Melgen Trial Heats Up But Where is National Media?

Melgen and Menendez in happier times

Indicted Senator Robert Menendez’ biggest donor, Dr. Salomon Melgen, is on trial in West Palm Beach for on 76 charges of defrauding Medicare of $105 million. These charges are separate from those that Melgen bribed Menendez, on which the duo will be tried in New Jersey later in the year.

Of course, there is a connection between the two proceedings. Melgen wouldn’t have been able to shower favors on Menendez, or kick in $700,000 to a super PAC that spent most of the money to re-elect Menendez in 2012, if he wasn’t getting gobs of money from somewhere. And that somewhere was you and me, the taxpayers.

But it’s being treated like two separate local stories, one in Florida and one in New Jersey. Despite increasingly colorful — and disturbing — testimony at Melgen’s trial, it has not broken through to the national media, …

Ethics Groups Oppose Heather Wilson Nomination for Air Force Secretary

The following letter has been delivered to Senator John McCain (R-NM) and Senator Jack Redd (D-RI), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee:

As leading organizations promoting ethics and accountability, we strongly urge you to vote against the nomination of Heather Wilson to be Secretary of the Air Force.

Recently published articles by Patrick Malone of the Center for Public Integrity and others have underscored the questionable actions of former Rep. Heather Wilson in connection with the activities of her firm, Heather Wilson LLC, in its work for Lockheed subsidiary Sandia Corp.

A Politico article of last month, “Records show how Air Force nominee skirted lobbying restrictions” details how emails and other materials show Wilson was deeply involved in the strategic plan to “help the Sandia Corp. win a noncompetitive contract for continued nuclear weapons work…”

The article went on to note that Lockheed does “more business with …

Supreme Court Clears Way for Menendez Bribery Trial

The Supreme Court has refused to dismiss criminal charges against Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) who sought to have them thrown out on Constitutional grounds. Menendez was indicted, in part, on the basis of information uncovered by the National Legal and Policy Center.

Menendez seems to think that the Speech or Debate Clause is actually the Solicitation and Bribery Clause. His trial will start in the fall, two and half years after he was indicted. In this case, justice delayed really is justice denied. Although Menendez has stepped down as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he arrogantly refuses to resign from the Senate. He is even raising money for a 2018 reelection campaign.

This is the third time courts have rejected Menendez attempts to have the indictments thrown out. On September 13, 2016, a Philadelphia-based appeals court refused, a ruling that Menendez appealed to the Supreme Court.…

Trump Asked to Recover $11.4 Billion Lost on General Motors Bailout if Automaker Moves Production to China

Today I asked President Trump to seek repayment from General Motors of the $11.4 billion taxpayers lost on bailing out the company if it persists in moving its production to China, and in strengthening its relationship with the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation. According to President Obama, the rationale for the bailout was to help save American manufacturing jobs.

Here’s the text of my letter, which was copied to Dr. Peter Navarro, director of his National Trade Council:

During your campaign, you spoke of the importance of cutting better economic deals for Americans. In particular, you and many of your advisors have pointed out the massive trade deficit with China, produced in part by American companies that close their American factories, open up shop in China and then import their formerly American-made products into America.

While there may be reasonable arguments about the extent to which government should intervene in trade, …

Rep. Gregory Meeks, Congress’ Most Corrupt, Tests Ethics Enforcement

Although he has plenty of competition, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) is generally regarded by watchdog groups as the most corrupt member of Congress. From Allen Stanford’s Ponzi schemes to Azerbaijan junkets to the unfolding House IT scandal, it seems like Meeks doesn’t miss a chance to get in on shady dealings.

Whether he can survive in office much longer will be determined by whether ethics enforcement mechanisms actually begin to function. It will depend on whether President Trump, and his appointees, follow through on his pledge to “drain the swamp” and whether House Republicans end their assault on the Office of Congressional Ethics, and instead get behind real reform.

Meanwhile, Meeks is up to his old tricks.

