Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife were found guilty yesterday of charges related to their acceptance of gifts from a businessman named Jonnie Williams, Sr. They are most likely going to prison where meals, soap and everything else will be free. Unfortunately, Virginia taxpayers will be paying the price for their misrule long after they are released.
McDonnell's transportation plan, signed in 2013, puts a huge tax burden on ordinary citizens and helped corrupt Virginia politics. It obligates taxpayers to funding projects like the recently opened Metro Silver Line, which will never come close to breaking even. Made possible by the issuance of bonds (debt), these capital-intensive projects cannot simply repealed by the Legislature and another Governor. We are stuck with them, and the costs, forever.
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) faces a primary election tomorrow against State Senator Adriano Espaillat, who came within 1,100 votes of upsetting him two years ago, and Harlem preacher Rev. Michael Wolrund. If elected, Espaillat would be the first Dominican elected to Congress. In a June 6 televised debate, Rangel invoked Espaillat's ethnicity:
Just what the heck has he done besides saying he's a Dominican?...He wants to be the Jackie Robinson of the Dominicans in the Congress, which is ambitious, but the fact is, Jackie Robinson was a star before he reached the major leagues. And he's not a Jackie Robinson.
The axiom that "all that rises must converge" is upside down in New York State where all that falls is now converging. According to the New York Post, Rep. Charles Rangel's campaign manager helped incorporate a nonprofit group that was plundered by New York City Councilman Ruben Wills, who was arrested last week. From the article:
Rasheida Smith, a longtime southeast Queens Democratic operative, is listed on the incorporation papers of New York 4 Life, the group that state authorities say Wills looted for more than $30,000 to buy such luxuries as a $750 Louis Vuitton handbag.
State taxpayers were stiffed out of at least $87,000 when Rep. Charles Rangel stopped paying for the district office he rents in Harlem's Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building, records obtained by The Post show.
His staffers' excuse? They lost the lease, according to state Office of General Services correspondence.
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.
Amanda Becker reports in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call today that outside groups spent $3.6 million to sponsor foreign trips for members of Congress and their staffs in 2012. The article includes my comments:
"Congressmen are frequently accused of living inside a bubble. So you can make a good case that members should be traveling and getting to see certain things overseas," Boehm said.
"But all too often they have been arranged by groups that have very pronounced legislative interests," he added. "And what's more enticing than having the possibility of talking [to lawmakers] in a relaxed, vacation resort-type setting?"
On Wednesday, I took part in a press conference with leaders of other ethics groups to show support for the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), which should not be confused with the House Ethics Committee.
OCE was established in 2008 and is slightly more independent that the Ethics Committee because its board is comprised of former members of Congress and private citizens, rather than sitting members. OCE cannot sanction members but can only make referrals to the Ethics Committee.
This photo was Tweeted by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) yesterday. Also in the photo is House Majority leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). Along with the photo, Rangel Tweeted this:
My ears perking up to hear RepCantor saying taxes will go up under Pres Obama. It's called "paying your fair share"!
In 2008 Rangel admitted not paying taxes on rental income from a Dominican Republic beach house after it was exposed by the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC). It was one of the counts in his 2010 Censure by the House.
In an interview Tuesday on New York City's WNYW-TV, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) denied that he is under investigation by federal authorities, contradicting several previous reports by the New York Times, New York Post and New York Daily News.
The New York Post reported on Saturday that a nonprofit called the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation received subpoenas connected to a broader investigation of Meeks, who has steered millions in federal funds to the group.
As he has done in the past, Meeks attributed his woes to the New York Post and NLPC. Of the most recent reports, he told WNYW-TV reporters David Price and Rosanna Scotto:
The New York Times has a front-page story today on a political giver named James Robert Williams, who has no visible means of support, but is very generous to both parties and to politicians of different stripes. From the article:
...one government watchdog group called the pattern of donations extremely troubling. Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, said, "In more than 15 years of investigating political corruption, I've never seen a more suspicious set of facts."