Senator Murkowski Behind in Republican Primary; Voters Reject GOP Corruption?

Murkowski photoAlaska Senator Lisa Murkowski appears to be slightly behind Joe Miller, her primary challenger. AP reports that 16,000 absentee ballots were cast and will not be counted until August 31, so the winner may not be known for some time.

NLPC has been a critic of Murkowski and her relationship with associates of corrupt Alaska Republicans like the late Ted Stevens. On July 26, 2007 Murkowski announced that she would sell back an undeveloped piece of land that she purchased in 2006, one day after NLPC filed a Complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee alleging a “sweetheart deal.”

The land is located on the scenic Kenai River, Alaska’s most popular waterway, where property values were rapidly escalating. The seller was real estate developer Bob Penney, a close friend of Stevens. The purchase price was $179,600, while similar lots were selling for between $250,000 and $350,000. In its Complaint, NLPC alleged … Read More ➡

Morgenthau Owned Nabors Stock When He Introduced Rangel to CEO Isenberg

Morgenthau Rangel photoDavid Kocieniewski reports in the New York Times that former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau (at right with Rangel) owned stock in Nabors Industries at the time he introduced the company’s CEO Eugene Isenberg to Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY).  Isenberg made a $1 million pledge to the so-called Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York (CCNY) while Rangel helped preserve a tax break for Nabors worth hundreds of millions.

The Times cites information from my pointed questioning of Isenberg at the Nabors 2009 annual meeting. From the Times:

Mr. Morgenthau, who has known both Mr. Isenberg and Mr. Rangel for decades, set up two meetings to talk about a donation and hosted the first at the Manhattan district attorney’s office in September 2006.

After Mr. Isenberg donated $100,000 in December 2006, the three men met for a follow-up discussion about the contribution,

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Rangel Fires Back at Obama; Attacks President’s Youth

Rangel Obama signRep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) has again responded to President Obama’s recommendation that he “should end his career with dignity.” Michael Barbaro reported yesterday in the New York Times:

At a tense and sometimes fiery candidates’ forum Monday night, Mr. Rangel shot back that it was not his dignity the president should be worried about.

“Frankly, he has not been around long enough to determine what my dignity is,” Mr. Rangel said of the 49-year-old Mr. Obama. “For the next two years, I will be more likely to protect his dignity.”

The unexpected eruption seemed to reflect the increasingly bitter relations between the embattled 20-term Democrat from Harlem and a president who is trying to protect his party’s prospects in a difficult midterm election season.

This reaction is also a bit different from Rangel’s August 10 speech on the House floor. When he wasn’t attacking NLPC, Rangel referenced the … Read More ➡

Rep. Maxine Waters Says Ethics Office is ‘Sloppy’

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), charged with violating House ethics rules, said today on ABC’s Good Morning America that the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) is “not very tight, they don’t do very good work, rather sloppy work.”

Waters is accused of seeking federal funds to bail out a bank in which her husband was a stockholder.  She has denied breaking House rules.

OCE should not be confused with the House Ethics Committee. OCE was established in 2008 in recognition of how poorly the Ethics Committee does its job. Comprised of former members of Congress, it is slightly more independent of the House leadership.

The new office was already under attack from members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH) introduced legislation at the end of May, co-sponsored by 19 other CBC members, to severely curtail the ability of the new office to investigate members of Congress.… Read More ➡

GM IPO: UAW’s Pump and Dump?

UAW/GM logosMore evidence that the GM IPO is being hurried for political purposes is found in the IPO registration filing yesterday. The company cannot assure the accuracy of its financial information because of weaknesses in its internal controls. How can GM offer and price shares if it cannot even attest to its own financials?

The shares being offered for sale will come from the U.S. government and the United Auto Workers (UAW) trust fund, another red flag. If the UAW has such great confidence in the future of the company, why is it selling? Is it to cash in on the superficial media accounts of GM’s “progress,” when it knows the long-term future of the company is less rosy?

