Government Integrity Project

SIGTARP: Excessive Pay at Bailed-Out GM

GM money bagsA special inspector general report on compensation for executives at General Motors and Ally Financial blasts the Treasury Department for allowing excessive pay at the companies as taxpayers lost billions of dollars on the auto bailouts. The watchdog group issuing the report monitors the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), which was set up to save financial corporations deemed "too big to fail" due to systemic risk to America's financial system. The program was expanded to allow for the bailing out of the auto industry, despite the questionable use of funds specifically designated for financial institutions.

Will Nissan Abandon Its $1.4B Stimulus-Backed Battery Factory?

Ghosn photoReuters sources inside Nissan are saying the production of batteries in Tennessee for the all-electric Leaf, which stimulus-subsidizing U.S. taxpayers backed with a $1.4 billion loan, could be eliminated.

According to the report, at minimum there is sharp debate over whether the company will continue to manufacture electric vehicle batteries in-house or contract with an outside supplier. Nissan partner Renault, which has 43.4 percent shareholder ownership in the joint company, is said to be pushing for outsourcing battery production – possibly to LG Chem. None who revealed the information were identified for the Reuters story.

Paulson Shovels More Alarmist Manure at NYC Climate Confab

Henry PaulsonGlobal warming is the current issue that will be forgotten again next week, but while the watermelons demonstrated in New York City where President Obama spoke at the Climate Summit at the United Nations, former Bush (II) Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson ran his mouth at the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting.

A Republican that leftists turn to for a good “enviro-kumbaya” session came through with the rhetoric again this week. Most recently known for his partnership with statists Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg in the shame-the-capitalists effort called “Risky Business,” Paulson delivered a financial market parallelism on climate change that any Occupy Wall Streeter would be proud of.

Does NHTSA Protect the Public, or GM and UAW?

David FriedmanThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) faced some of its heaviest criticism to date last week on Capitol Hill. Hearings addressing the failings of the agency were headed by Senator Claire McCaskill and centered around NHTSA's part in General Motors' deadly ignition switch recall delay. The death toll (currently at 20) continues to rise as a result of GM and NHTSA allowing the dangerously defective vehicles to remain on the roads for about 10 years from when the problem was first recognized. While the criticism of NHTSA is well-deserved, it is past time for harsh words to be accompanied by an overhaul of the agency.

Tesla Soaks Nevada for $1.3B in Corporate Welfare; Just the Beginning

Tesla logoThere was little doubt that once CEO Elon Musk and Tesla announced they would locate their electric vehicle battery “Gigafactory” in Nevada, that Silver State lawmakers would vote in a special legislative session to support targeted tax breaks and incentives – even at the breathtaking amount of $1.3 billion.

Gov. Brian Sandoval, the courter, would have appeared an extreme fool if he didn’t already have the political backing needed for the deal. But there were other mini-surprises: Unanimity at the legislature; four separate bills passed to construct the package; and benefits enjoyed by other industries in Nevada that were rescinded to help with the Tesla payoff.

White House: 'Saudi Arabia Has An Extensive Border With Syria'

Mideast mapYesterday, the White House provided a background briefing via conference call for reporters covering President Obama's speech last night on the American response to the advance of ISIL. A "senior administration official," who was not identified by name fielded the question of "which countries will join the United States in launching airstrikes in this area?"

The administration official is now probably glad he was not identified. He probably should have consulted a map before giving this answer:

Sampson's Consultant Convicted of Fraud

John SampsonMelvin E. Lowe, a New York political consultant, was found guilty yesterday of conspiring with State Senator John Sampson of Brooklyn (in photo) to defraud the New York Senate Democratic Campaign Committee out of $100,000. Sampson is under indictment on unrelated charges of embezzlement, obstruction of justice and making false statements to the FBI. He allegedly embezzled $440,000 from escrow accounts on foreclosed properties.

Sampson and Lowe were caught up in an investigation prompted by NLPC's exposé of former State Senator Shirley Huntley, who was jailed for looting a nonprofit organization she founded, for which political allies had arranged to secure taxpayer funds. The scheme was detailed in a New York Post article of March 6, 2011.

New York Scandal Figure Malcolm Smith Defeated for Re-Election

Malsolm SmithState Senator Malcolm Smith, a former Senate Majority Leader, yesterday lost a Democratic primary for his seat in Queens. He is scheduled to face a retrial in January for attempting to bribe Republican Party officials to allow him to run for New York City mayor as a Republican in 2013.

Smith, and his finances, first came under scrutiny by federal prosecutors after NLPC exposed his involvement with a charity called New Direction Local Development Corporation.  Along with U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Smith used New Direction as a political slush fund. Among other financial irregularities, the nonprofit raised money for Hurricane Katrina victims who never received the money.

Obama Silent on Chrysler Tax Inversion Deal

Obama at ChryslerIt's official. Chrysler has now completely merged with Italian auto maker, Fiat. It had taken a bit over five years for Fiat to gain total control of the bailed out, once-American Chrysler Corporation. Back in June of 2009, President Obama gifted (payment was made in the form of "technology") an initial 20% stake in Chrysler to Fiat as part of his orchestrated auto bailout process. Fiat parlayed that into full ownership and is now showing its gratitude to the American taxpayers who helped fund the deal by relocating Chrysler's headquarters to London; a move which will lessen the company's corporate tax rate.

McDonnell Going to Jail, but We're Stuck With His Taxes

McDonnellFormer 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.

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