Mollohan Crony Burum Indicted in California Bribery Probe

Mollohan photoA wealthy California developer with close ties to former Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) was indicted today in a burgeoning corruption scandal in San Bernardino County. Jeffrey Burum, co-manager of Colonies Partners, was charged in a scheme to bribe county officials to approve a legal settlement favorable to Colonies. Click here to download a 27-page pdf of the indictment.

Burum is on the board of Vandalia Heritage Foundation, one of several nonprofits on whose behalf Mollohan secured hundreds of millions in earmarks. Burum was also the Executive Director of the California-based National Housing Development Corporation (NHDC), which received $31 million in earmarks from Mollohan between 2001 and 2006. Vandalia President Laura Kuhns, who personally invested with Mollohan in real estate deals, was on the board of the NHDC, and still serves on the board of NHDC’s successor organization, called National Community Renaissance.

Burum has been a key campaign contributor over the … Read More ➡

IRS Asked to Investigate Charity Run by Obama’s Brother

Abongo and Barack photoNLPC is asking the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to investigate the Barack H. Obama Foundation, which is soliciting tax-deductible contributions from the public although it is not tax exempt. The Foundation is named for Obama’s father and is apparently based in Kenya. Its founder and chairman is Abon’go Malik Obama (in photo), whose father is also the father of President Obama.

The Foundation has addresses in Kenya and in Arlington, Virginia to which it asks that donations be sent. Two members of the NLPC staff went to the Arlington address on May 6. It is a commercial mail drop facility where the clerk touted the fact that the address “looked like a real office address” and the facility could arrange to forward mail to any location in the world.

Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein report today in the New York Post that there are questions about what happens to … Read More ➡

Another Underling Prosecuted as Rangel Gets Free Pass

Rangel photoJames Capel, who until February was a top aide to Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), pleaded guilty yesterday in Manhattan Criminal Court to charges resulting from his failure to file a tax return for the years 2007, 2008 and 2009. Capel reportedly did not file a tax return from 2003 onward, but was saved from prosecution by the statute of limitations for the earlier years. Capel must pay $42,088 in back taxes and pay a $1,000 fine.

After we exposed it, Rangel admitted in September 2008 to not paying taxes on rental income from a Dominican Republic beach house. We filed Complaints with the U.S. Attorney for D.C. and the IRS but Rangel has not faced prosecution or penalty. Moreover, Rangel admitted to failing to disclose hundreds of thousands in income and assets on his financial disclosure forms, which he signed under penalty of the False Statements Act, but the Public … Read More ➡

Pfizer CEO Refuses to Repudiate Support for ObamaCare at Annual Meeting

Ian Read photoUnder questioning by me, Pfizer CEO Ian Read refused to repudiate the company’s support for ObamaCare at the company’s annual meeting today in Dallas. The exchange took place after my remarks in favor our shareholder proposal on the company’s lobbying priorities.

When I asked Read if the company would drop its support for ObamaCare, he gave me a summary of what the company considers important in health care reform without directly answering. I said, “Sir, will you answer my question? A ‘yes’ or ‘no’ will do.” Read rambled further and I responded by saying, “But have already cast your lot with one side.” Finally, I said “I will take it as a ‘no.’ Thank you.” Here are my remarks in favor of our proposal:

Mr. Read, I am here for one reason, to urge a change of course on Pfizer’s support for ObamaCare. The mission of the National Legal and … Read More ➡

Pfizer Support for ObamaCare to be Challenged at Annual Meeting

Pfizer logoI will speak in favor of our shareholder proposal spotlighting Pfizer’s deal with the White House to support ObamaCare at the company’s annual meeting on Thursday, April 28 at the Renaissance Hotel in Dallas, Texas. The resolution itself asks for a report on Pfizer’s lobbying priorities. Our supporting statement in the Pfizer proxy reads, in part:

Pfizer played a key role in the passage of ObamaCare, even though a majority of Americans were opposed. CEO Jeffrey Kindler organized pharmaceutical CEOs in support of the bill, promoted a massive advertising campaign, and partnered with Left-wing groups normally hostile to Pfizer’s interests. For these actions, he received a multi-million dollar bonus.

