Caribbean Junket Probe Headed by Black Caucus Member Shows Pelosi’s ‘Mockery’ of Ethics Process

Pelosi and Black CaucusSusan Crabtree reports in The Hill today:

The chairman of a House ethics probe into a Caribbean conference attended by members of the Congressional Black Caucus is himself a CBC member who attended the same event in 2005.

Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), the former judge chosen to chair the ethics probe, has vowed to lead a fair investigation into trips taken by CBC members to St. Maarten in 2008 and Antigua and Barbuda in 2007.

NLPC exposed the 2008 junket. The Hill noted my reaction:

“The CBC really sticks together — you can see their solidarity in the face of these ethics charges,” Flaherty said. “To put one of their own members in charge of the investigation just shows that nothing has changed — the ethics process is still a complete mockery.”

The junket to sunny St. Maarten took place the weekend after the election in 2008. I attended … Read More ➡

New York Times Eyes Pelosi’s Swamp

Pelosi and Murtha photoFrom a New York Times editorial today titled “The House Eyes the Swamp:”

Self-investigation has never been a signature virtue of Congress. So taxpayers should closely monitor the House ethics committee’s inquiry into the lucrative relationships between defense appropriators and military contractors.

The committee finally confirmed the inquiry — not yet a full-blown investigation — into suspicions that members and staffers earmarked hundreds of millions in defense contracts for favored companies in return for tens of millions in political donations. In a separate matter, the ethics committee opened an inquiry into whether Caribbean trips taken by Representative Charles Rangel and four other lawmakers violated House gift rules. It is encouraging to see such curiosity from the traditionally somnolent panel.

We too are glad that the Ethics Committee is looking into these matters, especially since we are the source of the allegations about the Rangel-led Caribbean junket. But it will take … Read More ➡

NLPC Cited in New Book About Blagojevich

Pay to Play bookNLPC research is referenced in a new book titled Pay to Play: How Rod Blagojevich Turned Political Corruption Into a National Sideshow. Its by Elizabeth Brackett, a longtime correspondent for The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer and a winner of the Peabody Award for political coverage.

In February, NLPC released a study showing that interests owned or affiliated with Illinois race track owner John Johnston contributed more than $343,000 to Blagojevich’s campaign committee during 2002-2007. This total was $183,000 more than alleged in previous news accounts.  Johnson owns Balmoral Park and Maywood Park, two Chicago-area harness racing tracks.

As described on page 39 of the December 2008 FBI affidavit outlining the criminal case against Blagojevich, Johnson supported legislation directing a percentage of casino revenue to horse racing tracks. The casinos would pay out almost $90 million and file a RICO suit to recover the money.

NLPC’s analysis also revealed … Read More ➡

Is Murtha Trying to Distance Himself From Magliocchetti?

Murtha photoLast night, we received this email under the subject line “Innaccurate (sic) Statement in Story Post” from Matt Mazonkey, Communications Director for Rep. John Murtha:

In a 06/29/09 post (PMA Client Sues Because it Didn’t Get Earmark; More Evidence of Pay-to-Play?), John Carlisle inaccurately stated that “Magliochetti (sic) served as an aide to Murtha.”

Magliochetti (sic) served as a staff analyst for the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Murtha was never Chairman or Ranking Member while Magliochetti (sic) worked for the subcommittee. In fact, Magliochetti (sic) worked for Chairman Bill Chappel and full committee chairman Jamie Whitten.

Please correct this mistake.

Since Murtha’s office seized on such a tiny and debatable “mistake,” I thought it would be fun to call Mazonkey to see how far he would go in trying to distance his boss from Paul Magliocchetti, the former principal of the PMA Group lobbying firm that collapsed shortly Read More ➡

‘More Bad News’ For Rangel as Ethics Committee Confirms Probe of Caribbean Junket

Rangel photoJohn Bresnahan reports in Politico today:

Already embroiled in an ethics probe now entering its tenth month, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, received more bad news Wednesday night as the House ethics committee announced it would look into Caribbean trips taken by the veteran lawmaker and four other Democrats.

In a statement released late Wednesday night, Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Jo Bonner (R-Ala.), the chairwoman and ranking member of the ethics committee, announced that the panel had voted to create a four-member investigative subcommittee to determine whether the trips violated House gift rules.

Click here to download a one-page pdf of the Commitee’s statement. NLPC exposed this Citigroup-funded junket to the sunny island of St. Maarten that took place the weekend after the election in 2008. I attended in order to document violations of House Rules that prohibit corporate sponsorship of … Read More ➡

Congressional Black Caucus Upset About NLPC-Triggered Probe of Caribbean Junket

St. Maarten photoMike Soraghan reports in today’s edition of The Hill:

An investigation into a trip taken by members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) is triggering a backlash against the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s signature ethics proposal.

