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WeWork founder Adam Neumann. Photo: Jackal Pan/Visual China Group via Getty Images

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) last week told CNBC that the WeWork debacle is driving some Americans toward socialism.

The state of play: Cotton's argument is an unintentional critique of American capitalism, at least as codified by legislators like Cotton.

Cotton first raised this line of argument via Twitter in October:

What happened: Neumann did get an insane amount of money from SoftBank, as an effective bribe to effect its rescue package and then relinquish his voting shares and board seat. It was just shy of $200 million. Cotton gets to $1.7 billion by also adding in Neumann's share sale via a SoftBank-backed tender that was available to all WeWork holders, plus a restructure of around $500 million in existing loans.

When it happened: Neumann exited in October. That's the same month that Sanders experienced his lowest average polling of the 2020 presidential race, per the RealClearPolitics average. So perhaps Cotton really meant to cite Elizabeth Warren but, either way, it's hard to argue that their messages only began resonating two months ago.

There continues to be zero evidence that Neumann committed financial fraud at WeWork. Arrogant governance and a surfeit of hubris? Absolutely. But I've spoken to numerous sources, both inside the company and outside advisors, and none of them have found fraud.

  • Conventional wisdom among these sources is that WeWork could have successfully gone public had Neumann fixed governance before publicly filing the company's prospectus. Not at a $47 billion valuation — likely at less than half, which Neumann was said at the time to have accepted — but public nonetheless.

The bottom line: Neumann ran afoul of the markets, but not of the law. Suing him would be akin to suing lightly-regulated capitalism. If that's Cotton's true belief, then he might be backing the wrong presidential candidate.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Biden's Day 1 challenges: The immigration reset

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President-elect Biden has an aggressive Day One immigration agenda that relies heavily on executive actions to undo President Trump's crackdown.

Why it matters: It's not that easy. Trump issued more than 400 executive actions on immigration. Advocates are fired up. The Supreme Court could threaten the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and experts warn there could be another surge at the border.

Broncos and 49ers the latest NFL teams impacted by coronavirus crisis

From left, Denver Broncos quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Jeff Driskel during an August training session at UCHealth Training Center in Englewood, Colorado. Photo: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the NFL season into chaos, with all Denver Broncos quarterbacks sidelined, the San Francisco 49ers left without a home or practice ground and much of the Baltimore Ravens team unavailable, per AP.

Driving the news: The Broncos confirmed in a statement Saturday night that quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles were identified as "high-risk COVID-19 close contacts" and will follow the NFL's mandatory five-day quarantine, making them ineligible for Sunday's game against New Orleans.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: McConnell temporarily halts in-person lunches for GOP caucus.
  3. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in DecemberAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  4. Education: U.S. public school enrollment drops as pandemic persists.
  5. Cities: Surge in cases forces San Francisco to impose curfew — Los Angeles County issues stay-at-home order, limits gatherings.
  6. Sports: NFL bans in-person team activities Monday, Tuesday due to COVID-19 surge — NBA announces new coronavirus protocols.
  7. World: London police arrest more than 150 during anti-lockdown protests — Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.