According to media reports, Pfizer and other companies made an $80 billion deal with the Obama administration. In return for support of ObamaCare, the companies received (broken) promises of a guarantee of customers and insulation from certain kinds of competition. This

Read More ➡

CNBC: Flaherty Says Rajaratnam Conviction Will Impact Wall St.

Today I discussed whether Wall Street will change the way it does business if Raj Rajaratnam is convicted, with Richard Roth of The Roth Law Firm, and CNBC host is Scott Cohn. Here is a transcript:

Scott Cohn: The jury in Raj Rajaratnam’s insider trading trial should begin deliberating later today. Galleon Group founder, Mr. Rajaratnam accused of making at least sixty eight million dollars by trading illegally. So we ask, if Raj is convicted will Wall Street change the way it does business? Joining us now is Richard Roth, founder of the Roth law firm and Peter Flaherty is President of the National Legal and Policy Center. Gentleman, it is good to talk to you. Mr. Roth, the cynic in me says regardless of what happens to Mr. Rajaratnam Wall Street is not going to change its ways is it?

Richard Roth: The cynic in you is … Read More ➡

GM Wastes Taxpayer Money at New York Auto Show

private reception signFrom General Motor’s lavish presence at the New York International Auto Show taking place this week and next, you would think that the company is wildly profitable and that it has already paid back the $50 billion it got from taxpayers. Either that, or GM’s much-ballyhooed cost cutting has failed, and that its bad old habits are very much alive.

NLPC Associate Fellow Mark Modica and I spent Wednesday walking the floor of the show at the massive Jacob Javits Convention Center on New York City’s west side. It is impossible to know how much GM is spending on displaying its vehicles, technologies and related events, but it is more than any other car company. And it is certainly too much.

Transformers photoSome simple metrics quantify GM’s spending binge at the show. First, there’s square footage of display space. GM’s main display space occupies the entire North Hall of the Javits … Read More ➡

GM CEO Akerson Offers Little on Automaker’s Future

Akerson photoAmid reports that the Treasury will soon attempt to sell the government’s stake in General Motors at a huge loss, CEO Dan Akerson this morning offered thin gruel for those hopeful about the future of the company. Akerson keynoted a breakfast sponsored by the National Association of Automobile Dealers in New York City, the site of the New York International Auto Show.

Asked about the flagging share price, which is now below its IPO price, Akerson cited oil prices, supply chain problems in Japan, and the fact that GM “incented (sic) more heavily” in the first quarter. He offered no scenario that would propel the share price higher.

Akerson defended GM’s incentives, which greatly exceeded the industry average, saying they were designed to give the company a “fast jump” in the new year. More likely, they moved ahead purchases that were going to take place anyway, and they certainly hurt … Read More ➡

We Told You So: Taxpayers to Take Massive Hit on GM Bailout

This week I am attending the New York International Auto Show and already there is plenty of news. The Wall Street Journal is today reporting that the government will “sell a significant share of its remaining stake in General Motors Co. this summer despite the disappointing performance of the auto maker’s stock.”

GM’s share price yesterday dipped below $30. It was already under its IPO price was $33. For taxpayers to break even, shares would have to rise to $53, now increasingly unlikely. In fact, the stock is probably headed down. The Treasury understands this and wants to get out before the situation becomes even worse. The sales would probably take place sooner if not for the fact that the shares are locked up until May 22.

Taxpayers will lose big time. This should be the end of the auto bailout “success” stories. President Obama was wrong when he said … Read More ➡

Rangel Junket Organizer Pleads Guilty

Rangel photoKarl Rodney, the organizer of the Caribbean junkets that were the downfall of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), has pled guilty to lying to Congress. During the Justice Department investigation, NLPC received a Grand Jury subpoena to provide photographs, audio recordings, and other materials from a November 2008 conference in St. Maarten.

I attended the event and documented the corporate sponsorship that violated House Rules, by companies like Citigroup, AT&T and Pfizer. It was this evidence on which the House Ethics Committee admonished Rangel in February 2010, prompting his resignation from the Ways and Means chairmanship.

Rodney, the publisher of a New York-based newspaper called Carib News, admitted lying to the House Ethics Committee about the source of funds for conferences in the Caribbean during 2007 and 2008. Although he faced up to five years in prison, the plea deal calls for a sentence of from zero to six months.

House … Read More ➡

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