Ethics Get Waterboarded in Pelosi’s Swamp

Pelosi photoAt her press conference last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated that she had learned of waterboarding in 2003, contradicting her earlier claims. Pelosi’s lie is getting the attention it deserves, but getting less attention is her remarkable explanations for her actions. At several points, she stated that her goal was to elect a Democratic Congress and a new president. She seemed to plead with the reporters to understand that torture was most important as an issue with which to defeat Republicans.

Well then, if the torture issue is a political weapon, and its actual practice is of secondary concern, we must ask the question about Pelosi’s sincerity when it comes to Congressional ethics. After all, she promised to “drain the swamp.” Democrats have a majority in large part because of the ethics issue.

While Pelosi dissembled before reporters, a firestorm raged around Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), her unsuccessful candidate … Read More ➡

Sharpton’s Busses Don’t Show Up for DC Rally; Marchers Stranded

Yesterday, we criticized the Sharpton-led rally for education in Washington, DC that is taking place tomorrow, Saturday, May 16. The “Close the Gap” rally purportedly commemorates the 55th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Brown vs. Board of Education decision. It looks like the event may be smaller than organizers planned.

From the website of WDAF-TV in Kansas City:

Hundreds of people across the country including in Kansas City were planning to head to Washington D.C. Friday to join in a rally for education. But, instead they’ve been left standing around waiting for buses that never came.

Rev. Al Sharpton’s organization, the National Action Network, organized the “Close the Gap” rally in Washington D.C. on May 16. People from all over the country planned to board buses provided by the group to head to D.C. and rally for children’s education.

This morning dozens of people took off work, packed a lunch

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John Wilke (1954-2009) Helped Expose Murtha, Mollohan

Wilke photoWall Street Journal reporter John Wilke passed away last week at the age of 54.

NLPC served as a source for Wilke on a number of articles including an October 30, 2007 front-page story titled “How Lawmaker Rebuilt Hometown on Earmarks; Johnstown Gets Billions With Power Broker’s Aid; FBI Questions a Contract.” It detailed how Murtha has steered as much as $2 billion to his district.

Wilke’s scrutiny of Murtha was an outgrowth of earlier stories on Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV), including an April 7, 2006 front-page story titled “Appropriations, Local Ties And Now a Probe of a Legislator.” It touched off a firestorm that resulted in Mollohan’s resignation from the House Ethics Committee on April 21, 2006.

Five weeks earlier, NLPC had filed a Complaint with the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia detailing more than 250 misrepresentations and omissions on Mollohan’s disclosure reports, prompting an extensive probe … Read More ➡

Murtha’s Nephew Gets No-Bid Defense Contracts

Murtech logoEarlier in the week, we noted that Rep. John Murtha’s taxpayer-funded empire was becoming a family affair with the hiring of his nephew, Col. Brian Murtha, as a lobbyist for the Marines on Capitol Hill.

Now the Washington Post has put the spotlight on another nephew, Brian’s brother Robert, who owns a company called Murtech. Carol D. Leonnig and Alice Crites reported on May 5:

…last year, Murtech received $4 million in Pentagon work, all of it without competition, for a variety of warehousing and engineering services. With its long corridor of sparsely occupied offices and an unmanned reception area, Murtech’s most striking feature is its owner — Robert C. Murtha Jr., 49. He is the nephew of Rep. John P. Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat who has significant sway over the Defense Department’s spending as chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.

Robert Murtha said he is not at liberty

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Rangel Applauds Obama Offshore Tax Crackdown; Will Charlie Give Nabors a Refund?

Nabors logoHouse Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) is all for Barack Obama’s proposal to tax the income of subsidiaries of American companies earned abroad. Bloomberg quoted Rangel as saying:

Our tax code should reward companies that thrive by continuing to invest in America and American workers. I applaud President Obama’s commitment to simplifying our tax code and look forward to working with the administration to close these loopholes.

Does this mean Charlie will refund the $200,000 (of a million dollar pledge) he’s received from Bermuda-based Nabors Industries, formerly of Houston? It would only be fair.

