Bob Rubin sex scandal: He can’t get past second base

By Felix Salmon
April 30, 2010

Now this is what we really need on a Friday afternoon: a Bob Rubin sex scandal!

It’s all based on a whopping 3,500-word blog entry from Iris Mack, who had a long relationship with Bob Rubin which involved hundreds of phone calls, a few dates, the occasional “cuddle” — and no sex.

The post itself leaves the question of whether or not sex occurred slightly ambiguous, but I’ve cleared the matter up with Moe Tkacik, who helped Mack write the story, and the fact is that although Rubin clearly wanted sex, he never got it.

Mack says that Rubin behaved like a “bratty teenager”, and that she finally got disgusted enough with him to go public after she watched his dreadful performance in front of the FCIC. But not before this:

“Do you want to go upstairs and…cuddle?”

So that’s what this is about. For a moment I was totally speechless and had to dig into my Harvard trained PhD brain to figure out what the hell he meant by “cuddling”! What can I say; once a teetotaling math geek, always a bit slow to pick up on signals from the menfolk. So the former Treasury Secretary had a “crush” on me! And not long afterward the former Treasury Secretary had his tongue down my throat and hands everywhere sort of like an octopus. But as soon as the thought entered my mind — the former Treasury Secretary has his tongue down my throat?! — I came to my senses a bit and awkwardly went back home before we both got too carried away. This is to say, I said to myself that there would be no other former Treasury Secretary appendages entering any other of my orifices.

Rubin’s reputation has been in tatters for a while now, but that doesn’t stop him from having a lot of influence in the White House. I suspect that’s going to change now that no one’s going to be able to look at him without thinking of him jetting down to Miami on a booty call — and then failing to close the deal.

Meanwhile, Rubin’s professional reputation should be hurt by this, too:

It was a hellish season back at the Citigroup office; a few days after that first call a powerful analyst had put out a damning report all but declaring Citigroup insolvent, some regulators were already calling to break up the bank and the disgraced CEO Chuck Prince was negotiating his golden parachute.

But none of this seemed to require Bob Rubin to actually do very much. On November 1 he called me four times as I was leaving for a conference in Raleigh; first while I was packing, then in the cab to the airport, then again before I went through security, then again when I was supposed to land. When I had to put the phone away he acted like a little kid who’d been told it was bedtime, and said he would call me again when I got to my destination.

“Don’t you have work to do, Mr. Chairman?” I joked during our third call.

“I’m the chairman of the executive committee,” he specified.

“What the hell does that mean?” By then I was confused.

“It means the word ‘chairman’ is in the title and I get paid very handsomely, but I don’t have any actual managerial responsibilities.” He seemed pleased.

“Well excuse moi,” I shot back. “Nice work if you can get it!”

Three days after this chat, Prince resigned, forcing Bob Rubin to add an additional chairmanship — of the board — to his business cards. But he kept calling me all the while.

Of course, Rubin is retired now — although his Hamilton Project is still going on. I wonder how he’ll deal with this the next time he goes into his office there.


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Few of us would escape ridicule if past denizens of our romantic life were to confide in the Internet. I wish you hadn’t published this.

Posted by xyz70 | Report as abusive

This is petty and I hope it ends here. I also wish you had not published this.

Posted by SeitzW | Report as abusive

“This is to say, I said to myself that there would be no other former Treasury Secretary appendages entering any other of my orifices.”

This is how a Harvard trained Ph.D brain expresses itself. Enough said.

Posted by DonthelibertDem | Report as abusive

The fact that this is considered a sex scandal is a reason why I’d never want to be an American.

This is first and foremost a story of carelessness and incompetence coupled with repulsive executive spending. This is the scandal – but it has become so common that you need to evoke sex somewhere to get it noticed.

Posted by lemarin | Report as abusive

One more vote for you should not have published this. Not that I have much sympathy for the man, but God help us all if everyone who turns down a pass blogs about it — and then a Reuters columnist decides to publicize the blog.

And didn’t everyone already know he was asleep at the wheel at Citigroup?

Posted by expatsp | Report as abusive

I can only agree with the other commenters. I’m a big fan of your blog, but this post is completely beneath you and it ends up saying more about you than Rubin (imho).

Posted by Mads4566 | Report as abusive

I agree with the other posters who are saying this is not worthy of this blog. Can you take it off, please?

A post that might be useful is a discussion of Goldman’s market cap. If the auctioneers came in tomorrow to sell Goldman’s assets, I doubt that they would get much more than a couple billion.

So, the rest of the current $78 billion in market cap is blue sky, blue sky being the faith of investors that Goldman will continue to make deals and make money. At what point does their deteriorating reputation as a trustworthy dealmaker erode that blue sky value to zero? Make no mistake about it, their PR people might refer to GS as marketmakers, but what they really are is dealmakers. As dealmakers, the parties on both sides of the deal value clarity as to exactly what the deal is. When so many of their participants in the Senate hearing refused to say they would put Goldman’s integrity ahead of profits, that has to speak volumes to someone contemplating participation in a Goldman deal.

