Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) disclosed on Friday that he accepted a third flight on a jet owned by Dr. Salomon Melgen, his largest donor, who is apparently under investigation for Medicare fraud. Last year, when Menendez was forced to admit to that he accepted two flights from Melgen, his office asserted that there were no more flights. Menendez’ failure to reimburse Melgen was characterized as an “oversight,” the same term his office used in reference to the first two flights.
Menendez also disclosed that he has paid more than $400,000 in legal fees associated with investigation of his relationship with Melgen. In 2012, Melgen contributed $700,000 to a super PAC affiliated with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that spent the bulk of the funds for Menendez’ re-election.
Based on information provided by NLPC, the New York Times reported on February 1, 2013 that Menendez went to bat for a … Read More ➡
General Motors shares are dropping again today as January sales figures disappointed Wall Street. Sales for the month fell 11.9% from a year ago with weakness across the board. The news follows last week’s announcement that GM has now dropped to number three in global sales, being surpassed by both Toyota and Volkswagen.
The bad news at GM comes amidst continued political hype for the company. GM CEO, Mary Barra was a guest of honor at President Obama’s State of the Union address last week. Ms. Barra may want to start focusing on the continuing problems at GM instead of politics. Her Obama-appointed predecessors had maintained a strategy that was more concerned with appearances and political correctness than on profitability and sales growth, which has led to the company losing market share both domestically and globally.
GM’s news release for January’s poor sales performance had the same old flavor. … Read More ➡
The Obama Administration may have sold the last of the taxpayers’ shares in General Motors, but it appears that politics will continue to play a powerful role in the management of the company. New GM CEO Mary Barra did not seem too concerned about appearances when she attended the State of the Union as Obama’s guest. Her predecessor Dan Akerson in previous months had gone to great lengths to distance GM from the federal government.
With President Obama praising Ms. Barra in front of the nation, the field is once again set for GM to take the stage during upcoming elections. Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton also jumped on the bandwagon, giving kudos to both Ms. Barra and the auto bailouts in general when she spoke at a recent car convention. The political attention given to the appointment of a female CEO leads to the question that no … Read More ➡
General Motors is now approaching its fifth year of existence since emerging as a new entity as a result of the 2009 auto bailouts which saw taxpayers fund a bankruptcy process to the tune of $50 billion. Much has been debated about the “success” of GM since the controversial government-orchestrated restructuring. While GM management recently announced a dividend in an attempt to ensure investors of financial stability, a more telling indicator of the likelihood of future profitability may be found through an analysis of how competitive the company’s vehicles are.
Let’s face it; it should not be that hard for a corporation to look good to Wall Street after receiving an influx of $50 billion to its balance sheet along with the removal of creditor liabilities. But just how well are the company’s cars selling and what is the prognosis for longer-term sustainability? A closer look at the best-selling, mid-size … Read More ➡
New York TV station NBC 4 reported today that the federal criminal probe of New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez is expanding:
The Department of Justice is investigating Menendez’s efforts on behalf of two fugitive bankers from Ecuador, multiple current and former U.S, officials tell NBC 4 New York. The probe into Menendez’s dealing with the bankers comes as federal authorities are also investigating his relationship to a big campaign donor from Florida.
The donor is Salomon Melgen, Menendez’ largest contributor. In 2012, Melgen contributed $700,000 to a super PAC affiliated with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that spent the bulk of the funds for Menendez’ re-election. The report notes:
Federal investigators have searched Dr. Melgen’s offices twice in connection with an $8 million Medicare billing dispute. Separately, they are looking into whether Sen. Menendez improperly advocated for the doctor in that dispute. They are also looking into whether the
… Read More ➡
The internet was ablaze Tuesday evening with stories presenting a perceived positive move by General Motors’ outgoing government-appointed management. All hail! “General Motors to pay first dividend since 2008,” trumpeted the headlines. GM shares immediately spiked up in after-hours trading with shares rising about $1.60 or 4% on the news. Unfortunately for those duped by the proclamation, GM followed the story hours later with a profit warning. For the time being, the bad news outweighed the good with GM shares reversing course and ending the day Wednesday with a loss of over one and a half percent on a day that the market rallied.
So, let’s ask the questions mainstream journalists won’t. Why in the world would GM announce a dividend (subsequently hurting investors who buy on the news) hours before giving negative guidance? Why was this decision and announcement made by outgoing management just days before new CEO, Mary … Read More ➡
General Motors seems to be really good at winning awards for its vehicles. The Chevy Silverado just took home the North American Truck of the Year Award at the Detroit Auto Show. The truck also was just embarrassingly recalled due to a potential fire hazard. Unfortunately for GM, the bad news outweighs the good as awards do not always result in increased sales. Just look at the award-winning Chevy Volt as an example.
Like the Silverado, the 2011 Volt was a recipient of the North American Car of the Year Award. In fact, it seems that the Volt has won more awards than Wilbur, the Prize-Winning Pig from the children’s tale, Charlotte’s Web. But winning awards did not make the Volt appealing to mainstream consumers as sales have never lived up to the hype. And while the Silverado may literally be off to a blazing start, figuratively speaking sales … Read More ➡
The final tallies for 2013 sales are in for the Chevy Volt and its little sister, the Chevy Spark EV. The results are ugly.
While the Volt relies on both a gas engine and electric power, the Spark is actually an electric-only vehicle, assumedly designed to compete with the all-electric Nissan Leaf which had sales of 22,610 for the year. The Spark EV did not compete well, with sales for 2013 coming in at only 589 for the seven months in which it was offered. Chevy Volt sales for the year also disappointed, coming in at 23,094 and down from 2012 sales. The Volt’s sales drop came during a year when overall US car sales rose about 8%.
Back in November of 2012, new General Motors CEO, Mary Barra, hyped the Chevy Spark EV and proclaimed that GM would focus on such plug-in electric vehicles in the future. If this … Read More ➡
In a sudden, unexpected burst of concern about how mandates of renewable energy harm its low-income customers, a Duke Energy executive testified Tuesday that aspects of the government-imposed schemes (mostly welcomed by public utilities) cost far more than they save, and said they are net job losers.
The admission, by Duke’s president for North Carolina (the company’s home state), came during a hearing of a state legislative commission on energy. The specific policy targeted by Paul Newton was the practice of net metering, in which individual homeowners who have installed solar panels are able to sell their electricity to a utility’s grid at the same full kilowatt-hour price that it is delivered to them from the grid.
“While net metering customers use the same utility infrastructure as any other customer,” said Newton, “they pay a significantly lower utility bill due to the full retail rate credits they receive for the … Read More ➡
As a Democratic North Carolina congressman, Melvin Watt had a hand in creating the mortgage meltdown. Now he’s the new head of an agency charged with helping to reverse the meltdown. Irony is well and alive in Washington, D.C. Yesterday former Rep. Watt (in photo) was sworn in to a five-year term as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), created in 2008 to oversee Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These two companies now hold or guarantee roughly $5 trillion in assets. The Democratic-majority Senate had confirmed Watt on December 10 by 57-41 following a failed effort in October to block a Republican filibuster. The approval followed a Senate vote on November 21 to lower the bar for invoking cloture (i.e., breaking a filibuster) on most presidential nominations from 60 votes to a simple majority.
To understand why Mel Watt is the wrong man to head FHFA, it would … Read More ➡