the private sector so much more rewarding, but how much so is not known, since Cerberus is privately held.
Dan and his son Ben Quayle, a congressman from Arizona, have been ardent supporters of the NRA, but even they must have been shocked by the latest—and not only—incident involving one of Cerberus’ product lines. The company now acknowledges that its gun unit, Freedom Group Inc.—which refers to itself as “the largest manufacturer of commercial firearms and ammunition,” sold in eighty countries—is a public relations embarrassment and has put it up for sale.
In case you missed the connection, as did too many in the mainstream media, the former vice president was rewarded for his gaffe-filled performance in that job with the far more lucrative position of chairman of Cerberus Global Investments LLC. He was hired for that post by Cerberus CEO Stephen Feinberg, an alum of the disgraced and defunct junk bond emporium Drexel Burnham Lambert.
In addition to owning Bushmaster, the manufacturer of the assault weapon used in Connecticut, Cerberus’ holdings have included Chrysler Corp., bailed out by US taxpayers, and DynCorp, the military construction contractor that is the subject of a major special inspector general’s investigation of its activities in Afghanistan. All three businesses are deeply dependent on decisions of the federal government once served by Quayle and other high members of the Cerberus team.