Grassley: FCC Stonewalling on LightSquared Scandal Documents

Grassley photoHas Julius Genachowski, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), met his match in Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa)? Genachowski, a buddy of President Obama from Harvard Law School, has brought a culture of wheeling and dealing to the FCC, on whose decisions billions of telecom dollars often ride.

Grassley says that he will hold up two nominations for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) until the Commission provides documents that he has requested relating to LightSquared, a broadband company owned by the Harbinger Capital hedge fund.

LightSquared is at the center of a scandal involving accusations made first by NLPC in February that political influence and campaign contributions played a role in the FCC granting LightSquared a waiver allowing it to deploy a national 4G wireless network.

LightSquared is headed by billionaire Phil Falcone. According to the Wall Street Journal, Soros Fund Management is a major investor in Harbinger.… Read More ➡

Bailed-Out GM Earnings Disappoint

Government Motors graphicGeneral Motors reported disappointing earnings yesterday and share price fell over 11% (compared to about 3% for broader markets) to $22 and change, down 33% from its IPO offering at $33 about a year ago. Taxpayers saw a paper loss of over $1 billion on their “investment” in just one day. Individual investors may have been confused by initial headlines that trumpeted an earnings beat by GM at the same time that pre-market share price signaled that the earnings report was a disappointment. Let’s take a look at what drove the move as well as where GM may be heading.

Many of the same overhangs on GM remain from the time I wrote a piece on the risks back in March of this year. One of the risk factors I mentioned was weak European operations. That was at a time when GM was trading at around $31 and most analysts … Read More ➡

Taxpayer-Subsidized Nissan Leaf Fails Real-Life Test

Nissan Leaf photoOn Monday NLPC’s Mark Modica smartly called into question Consumer Reports’ sudden change in opinion about the electric hybrid Chevy Volt from a vehicle that they once believed “doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense,” to one the publication recommends. The next day, however, CR delivered an online review of the major all-electric vehicle on the U.S. market – the Nissan Leaf – and while not intended to be scathing, the account given by reviewer Liza Barth makes the car sound so unappealing, she should have panned it outright.

I wish I could reproduce her entire account here without a charge of plagiarism, to detail exactly what a turkey the Leaf is, so make sure you follow the link to Barth’s assessment. And while giving somewhat a nod of approval in a late September review based upon CR’s very controlled facility testing, Barth’s real-life experience told the true story.… Read More ➡

Is Consumer Reports’ Pulling Punches on Chevy Volt Reliability?

Akerson and Volt photoGeneral Motors has gotten much attention on its controversial Chevy Volt tax-subsidized vehicle. The hype for the Volt started over two years ago as GM was trying to put a positive face on the future green potential of a plug-in vehicle that was to be a game changer for the industry as  Washington was lobbied for a taxpayer funded bailout. While the final verdict on the success of the Volt has not been reached, the initial performance is underwhelming; especially considering the amount of hype and marketing money (supplied by taxpayers) emanating from GM.

Many of the claims regarding the Volt have been suspect, such as the initial 230 MPG estimate, the assertion that the vehicle was purely electric and claims that supply can not keep up with demand. The latest cause for skepticism comes as Consumer Reports (CR) does an about-face by changing its view of the Volt from … Read More ➡

Rep. Gregory Meeks Assailed by NY Post as Meeks Attacks NLPC

Meeks photoThe New York Post today published an editorial titled “Greg Meeks – Again” regarding the allegations in our Complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on October 28.

Meeks apparently had not yet received a copy of the Complaint at the time he wrote a column published last week in the Queens (New York) Tribune. In the column, Meeks characterized us as “right wing” and (again) blamed us for his ethics problems. I can’t wait to see his reaction to our new Complaint.

In the Tribune, Meeks omitted mention of his friend Edul Ahmad, from whom he secured an unsecured and unreported $40,000 personal loan, now the subject of an investigation by the House Ethics Committee. In July, Ahmad was taken off a Guyana-bound airliner in handcuffs by the FBI and charged in a $50-million mortgage fraud scheme.

