Taxpayers’ Green ‘Investment’ in Battery Company Withers

A123 logoA123 Systems – the taxpayer-funded electric vehicle battery manufacturer that famously shipped duds to Fisker Automotive, which caused one of its luxurious Karma EVs to shut down just before a Consumer Reports test – is now the defendant in an investor class action lawsuit and its stock has tanked to below $1.

Massachusetts-based A123 received more than $279 million in grants from the Department of Energy, most of it used to refurbish two plants in Livonia and Romulus, Mich., for the production of EV batteries. The company laid off 125 factory workers in November, lost $257.7 million in 2011 (including an $11.6 million write-down of its stake in Fisker), and announced it would spend $55 million to fix the defective batteries it delivered to Fisker and other customers. Meanwhile A123’s top executives received big raises and inflated parachutes should the company change ownership.

The lawsuit, filed in a Massachusetts … Read More ➡

Obama Fails ‘Uniter’ Test on Trayvon Martin Incident

Obama & Sharpton photoThis past weekend saw further escalation of nationwide demonstrations over the fatal February 26 shooting of a black Florida teenager, Trayvon Martin, by a white neighborhood watch volunteer. Though in apparent self-defense, many are demanding the shooter, George Zimmerman, be arrested. In lieu of such action, some are vowing to apply their brand of street justice. Unfortunately, they have an ally in President Obama. Speaking before reporters outside the White House on Friday, March 23, Obama implied Martin was a victim of a racially-motivated murder and cover-up. His defining line – “You know, if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon” – very likely gave undeserved credibility to “civil rights” demagogues such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. A state grand jury is set to convene on April 10. And the U.S. Justice Department now has launched a probe.

Whenever a particular act or threat of violence in this … Read More ➡

Which Pays Fair Share of Taxes, ExxonMobil or GM?

One thing that I have realized about the rhetoric surrounding green energy initiatives and the proclamations by Team Obama glorifying companies like General Motors while vilifying others like ExxonMobil is that the claims and the facts are worlds apart. Voters are led to believe that evil oil companies like ExxonMobil are getting a free pass and not paying their fair share while the supposedly patriotic GM is an American success story which now contributes to society and builds miracle cars like the Chevy Volt which will free the US from foreign oil dependence. One set of facts that is very easy to check on is the amount of taxes each of these companies pays. Following are the facts from the SEC annual financial reports (10Ks) of GM and ExxonMobil.

In 2011 ExxonMobil made about $73 billion and paid about $31 billion in tax. That is a tax rate of greater … Read More ➡

Rangel Fined $23K For Using Rent-Controlled Apartment as Campaign Office

Rangel photoIn response to a Complaint filed by the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has entered into a conciliation agreement with Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and his so-called National Leadership PAC (NLP). The FEC found that “there was reason to believe” that Rangel and NLP violated the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 by using a rent-stabilized apartment as a campaign office. Rangel and NLP agreed to pay a fine of $23,000. Click here to download a 23-page pdf of the Conciliation Agreement. Click here to download a 16-page pdf of NLPC’s Complaint.

The Complaint was based on articles in 2008 by David New York Times reporter David Kocieniewski that detailed how Rangel lived in three adjoining rent-stabilized apartments and used a fourth as a campaign office. This coverage prompted a more far-reaching examination of Rangel’s finances that led NLPC to discover that Rangel failed … Read More ➡

GM Blames Chevy Volt Owners for Power Cord Problems

Volt power cord photoBeing a politician means never having to say you’re sorry. It now seems that the same philosophy holds true with government-owned General Motors. About eight months ago some owners of Chevy Volts complained that charging cords were overheating, sometimes to the point of melting. At the time, GM blamed owners, saying the wall outlets were the culprits. We now finally have GM addressing the safety concerns and agreeing to replace charging cords for all 9,500 Volts that have been sold since production began. But in what is becoming a new public relations precedent, the move is not being called a “recall.”

 

The non-recall recall is instead referred to as a customer satisfaction action which is designed to “offer a more consistent charging experience.” The political strategy is becoming more and more evident at GM as Chevy Volt sales continue to struggle and the 2012 presidential election nears. Excuses … Read More ➡

Justice Dept. Going Easy on Corzine?

Corzine photoToday’s headlines that Jon Corzine gave “direct instructions” for MF Global customer money to be moved to another account to cover a $175 million overdraft raises big questions about how this case is being handled. Congressional Committee’s are imperfect investigative vehicles, but this time the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation has really scored. By digging out and making public an email from MF Global assistant treasurer Edith O’Brien, the Committee has done a huge public service.

But surely the investigation of the disappearance of $1.6 billion deserves a more formal process than “trial by headline.” Just where is the Justice Department in all this? We do not know, but we do know that Attorney General Eric Holder has been the protector of corrupt Democratic politicians in Congress. Rep. Charles Rangel admitted to not paying his taxes, and admitted to leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars in income … Read More ➡

Mortgage Moochers Exploit State Law to Avoid Foreclosure

One takes a certain liberty in treating an extreme anecdote as indicative of a pattern. But in the context of the ongoing residential mortgage crisis, it is justifiable. The Washington Post thinks so. The paper’s March 4 print edition features a lengthy cover story on a suburban Maryland couple, Keith and Janet Ritter, who readily admit to their freeloader status. The Ritters in 2006 bought their home for nearly $1.3 million with almost no money down and, in the ensuing years, haven’t made a single mortgage payment, having adroitly used state law to avoid foreclosure and eviction. “We don’t believe in living for free,” says Mr. Ritter, without irony. He and his wife, after interminable legal wrangling, face eviction. Yet even now, they’re mounting a last-ditch effort to get their property back. They’re an extreme example of what’s become a common syndrome across the U.S.

National Legal and Policy … Read More ➡

Class Action Filed Against Taxpayer-Backed First Solar

First Solar Logo

Securities law firms are lining up to get a piece of the action after a class action lawsuit was filed against federally subsidized First Solar, Inc., allegedly because the company failed to disclose the massive costs it was incurring due to defects in its solar panels, leading investors to believe the company’s stock was worth more than its actual value.

The complaint, filed by the New York-based Pomerantz, Haudek, Grossman, & Gross law firm, claims that First Solar executives – including founder Michael Ahearn and former CEO Robert Gillette – “made false and/or misleading statements, as well as failed to disclose material adverse facts about the Company’s business, operations, and prospects.” The false information was allegedly delivered via annual and quarterly reports, SEC filings, press releases and other documents. First Solar is a public company traded on the NASDAQ exchange.

According to the complaint, First Solar: “deceive(d) the investing … Read More ➡

Ally Financial Failure Jeopardizes Auto Bailout ‘Success’

Ally ad imageAlly Financial seldom gets mentioned when the auto bailouts are discussed. The company was formerly known as GMAC and the 17 billion dollars that taxpayers sunk into the company was crucial for the perceived success at both General Motors and Chrysler. We now learn that Ally Financial has failed a government stress test and, according to Reuters, “fared by far the worst of 19 banks examined.”

Years back, GMAC changed its name to Ally Financial to dissociate itself from GM. The auto lender also managed to change its status to bank holding company and GM sold most of its ownership stake so that TARP money could be accessed by the newly named Ally Financial.  Just changing a name can not negate the fact that the $17,000,000,000 Ally Financial received from taxpayers went towards helping GM (as well as Chrysler) which received about $50,000,000,000 in bailout funds. According to the … Read More ➡