CBC members, frustrated at what they perceive as an accusation by a conservative group that’s been blown out of proportion, last week formed a working group to look at taking on the 2006 resolution that created the OCE.

The junket to sunny St. Maarten took place the weekend after the election in 2008. I attended in order to document violations of House Rules that prohibit corporate sponsorship of travel and hospitality.

The trip was funded by “lead sponsor” Citigroup, a major recipient of bailout funds, which contributed $100,000. Other sponsors included IBM, AT&T, Verizon, Pfizer, Macy’s and American Airlines.

On May 22, the House Ethics Committee asked Read More ➡

RICO Suit Against Blagojevich Cites Payments Exposed by NLPC

Blagojevich photoLast week, Courthouse News Service reported:

In a federal action, four casinos say former Gov. Rod Blagojevich used the governor’s office to enrich himself by agreeing with horse track owner John Johnston to secure enactment of legislation forcing casinos to pay millions of dollars to five horse tracks that included two controlled by Johnston.

To conceal their actions, Johnston arranged for the money to be paid through several entities under his control, according to the complaint. As a result, the plaintiff casinos say they had to pay $89.2 million for redistribution to horse tracks and their owners, fattening the tracks’ profits at the plaintiffs’ expense.

In February, NLPC released a study showing that Johnston-owned or affiliated interests contributed more than $343,000 to Governor Blagojevich’s campaign committee during 2002-2007. This total was $183,000 more than alleged in previous news accounts.

Additionally, NLPC’s analysis revealed a suspicious pattern to the contributions. … Read More ➡

ABC Jettisons Journalistic Ethics to Flack for Obama Health Care

ABC News logoFrom Drudge today:

On the night of June 24, the media and government become one, when ABC turns its programming over to President Obama and White House officials to push government run health care — a move that has ignited an ethical firestorm!

Highlights on the agenda: ABCNEWS anchor Charlie Gibson will deliver WORLD NEWS from the Blue Room of the White House.

The network plans a primetime special — ‘Prescription for America’ — originating from the East Room, excluding opposing voices on the debate.

ABC is going one step further than NBC did in 1993 when it broadcast a health care special, paid for by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, favorable to Hillary’s health care plan. This time, ABC is cutting out the special interest group, and is directly flacking for the White House.

From my book titled The First Lady: A Comprehensive View of Hillary Rodham Clinton, … Read More ➡

Sharpton Rakes In Corporate Bucks But Stiffs Hotel

Sharpton photoAccording to today’s Memphis Daily News:

The South’s Grand Hotel is trying to collect a grand sum of money it claims is owed by the Rev. Al Sharpton’s nonprofit civil rights group.

The Peabody hotel has filed a lawsuit in Shelby County Circuit Court against Sharpton’s National Action Network seeking payment of almost $70,300, plus more than $17,000 in attorney’s fees and other costs. The lawsuit, which puts the total close to $88,000, was filed Tuesday…

The Peabody was the site of the 2008 national convention of the National Action Network (NAN). Corporate sponsors included Abbott Laboratories, Allstate, American Honda, Anheuser-Busch (since acquired by InBev), Chase Foundation, Chrysler, Colgate-Palmolive, Continental Airlines, Entergy, FedEx, Ford, GM, Home Depot, Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, Pfizer, UPS Foundation and Wal-Mart.

Dr. Carl Horowitz of the NLPC staff attended as an uninvited observer. Colgate-Palmolive accepted a ‘corporate excellence’ award, which NLPC asked the company … Read More ➡

The Hill: Ethics Panel Probes Allegation Involving Rangel

Isenberg photoFrom The Hill today:

The House ethics committee is investigating an alleged quid pro quo between Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and an oil company executive, the subject of a lengthy New York Times article published in December.

Eugene Isenberg, the oil executive accused of trying to influence Rangel through a $1 million donation to the education center bearing Rangel’s name, is cooperating with an ethics committee investigation into the matter and predicts that the panel will find no wrongdoing.

The story by Susan Crabtree continues:

The assertion was caught on tape during a conversation with Peter Flaherty of the National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative watchdog that has investigated several ethics stories about Rangel. Flaherty approached Isenberg at the company’s annual meeting in Houston last week, taped the conversation and provided The Hill a transcript and audio recording.

As detailed in a previous entry, I actually questioned … Read More ➡

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