Newseum Asked to Rescind Free Speech Award to Apple CEO Tim Cook

The following letter was sent today by NLPC President Peter Flaherty  to Peter S. Prichard, Chairman of the Newseum:

We ask the Newseum to rescind the 2017 Free Expression Award conferred on Apple CEO Tim Cook on April 18 in order to preserve the integrity of Newseum mission, as well as the integrity of the Award itself.

Since Cook accepted the Award, he has struck two blows against free expression, either one of which renders him as a completely inappropriate recipient.

Complicity in Chinese government censorship– On July 29, Apple removed all major VPN apps from the China apps store. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. According to Jon Russell, a reporter for TechCrunch:

The App Store purge is hugely impactful because VPNs represent the only way that a China-based individual can bypass state censorship controls to access the internet without restrictions. The Chinese government effectively illegalized VPNs

Read More ➡

Facebook Suppresses Story Critical of Black Lives Matter; Censorship Alive and Well Despite Zuckerberg Assurances

Last month, CEO Mark Zuckerberg hosted a summit with “leading conservatives” at Facebook’s Menlo Park, Calif. offices, in which he sought to ease concerns about a liberal bias in the social media company’s “trending” features.

Whether that problem has been fixed or not, it appears that Facebook is currently engaging in “viewpoint discrimination” in another way, namely in its service which allows users to “boost” a story, for which Facebook receives a fee.

On Friday of last week, we posted a story on our website and on our Facebook page titled “Prosecutors Clear Police in Jamar Clark Death; Demagogues Cry Foul.”  Authored by Carl Horowitz of our staff, it is the story of the exploitation of the shooting of a black suspect by two white police officers in Minneapolis by Black Lives Matter and other extremists to inflame racial tension.

Almost simultaneously, we posted another story titled “House Thwarts Read More ➡

Ogundu Gets 1 to 3 Years in Prison; NLPC Exposed Earmarks to Fake NYC Health Clinic

New York physician Dorothy Ogundu has been sentenced to 1 to 3 years in prison for ripping off City, State and federal programs for a fake health clinic. The Nigerian-born Ogundu was convicted in October on 29 counts, including second-degree grand larceny, forgery in the second degree, and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing.

The prosecution was based on information uncovered by the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), and made public through a New York Post article in April 2012. The Ogundu exposé was a spinoff of our investigation of Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), who secured a $380,500 earmark for the "clinic."

After reviewing Meeks' earmarks in 2011, NLPC decided to take a closer look at Angeldocs, Inc., which operated the fake clinic in Queens, called the Aki Life Health Center. Soonafter, NLPC filed a Complaint with the Internal Revenue Service against Angeldocs, alleging self-dealing and inurnment by … Read More ➡

Puerto Rico Bond Expert Ravitch Not So Independent

The following letter was sent today by NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm to Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee:

I am writing regarding the recent hearing the Judiciary Committee held on December 1, 2015, “Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Problems: Examining the Sources and Exploring the Solution.”

As you correctly noted in your opening statement, part of the confusion that reigns is because Puerto Rico has failed to provide audited financial statements for the past two years.

National Legal and Policy Center has been focusing on ethics and accountability issues associated with the Puerto Rican debt crisis.  As you probably know, just two days after your hearing, the U.S. Attorney for Puerto Rico and the F.B.I. jointly announced the indictment of ten individuals, including both businessmen and government officials, in a series of major corruption schemes to commit Federal programs bribery, honest services wire fraud and extortion.

With respect … Read More ➡

Sheldon Silver Latest Domino to Fall in New York Political Scandals

Ex-New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was convicted this week on corruption charges, is the latest domino to fall as New York’s culture of political corruption unravels. The next is likely to be Dean Skelos, the former Senate Majority Leader, who is on trial now.

NLPC was not the source of the evidence on which the charges against Republican Skelos and Democrat Silver were based, but the investigations would not have taken place if not for NLPC’s exposés of a slew of other corrupt officials.

Last year, Governor Andrew Cuomo disbanded the so-called “Moreland Commission,” an anti-corruption panel he named in 2013 to root out graft in response to all the headlines generated by NLPC. Cuomo shut down the Commission because it was apparently getting too close to his friends.

