In January, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sponsored a conference called PrivacyCon, reports Sam Biddle of the The Intercept, where most of the presenters had financial ties to Google. This is yet more evidence of our observation in March that top FTC officials, led by FTC Chair Edith Ramirez, act like Google employees. According to Biddle:
Google’s ties to PrivacyCon are pervasive enough to warrant interrogation. As a case study in how pervasive and well-concealed this type of influence has become, PrivacyCon is hard to beat.
Authors of a whopping 13 out of 19 papers presented at the conference and 23 out of 41 speakers have financial ties to Google. Only two papers included disclosure of an ongoing or past financial connection to Google.
Back in March, we called the FTC/Google relationship the most extreme example of “regulatory capture” that we had seen in Washington in recent years. …
Chuck Ross of the Daily Caller reports that the emails and other Democratic National Committee (DNC) documents made public by Wikileaks show evidence that the DNC sought to reward big political donors with appointments to federal boards and commissions. From the article:
The documents, which were circulated among top DNC officials in April, could raise legal questions for the party, says Ken Boehm, the chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, a government watchdog group.
“The disclosed DNC emails sure look like the potential Clinton Administration has intertwined the appointments to federal government boards and commissions with the political and fund raising operations of the Democratic Party,” Boehm told The Daily Caller.
“That is unethical, if not illegal.”
Alana Goodman in the Washington Free Beacon today reports that Bill Clinton gave some thirty speeches for fees totaling $7 million, but that the actual identities of the sponsors is a “mystery.” The speaking fees were apparently routed through speakers bureaus and other entities, which the Clintons reported on Hillary’s disclosure forms as the source, obscuring the actual payer of the fees. From the article:
Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, a government watchdog group, said the way the Clintons have handled these paid speaking engagements “suggests secrecy and non-transparency.”
“While those paying the exorbitant fees have included special interests with lobbying efforts to influence federal policy, even more troubling is the fact that the true financial sponsors are sometimes hidden through cut-out middlemen or anonymous donors,” said Boehm. “The tens of millions in speaking fees going directly to the Clintons should be completely transparent. Anything
In the wake of the murder of three police officers in Baton Rouge, we are today asking Eric Schmidt of Google, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, and Jack Dorsey of Twitter to end their personal and corporate support for Black Lives Matter (BLM). The letters read in part:
Billionaires don’t have to worry about their personal security, but working people and the poor do.
Your support for Black Lives Matter is helping to fray the social fabric in cities all over the country, cities in which you do not live. The American people — both liberal and conservative — are increasingly concerned about corporate executives who put their own interests above those of our country.
BLM deliberately and recklessly seeks to poison the relationship between the police and ordinary citizens.
The most successful police forces practice community-based policing, which relies on mutual trust and respect. That is why it has been …
FBI Director James Comey today announced that he would recommend that Hillary Clinton not be prosecuted for conducting State Department business on a private email system.
He started by referencing the possibility of a “violation of a federal statute making it a felony to mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way…”
Comey then provided an extremely generous interpretation of Hillary’s actions but one that still clearly placed her in violation of the law:
Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.
Comey then went on to square his own circle:
Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would
What is the point of prohibiting members of Congress from accepting personal gifts worth more than $50 if the the House Ethics Committee simply waives the rule?
Freshman Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) has disclosed that she accepted substantial gifts from two donors to her political campaigns. Her office claims that the Ethics Committee waived the rule. The first was from a billionaire hedge fund operator named Lee Ainslie in the form of a private jet flight from New York to Boston. It was purported to be worth $3,300. A commercial flight would have cost about $300. According to the New York Post, which first reported the story, Ainslie and his wife have donated more than $80,000 to Rice’s various political campaigns.
The second was a gift of a ticket worth $2,500 to a gala opening of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Boston. The donor was a lawyer named …
The House today voted down an amendment, sponsored by Rep. Steven Pearce (R-NM), that would have cut the budget of the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). The tally was 137-270. During debate, Pearce said, "I would urge people to support this amendment to give notice to the OCE that we're watching what they are doing."
This kind of threatening language is inappropriate, and seems calculated to undercut the independence and effectiveness of OCE. Maybe Pearce hasn't noticed, but the American people have had it with business as usual in Washington. People are sick of all the corruption. We need stronger ethics enforcement, not less.
A coalition of ethics advocates yesterday sent this letter to the House of Representatives:
We strongly urge you to vote against the amendment expected to be offered by Rep. Steven Pearce (R-NM) to reduce the proposed budget of the Office of Congressional Ethics and keep it at its …
NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm sent this letter today to Freedom House President Mark Lagon:
I am sure that you are familiar with the furor over the alleged censorship of conservative stories by Facebook in its “trending" news section. As you know, Facebook is a funder of your annual Net Freedom Index.
On November 19, 2015, I wrote you regarding the appearance that the Net Freedom Index reflected the lobbying priorities of large Silicon Valley firms, rather than serving as an objective index of freedom on the Internet.
Although our concerns focused primarily on Google, viewpoint discrimination is a serious across-the-board problem in the United States. See for example, our website posting yesterday by Dr. Carl Horowitz of our staff titled, “Social Media CEOs Embrace Black Lives Matter; Censor Critics.”
For years, conservative and libertarian Internet users have complained that Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Twitter suppress and/or discriminate against conservative and libertarian information …
Federal Trade Commission Chair Edith Ramirez is scheduled to testify tomorrow, May 11, before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law. The topic is “Examining the Proposed FCC Privacy Rules.”
The hearing comes amid allegations that Ramirez is not independent and takes her direction from Google.
On March 9, Ramirez contradicted herself in testimony she gave to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the FTC’s dropping of an antitrust action against Google in 2013. She testified that the FTC decision not to sue Google was “consistent with the recommendation that had been made by our Bureau of Competition staff,” adding that any “press reports to the contrary are just flatly wrong.”
However, an FTC Staff report, portions of which were inadvertently released last year, revealed exactly the opposite. The Bureau of Competition staff sought an antitrust action against Google.
Remarkably, Ramirez misleading statement was apparently prompted by a …
Another Clinton Foundation donor with ethics problems received a loan from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. This time, the dollar amounts are gargantuan, and the recipient is at the center of a corruption scandal in Pakistan.
According to a report in the Washington Free Beacon by Alana Goodman, a Middle Eastern investment firm called The Abraaj Group has contributed $500,000 to $1 million to the Clinton Foundation. Abraaj owns and manages a utility company named K-Electric in Pakistan. That country’s former oil minister, Asim Hussain, has been arrested for providing illegal favors for K-Electric and harboring Islamic terrorists in hospitals he owns. From the article:
The investigation has not impacted the U.S. government’s ongoing partnership with the Abraaj Group, which dates back to at least 2012. That year, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation—a federal agency that dispenses corporate loans under the