Alana Goodman in the Washington Free Beacon today reports that Bill Clinton gave some thirty speeches for fees totaling $7 million, but that the actual identities of the sponsors is a “mystery.” The speaking fees were apparently routed through speakers bureaus and other entities, which the Clintons reported on Hillary’s disclosure forms as the source, obscuring the actual payer of the fees. From the article:
Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, a government watchdog group, said the way the Clintons have handled these paid speaking engagements “suggests secrecy and non-transparency.”
The sniper-style murders of five Dallas police officers last Thursday night should provoke universal outrage. Yet many observers are justifying them. While not defending the killings, they are assuming moral equivalence between the massacre and earlier deaths of criminal suspects in police custody. They claim the murderer, a black ex-Army reservist, Micah X. Johnson, killed by police during a standoff, was a “lone wolf,” not one of the peaceful protestors. This is nonsense. The tactics differ; the goals are the same. Dallas Police Chief David Brown, also black, admits Johnson was driven by a hatred of whites. And that's what drives Black Lives Matter, the social network behind protests in Dallas and other cities.
Come July 1 is D-Day. On that date, Puerto Rico is set to default on nearly $2 billion in bonds, about $800 million of which is of the general obligation type. In response, Congress is wrapping up legislation that would allow the island to declare Chapter 9 bankruptcy on $18 billion of over $70 billion in outstanding debt. On June 9, the House passed the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act, by 297-127. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., also vows action. A seven-member board will exercise oversight. Supporters say the bill is a mere restructuring, not a bailout. Don’t believe them. Not only is it a bailout, it is a bailout unavailable to all 50 states. Bondholders will pay. To its credit, the Supreme Court ruled 5-2 last Monday, June 13, that a Puerto Rican law inspiring the House bill violated the U.S. bankruptcy code.
What is the point of prohibiting members of Congress from accepting personal gifts worth more than $50 if the the House Ethics Committee simply waives the rule?
Freshman Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) has disclosed that she accepted substantial gifts from two donors to her political campaigns. Her office claims that the Ethics Committee waived the rule. The first was from a billionaire hedge fund operator named Lee Ainslie in the form of a private jet flight from New York to Boston. It was purported to be worth $3,300. A commercial flight would have cost about $300. According to the New York Post, which first reported the story, Ainslie and his wife have donated more than $80,000 to Rice’s various political campaigns.
The accusations looked suspicious from the start. And now federal as well as state prosecutors have debunked them. On June 1, U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger announced that he would not pursue civil rights charges against two white Minneapolis police officers in connection with the November shooting death of an unruly black suspect, Jamar Clark. The probe concluded there was insufficient evidence that the cops, Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, had violated Clark’s rights. The oft-repeated claim that Clark was shot while handcuffed and lying on the ground could not be substantiated. The decision follows an earlier one on March 30 by the Hennepin County D.A. not to file criminal charges. Black activists are livid. They would do well to review the details.
The House today voted down an amendment, sponsored by Rep. Steven Pearce (R-NM), that would have cut the budget of the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). The tally was 137-270. During debate, Pearce said, "I would urge people to support this amendment to give notice to the OCE that we're watching what they are doing."
This kind of threatening language is inappropriate, and seems calculated to undercut the independence and effectiveness of OCE. Maybe Pearce hasn't noticed, but the American people have had it with business as usual in Washington. People are sick of all the corruption. We need stronger ethics enforcement, not less.
The Obama administration sees it as the middle class getting a raise. The details suggest it's a demotion. On May 18, the Department of Labor published a final rule hiking the annual income ceiling for overtime pay eligibility of salaried employees from $23,660 to $47,476. Set to go into effect December 1, the regulation would benefit an estimated 4.2 million workers. However, it also may produce unintended consequences such as: loss of scheduling flexibility; pay cuts; benefit cuts; fewer work hours per week; higher employer compliance costs; and needless litigation. A group of lawmakers, led by Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., have responded with bills to nullify the rule and make it difficult for the DOL to offer a substitute.
The hearing comes amid allegations that Ramirez is not independent and takes her direction from Google.
On March 9, Ramirez contradicted herself in testimony she gave to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the FTC’s dropping of an antitrust action against Google in 2013. She testified that the FTC decision not to sue Google was “consistent with the recommendation that had been made by our Bureau of Competition staff,” adding that any “press reports to the contrary are just flatly wrong.”