The Washington Free Beacon reported on January 30 that two of his campaign committees have paid a total of $168,000 since 2008 to a “company” owned by the wife of the chief of …

Google is the Threat to Our Civil Liberties, Not Trump

Eric Schmidt at Hillary ‘victory’ party

Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, told Google employees last week that the Trump administration is “going to do evil things as they have done in the immigration area and perhaps some others.” Schmidt is putting Google’s money where his mouth is by contributing $2 million to the American Civil Liberties Union and three other groups opposing Trump immigration policies.

It is ironic that a new Google policy that allows the company to collect even more information on users is getting far less attention. The new policy is only the latest evidence that Google, and sister companies like YouTube, represent an increasingly serious threat not only to personal privacy but also to civil liberties.

Privacy advocates have raised the alarm about the new policy that was launched in June under the guise of empowering users to see what information Google …

Ex-NY State Senator John Sampson Gets 5 Years

Former New York State Senator John Sampson, a Democrat of Brooklyn, was sentenced yesterday to five years in prison following his conviction in July 2015 on three counts, including obstruction of justice.

In 2009, Sampson was elected Leader of the Democratic Conference of the State Senate. He served in leadership alongside former Majority Leader and Temporary Senate President Malcolm Smith, who is serving a seven-year prison sentence after his 2015 conviction on corruption charges.

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 …

Speaker Ryan Must Stop Sneak Attack on Office of Congressional Ethics

ryanSome House Republicans — apparently led by Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-VA) — are attempting to emasculate the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). The House Conference reportedly voted last night 119-74 to place control of OCE under the Ethics Committee, effectively destroying it. The full House is scheduled today to vote on the larger Rules package of which Goodlatte’s amendment is part.

This is an incredibly stupid start to the new Congress, and badly undercuts President-elect Trump’s efforts to “drain the swamp.”

Media reports suggest that Speaker Paul Ryan opposed the move, but there have been reasons for skepticism about the House leadership’s commitment to OCE. It doesn’t matter what happened last night. It is now up to Ryan to save OCE. He must act with strength and decisiveness.

OCE was established in 2008 and is slightly more independent that the Ethics Committee because its board is comprised of former members …

Conservatives Should Say NO to Google Job Offer

Eric Schmidt at Hillary 'victory' party
Eric Schmidt at Hillary ‘victory’ party

Reacting to reports that Google is seeking to hire a “liaison to conservative, libertarian and free market groups,” NLPC President Peter Flaherty urged potential applicants to forget about the job. According to Flaherty:

“Google will pay very well and the benefits will be wonderful, but any conservative who takes this job will have to sell his or her soul. Anyone with an ounce of personal integrity should not even consider it.”

“Google is not trying to hire a free-market advocate because it suddenly believes in free markets. It is a monopoly and it intends to stay that way. Google wants to buy off and defuse critics who have been emboldened by the election of Donald Trump.”

“There is no, new conservative-friendly Google. The company’s plan to hire a conservative liaison and more Republican lobbyists is a continuation of Washington business as usual that Trump …

Ethics Group Warns Trump About Silicon Valley Influence, Cronyism

google-buildingNational Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), today sent a letter to President-elect Donald Trump responding to Silicon Valley’s recent suggestions that President-elect Trump “engage” Silicon Valley’s tech elite for key government posts, while preserving many of the digital initiatives started by the Obama Administration.

Trump is holding a meeting with tech leaders next week. With the exception of billionaire Facebook board member and Trump supporter Peter Theil, it is unclear whether representatives of Facebook, Google, Twitter and other tech giants will be there.

In its letter, NLPC slams Silicon Valley’s recommendations as a sure way to undercut Trump’s commitment to “drain the swamp” of corporate lobbyists and DC powerbroker influence, while undermining his commitment to restoring American jobs and the economy.

The letter states that Silicon Valley initiatives like the Office of Science and Technology Policy, 18F and the U.S. Digital Service, which were created or expanded under Obama’s leadership, …

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