Peter Flaherty's blog

LightSquared Scandal Explodes

Obama photoAllegations that we first made in February about White House political favors for a company called LightSquared are starting to get the attention they deserve.

LightSquared is owned by the Harbinger Capital hedge fund, headed by billionaire investor Phil Falcone. He visited the White House and made large donations to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Soon after, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted LightSquared a highly unusual waiver that allows the company to build out a national 4G wireless network on the cheap.

Did Obama's Brother Get Special Treatment From IRS?

Obongo and Barack Obama photoThe Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has unexpectedly and retroactively granted tax-exempt 501 (c)(3) status to the Barack H. Obama Foundation following our formal Complaint that the Foundation was soliciting tax-deductible contributions without such status.

The Foundation is headed by Abon'go Malik Obama, President Obama's half-brother, and named for their common father. It came under scrutiny earlier this year when NLPC raised questions about its tax status and what has happened to the money it has raised.

Infrastructure Spending Promotes Inefficiency, Corruption

corruption cartoonPresident Obama will not use the word "stimulus" in apparent recognition that his previous policies have failed. Instead, he will use the word "investment," which is a complete misnomer. An expenditure can only be called an investment if there exists the possibility of a profit.

Infrastructure spending by the federal government promotes corruption because the work goes to the most politically well-connected contractors. At the state level where the money is spent, it is often "pay to play."

NLPC's Anderson Scrutinizes Miami Football Story

Nevin Shapiro photoTom Anderson, director of NLPC's Government Integrity Project, has raised questions about the recent Yahoo Sports exposé of the University of Miami football program. The explosive July 16 story by Charles Robinson has already led to suspensions by the NCAA of eight current Miami players.

Anderson does not argue that the players are innocent of NCAA rules violations, but cites evidence that current and former players may been targeted by Ponzi-schemer Nevin Shapiro (in photo) in order to direct blame away from other parties, including coaches. Anderson became involved in the issue due the overlap of this sports scandal with political corruption in south Florida.

Meeks' Crony Ahmad Indicted in $50 Million Fraud

Meeks photoOn Friday, a federal grand jury in Brooklyn, New York indicted Edul Ahmad, a Guyanese businessman who was last month arrested in a $50 million mortgage-fraud scheme. Ahmad made an unsecured personal loan to Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) that was repaid only after Meeks' finances came under scrutiny by the FBI.

In January 2010, we exposed Meeks involvement in a charity called New Direction Local Development Corporation that raised money for Hurricane Katrina victims who never received it, among other questionable dealings. In March, we asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate Meeks for paying $830,000 for a newly built home in 2006 that was worth more than $1.2 million. Media coverage of these events apparently triggered the FBI inquiry.

Watchdogs Agree: Waters Case Shows Ethics Process is Broken

Maxine Waters photoCarol Leonnig of the Washington Post writes today that the House Ethics Committee is planning to spend $500,000 for an investigation of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), and the Committee's own staff.

Last month, the Committee announced the hiring of Billy Martin to review the actions of the Committee's staff that were cited as a reason to push the Waters trial beyond last November's elections. Martin would then proceed to investigate the Waters matter if he determines that the staff's previous conduct was not sufficiently prejudicial to dismiss the case, as she has requested.

Ethics Committee to Probe Fraudster's Loan to Meeks

Meeks photoOn August 5, the House Ethics Committee announced that it has accepted a recommendation by the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) to "further review an allegation that Representative (Gregory) Meeks failed to disclose a payment he received in 2007 in a timely manner."

The payment was an unsecured $40,000 "loan" from Edul Ahmad, a Guyanese businessman who was last month arrested in a massive mortgage-fraud scheme. On July 22, the FBI reportedly removed Ahmad in handcuffs from a Guyana-bound aircraft on the tarmac at JFK International Airport.

Meeks' Crony Ahmad Busted by FBI

Meeks photoOn Friday, the FBI arrested Ed Ahmad, the Guyanese businessman who made an unsecured $40,000 loan to Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) that Meeks failed to publicly disclose as required. Ahmad was charged with mortgage fraud in connection to a wide-ranging scheme that involved faking income for applicants and the use of straw buyers. He was reportedly released on $2.5 million bail.

According to one report, "Ahmad had already boarded Delta 383 at JFK International to head to Guyana when Federal agents boarded the aircraft, handcuffed him and removed him from the aircraft."

Rangel Junket Figure Karl Rodney Sentenced Today

Karl Rodney photoKarl Rodney, the organizer of the Caribbean junkets that contributed to the downfall of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), was sentenced today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to two years probation and 500 hours of community service. He was also fined $2,500. District Judge Emmet Sullivan included no jail time in the sentence.

The courtroom was filled with Rodney's supporters, many of whom made the trip down from New York City. Singer Harry Belafonte offered good wishes by letter. NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm was also in attendance. Boehm said, "I believe that at least some jail time would have been appropriate, but at the same time, Rangel himself has not even been prosecuted and he was guilty of far worse."

House Ethics Committee Investigating Rep. Gregory Meeks

Meeks photoThe House Ethics Committee on Friday announced that it would "extend" a previously unacknowledged review of Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY).

In January 2010, we exposed Meeks involvement in a charity called New Direction Local Development Corporation that raised money for Hurricane Katrina victims who never received it, among other questionable dealings. In March 2010, we asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate Meeks for paying $830,000 for a newly built home in 2006 that was worth more than $1.2 million. Click here to download a 26-page pdf of the Complaint.

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