Regulatory Capture: NHTSA Toes GM Line on Brake Corrosion

The verdict is in from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on General Motors’ corroding brake line problem. Despite having received thousands of complaints from motorists regarding brake failure due to brake line rust, the agency claims GM does not have higher failure rates than other manufacturers. The clear evidence to the contrary makes this a classic case of what economists call "regulatory capture." First identified by Nobel laureate George Stigler (in photo) in 1971, it's when a government agency tasked with protecting the public interest instead acts to the benefit of an industry or particular company.

In this case, it's a particular union. The ersatz GM bankruptcy and taxpayer bailout were orchestrated by the Obama Administration with the goal of preserving the political power of the United Auto Workers. Since that time the administration has sought to prop up GM in every conceivable way, with NHTSA just one … Read More ➡

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.

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.

The port security deal and … Read More ➡

Alcoa Gets First Loan From Energy Dept. Program— But Doesn’t Need It

Ernest MonizA stimulus-backed Department of Energy loan program that has not been tapped for four years, and was deemed unwanted two years ago by the Government Accountability Office, is suddenly ready and willing to dole out more taxpayer millions again – to a corporation that doesn’t need it.

In fact, Alcoa’s expansion project for which the funding is targeted – to produce special aluminum for automotive companies in Tennessee – has already been underway for 19 months and was first revealed almost two years ago.

DOE announced on Thursday that the renewed activity out of its Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program will deliver a $259 million loan to the multinational conglomerate. The excuse for the financing – considering that ATVM’s purpose was to support production of alternative energy-powered automobiles – is to produce “high-strength” aluminum for automakers “looking to lightweight their vehicles.” Yes, they used “lightweight” as a verb, … Read More ➡

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:

"It's hard to imagine any due diligence investigation that would have missed lawsuit after lawsuit against Osorio alleging fraud, misrepresentation and ethics violations," said Ken Boehm, the chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, an ethics watchdog group that reviewed public records with CNN. "Even if they were doing due-diligence lite, they would have found the lawsuits. These lawsuits weren't hidden. They were in his home county."

 

 … Read More ➡

EPA Meddling in Our Lives in Ways Big and Small

grillingThose in business who have to oblige the Environmental Protection Agency (or the state government agencies that carry out federal laws) on a daily basis know there’s an endless list of issues upon which the cabinet agency can (and does) interfere and obstruct. But a few recent examples reveal the extent to which the government regulators are willing to extinguish our individual freedoms.

Attention this week is trained on the Supreme Court, where a costly Obama regulation on mercury emissions from utilities’ coal-fired power plants is under a challenge. That’s a big issue that addresses whether EPA conducted a proper cost-benefit analysis for limiting those emissions, which has major implications related to the cost of electricity, but is otherwise complex for the layman.

But other areas of increased meddling are more plain – and obnoxious.

Early this month the Associated Press reported that EPA plans to introduce new rulesRead More ➡

Mary Barra’s Veracity on Trial in GM Lawsuits

Depositions for General Motors’ executives, including CEO Mary Barra, will begin in May, according to the Detroit News. The testimonies will be at the center of class-action lawsuits (set for trial in January, 2016) against GM for its ignition switch defect cover-up and are slated to conclude in early October of this year. It will not be the first time Barra has testified under oath about the recall debacle which is now blamed for having caused 74 deaths.

Attorneys for plaintiffs now claim they have evidence that GM executives knew about (and covered-up) the defects long before they admitted they did. Barra has testified under oath on four occasions before congressional committees regarding her knowledge of the deadly ignition switch defect that went unaddressed by GM for years. Barra has stood by her testimony that she only learned of the ignition switch defect in December of 2013, despite her having … Read More ➡

Police Shootings in Ferguson Bear Mark of Holder, Sharpton

holder:sharptonNothing underscores the Obama administration’s failure on race relations more than its reaction to the wounding by gunfire in the wee hours last Thursday of two St. Louis-area cops at a Ferguson demonstration. Police Saturday night arrested Jeffrey Williams, a 20-year-old black who admitted to firing the shots but claimed he was aiming at someone else. Civil rights activists, predictably, are condemning Williams and denouncing “racist” police. The Department of Justice, which helped create this situation, is responding similarly. The outcome could be a nationwide law enforcement disaster.

Ferguson, a north side St. Louis suburb of about 20,000 residents, two-thirds of them black, for months has been a nationwide flash point. As I have chronicled in lengthy NLPC articles (here, here and here), and in a new book, Sharpton: A Demagogue’s Rise, the aggressive allegations of racial motivation behind the police shooting death last summer of … Read More ➡

Heath Care Task Force Showed Hillary’s Penchant for Secrecy

hillary health careOnly 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:”

Calling it a tour-de-force would be an understatement. There she was, the First Lady of the United States with the media and the entire … Read More ➡

Is GM’s Ignition Switch Defect Cover-Up About to Unravel?

The death toll for General Motors’ defective ignition switch cover-up has reached 67. Up to now, you were more likely to hear crickets chirping than you were to hear calls for justice for those who died as a direct result of GM’s actions (or inaction) in the case.

That may finally be coming to an end as major news outlets are reporting today that GM has officially been accused of a huge cover-up, and that the proof is still being hidden from the public.

Bloomberg reported on the GM cover-up and quoted attorney Lance Cooper, who played a key role in bringing the ignition switch defect to light when he represented one of the many GM victims. Here’s a succinct excerpt:

General Motors Co. executives participated in a cover-up of ignition-switch defects for years before 2014 recalls, according to lawyers for a family whose wrongful-death lawsuit led to the callback

Read More ➡

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:

The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) filed two complaints with the FEC, helping trigger an investigation into Sharpton’s presidential campaign. The FEC later found that both National Action Network and other entities had illegally paid for travel expenses incurred by Sharpton’s campaign, in part because “Sharpton 2004 kept poor records of its activities and expenditures.”

Also from Read More ➡

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