Few shares will initially go to retail investors. Instead they will go to hedge funds and professional investors who have no long-term interest in GM. They seek to flip the shares for … Read More ➡

Noisy Sun Chips Bag Underscores Bigger PepsiCo Problem

Sun ChipsSun Chips’ loud bag is getting lots of attention, including a Wall Street Journal story yesterday. PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division bills it as “The World’s First 100% Compostable Chip Package.”

The overwhelming crinkle of the bag annoys people, and it is inappropriate in certain settings like theaters and schools. It is hard to imagine how this bag ever got off the drawing board when one considers how much PepsiCo spends on perfecting and marketing its products.Actually, it is easy to imagine when one considers the politicization of PepsiCo in recent years, which has accelerated under CEO Indra Nooyi. When proving how “green” you are trumps other considerations, you end up with weird results like this bag.

Even if the bag did not make so much noise, can PepsiCo really make the case for a compostable potato chip bag? How many consumers compost? And even among the tiny percentage who do, … Read More ➡

Is GM IPO Being Rushed for Political Purposes?

Whitacre/GM photoThe unexpected departure of General Motors CEO Ed Whitacre (right) last week was reportedly due to tensions over the timing of a public offering, which the Obama administration wants to take place before the November Congressional elections so that it can declare some kind of “success” for the still-unpopular auto bailout.

A premature IPO must be a really bad idea if it’s too much for Whitacre, who has not exactly demonstrated principled leadership. There’s the problem of taking the GM job in the first place. What kind of capitalist would be a party, or more precisely an accessory after the fact, to the violation of private property rights represented by the crushing of GM bondholders? While CEO, Whitacre did not disappoint his masters in the White House, even appearing in a TV commercial in April in which he falsely claimed that GM had paid back the US government in full … Read More ➡

Magliocchetti Indicted But What About Members of Congress?

PMA logoFormer Murtha crony Paul Magliocchetti was indicted yesterday on 11 counts. The indictment was not unexpected and relates primarily to Magliocchetti’s rather hamhanded manuevers to evade campaign contribution limits by having family members, employees and friends make contributions for which they were paid back.

The indictment certainly relates the PMA “pay to play” scheme, but it does not address the underlying possible crimes by members of Congress who secured earmarks for PMA clients in return for campaign contributions and other benefits. It is not known to what extent, if any, the Justice Department has sought a plea bargain with Magliocchetti in return for information about members of Congress. Maggliocchetti’s son Mark is cooperating with prosecutors but it is not known if his information goes beyond his father to members of Congress.

Attorney General Eric Holder has already shown indifference to earmark-related corruption in Congress by choosing not to retry former … Read More ➡

Obama is Wrong About Auto Bailout

Obama Ford plantThe auto bailout is a massive failure. It did not save jobs. It is a fallacy to claim that more jobs exist in an economy because particular firms have been saved from going out of business. Automobile jobs exist in the United State because of consumer demand for automobiles. Bailing out car companies does not increase demand, nor will it increase the number of cars built and sold.

All the auto bailout did was shift jobs from one set of firms to others. Because GM and Chrysler are poorly managed, and are joined at the hip with the United Auto Workers, they will not produce cars as efficiently as competitors. In the long run, the bailout will cost American jobs.

All car companies, but especially the bailed-out ones, are burdened by government regulations and mandates, like the recently tightened fuel efficiency standards. Obama said today that the standards are “good … Read More ➡

Another One Bites The Dust: Rep. Kilpatrick Loses Democratic Primary

Kilpatrick photoRep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI) was defeated in a Democratic primary yesterday. Kilpatrick was one of six members of Congress investigated by the Office of Congressional Ethics and the House Ethics Committee for accepting a corporate-sponsored Caribbean junket in November 2008. I attended the event in St. Maarten before organizers had me detained by the Police Korps of St. Maarten. The investigations were launched on the basis of my photographs, audio recordings and other evidence of sponsorship by companies like Citigroup.

The Ethics Committee admonished Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), leading him to resign his post as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, but let off the hook Kilpatrick and four others. This was despite overwhelming evidence that Kilpatrick was aware of the corporate sponsorship. NLPC provided the Ethics Committee with an audio recording of a Kilpatrick speech at the event, during which she stated:

And to the sponsors by

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