NLPC Staff's blog

Freedom House Challenged On Net Freedom Index; Google Influence Permeates Project

The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) is challenging the independence and objectivity of Freedom House in its recently-released Freedom on the Net Index.

Today, NLPC President Ken Boehm sent Freedom House President Mark Lagon a letter detailing the following points:

  • Google is a major funder of the Index
  • Authors of several country reports have financial ties to Google
  • The Index is annually released at Google headquarters
  • The criteria used to rate nations seem to reflect Google business priorities

Below is the full text of the Boehm letter:

Boehm Disses ‘Democracy Voucher’ Election Funding Scheme

CNN reports today on the recently passed “democracy voucher” initiative in Seattle, and other proposals for taxpayer funding of election campaigns. From the story:

But Ken Boehm, chairman of the right-leaning National Legal and Policy Center, argues the reform movement has a basic flaw, as candidates who accept the vouchers are blown out of the water by bigger spenders.

"If the opponent signs up for this, they get their little vouchers and they can send out some posters and stuff, but in terms of voter contact, they're getting creamed," Boehm said. "I don't know how they address that and they can't, because constitutionally you can't put an overall cap on spending."

Ex-NY State Sen. Leader John Sampson Convicted

New York State Senator John Sampson, a Democrat of Brooklyn, was convicted yesterday on three counts, including obstruction of justice. He was acquitted on six others, but the conviction should result in significant prison time. No date has yet been set for sentencing.

Between 1998 and 2008, Sampson allegedly embezzled approximately $440,000 from the foreclosure sales of four Brooklyn properties on which he was a court- appointed referee. The embezzlement charges were thrown out because the state of limitations expired. The charges on which he was convicted relate to the cover-up.

Azerbaijan Junket Broke House Rules

According to a report by the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) that was leaked to the Washington Post, ten House members broke House Rules when they took an all-expenses paid trip in 2013 to a conference in Baku, Azerbaijan, courtesy of an oil company known as SOCAR. Also enjoying free trips were 32 staff members.

Azerbaijan is a country in Central Asia ruled by strongman Ilham Aliyev. In 2012, the Organized Crime and Corruption Project named him its “Person of the Year” for doing “the most to promote organized criminal activity or advance corruption.”

Menendez Donor Melgen Indicted for Medicare Fraud

As we have expected for some time, Dr. Salomon Melgen was indicted today for Medicare fraud. The dollar amounts of his alleged ripoff are staggering. From 2008 to 2013, Melgen billed Medicare $190 million and received $105 million.

Hopefully, this indictment will put an end to the fiction that Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) went to bat for him in a “billing dispute.” Menendez was trying to thwart a fraud investigation, and successfully enlisted the help of then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

Jeb Bush Relationship With Fraudster Claudio Osorio Gets New Scrutiny

CNN reporter Chris Frates has identified “plenty of red flags” that former Florida Governor Jeb Bush should have seen before he joined in a business relationship with a company called InnoVida, headed by Claudio Osorio, who is now serving a 12 ½-year prison sentence for defrauding investors. Osorio's mug shot is at right.

While Osorio’s efforts to cozy up to politicians in both parties have been previously reported, the CNN report includes important new facts. From the report:

Fox & Friends Interview Kicks Off Publication of 'Sharpton: A Demagogue's Rise'

NLPC's Carl Horowitz talked about Al Sharpton's access to the White House, and his new book Al Sharpton: A Demagogue's Rise, on "Fox & Friends" this morning. Here's the video:

Watchdog Criticizes Harry Wilson GM Buyback Plan as Favor to UAW

NLPC Associate Fellow Mark Modica was a guest on Closing Bell today on CNBC. He was joined by Kevin O'Leary of Shark Tank.

BOOK REVIEW: To Restore American Liberty: A 21st Century Patriot's Declaration of Personal Independence

BOOK COVER"If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension" - so observed George Burns, who managed to live just past his 100th birthday. George J. Heideman apparently never got that memo. Now 102, the not-quite-retired Heideman has been doing a lot of worrying lately.

He's come out with a new book published by NLPC called "To Restore American Liberty: A 21st Century Patriot's Declaration of Personal Independence." A 280-page collection of essays, observations, and letters to newspaper editors, congressmen and at least one president, the book is a credible primer in natural rights for our political class. His goal: restoring lost liberties.

Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch is Soft on Political Corruption

Loretta Lynch and Barack ObamaLoretta Lynch, President Obama's choice to replace Eric Holder as Attorney General, has an especially weak record of investigating and prosecuting political corruption. Moreover, her longstanding ties to the New York political machine have limited her independence as a prosecutor.

Lynch, who currently serves as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, has watched as Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the neighboring Southern District of New York, has prosecuted case after case. And Bharara would not have acted except for a slew of newspaper headlines about political corruption generated by the National Legal and Policy Center.

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