According to Preet Bharara, Preet Bharara is not interested in running for political office.
If that’s true, his hobbies include far-flung lunch dates and composing stump speeches just for the fun of it.
On Wednesday, Bharara spent his lunch speaking to business leaders on Staten Island. As the keynote speaker at the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation’s annual conference, the latest Sheriff of Wall Street did not disappoint despite the fact that he was seemed to be workshopping some new, election-y feeling, material.
The US Attorney for New York’s Southern District opened with a strong bit about his more successful younger brother - multimillionaire founder of Diapers.com, Vinnie Bharara.
“I had just been nominated by the President to be US Attorney, giving me subpoena power, which I thought was pretty cool,” he said. “But it wasn’t until my brother sold his company to Amazon for $550 million that my Indian mother called Sanjay Gupta’s mom to brag.”
But it wasn’t just mom anecdotes and adorable relatability. Bharara was no bullsh*t when it came to one of his favorite topics; illegal behavior on Wall Street.
According to Bharara, there are no inherently bad institutions, just bad actors and the lazy co-workers that allow them to ham it up in plain sight.
“There are too many good people who know something is wrong but don’t say anything,” Bharara lectured. “That’s a cultural problem and it exists at too many companies.”
He also did not miss an opportunity to take a shot at political corruption in Albany. A noted critic of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s toothless Moreland Commission, Bharara compared legislative corruption to gang violence and said that just arresting people without addressing underlying causes of that violence is useless.
Bharara went on to say that legislators can do great things, if we find the right ones. Which was an interesting thing to say in the context of a politically-connected business luncheon.
But Bharara was cagey when first confronted with the idea of his political aspirations, vocally ignoring the direct question “What’s next for Preet?”
What was next for Preet was saying “I’m not answering that.”
Like any non-candidate, he went on to talk about cleaning up the financial sector, teaching business school students about ethics and the recent unrest in Baltimore.
In the end though, the man who brought down Bernie Madoff could not escape his destiny… addressing the idea he wants to win an election at some point.
“Could you ever see yourself running for elected office?” he was asked.
“No,” he responded.
Maybe the stump speech just needs more workshopping.