I’ve Had My Last Cup of Starbucks Coffee

Starbucks coffee cupAt the Starbucks annual meeting on March 20, CEO Howard Schultz told a shareholder named Tom Strobhar to sell his stock if he disagreed with the company’s embrace of gay marriage.

Shareholders do have this prerogative. That is the beauty of securities markets. But the issue is not so simple. Institutional investors now own the majority of shares of publicly-held companies traded on U.S. exchanges. Many people own stock through mutual and pension funds, overseen by professional managers. As a practical matter, lots of Starbucks shareholders do not have the opportunity to easily sell their stock.

But there is a larger issue. Why is one of the world’s biggest and most widely admired companies taking sides on such a controversial issue? If Schultz can tell shareholders who disagree with him to take a hike, doesn’t this necessarily extend to customers, partners and employees? After all, these relationships are voluntary, too.… Read More ➡

New York Times Came to Us For Info on Menendez, Not The Other Way Around

Lipton photoThe New York Times has an article today titled, “Inquiry of Democratic Senator Started With Partisan Push.” The story by Eric Lipton describes our success in getting media coverage for our original research about Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and his relationship with a major donor, Dr. Salomon Melgen. Lipton then states that to Menendez and his staff our work is “proof that the news media frenzy focusing on his actions to help a Florida eye doctor is at least in part a political smear.”

The only problem with this story line is that the New York Times approached us shortly before the January 29 FBI raid on Melgen’s eye practice in Florida and asked us if we had any information on Melgen. We did not seek to place it with any news organization because there was (and is) even more to the story, and we were (and are) still researching it.… Read More ➡

Sen. Menendez Denial on Permuy is ‘Howler of the Day’

Permuy photoYesterday, NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm questioned Senator Robert Menendez’ veracity after his office claimed that he did not know that his ex-aide Pedro Pablo Permuy (in photo) was involved with ICCSI, a company partly owned by his mega-donor Salomon Melgen. Menendez sought to pressure administration officials to support a contract for port security in the Dominican Republic that would have provided a windfall for Melgen.

In a Miami Herald story today, Marc Caputo reports:

Sen. Bob Menendez’s ties to a former Miami aide who could benefit from a controversial overseas port contract, which the Democrat pushed for, extend to an international business group that last year feted Spain’s king and the U.S. secretary of state.

Menendez and Pedro Pablo Permuy hold high-level posts on the United States-Spain Council, funded by major special interests — from ATT to Bacardi to Wal-Mart– as well as a little-known investment company of the

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SEC Nominee Mary Jo White Protected Corrupt Union Bosses in Teamsters Prosecution

Mary Jo White and ObamaMary Jo White is a poor choice to head the SEC. As a U.S. attorney, she demonstrated a lack of political independence and competence.

In the late 90’s prosecution of the Teamsters money landering scandal, White won several guilty pleas from low-level has-beens, but gave a pass to prominent union figures who played a key role in the Democratic political campaign of 2000, and every one since. The magnitude of White’s dereliction of duty can be seen in who was not prosecuted- Richard Trumka, Andrew Stern and Gerald McEntee.

In the 1996 Teamster election, incumbent President Ron Carey narrowly defeated Detroit union attorney James Hoffa, son of the legendary Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa. After the loss, the younger Hoffa’s operatives pored over Carey’s campaign disclosure documents and found evidence of serious wrongdoing by the Carey campaign. Carey’s campaign raised $538,100 through a series of schemes including some $885,000 in bogus … Read More ➡

The Fiscal Cliff and the Ethics of Capitulation

Obama and BoehnerThe more the media covers the “fiscal cliff” fiasco, the more perspective is lost. It is really quite simple. Because the Republicans unilaterally jettisoned their trademark  anti-tax stance, they will get nothing in return. The Democrats are not going to cut spending. In fact, the new tax revenues will fuel new spending, that will be leveraged into even more debt.

The pre-emptive Republican capitulation decoupled the tax issue from the spending issue, precluding any “Grand Bargain'” or even token spending cuts. The Democrats trademark stance of protecting social programs like Medicare and Social Security from cuts is intact.  Thus, Obama is off the hook. He will pay no political price with his own base, nor will he feel any pressure to provide leadership in averting national bankruptcy.