Here the Post’s editorial today on our new allegations … Read More ➡

Chevy Volt Again Suspected in House Fire

burnt Volt photoCars in Depth reports that the Chevy Volt and it’s charging station are suspected as possible causes for a house fire that started in the garage of a Mooresville, NC home. According to the report, investigators found a Volt plugged into a charging station located in the burned out garage. The Iredell County Fire Marshal’s office investigating the fire states, “The charging station was in the known area of origin, but the cause of the fire has not been officially determined.”

The Cars in Depth story goes on to say that the actual brand of the car plugged into the charger unit was not mentioned in news reports. However, General Motors is involved in the investigation. There is a worrisome possibility that Government Motors is working hard to quiet stories that raise the possibility of fire hazards that arise from the Chevy Volt’s charging phase. Siemens, the builder of the … Read More ➡

Obamacare Covert Bailout Should be Scrutinized

Back in April of this year I wrote about the covert bailout that was buried in the Obamacare bill which gives $5 billion of taxpayer money to unions, states (for public employees) and corporations for health care coverage for retirees aged between 55 and 64. The program is called the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program or ERRP. The UAW is the largest single beneficiary, receiving over 200 million dollars. General Motors also gets a piece of the pork with about a 20 million dollar cut. A recent report by the Washington Examiner identifies early retirees (many of whom are being paid over $100,000 a year in pension payments) of the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) as the other top recipient of about 200 million dollars.

Thehill.com now reports that Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) is criticizing the program that has given away about $3 billion to date. The piece quotes Enzi … Read More ➡

Misguided Schumer-Lee Bill Offers Visas for Foreign-Born Homebuyers

schumer“Jobs that Americans won’t do” is a weak, if common rationale for high levels of immigration. Get set for an equally dubious idea to justify immigration: “housing that Americans can’t buy.” Senators Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, are believers. And they’re offering a sweet deal. On Thursday, October 20, the two lawmakers unveiled legislation, the Visa Improvements to Stimulate International Tourism to the United States of America Act, or VISIT-USA Act (S.1746), one of whose elements would provide renewable three-year resident visas to foreign nationals who invest at least $500,000 in residential real estate here. The plan thus assumes both the need for a housing industry bailout and a large injection of foreign capital toward that end. Supporters should spend some time pondering the downside.

Since the collapse of the home mortgage industry during 2007-08 (and the only modest recovery since), reversing the collapse has become a … Read More ➡

Watchdog Files FEC Complaint Against Rep. Meeks for Stanford Fundraiser

Meeks photoOn October 28, NLPC filed a formal Complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), his campaign, and his “leadership” political action committee called Build America PAC.

The Complaint alleges that Stanford Financial Group made illegal, in-kind contributions to Meeks’ campaign for a 2008 fundraiser in the Virgin Islands. The event was hosted by R. Allen Stanford, who is currently in prison awaiting trial for charges related to his multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme.

The Complaint also alleges that Meeks appears to have disguised a personal gambling junket to Las Vegas as a leadership PAC fundraiser. In December 2010, Build America PAC paid expenses for an event at the ARIA Resort and Casino, but disclosed no contributions from the event.

The Complaint also asks the FEC to investigate a voided $5,000 check from Build America PAC to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). The check was voided on … Read More ➡

GM Struggling to Meet Chevy Volt Goal

Akerson and Volt photoGeneral Motors has staked much of its credibility on the Chevy Volt. GM has a goal of selling 10,000 of the vehicles in 2011 and is only about half way there with two months remaining. Ad spending seems to have ramped up faster than sales though with much of GM’s marketing dollars going towards Volt commercials while only 1,108 of the vehicles sold in October. I can’t remember ever seeing as many TV ads for a vehicle that has sold in such low numbers. Despite the low proportionate sales to hype ratio for the Volt, sites like Mother Nature Network are proclaiming success for the Volt with the headline reading “October was a great month for Chevy Volt Sales.”

So just how great a month was it for the Volt and for the taxpayers who continue to be bilked out of billions of dollars for the misguided greening of America? … Read More ➡