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, opened a criminal investigation of Cuomo … Read More ➡

Freedom House Challenged On Net Freedom Index; Google Influence Permeates Project

The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) is challenging the independence and objectivity of Freedom House in its recently-released Freedom on the Net Index.

Today, NLPC President Ken Boehm sent Freedom House President Mark Lagon a letter detailing the following points:

  • Google is a major funder of the Index
  • Authors of several country reports have financial ties to Google
  • The Index is annually released at Google headquarters
  • The criteria used to rate nations seem to reflect Google business priorities

Below is the full text of the Boehm letter:

As one of the premier independent watchdog organizations dedicated to the protection of freedom and democracy around the globe, Freedom House has a special responsibility to shine the light on examples of governments undermining the causes of freedom, human rights, and civil liberties.

At the same time, Freedom House has a special and indeed unique challenge to avoid even the appearance of conflicts of interest in … Read More ➡

Boehm Disses ‘Democracy Voucher’ Election Funding Scheme

CNN reports today on the recently passed “democracy voucher” initiative in Seattle, and other proposals for taxpayer funding of election campaigns. From the story:

But Ken Boehm, chairman of the right-leaning National Legal and Policy Center, argues the reform movement has a basic flaw, as candidates who accept the vouchers are blown out of the water by bigger spenders.

"If the opponent signs up for this, they get their little vouchers and they can send out some posters and stuff, but in terms of voter contact, they're getting creamed," Boehm said. "I don't know how they address that and they can't, because constitutionally you can't put an overall cap on spending."

Of course, there are other reasons why taxpayer funding is a bad idea. First and foremost, citizens should not be forced to fund political   expression with which they may disagree.… Read More ➡

Ex-NY State Sen. Leader John Sampson Convicted

New York State Senator John Sampson, a Democrat of Brooklyn, was convicted yesterday on three counts, including obstruction of justice. He was acquitted on six others, but the conviction should result in significant prison time. No date has yet been set for sentencing.

Between 1998 and 2008, Sampson allegedly embezzled approximately $440,000 from the foreclosure sales of four Brooklyn properties on which he was a court- appointed referee. The embezzlement charges were thrown out because the state of limitations expired. The charges on which he was convicted relate to the cover-up.

Reportedly, the Sampson investigation was an extension of the investigation of U.S. Representative Gregory Meeks (D-NY), prompted by newspaper headlines based on information provided by the National Legal and Policy Center.

Beginning in 2010, we reviewed public documents connected to Meeks and his political network. Meeks was involved with a nonprofit called New Direction Local Development Corporation. Among other … Read More ➡

Azerbaijan Junket Broke House Rules

According to a report by the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) that was leaked to the Washington Post, ten House members broke House Rules when they took an all-expenses paid trip in 2013 to a conference in Baku, Azerbaijan, courtesy of an oil company known as SOCAR. Also enjoying free trips were 32 staff members.

Azerbaijan is a country in Central Asia ruled by strongman Ilham Aliyev. In 2012, the Organized Crime and Corruption Project named him its “Person of the Year” for doing “the most to promote organized criminal activity or advance corruption.”

OCE apparently acted in response to a July 2014 story in the Houston Chronicle by Lise Olsen and Will Tucker describing the trip. In addition to SOCAR, BP, ConocoPhillips and KBR also helped to pay the costs of the event, estimated at $1.5 million. Those costs included $100,000 for hotels, $75,000 for food and entertainment, and … Read More ➡

Menendez Donor Melgen Indicted for Medicare Fraud

As we have expected for some time, Dr. Salomon Melgen was indicted today for Medicare fraud. The dollar amounts of his alleged ripoff are staggering. From 2008 to 2013, Melgen billed Medicare $190 million and received $105 million.

Hopefully, this indictment will put an end to the fiction that Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) went to bat for him in a “billing dispute.” Menendez was trying to thwart a fraud investigation, and successfully enlisted the help of then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

The indictment will also hopefully put to rest the allegation that Menendez is being pursued for political reasons. The Justice Department has certainly pulled its punches in recent years by failing to prosecute Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and former Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV), but the level of Menendez/Melgen corruption is apparently too much even for this Justice Department.

While securing visas for Melgen’s “girlfriends” is pretty … Read More ➡

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