So much for draining the swamp. Several sources report that the House will not try Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) until after the November 2 elections. Rangel won the Democratic primary for his seat yesterday, barely achieving 50% of the vote against five challengers. During his House floor speech on August 10 when he was not attacking NLPC, Rangel pleaded for an expedited hearing on the 13 charges leveled against him by the Ethics Committee. This followed months of maneuvering by Rangel to delay the investigation.
Earlier this year when Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer were asked about the high profile ethics cases against Rangel and others, they claimed that the probes were evidence of the Democrats’ commitment to ethics. If the cases of Rangel and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) are put off to spare the Democrats political damage just before the election, this claim will be proven to be … Read More ➡
Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), issued a statement yesterday in response to the controversy swirling around the awarding of 23 scholarships by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) to relatives and associates. The statement read, in part:
Neither the Foundation nor the CBC will allow unethical behavior in the awarding of scholarships or any programs that are designed to benefit the community.
I will not allow the absence of integrity to invade the Foundation nor the scholarship program…
Payne had nothing to say about his participation in a 2008 Caribbean junket that he knew was funded by big companies like Citigroup in violation of House Rules.
I was present at the event in St. Maarten and saw Payne identify the corporate sponsors by name, and one by one, ask for a round of applause. According to my notes, Payne stated that the conference “can’t … Read More ➡
Alaska 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 ➡
David 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.
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,
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 (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 ➡
More 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 ➡
Sun 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 ➡
The 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 ➡
Former 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 ➡