Peter Flaherty's blog

Congress Asked to Stop GM From Writing Off Ignition Switch Victim Compensation Costs

Today I sent this letter to Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT):

We strongly urge you to re-introduce legislation similar to the Government Settlement Transparency Reform Act (S.1654) in the 113th Congress.

As you know, the death toll from General Motors’ failure to act on an ignition switch defect continues to climb, now at 87. Although GM's decision to create a fund to compensate victims and their families is a step in the right direction, we are troubled by GM’s ability to write off the cost as an expense for federal tax purposes.

Senator Robert Menendez Indicted

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) was indicted this afternoon on 8 counts of bribery, 3 counts of honest services fraud, one count of conspiracy, one count of violating the travel act, and one count of making false statements. His largest political backer, Dr. Salomon Melgen (in photo on left) was also charged by the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey.

The indictments were the result of a lengthy federal investigation that was initiated after media reports that Menendez attempted to intervene to thwart a Medicare-fraud investigation of Melgen, and that Menendez pressured government officials to further Melgen’s interests in a port security deal in the Dominican Republic.

Heath Care Task Force Showed Hillary's Penchant for Secrecy

Only time will tell just how damaging the current email controversy is to Hillary Clinton. But looking back, it was the same penchant for secrecy, and disregard for rules that others must follow, that doomed her attempt to overhaul the nation’s health care system in the early Nineties, the most ambitious project of her life next to running for president.

NLPC was a plaintiff in the successful 1993 lawsuit to open the meetings and records of the task force. A good historical account of the task force, and the fight over its proposals, can be found in a 1996 book titled The First Lady: A Comprehensive View of Hillary Rodham Clinton, that I co-wrote with my brother Timothy. Here is Chapter Nine titled “Health Care:”

NASCAR Asked to End Sharpton Support in Wake of Ferguson Police Shootings

I have sent this letter to Brian France, Chief Executive Office of NASCAR:

We ask that NASCAR end its financial support of Al Sharpton and his organization, the National Action Network (NAN). 

According to programs for the NAN national convention, NASCAR has served as a sponsor of the event in recent years, which is Sharpton’s primary annual fundraising event.

The cold-blooded murder of two New York City police officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, followed weeks of Sharpton’s vilification of law enforcement personnel. Now two police officers have been gunned down in Ferguson, Missouri.

Sharpton Documents Lost in Mysterious Fires

Today at National Review Online, Jillian Kay Melchior revisits two mysterious fires at Al Sharpton’s offices, in 1997 and 2003. In both, important documents were allegedly destroyed. Melchior deserves credit for going back so far, reexamining fire department reports, and actually finding people close to the incidents.

Her very detailed story describes two Complaints filed by the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) with the Federal Election Commission that reference the fires, and Sharpton’s general disdain for filings and disclosures required of nonprofit organizations and political campaigns. From the article:

Taking the Bait on Menendez Story

Commentators on both the Left and the Right are suggesting that the impending indictment of Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is retribution against Menendez for his recent criticisms of Obama administration foreign policy. While we concur that almost everything that Attorney General Eric Holder does is tainted by politics, a few points about the Menendez case are in order:

1) The reported charges against Menendez, that he tried to interfere with a Medicare fraud investigation of his largest donor, Dr. Salomon Melgen, and that he went to bat for Melgen in the Dominican Republic port security deal, were not cooked up by the political operation at the White House.

Senator Robert Menendez Facing Criminal Indictment?

CNN is reporting that Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) will be indicted on charges related to favors he provided to his largest campaign contributor, Dr. Salomon Melgen, a Miami-area eye doctor.

The probe was reportedly initiated after media reports that Menendez intervened on Melgen's behalf with government officials regarding a Medicare billing dispute and a port security deal in the Dominican Republic. Based on information provided by NLPC, the New York Times first reported on February 1, 2013 that Menendez went to bat for the Dominican port security deal that would have resulted in a "highly lucrative windfall" for Melgen.

Harry Reid’s ‘Pay-to-Play’ Green Energy Project

Lachlan Markay of the Washington Free Beacon website today details the saga of something called the Clean Energy Project. Founded and staffed by for former aides to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), the nonprofit collected donations from corporations which received hundreds of millions in federal grants and loan guarantees at Reid’s urging. From the article:

Their donations to the CEP suggest “a vehicle to promote pay-to-play politics,” says Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, an ethics watchdog group.

“It is run by Reid insiders, funded by those who want Reid’s political favors, and there’s a track record of Reid dispensing favors to those who fund it,” Boehm said in an email. “As the late Senator [Sam] Ervin said, sometimes things are what they look like.”

ComEd Steers Contributions to Illinois Politicians' Charities

Today’s Chicago Tribune spotlights Commonwealth Edison’s “charitable” contributions to activist groups that might be expected to oppose electricity rate increases. From the article by Julie Wernau:

Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center just outside Washington, D.C., called the practice of making such donations a "double cheat" on ratepayers.

"Why should ratepayers have to pay increased rates so the utility can go out and give money to groups that might otherwise criticize their increase request?" Boehm said.

The article also detailed contributions to foundations and groups associated with Illinois politicians:

Ex-New York State Senator Malcolm Convicted of Bribery

Malcolm Smith

Former New York State Senator Malcolm Smith was convicted in federal court last week of bribery, wire fraud and extortion. A former majority leader in the New York Senate, Smith was defeated for re-election in 2014.

Convicted at the same time was Vincent Tabone, a former Queens Republican Party official. Smith, Tabone, and other GOP officials conspired to allow Smith, a liberal Democrat, to run for New York City mayor as a Republican in 2013, in return for $25,000.

Smith is the latest associate of U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) to be convicted of crimes. Formal investigations of several New York politicians began in 2010 after the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) exposed corruption through stories in the New York Post, New York Times and New York Daily News.

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