Apple Accused of Poaching Chinese Know-How Paid for by US Taxpayers

Lu GuanqiuSince 2011 NLPC has tracked the stimulus-funded fiascoes that were/are battery-maker A123 Systems and luxury electric automaker Fisker Automotive, who at one point were business partners (or stuck with each other, depending on your perspective). Both eventually went bankrupt, and cost taxpayers millions of dollars from Department of Energy awards that were never paid back. Chinese company Wanxiang Group ended up with both failed enterprises, buying their assets for cheap.

While the Obama administration declared the two bankruptcies (among others, such as Solyndra) part of their “successful” green energy investment strategy, two Republican Senators – Charles Grassley of Iowa and John Thune of South Dakota – have applied pressure to DOE over the fate of American jobs and intellectual property created by A123 and Fisker, but paid for with U.S. tax dollars.

Now, as the Senators continue to express concern about DOE policy over innovations … Read More ➡

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:

Commonwealth Edison spent $27,000 in ratepayer money in 2013 for a golf outing hosted by members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, which was raising money for the legislative body's foundation.

ComEd used $736,000 in ratepayer money in 2011 to fund World Business Chicago, an economic development organization chaired by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The CEO

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Harry Wilson’s Teamsters Connection and the Return of Government Motors

Harry WilsonIs the fix in? General Motors is acting like it faces a major decision in responding to the self-nomination of Harry Wilson for its board of directors. Wilson was one of the key members of President Obama’s Auto Task Force, and purports to be acting at the behest of hedge funds who want GM to spend the “cash hoard” that was made possible by US taxpayers.

Ironically, Wilson was one of the people who determined how much of a “hoard” GM would accumulate, an amount he now criticizes as being excessive. During, and just prior to, GM’s bankruptcy process, taxpayers supplied about $50 billion to “invest” in the company. Canadian taxpayers chipped in about $10 billion while GM had its balance sheet cleared of about $30 billion of debt. The liabilities owed to the politically-favored UAW remained intact.

Why did the Auto Task Force that Wilson served believe that GM … Read More ➡

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:

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Ex-Detroit Police Union Official, Two Others Convicted in City Pension Bribery Scheme

bigstockphoto_detroit_1503723Among the explanations for decades of decay in Detroit, public corruption ranks high on the list. Such was evident in a courtroom on December 8, where a federal jury convicted three persons, including Paul Stewart, formerly vice president of the Detroit Police Officers Association and a trustee of the city’s Police and Fire Retirement System, on conspiracy to commit honest services fraud through bribes and kickbacks. The cash and other gifts Stewart received weren’t enormous – they amounted to a little under $50,000 – but they were enough to induce him and other convicted co-defendants to steer pension plans toward highly risky investments that wound up losing $97 million. The case, part of a broad federal probe, is another legacy of Kwame Kilpatrick, the former Detroit mayor now serving a lengthy federal prison term on corruption charges.

The decline of Detroit is a familiar story, often accompanied by photos … Read More ➡

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.

Here is a transcript:

Sara Eisen:  At first it seemed like it was just another activist investors at work but our next guest says something else is in play here. We're talking about Harry Wilson, the restructuring expert who served on President Obama's auto industry task force during the financial crisis and was instrumental in bringing GM out of bankruptcy. Now Wilson is a GM activist investor and represents hedge funds holding a total of 34 million shares asking General Motors' CEO Mary Barra for a seat on the board and is pressing for a stock buyback, Simon.

Simon Hobbs: Our next guest is a former GM bondholder who says the company isn't so financially healthy, that it shouldn't burn through its reserves with buybacks … Read More ➡

Harry Wilson to the Rescue of GM— or UAW?

Harry WilsonHarry Wilson, the nemesis of General Motors bondholders who were wiped out in the government-orchestrated GM bankruptcy, is back on the scene. On the front page of today’s Wall Street Journal, Wilson is portrayed as an “activist” investor, who seeks to maximize shareholder value. While his suggestion that GM buy back $8 billion of common shares would give a temporary boost to share price, Wilson’s motivations may not be entirely pure. His real agenda could be to expand the already-favored position of UAW shareholders, and to bolster the political fortunes of unions in general.

Wilson was a retired banker elected to serve on President Obama’s Auto Task Force and was the driving force behind preventing old GM bondholders from receiving due process during the GM bankruptcy process. His involvement led to his current status as a “restructuring expert” and CEO of the MAEVA Group. It now seems that our … Read More ➡

Ex-New York State Senator Malcolm Convicted of Bribery

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.

The first story, in the New York Post of January 31, 2010, focused on a nonprofit called New … Read More ➡

Rep. Meeks’ Crony Albert Baldeo Sentenced to 18 Mos. in Federal Prison

Meeks and BaldeoOn Monday, New York City Democratic leader Albert Baldeo was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. He was convicted of seven counts of obstruction of justice in August of last year.

Baldeo was originally charged with three counts of fraud related to the use of straw donors to qualify for taxpayer matching funds for 2010 for his unsuccessful City Council campaign. The scheme was exposed in a New York Post story of October 11, 2011, based on information provided by the National Legal and Policy Center as part of our investigation into U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and his political network.

Baldeo was acquitted of the fraud charges but was convicted of attempting to prevent the straw donors from cooperating with the investigation.

In the 2010 City Council election, the seat was won by Ruben Mills. Mills was arrested in May 2014 for allegedly looting a nonprofit group he … Read More ➡

GM Earnings Not as Rosy as Portrayed

General MotorsThe trumpets sounded this morning as General Motors reported its 2014 fourth quarter earnings. GM’s bottom line earnings exceeded expectations (although revenue missed and was down from last year) and the pre-market share price of GM immediately jumped over a dollar a share. Despite the victory laps being taken by GM and its friends in the media, it would be wise for individual investors to think twice before jumping on the GM bandwagon.

GM management often exhibits a political DNA which was implanted at the company as a result of the 2009 auto bailouts when the Obama Administration manipulated a bankruptcy process to benefit UAW allies. GM’s main goal now seems to be to give the appearance of financial strength while ignoring the fact that the auto industry is highly cyclical as well as brutally competitive. The strategy has not worked to date considering that, since GM’s IPO in late … Read More ➡