David Kocieniewski reported in the New York Times on November 24, 2008:

…Rangel was instrumental in preserving a lucrative tax loophole that benefited an oil-drilling company last year, while at the same time its chief executive was pledging $1 million to the project, the Charles B. Rangel School of Public Service at C.C.N.Y.

The

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New House Ethics Committee Director Has Own Problems

Chisam photoDespite promises by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) of rigorous enforcement of House ethics rules, the top staff position on the Ethics Committee stayed vacant for eight months. Now the Committee has hired Blake Chisam (photo at right), who was already a staffer for Ethics Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and a member of the search committee that selected him.

Isabel Vincent of the New York Post reported yesterday:

According to his latest disclosure statements, Chisam owes up to $300,000 in student loans and filed for bankruptcy in 2000 in Pennsylvania and 2001 in Georgia.

The Post continued:

Ken Boehm, of the watchdog National Legal and Policy Center was quick to rip the eyebrow-raising pick.

“No wonder the House Ethics Committee is considered something of a joke,” Boehm said. “Despite having to investigate…a powerful congressman like Charlie Rangel, [it] goes many months without a staff director and then picks

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Pepsi’s Politicized Charitable Giving Again Under Fire

Indra Nooyi photoThe American Family Association (AFA) is criticizing PepsiCo’s financial support of activist groups promoting gay marriage. PepsiCo and the PepsiCo Foundation are major funders of the Human Rights Campaign, and a group called Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

AFA president Don Wildmon is asking PepsiCo to become “neutral” on the issue of gay marriage by ending support for the groups. Wildmon’s complaints echo those of NLPC, made in 2006 and 2007, of a liberal political bias in the company’s giving. At that time, NLPC objected to PepsiCo’s financial support for groups founded by Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

In 2006 and 2007, NLPC sponsored shareholder proposals that would have required PepsiCo to disclose its charitable giving, and most importantly, provide a business rationale for each gift. NLPC’s interest in PepsiCo’s charitable giving is based on shareholder rights.

NLPC believes that shareholder interests are best served when … Read More ➡

Did Colgate-Palmolive Accept Sharpton Award — or Not?

Colgate ToothpasteAl Sharpton’s group, the National Action Network (NAN), held its annual convention April 1-4 in New York City. The event included NAN’s “Keepers of the Dream” award presentations. Last year, Colgate-Palmolive accepted the “corporate excellence” award, prompting NLPC to ask the company to give it back. At the Colgate-Palmolive annual shareholders’ meeting a few weeks later, I made an issue of the award, calling it a “dubious honor indeed.”

This year, no corporation was identified from the podium or in the program as getting a Keepers award. Yet, a full-page Colgate-Palmolive ad in the same program reads:

Colgate-Palmolive is honored to be named Corporation of the Year by the National Action Network at the 11th Annual Keepers of the Dream Awards.

So, did Colgate accept the award, or not?

Perhaps the company accepted the award, but did not want to be publicly identified with Sharpton at the event itself, in … Read More ➡

Citigroup Proxy Lauds Robert Rubin; No Gratitude to Taxpayers

Rubin photoOn the first page of Citigroup’s just-issued 139-page proxy statement, Chairman Richard Parsons writes,

The Board would also like to recognize our retiring directors, Sir Win Bischoff, Kenneth Derr, Roberto Hernandez, Robert Rubin, and Franklin Thomas for their many contributions to Citi. The collective wisdom and insight of these directors have been an invaluable source of strength for Citi.

Oh, really? I guess there was no reason for taxpayers to pour $45 billion into the company and prevent a meltdown of the entire financial system. You’d certainly get that impression from the proxy. Nowhere in this thick document is a word of thanks for taxpayers.

In January 2009, Rubin was named by Thomas Kostigen of Marketwatch as one of the “10 most unethical people in business.”

Rubin has been a director and chair of Citigroup’s executive committee since 1999, overseeing a time during which the bank took on huge risks … Read More ➡

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