Obama, Congress Expand National Service: Is Service Becoming Servitude?

Obama & Kennedy photoWho could argue with so noble an idea as “national service?” On the surface, the idea is irresistible. By persuading people, especially youths, to voluntarily devote a portion of their lives to cleaning up city streets, working in homeless shelters, or mentoring children, to name a few worthy activities, we can convey moral responsibility to the next generation, broaden human experience, and make a positive difference in communities across America.  Underlying such noble intentions, however, is that the track record of service programs has been less than stellar. And “voluntary” service, as supporters themselves have admitted in unguarded moments, contains more than a whiff of compulsion. That’s why, if fully realized, national service programs would capture an enormous portion of the entry-level labor market and militarize our national identity.

Such concerns weren’t in evidence at the April 21 signing ceremony of a bill, co-sponsored by Senators Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and … Read More ➡

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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Sharpton Fined $285K by FEC as Result of NLPC Complaint

SharptonAl Sharpton and his group, the National Action Network (NAN), have been fined $285,000 by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for violating a host of election laws during Sharpton’s 2004 presidential campaign during which he received 2% of the Democratic primary vote.

NLPC, which filed Complaints against Sharpton on February 2, 2004 and February 6, 2004, was notified of the FEC action last week and made it public today. As NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm was quoted in the New York Post today:

We are pleased that the FEC has ruled on our Complaint and found that Sharpton ran an “off the books’ presidential campaign.

Previously, the FEC ordered Sharpton to return $100,000 in taxpayer matching funds, and denied him an additional $79,000 for which he qualified, for the 2004 campaign.

Also previously, Sharpton was fined $5,500 for late filing of disclosure documents reports as a result of a separate Complaint … Read More ➡

Ford Bankrolled Sharpton Convention Featuring Biden

Biden and Sharpton photo

Ford Motor Company has applied for $11 billion in taxpayer funds for retooling, and has access to an additional $9 billion line of credit from the government. Yet, the company was a financial sponsor of Al Sharpton’s national convention last week that featured a speech by Vice-President Joseph Biden.

In a letter today to Steven Rattner, who directs President Obama’s auto industry task force, I wrote,

Ford’s financial support for Sharpton places into doubt the judgment of Ford executives. I can think of no expenditure farther removed from the core mission of saving the company and the American auto industry than bankrolling Sharpton. It is your responsibility to ensure that no more capital is wasted on controversial political causes, no matter how supportive they are of the administration you represent.

In a Complaint filed today with TARP Inspector General Neil M. Barofsky, I wrote,

Ford’s major donation to Al Sharpton’s

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NLPC Is Right About Soros’ Business Ethics, Again

AFP reported on March 27:

Hungary’s financial supervisory watchdog announced Friday it had slapped a 1.6-million-euro fine on an investment fund founded by US billionaire George Soros, for manipulating the market.

Soros and NLPC President Peter Flaherty have clashed over Soros’ business ethics. During October 2004, Soros undertook a pro-John Kerry media and speaking tour. NLPC trailed Soros with its own “Soros Truth Squad.”

In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on October 21, Flaherty asked Soros how he could come to Pennsylvania, “where corporate scandals have cost people their jobs,” to tell working people how to vote in light of his conviction for insider trading in France.

Soros denied that he was convicted, and instead attacked NLPC as “Orwellian.” Flaherty followed up by asking why Soros had been fined $2 million, if he had not been convicted. Soros claimed he had not been fined.

Soros apparently misled the media and the audience of … Read More ➡

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