Last week on Wednesday night, a hedge funder started a huge stir when he went to dinner with Congressman Paul Ryan, ordered an expensive couple bottles of wine ($350 each), and paid the bill.Congressional rules say that Ryan can’t accept gifts of over $100 from anyone. And because someone was there watching — as you can see by the photo they snapped of the pricey dinner party — Ryan got caught.
In the end, Ryan paid for one of the bottles of wine, even though he says he only had one glass. (Here’s a copy of his receipt, which Ryan gave to Talking Points Memo.)
But not before a huge hoopla started — first at dinner, and later on the internet.
It all started when an associate professor of business at Rutgers University named Susan Feinberg was at the same restaurant (Bistro Bis) as Ryan snapped a photo of him eating with hedge fund manager Cliff Asness (who founded AQR) and Tom Cochrane, the AQR Capital Management Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago.
Feinberg then looked at the labels on the bottles of wine they were drinking and checked them on the wine list, seeing that they cost $350 each.
So she went up to Ryan and his friends, and confronted them about the pricey bottles and the conflict of interest. She accused him of hypocrisy for drinking an expensive wine while advocating reduced spending for Medicare and Medicaid. The exchange became contentious.
Ryan professed not to know the price of the wine… and [Asness said loudly], “F*ck her.”
Then Feinberg sent the photo to Talking Points Memo, which posted it online. Ryan wouldn’t say who his dinner guests were specifically, telling TPM, they were “economists.” But soon enough, tons of people identified the two people sitting with Ryan.
And TPM apparently suggested that Ryan had done something wrong.
When contacted by TPM about eating an expensive dinner with Ryan, Cochrane said: “I don’t want to talk about it. Thank you. Bye.”
Asness didn’t comment either.
Then Ryan sent proof that he bought the wine himself — the receipt.
And now, days later, Susan Feinberg, Ryan’s original accuser, won’t talk. And people are pissed that after essentially accusing Ryan of some big wrong doing, she has no comment.
So now the question is, whose behaviour was worse?