Exec at Rangel’s Nonprofit Got $250K in Fake Tax Refunds

According to WebCPA.com:

A senior executive of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone who is also a tax preparer has pleaded guilty to submitting false and fraudulent tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service and cashing approximately $250,000 in fraudulently obtained tax refund checks.

Kelvin Crucey, 41, has been employed since 1996 by the empowerment zone, most recently as senior vice president of finance and administration.

Embattled Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) played a key role in the creation of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ). He exercises dominating influence over its board of directors and has secured millions in federal earmarks. Rangel directed millions in taxpayer money through UMEZ to another nonprofit known as Alianza Dominicana, which is Spanish for Dominican Alliance.

On August 9, NLPC filed a Complaint against Rangel with the House Ethics Committee, alleging a pattern of inside dealing, cronyism and corruption at Alianza. Click here to Read More ➡

Rangel Parts Company With Ethics Lawyers, $2 Million Lighter

John Bresnahan of Politico reports today:

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), who faces an ethics trial next month, has parted ways with his lead defense attorneys in the case, according to several sources familiar with the matter.

It is unclear what, if any, impact this will have on the Rangel trial, which is scheduled to begin Nov. 15. It is also not clear whether Rangel decided to get rid of his attorneys or if they left of their own volition.

Whatever the case, Rangel’s lawyers were not underpaid. During his August 10 House floor speech, when he wasn’t criticizing NLPC, Rangel complained that he “paid close to two million dollars” to his legal team.

This is not the first time Rangel has parted company with lawyers assisting him on his ethics case. Two years ago, after NLPC exposed Rangel’s failure to disclose, or pay taxes on, income from his Dominican Republic … Read More ➡

Murkowski Now Says Nothing Wrong With Sweetheart Land Deal

Murkowski photoOn July 26, 2007 Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) 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.”

We took Murkowksi’s action as an admission that we were right, and that it mooted out the issue. Since she undid the questionable deal, we assumed there was no reason for the Ethics Committee to pursue the matter. But now Murkowski is claiming that there was nothing wrong with the deal after all.

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 crony of the late Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK). The purchase price was $179,600, while similar lots were selling for between $250,000 and $350,000.

Joshua Saul reported in yesterday’s Alaska Read More ➡

CNBC: Flaherty Says Bailouts Fuel Wall Street Pay

Today I debated Wall Street pay with Keith Boykin of The Daily Voice. CNBC hosts were Melissa Francis, Larry Kudlow and Trish Regan. Here is a transcript:

Larry Kudlow: Is Wall Street pay too high? Here is what you said: Dave from Texas, “Absolutely they are overpaid. How many other American businesses have this kind of compensation”? But David from Illinois, “If we would stop being concerned about what someone else is making and focus on our own lives, the country would be better off”. Woah. Joining us now to see if the country is better off, Keith Boykin, editor of the Daily Voice and a CNBC contributor and Peter Flaherty, President of the National Legal and Policy Center. Keith Boykin, why do we bother to play these silly games? Who is making what compared to who and how and why? Isn’t that just a little class warfare?

Keith Boykin:Read More ➡

Controversy Follows Former Wal-Mart Lobbyist

Hirni business cardJim Hirni, convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in the Jack Abramoff scandal, is again in the news. South Carolina’s largest newspaper, The State, reported on Thursday that Hirni has been assisting the South Carolina Republican Party with fund raising and organizing events.

Following the publication of our Special Report critical of Wal-Mart, Hirni in 2007 communicated to members of the Washington, DC public policy community that their employment could be negatively affected if they associated with NLPC.

Updated in 2008, the Special Report is titled Wal-Mart Embraces Controversial Causes: Bid to Appease Liberal Interest Groups Will Likely Fail, Hurt Business. Our Report documented changes in the company that became starkly apparent in this Congress when Wal-Mart endorsed both ObamaCare and Cap & Trade legislation.

Hirni’s tactics were both heavy handed and ham handed. I was not surprised when he was subsequently convicted of criminal … Read More ➡

Rep. Adler, DCCC Must Come Clean on Fake New Jersey Tea Party Candidate

Chris Van HollenIt is almost beyond belief that Rep. John Adler, a Democrat from southern New Jersey and his allies could successfully plant a fake Tea Party candidate on the ballot in order to draw votes from the Republican candidate Jon Runyan.

