The appearance for some time has been that the State Department under Hillary Clinton was turned into sort of a shakedown operation for the Clinton Foundation. Now Alana Goodman of the Washington Free Beacon details how the Foundation, supposedly a nonprofit entity, operated a private equity fund in Colombia, one of the most corrupt places on earth.
The fund was known as Fondo Acceso, and its “investors” included Mexican crony capitalist Carlos Slim (in photo), a billionaire. Of course, the Clinton Foundation will not say much about how the fund actually operated. From the story:
Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, a government watchdog group, said the lack of transparency was a troubling. He said the public has a right to know whether any of Fondo Acceso’s companies received U.S. government support while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.
“At the minimum, the Clinton Foundation should
… Read More ➡
CNN reports today on the recently passed “democracy voucher” initiative in Seattle, and other proposals for taxpayer funding of election campaigns. From the story:
But Ken Boehm, chairman of the right-leaning National Legal and Policy Center, argues the reform movement has a basic flaw, as candidates who accept the vouchers are blown out of the water by bigger spenders.
"If the opponent signs up for this, they get their little vouchers and they can send out some posters and stuff, but in terms of voter contact, they're getting creamed," Boehm said. "I don't know how they address that and they can't, because constitutionally you can't put an overall cap on spending."
Of course, there are other reasons why taxpayer funding is a bad idea. First and foremost, citizens should not be forced to fund political expression with which they may disagree.… Read More ➡
One of the stimulus-funded alternative energy companies that National Legal and Policy Center reported about most the last few years was A123 Systems, which the Department of Energy awarded $279 million to crank out special batteries for electric vehicles.
The examples of government failures in picking successes in industries and economies are countless, with President Obama’s plan for subsidies of a million electric cars on U.S. roads by 2015 serving as Exhibit One. He was only off by several hundred thousand.
But that doesn’t mean that vultures can’t consume the carcasses left behind, which is exactly what the Chinese did with A123. As Bloomberg reported last week, the multinational automotive parts corporation Wanxiang Group is running the company to try to meet market demands and is “having better luck.”
Whether “fortune” is leading A123 to an ultimately healthier place is still undetermined, but Wanxiang … Read More ➡
A report by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Homeland Security has found that the Department’s Federal Protective Service (FPS) division wasted about $2.5 million of taxpayer money in 2014 on an extravagant fleet vehicle program. It is not surprising that images show that the vehicles in question appear to be manufactured by crony company, General Motors.
A House of Representatives Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency, headed by Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), requested the audit on the FPS’ fleet operation. The report unveils a fleet of 1,169 vehicles which were leased at an operating cost of $10.7 million. That’s over $9,000 a year per vehicle or over $750 a month. Would any taxpaying individual agree to a personal lease deal for that amount? Probably not, but the Obama Administration has no problem spending the taxpayers’ money to lease vehicles which apparently come primarily … Read More ➡
Alana Goodman of the Washington Free Beacon reports today that emails released by the State Department show that a Clinton Foundation donor asked the State Department to help his company secure loans from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) to build Marriott Hotels in Haiti.
The circumstances add to the impression that under Hillary Clinton the State Department often resembled a commercial enterprise, with the proceeds pouring into the Clinton Foundation. As the article details, Marriott International, its partners and affiliates, and the developer, Richard L. Friedman of Boston, flooded the Clinton Foundation with donations. From the article:
“Wherever government money or support tied to the State Department is directed to a project in Haiti involving a major donor to the Clinton Foundation, the public is entitled to full transparency,” said Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, a government watchdog group.
Based on documents provided by … Read More ➡
The painful and fruitless existence of Smith Electric Vehicles, waster of $32 million in U.S. taxpayer funds, has been extended after yet another near bankruptcy.
The Kansas City electric delivery truck manufacturer, whose actual business negotiates in government grants, tax breaks and other subsidies – rather than a product anyone actually wants to pay for – had announced at the end of September, via its British investor Tanfield Group, that it needed to raise $4.5 million by October 2nd and $10 million by the end of the month. Without the cash infusion, Tanfield said, “the company is likely to be forced to seek protection under US bankruptcy laws or close down its operations.”
Yesterday Tanfield notified its own investors that Smith Electric had “raised a loan” of $2.9 million thanks to help from – as you might guess – a Chinese manufacturer, FDG Electric Vehicles Limited… Read More ➡
The Wall Street Journal has reported that the UAW’s voluntary employees’ beneficiary association (VEBA) fund was underfunded by approximately $20.7 billion in 2014, which was the latest reported period. The shortfall has grown from the previously reported 2013 figure when the trust was estimated to be 93% funded. The latest funding figure, which was hurt by growing medical benefits costs, plummeted to 74% in one year.
The VEBA fund was established in order to transfer liability of retiree medical benefits costs from General Motors, Ford and Chrysler (now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) to the UAW prior to GM going bankrupt in 2009. In fact, the fund was one of the primary driving forces of GM’s bankruptcy as the company agreed to fund the account with $30 billion as part of the agreement; money they didn’t have.
Total net assets for the VEBA trust stood at about $60 billion in 2014. … Read More ➡
The Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal from Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) who was seeking to overturn his Censure by the House of Representatives. Lower courts had ruled that they have no jurisdiction over internal workings of the House.
Rangel was Censured by the by the entire House of Representatives on December 2, 2010 by a vote of 333-79, the first such action in 27 years.
The action was the result, in part, of investigations by NLPC. Among the counts alleged by the Ethics Committee were Rangel’s failure to pay taxes on rental income from a Dominican Republic beach house, and his failure to report hundreds of thousands in income and assets on his financial disclosure forms.
In August 2008, the NLPC staff reviewed Rangel’s disclosures and noticed that he has a home in the Dominican Republic, but reported little or no rent. We sent an investigator to … Read More ➡
If there is an issue that has united popular indignation, Left and Right alike, executive compensation surely ranks near or at the top. But the bipartisan opposition to recent pay increases for the CEOs of mortgage conduits Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, while highly understandable, misses the larger point. Several months ago, these companies, which account for nearly half the outstanding home mortgage debt in the U.S. and which since 2008 have been wards of the government, announced plans to raise annual CEO pay from $600,000 to $4 million. Their overseer, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, approved the hikes. In response, Congress overwhelmingly has passed (or is on the verge of passing) bills to roll them back. Lawmakers would do better to allow the firms to operate freely and without subsidies.
National Legal and Policy Center has visited the travails of these two companies many times over the last … Read More ➡
General Motors’ CEO, Mary Barra, continued to project a bright future for the automaker during a recent presentation to shareholders. The prognostication gave a rosy appraisement for financial estimates as far out as 2020, when Barra says GM will have between $9 billion to $10 billion in free cash flow. Her crystal ball also shows that electric cars will compete with gas-powered vehicles by 2022 and that global car sales will increase by 50% to 130 million by the year 2030.
It is very difficult to predict future profitability in the very cyclical auto industry, but GM is desperate to give its shareholders some hope. GM share price has far underperformed broader markets since the company’s 2010 IPO and still trades below the $33 offering price. The S&P 500 index has gone up by about 70% compared to GM’s decline since trading began. Putting aside the fact that 2020 cash … Read More ➡