Ex-Chief of Staff Accused Max Baucus of Sexual Harassment

Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), under fire for recommending his “girlfriend” for a U.S. Attorney post, was accused in 1999 by his former chief of staff Christine Niedermeier of making repeated sexual advances. She claimed that Baucus implored her to take weekend trips with him to destinations like Disney World.

Baucus was married to his second wife at the time so he would not have been able to  invoke his current “shacking up” defense of his relationship with former staffer Melodee Hanes. Both Baucus and Hanes were still married at the time Baucus claims the relationship started, but separated from their spouses. Baucus statement last week twice said that the two were living together, as if it such a fact was exculpatory of the impropriety of a U.S. Senator having a romantic relationship with a staff member, and recommending her for high appointive office.

We are not interested in the details … Read More ➡

Goldman Sachs Challenged on Global Warming in Wake of ‘Climategate’

Goldman Sachs logoNLPC has filed a shareholder proposal asking Goldman Sachs to report on the science behind its embrace of global warming in the wake of the ‘Climategate’ scandal.

Goldman’s ‘climate policy’ is more than corporate public relations. In 2007, Goldman participated in the buyout of energy firm TXU. The transaction resulted in the cancelation of 8 of 11 planned coal-fired power plants after pressure from environmental activists.

It might make wealthy financiers in New York City feel good about themselves to scotch electric generation in the name of environmentalism, but it has negative consequences for ordinary people. Electricity is a basic need, like food and medical care. Cancelling plants while parts of the country face regular power shortages, and raising the cost of electricity for consumers, is positively immoral.

The supporting statement for the resolution reads:

In 2005, Goldman Sachs established its “Environmental Policy Framework,” which stated:

“Goldman Sachs acknowledges the

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Baucus Statement Doesn’t Pass the Laugh Test

Baucus photoIn the wake of reports that he recommended his girlfriend Melodee Hanes, who served on his Senate staff, to be a United States Attorney, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) issued this statement today:

Mel and I have a wonderful relationship. We are living together and enjoying spending time with each other and our families. I’m as happy as I’ve ever been.

Mel and I were both separated from our former spouses when we got together. It wasn’t an “affair.” As we grew closer and things progressed, we knew it was time to begin the process of Mel transitioning out of my Senate office.

Baucus is absolutely right. Whenever an elected official has a personal relationship with a staff member, it is important to begin the process of finding them something else. After all, they might get caught. Or it might get into the press. Or they might even be accused of … Read More ➡

Charlie Cook: Ethics Will Be Big Issue in 2010 House Races

Political analyst Charlie Cook says that the scandals enveloping Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and John Murtha (D-PA) threaten to increase losses for their party in next year’s election. He writes:

As House Democrats try to avert political disaster by limiting their 2010 losses to about 16 seats, the norm for post-World War II presidents’ first midterm elections, dealing with their members’ ethics problems may be one of their toughest tasks.

The task is tough because of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s reluctance to move against either one, notwithstanding her promise to “drain the swamp” of Congressional corruption and to  “create the most honest, most open, and most ethical Congress in history.”

Regarding Rangel, Cook notes:

Rangel’s leadership role is a Democratic headache that’s apparently not going away, given the outrage that members of the influential Congressional Black Caucus expressed over early efforts to strip one of their own, William Jefferson, of

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Mollohan Conflict of Interest Scrutinized by Washington Post

The Ethics Committee document leaked last month to the Washington Post is putting a renewed spotlight on Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) and the fact that he chairs the appropriations subcommittee that oversees the budget of the Justice Department, which is investigating his finances.

From Carol Leonnig in today’s Washington Post:

“There are a hundred ways he can influence what happens with the department’s funding — without one vote. Everything goes through his committee,” said Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative watchdog group that alleged in a complaint that the congressman had not reported the nature and increasing value of his real estate investments. “If that’s not a conflict of interest, I don’t know what is.”

According to the Ethics Committee memo, the Justice asked the Committee to hold off on investigating Mollohan, suggesting that it has an active criminal probe underway.  As the … Read More ➡

NY Times: Rangel is “Gloomy”

RangelNew York Times reporters Raymond Hernandez and Jim Rutenberg asserted yesterday:

There seems to be little joy in being Representative Charles B. Rangel these days…as an ethics investigation into his financial dealings continues, Mr. Rangel’s once-considerable clout is diminished and his spirits are often gloomy, friends and associates say, even as he begins to fight back.

Shouldn’t it be taxpayers who are gloomy as long as Rangel remains in office? Each new revelation about Rangel’s finances points to a pattern of corner cutting and corruption that has gone on for decades.

And just what is Rangel fighting back against? After NLPC exposed it, Rangel himself admitted that he failed to disclose or pay taxes on rental income from his Dominican Republic beach house. The resulting scrutiny prompted Rangel to amend his financial disclosure forms for 2002 through 2006 because he left off hundreds of thousands in income and assets.

Pelosi … Read More ➡

American Cancer Society Backs Away From Obama Health Care?

On November 5, the American Cancer Society (ACS) endorsed the health care bill that passed the House on November 7. ACS now seems to be backing away from the endorsement in the face of complaints that it should stay out of politics. Emailers protesting the ACS endorsement are getting this response:

At this time the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is not endorsing HR 3962, The Affordable Health Care for America Act, because it is not in its final stage…ACS CAN will reserve an official endorsement pending review of a final, merged House and Senate bill.

As we previously noted, the ACS endorsement was fraught with risk. ACS is one of the nation’s most trusted and broadly based charities. No doubt, a significant portion of ACS supporters oppose Barack Obama’s health plan.

The endorsement was actually made by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS Read More ➡

American Cancer Society Should Stay Out of Health Care Politics

ACS logoThe American Cancer Society’s (ACS) endorsement of the House-passed health care bill is a betrayal of the trust of millions of Americans who have made the group one of the nation’s most respected and broadly based charities.

The ACS endorsement of controversial legislation opposed by a majority of Americans is fraught with risk. It might make highly-paid ACS leaders feel important to be charmed by Barack Obama, but it is unfair to the corps of volunteers who organize and take part in fundraising drives like “Relay for Life” and “Making Strides for Breast Cancer.” No doubt, a significant portion of ACS supporters vociferously oppose Obama’s health plan. That is why ACS should have stayed out of it.

The House vote was about more than health care. Both Obama and his foes have made the issue of test of his political fortunes, impacting a host of other issues. All Republicans but … Read More ➡

House Ethics Committee to Clear Rangel, Other Caribbean Junketeers?

palm treePaul Singer of Roll Call is reporting:

The House ethics committee is likely to exonerate five members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) who were accused of taking an improper trip to the Caribbean, according to sources familiar with the case.

If this is true, we are not surprised. When we provided photographs and audio recordings from the trip at the request of the Committee in May, we made clear that our willingness to do so was not an endorsement of the Ethics Committee process, which has again proven to be a joke.

Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D-NC), a member of the CBC, who was appointed just days after the CBC publicly objected to the probe, heads the investigation of the trip. He went on the same trip in a previous year.

Because the violations of House Rules by Rangel and Co. were so clear-cut, the Committee maintains its reputation … Read More ➡