It is possible that Adler and operatives of the Democratic Congressional Campaign  Committee (DCCC) violated a number of statutes and House Rules, but the more pressing priority is for Adler to fully explain his knowledge of these events. Moreover, DCCC Chairman Rep. Chris Van Hollen, at right, must fully explain any role he played, and the role of his staff. Any DCCC personnel involved should be immediately fired.

The civil rights of Tea Party protesters, and voters who identify with the movement, are being violated. Democratic Congressman made allegations of a racial incident on Capitol Hill that could not be substantiated. A Tea Party demonstrator had his finger bit off … Read More ➡

Ethics Committee Delays Rangel, Waters Trials as New Poll Says Pelosi Failed to Drain the Swamp

Rangel and PelosiIt’s official. The House Ethics Committee will not conduct trials of Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Maxine Waters (D-NY) until safely after the November 2 election. Ethics Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) announced yesterday that Rangel’s trial is scheduled to begin on November 15 and Waters’ on November 19.

Politics have trumped ethics in the final days of this Congress. Notwithstanding her pledge to “drain the swamp” and preside over the most ethical Congress ever, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) simply will not allow high-profile ethics trials during the campaign season. This delay is sure to backfire. A new poll shows that most voters believe Congressional ethics have gotten worse in the last two years.  According to the Hill, which conducted the poll:

The Hill/ANGA 2010 Midterm Election Poll finds that 57 percent of likely voters in 12 competitive districts believe that the ethical situation on Capitol Hill has deteriorated

Read More ➡

Republicans on Ethics Committee Accuse Lofgren of ‘Stalling’ on Rangel, Waters Trials

Jo Bonner photoIn recent days, we have complained about the apparent delay of the House ethics trials of Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Maxine Waters (D-CA) until after the election. We also wondered aloud about why the Republicans on the Ethics Committee were letting it happen.

Today, Rep. Jo Bonner (R-AL), the Committee’s ranking Republican, said Democrats were “stalling” and accused Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) of having “repeatedly refused to set either the Rangel or Waters trial before the November election.”

Bonner’s statement was unusually blunt and was signed by all five Republican members of the Committee.  It may have been prompted by the suggestion by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) on Sunday talk shows that Bonner was in agreement with the delay, which tonight’s statement calls “inaccurate.”

Lofgren is Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s handpicked Chairwoman. If Pelosi is as serious about ethics as she claims, she should instruct Lofgren to schedule … Read More ➡

Ethics Chair Lofgren Can’t Find Time for Rangel Trial But Brings Colbert Comedy Show to Capitol Hill

Lofgren photoRep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) is Chair of the House Ethics Committee, which is supposed to be conducting a trial of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) on the 13 violations of House rules the Committee alleged on July 29.  There is also supposed to be a trial of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA).

Instead, Lofgren played host on Friday to comedian Stephen Colbert who testified “in character” on the plight of migrant farm workers before a Judiciary Committee subcommittee that Lofgren also chairs. I thought Colbert was actually pretty funny but other reviews were mixed.

The episode did confirm the Ethics Committee’s reputation as a joke. With corruption fueling anti-Congress sentiment, you would think that the Committee would be meeting around the clock to demonstrate that Pelosi’s pledge to “drain the swamp” is real. When Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) were asked earlier this year about the embarrassing ethics case involving … Read More ➡

White House Ballyhoos Stimulus $ for Carnahan Wind Farm

Obama Carnahan photoIn response to the perception that much of the stimulus money has been spent on wasteful or unnecessary projects, the White House last week released a report titled “100 Recovery Act Projects That Are Changing America.” It included $107 million for a wind farm in Missouri owned by Wind Capital Group (WCG), whose CEO is Tom Carnahan. His sister Robin (in photo) is the Democratic nominee for the Senate and his brother Russ is running for re-election to Congress.

When we commented on this appearance of cronyism back in May, we were under the impression that WCG qualified for a tax credit. It appears, however, that WCG will receive direct payments in lieu of tax credits for up to 30 percent of the cost of the wind farm.It is unclear whether the White House was aware that it was doing the Carnahans no favor by drawing renewed attention … Read More ➡