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“I’m not naive enough to think relationships aren’t important,” Frankel told the Jewish Week. “However I just came from government, so I know that it is much more focused on quality and efficiency of the services that you deliver than whose name is on the [office] door.”
But that doesn’t mean that Frankel has sworn off pols altogether, or they him. Photos from a recent Passover food giveaway show a plethora of Brooklyn pols at the Met Council event: New York City Council member Stephen Levin, New York State Assembly member Dov Hikind, Public Advocate Letitia James, Rep. Nydia Velazquez, Rep. Grace Meng, New York State Assembly member Joe Lentol and New York City Council member Mark Treyger are all pictured.
In one photo, Frankel stands next to Rabbi Joseph Menczer, a prominent Hasidic political activist with a controversial past. A top official with the state health department was fined in 2001 for taking gifts from Menczer and a colleague after Menczer and the colleague helped raise $500,000 for then-governor George Pataki’s election campaign and proceeded to cultivate unusual access on behalf of their for-profit business.
Frankel, who was hired last August, served previously as commissioner of the New York City Department of Finance under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Before going to work for the city, Frankel worked at AIG and Morgan Stanley, two of the Wall Street institutions that required the largest bailouts after the 2007 financial collapse.
Frankel had a senior back-office role in both places. At AIG he was head of global operations for a subsidiary called the AIG Trading Group. That subsidiary was a close corporate cousin of AIG Financial Products, whose credit default swaps torpedoed the entire firm. But Frankel’s shop was not involved with credit default swaps, according to Roddy Boyd, author of “Fatal Risk,” a 2011 book on the AIG debacle.
Frankel’s role at AIG-TG would have been relatively low profile, according to Boyd. “You’re involved in the accounting, the trade clearance, the computer stuff,” Boyd said. Important, but not as lucrative as a major trader. “The naked fact of the matter is, it was a kind of a back-office or administrative position,” Boyd said.