The New York Times has a front-page story today on a political giver named James Robert Williams, who has no visible means of support, but is very generous to both parties and to politicians of different stripes. From the article:
…one government watchdog group called the pattern of donations extremely troubling. Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, said, “In more than 15 years of investigating political corruption, I’ve never seen a more suspicious set of facts.”
According to the story by reporters Raymond Hernandez, Alison Leigh Cowan and Jo Craven McGinty, Williams lives in a small apartment in a scrubby section of Jamaica, Queens where the average household income is $33,800 and many residents receive government assistance.” The reporters state the obvious that it is “hard to say where the big sums are coming from.”
The recipients include Democrats like Rep. Charles Rangel (NY) and … Read More ➡
NLPC Associate Fellow Mark Modica appeared Wednesday on Cavuto on Fox Business Network to discuss the new “partnership” between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR). Here’s a transcript:
Liz MacDonald: Well, next up, the EPA, you know what, it is all about clean air. But now critics are saying it is full of hot air. That is because it is partnering with NASCAR to push green initiatives. That includes encouraging the tracks to recycle more, conserve water, sustainability. You get the picture. Mark Modica from the National Legal and Policy Center says you know what, this proves the EPA is clueless. Sir, what did you make of this when you heard this news?
Mark Modica: I just think it is ludicrous, Liz. It shows you how out of touch the administration is. I mean, NASCAR, these guys, I think … Read More ➡
The Securities and Exchange Commission recently notified us that it will allow Goldman Sachs to exclude our shareholder proposal that asks for a report on the company’s lobbying priorities. The basis for the exclusion was that another shareholder, The Needmoor Fund, had already submitted a similar proposal. We disagree that the proposals duplicate each other. We hope that Needmoor will raise the issues that prompted our proposal, especially Goldman’s endorsement of Dodd-Frank, but we doubt they will.
Goldman has reportedly bowed to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) who filed a proposal to split the positions of Chairman and CEO, a role now filled by Lloyd Blankfein. Often dismissed as pests or gadflies, it is nice to see shareholder activists score once in while, but its clear that Goldman is more responsive to its left-wing critics.
Today’s headlines that Jon Corzine gave “direct instructions” for MF Global customer money to be moved to another account to cover a $175 million overdraft raises big questions about how this case is being handled. Congressional Committee’s are imperfect investigative vehicles, but this time the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation has really scored. By digging out and making public an email from MF Global assistant treasurer Edith O’Brien, the Committee has done a huge public service.
But surely the investigation of the disappearance of $1.6 billion deserves a more formal process than “trial by headline.” Just where is the Justice Department in all this? We do not know, but we do know that Attorney General Eric Holder has been the protector of corrupt Democratic politicians in Congress. Rep. Charles Rangel admitted to not paying his taxes, and admitted to leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars in income … Read More ➡
In a cover story for the National Journal dated tomorrow, Shane Goldmacher reports on accusations by members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) that ethics investigations are disproportionately aimed at African-American lawmakers.
The lengthy article includes an account of our exposé of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), and my response to the suggestion that black members of Congress are being targeted. From the article:
No single case has ensnared more black lawmakers than a 2008 trip to the Caribbean island of St. Maarten. As lawmakers boarded planes for the three-day beachside conference, Flaherty, camera in hand, was close on their heels.
Flaherty, president of the National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative watchdog group, showed up at the meeting, snapped some photos, and handed the exclusive on a corporate-funded junket to the New York Post. (House rules forbid business interests from picking up such tabs; the corporate sponsors of the Caribbean
In a major victory for the National Legal and Policy Center, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) yesterday reversed itself and revoked a controversial waiver it had granted LightSquared, which would have allowed the company to deploy a national wireless network. The reversal is not only a major setback for LightSquared’s billionaire owner Phil Falcone, but puts a harsh spotlight on the role of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
The FCC’s decision is expected to all but end LightSquared’s aspirations to provide mobile broadband services via satellite airwaves — a plan that was touted from its inception by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. Under his tenure, the FCC granted the company a key conditional waiver in January 2011 that was meant to help fast-track the network.
A friend of President Obama’s from Harvard Law School, Genachowski has brought a culture of wheeling … Read More ➡
In a recent interview with the “City and State” website, which covers New York politics, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) said that he wants “to go after” our not-for-profit status. The threat was part of a more general attack on the New York Post, which has published a series of articles based on information we have provided. We have also provided information to the New York Times and New York Daily News. All the headlines have led to a House Ethics Committee investigation, and reportedly, a grand jury investigation of Meeks’ finances.
We are not exactly quaking in our boots. Richard Nixon first made popular using the IRS to go after perceived enemies, and it has seldom worked. And just what would be the basis for Meeks’ challenge to our tax status? In the interview, Meeks reveals his smoking gun:
Authored by Carl Horowitz, director of NLPC’s Organized Labor Accountability Project, this Special Report examines the effect labor unions have on the workforce. As the recent events in Wisconsin showed, labor unions and their political alliies are as influential as ever. Unless major changes are made to the ways they function within the public sector, they’ll continue to undermine any economic recovery.
Billionaire Phil Falcone, whose cozy relationship with the Obama Administration was first exposed by NLPC, may face civil fraud charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). According to a filing yesterday by Harbinger Group Inc., Falcone and two other directors have received “Wells Notices,” meaning that they are under investigation.
Falcone is the Chairman, CEO and primary investor in Harbinger Group Inc., a hedge fund. Reportedly, other Harbinger investors include Soros Fund Management. Harbinger owns LightSquared, which has received an unusual waiver from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deploy a national 4G wireless network.
Media reports have alleged that Falcone prevented some investors from withdrawing their money from the hedge fund during the financial crisis, while allowing others to do so. The Wall Street Journal reports today that one favored investor was (surprise!) Goldman Sachs. One of the Harbinger directors who received a Wells Notice is Omar Asali, … Read More ➡
The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) today filed a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for any and all communications with General Motors (GM).
The NHTSA is investigating three fires in the battery packs of GM’s Chevy Volt following collision tests, but may have withheld information of this potential safety problem from the public for several months.
The United States government still owns a significant stake in GM. There’s an obvious conflict of interest in a government agency investigating a government-owned company. Moreover, the NHTSA cannot be impartial because it has become a cheerleader for electric vehicles. A November 25 NHTSA statement reads, in part:
NHTSA continues to believe that electric vehicles have incredible potential to save consumers money at the pump, help protect the environment, create jobs, and strengthen national security by reducing our dependence on oil.