I work in the manufacturing sector, where successful companies understand that if you take care of the customer first, the profits will follow. And if you make a shoddy product to create short term profits, you pay for it in the long term.

Posted by randymiller | Report as abusive

You should not have published this or linked to it.

And Mr. Rubin should have maintained more discreet concubines and lovers more decently. Alas, where have style and discretion gone in this age.

Posted by Finster | Report as abusive

randymiller, making shoddy products seens to work well for the chinese and software vendors. Obviously i have never ever had a laptop breakdown or a car.

Posted by Danny_Black | Report as abusive

To everybody who says I shouldn’t have published it: I do understand where you’re coming from. My take on the question is that blogs are part of the broader conversation, and that there’s no doubt the financial markets were buzzing with this story yesterday. The harm to Rubin was done by Iris Mack, when she went public, and not by me. I would probably not have linked to a post by a friend of Mack’s which told the story but didn’t name her. But she has personally decided to respond to Rubin’s FCIC testimony by making her story public, and she’s taking full responsibility for that decision, which will surely damage her reputation as much as it damages Rubin’s. To use a Clinton analogy, running stories about his infidelity based on second-hand stories is a bit sleazy. But if Monica Lewinsky had gone public with a first-person account of the affair, you can’t ignore that. And yes, even if Rubin was never elected to public office, he’s still very much a public figure. If he wasn’t, he would never have been paid $15 million a year to glad-hand important clients. If you’re happy to take public credit for your noble actions, you have to expect that your ignoble actions will be commented on as well.

Posted by FelixSalmon | Report as abusive

I’m glad you published it. I laughed my ass off. All of these jackasses hold themselves up as smarter-and-holier-than-thou saints. Further proof that there are no great men; only great reputations waiting to be tarnished.

Posted by HuFlungPu | Report as abusive

I want to bring up something off topic, having to do with Harvard. Steve Hsu on Information Processing did a couple of post’s on A.K. Barnett-Hart and her senior thesis. Being a middle aged male, I have to admit to being smitten by her. Where was I? But this quote from a story on her amazed me:

“She emailed scores of Harvard alumni.”

I wonder if she does that with every problem she confronts? Suddenly, being a member of the Bullingdon Club didn’t seem so awful. It’s all to do with being in the right club. Can that be true even now?

Posted by DonthelibertDem | Report as abusive

While I found the post tawdry, it was also instructive. I would like to believe that those in charge of our nation’s destiny are adults. Between Clinton (Bill) and now Rubin, that belief has been seriously damaged.

Posted by Curmudgeon | Report as abusive

Tweeting the link was plenty.

Posted by chernevik | Report as abusive

To Curmudgeon: The fact that they want some strange doesn’t suggest that they’re not adults; it suggests that they’re human adults. My problem with this clan is that they’d like the general public to believe otherwise.

Posted by HuFlungPu | Report as abusive

This is just another tale of a man full of himself and his greed and trying to use his powerful position and wealth to influence. It sounds so familiar.

It simply pissed her off to see him discussing how nothing happened on his watch and she is stating it WASN’T on his watch as he was cruising on a yacht, misusing a company jet or cruising to bed women.

Old story… but with new characters. Why are so many here upset to read it? Too close to home? or rather, the office?

Finster said: “And Mr. Rubin should have maintained more discreet concubines and lovers more decently. Alas, where have style and discretion gone in this age.
Posted by Finster”

Yeah, like poor Tiger… if money can’t buy discretion, what is it good for? (Style and hookers shouldn’t be spoken in the same sentence though)

Posted by hsvkitty | Report as abusive

Dr Mack is an incredible woman. She spotted derivatives risk management problems at Harvard and can report on the malfeasance of two Treasury Secretaries. She has to be both brilliant as well as sexy. Imagine what it took to get Bob Rubin so interested in someone whose departure from Harvard while he was on the Harvard Corporation was on bad terms.

Question on hours rules: Comments that may be considered libelous aren’t allowed. How about stories of the same sort?

Posted by lancec | Report as abusive

Question on House Rules: Comments that may be considered libelous aren’t allowed. How about stories of the same sort?

Posted by lancec | Report as abusive

Fabulist perhaps?
More interestingly, why isn’t this possibility mentioned?

Posted by lancec | Report as abusive

C’mon Felix, this is a who-cares. Oh no, wait, it just may be the first time in 46 years of my overeducated life that I’ve seen a Harvard-educated person actually come right out and refer to him- or herself as “Harvard-educated” in public. Other than that, definitely a who-cares.

BTW, having also been a girl my whole life, I tend to assume most of these guys are big clumsy horndogs. If Rubin were maintaining two reasonably happy families a la Buffett, or something, that would be more of a “dog bites man.”

Posted by SelenesMom | Report as abusive

Yikes, make that “man bites dog.” Obviously no Harvard for me

Posted by SelenesMom | Report as abusive