Republicans, on the other hand, have crossed their own base, with nothing to show for it. The GOP, which won control of the … Read More ➡

Walmart Black Friday Protests: We Told You So

Walkout on Walmart posterThe anti-Walmart protests today organized by the United Food and Commercial Workers union are the clearest evidence yet that the company’s campaign of appeasement of left-wing activist groups is failing. Indeed, it appears the policy has invited more defamation and harassment. We told you so.

NLPC documented the emergence of this policy in a Special Report titled Wal-Mart Embraces Controversial Causes: Bid to Appease Liberal Interest Groups Will Likely Fail, Hurt Business. Written by John Carlisle, it was published in 2006 and updated in 2008. Click here to download the 24-page pdf version.

The Report details Walmart’s journey from a company that embodied Sam Walton’s bedrock values to a powerful instrument for liberal policy, culminating in Walmart’s support for ObamaCare and cap & trade legislation.

Our warnings to the company have been ignored. I took our message directly to the Walmart annual meeting in 2011. Here is a part … Read More ➡

Bad Election Day for Lawmakers in Ethics Trouble

Shelley BerkleyEric Lipton of the New York Times had a round up on Friday of the election-day fortunes of members of Congress in ethics trouble.  According to the article:

In races around the country, an unusually large number of lawmakers facing charges of wrongdoing were unceremoniously ousted from their jobs on Tuesday – which is quite rare, because more than 90 percent of the incumbents seeking re-election to Congress typically return for another term.

Perhaps Democrats and Republicans can agree that this is good news. The biggest example was Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV), who failed in her attempt to move up to the Senate, even though Obama carried Nevada. She was defeated by Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), who was already in the Senate after have been appointed after John Ensign resigned.

From the article:

Ken Boehm, co-founder of the National Legal and Policy Center, a Virginia-based group that has

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Rep. Moran is Proof of Failure of Congressional Ethics Regime

James MoranRep. James Moran (D-VA), whose son is seen on an undercover video providing instructions on how to engage in vote fraud, has a long history of ethical problems. The fact that he is still in Congress is confirmation of the ineffectiveness of three bodies tasked with enforcing ethics, the U.S. Justice Department, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the House Ethics Committee.

Moran’s most egregious misconduct took place in the context of the PMA scandal. The PMA Group, a lobbying firm, funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions to lawmakers who obtained earmarks for PMA clients. The Justice Department failed to prosecute the PMA gang that included Reps. James Moran (D-VA), Peter Visclosky (D-OH), Norm Dicks (D-WA), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and Bill Young (R-FL). Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), the ringleader, passed away in February 2010.

The Department argued that its conviction of former PMA lobbyist and former … Read More ➡

Rep. Kelly: Vienna Embassy Goes Green as Libya Embassy Bombed

Embassy/Volt photoIn a Washington Times column, Congressman Mike Kelly (R-PA) blasted State Department priorities on an issue we first raised in an October 2 post titled, Embassies Facing Security Cuts Waste Money on Chevy Volts.” From Kelly’s column:

In fact, at a May 10 gala held at the U.S. embassy in Vienna, the ambassador showcased his new Volts and other green investments as part of the U.S. government’s commitment to “climate change solutions.”

The event posting on the embassy website read: “Celebrating the Greening of the Embassy.”

While the embassy in Vienna was going green, the consulate in Benghazi was getting bombed, and little was done to stop it.

We cited a State Department contract for a Volt recharger that cost $108,000. Kelly figures that this sum could have bought a lot of additional security in Benghazi:

According to an employment contract recovered at the Benghazi compound by the

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Embassies Facing Security Cuts Waste Money on Chevy Volts

Volt and Embassy officialThe U.S. military’s newspaper, Stars & Stripes, recently reported that the Pentagon is buying Chevy Volts in a 1,500 electric-vehicle purchase, as part of the Defense Department’s “green initiatives,” which seek to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign energy sources.

A recent Congressional Budget Office study challenged the assumption that electric vehicles have any impact on such dependence, prompting the question of why the government is spending money this way. Against the backdrop of the attack on our embassy in Benghazi, and looming embassy security cuts due to sequestration, it appears politics and ideology are trumping common sense.

A little poking around the web raises additional questions about government Volt purchases. A State Department contract from March of this year details the purchase of a Chevy Volt for $47,500 for use at a U.S. embassy in Norway. The sticker price for a 2013 model year is $39,145 (before the $7,500 tax credit … Read More ➡