Culture of Corruption

Crony Capitalism, Carnahan Style

Tom CarnahanWind power is not economically feasible. It is only a reality because of tax breaks and government subsidies, which are often the seed corn for political favoritism and cozy dealings.

In Missouri, a company called Wind Capital Group (WCG) is more than well connected. In the photo to the right is the firm’s CEO is Tom Carnahan. His brother is Congressman Russ Carnahan (D-MO), and his sister is Robin Carnahan, the Missouri Secretary of State. His father was governor and his mother a U.S. Senator.

Is Rangel Detached From Reality?

Rangel photoSteven T. Dennis of CQ-Roll Call interviewed former House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) last week and reports:

The veteran New York Democrat still wants his Ways and Means chairmanship back, but he doesn't want reporters to write that he's planning to fight for it. He wants and needs the ethics committee to clear his name, but he feels it already sandbagged him with an unjustified admonishment that appears nowhere in House rules and gave him no chance to challenge the finding.

Rangel “temporarily” stepped down from his Chairmanship on March 3, the same way that Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) “temporarily” resigned as ranking member on the Ethics Committee in 2006. Mollohan did not come back and neither will Rangel.

Washington Post: Mollohan Had ‘Worst Washington Week’

Political reporter Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post has initiated a new “award,“ which, in his words, “honors, so to speak, that person, place or thing that had the most terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week.”

The judge considered the Redskins' Albert Haynesworth, and the bureaucrats on whose watch the Gulf oil spill occurred. According to Cilliza:

But in the end, they were all in a race for second place. Rep. Alan Mollohan, a West Virginia Democrat who was defeated in Tuesday's primary, was our runaway selection.

Congressman Mollohan Loses Democratic Primary

Mollohan photoRep. Alan Mollohan, whose finances were the subject of a four-year federal probe triggered by NLPC, was defeated yesterday in the Democratic primary in West Virginia’s first Congressional District. The 14-term Congressman was beaten 56 to 44 percent by state Senator Mike Oliverio, who made corruption the centerpiece of his campaign. Mollohan accused Oliverio of “spreading right-wing smears.”

The investigation began in February 2006 after NLPC filed a 500-page Complaint with the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia alleging that Mollohan failed to report millions in assets on his Congressional disclosure forms in order to conceal cozy financial relationships with recipients of earmarks he had arranged.

Sweet House Deal for Rep. Gutierrez's Daughter

Gutierrez photoRep. Luis V. Gutierrez’s (D-IL) multitude of legal and ethical problems were compounded on Monday, when it was reported by the Chicago Sun-Times that his daughter may have gotten a sweetheart deal on her home in Chicago.

Gutierrez was the mentor of former Chicago ward-26 alderman Billy Ocasio, who initiated specialized affordable-housing programs in his district. Gutierrez’s daughter, Omaira Figueroa, benefited from the program, buying an affordable condo for a discounted $155,000 in June, 2008, and selling it for $239,900 just over a year later.

Office of Congressional Ethics Asked to Release PMA Probe Details

Flake photoTwo congressmen are calling on the Office of Congressional Ethics to release details of an investigation into lawmakers linked to the PMA Group pay-to-play scheme, after the House Ethics Committee has refused to reveal information it collected during its own probe of the case.

On Feb. 26, the House Ethics Committee issued a report which cleared seven members of congress of exchanging earmarks for campaign donations with the now-defunct PMA Group. However, the committee has declined to disclose details of the investigation.

NLPC Files FEC Complaint Against Eric Massa

Massa photoThe National Legal and Policy Center filed a formal Complaint with the Federal Election Commission today against former Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY), and his campaign fund, that alleges violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA). Click here to download a 7-page pdf of the Complaint.

On April 16, Jake Sherman of Politico reported that Massa’s campaign fund paid $31, 896 to GMAC just two days before Massa resigned from Congress. FECA prohibits the conversion of campaign funds to personal use.

On April 17, Carol Leonnig of the Washington Post reported that the Massa campaign made a $40,000 payment to Massa’s congressional office chief of staff, Joe Racalto.  The expenditure was listed as a “Campaign management fee.” Racalto had previously on March 23 filed a sexual harassment complaint against Massa.

Massa Looted Campaign Treasury on Way Out

Massa photpIt was revealed Friday that former Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) spent over $70K in campaign funds in the days immediately preceding and following his resignation amid sexual harassment allegations in early March.

According to Federal Election Commission filings, Massa cut a check for $40K to his chief of staff the day after he announced he was resigning. FEC filings also reveal that Massa made a $31,896.42 payment to GMAC for a “campaign car lease” just a few days earlier. Because the money was not being spent on a re-election effort, the former congressman may have violated campaign finance rules barring politicians from spending money on personal items that are unrelated to their campaigns.

Rep. Gregory Meeks Reports Subpoena to House

subpoena photoOn Tuesday, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) formally notified the House of Representatives that he had received a subpoena, as required by House rules. The subpoena was first reported by the New York Daily News on April 2 in the wake of our allegations that Meeks got a sweetheart deal on his house, and is involved with a charity that raised money for Hurricane Katrina victims who never saw it.

Did Meeks and/or Pelosi sit on the subpoena notification until after the March 21 health care vote? It depends on when Meeks got the subpoena. House Rule VIII states:

Rep. Jeff Flake to Push Ethics Committee on PMA Probe

Jeff Flake photoRep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) will likely bring another resolution before the House of Representatives next week calling on the House Ethics Committee to release more details of the investigation into lawmakers linked to the PMA Group pay-to-play controversy, his office told the NLPC Tuesday.

Rep. Flake has been the lone member of Congress pushing for more information on the investigation since late February, when the Ethics Committee released a brief, 5-page report on its probe of the politicians who obtained earmarks for clients of the now-defunct PMA Group lobbying firm. The D.C.-based PMA shuttered its offices last year after the FBI began investigating allegations that the lobbying group exchanged campaign contributions for earmarks.

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