PMA Client Sues Because it Didn’t Get Earmark; More Evidence of Pay-to-Play?

Alexander Comisar reported in Roll Call on June 23:

The PMA Group, the lobbying titan that closed its doors in March after an FBI raid, has filed more than a dozen lawsuits against former clients for failure to pay outstanding debts. Now, one company has responded with a $3 million countersuit that alleges PMA cheated it out of an earmark it was expecting to receive. PMA’s lawyer called the complaint absurd and said the firm has filed a formal response with the court.

The lawsuit filed by the Michigan-based Badenoch company provides yet further evidence of what many suspect is a pay-to-play scheme in which influential members of Congress target earmarks to companies in their districts and, in turn, receive cash donations for their re-election campaigns.

PMA Group founder Paul Magliocchetti is reportedly under investigation for possibly funneling donations to congressional campaigns using straw donors. Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) in … Read More ➡

Supreme Court Sides with Dissenting New Haven Firemen; Overturns Sotomayor

U.S. Supreme Court buildingThough uncomfortably close, it was a victory for liberty. By a 5-4 margin, the U.S. Supreme Court today in Ricci v. DeStefano overturned a Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that defended a local government race-based job promotion policy. The City of New Haven, Connecticut, the High Court said, erred when it scrapped the results of a written exam designed for promoting local firefighters because the highest scorers did not include any blacks. The ruling is especially noteworthy because it rebukes Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, who wrote the circuit court decision. Whether the case will be used to bar race-based quotas in the future, however, is less certain.

The case originated in 2003 when the City of New Haven administered tests for promotion to lieutenant and captain within the fire department. Fully 77 persons took the test for eight lieutenant slots. None of the 19 blacks taking the test … Read More ➡

‘More Bad News’ For Rangel as Ethics Committee Confirms Probe of Caribbean Junket

Rangel photoJohn Bresnahan reports in Politico today:

Already embroiled in an ethics probe now entering its tenth month, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, received more bad news Wednesday night as the House ethics committee announced it would look into Caribbean trips taken by the veteran lawmaker and four other Democrats.

In a statement released late Wednesday night, Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Jo Bonner (R-Ala.), the chairwoman and ranking member of the ethics committee, announced that the panel had voted to create a four-member investigative subcommittee to determine whether the trips violated House gift rules.

Click here to download a one-page pdf of the Commitee’s statement. NLPC exposed this Citigroup-funded junket to the sunny island of St. Maarten that took place the weekend after the election in 2008. I attended in order to document violations of House Rules that prohibit corporate sponsorship of … Read More ➡

Congressional Black Caucus Upset About NLPC-Triggered Probe of Caribbean Junket

St. Maarten photoMike Soraghan reports in today’s edition of The Hill:

An investigation into a trip taken by members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) is triggering a backlash against the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s signature ethics proposal.

CBC members, frustrated at what they perceive as an accusation by a conservative group that’s been blown out of proportion, last week formed a working group to look at taking on the 2006 resolution that created the OCE.

The junket to sunny St. Maarten took place the weekend after the election in 2008. I attended in order to document violations of House Rules that prohibit corporate sponsorship of travel and hospitality.

The trip was funded by “lead sponsor” Citigroup, a major recipient of bailout funds, which contributed $100,000. Other sponsors included IBM, AT&T, Verizon, Pfizer, Macy’s and American Airlines.

On May 22, the House Ethics Committee asked Read More ➡

Senate Apology for Slavery Fuels Demand for Reparations

Thompson PhotoLast week, the Senate passed a resolution apologizing for slavery. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported:

The resolution, sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, passed on a voice vote. It now moves to the House, where it may meet an unlikely foe: members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Several Caucus members expressed concerns about a disclaimer that states that “nothing in this resolution authorizes or supports any claim against the United States; or serves as a settlement of any claim against the United States.” Those caucus members say the disclaimer is an attempt to stave off reparations claims from the descendants of slaves. “Putting in a disclaimer takes away from the meaning of an apology,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. (pictured)

In 2004, NLPC published a report critical of the demand for slave reparations. The report, “The Case Against Slave Reparations,” which was updated in 2008, argues that paying slave reparations … Read More ➡

Boehm Calls for Tort Reform; Cites Decade-Old Cases as ‘Justice Delayed, Justice Denied’

Boehm photoNLPC Chairman Ken Boehm will present a paper today at a forum sponsored by the Capitol Hill Chapter of The Federalist Society. It is titled Justice Delayed, Justice Denied: Williams v. Philip Morris, Marshall v. Marshall and the Dangers of Excessive Litigation. Click here to download a 7-page pdf.

Moderated by Quin Hillyer of the Washington Times, the panel will also include Theodore H. Frank of the American Enterprise Institute and Robert Alt of the Heritage Foundation. The event will take place at noon in Room B354 of Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC.

According to Boehm:

“Justice delayed is justice denied.” It may be an old legal cliché, but it certainly has its modern proof in two cases remanded by the Supreme Court – Williams v. Philip Morris and Marshall v. Marshall.

These tortuous torts have clogged court dockets for a decade, providing ample

Read More ➡

Witness Intimidation on Cap-and-Trade

Markey PhotoCongressional advocates of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill employed bribery to build support for this legislation when they co-opted several corporations by giving them free carbon dioxide emission credits. However, many businesses are still balking at lending support to a bill that will impose a crushing energy tax on the American people and cost the economy trillions of dollars. Since bribery didn’t work with these recalcitrant companies, Waxman-Markey supporters are trying intimidation.

On June 9, the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment of the Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing to hear testimony on the Waxman-Markey bill, called the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which would increase the cost of emitting carbon dioxide through an onerous cap on emissions. One of the witnesses was David Sokol, CEO of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company. Sokol criticized the Waxman-Markey bill because it would result in higher electricity rates for his customers. … Read More ➡

The Hill: Ethics Panel Probes Allegation Involving Rangel

Isenberg photoFrom The Hill today:

The House ethics committee is investigating an alleged quid pro quo between Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and an oil company executive, the subject of a lengthy New York Times article published in December.

Eugene Isenberg, the oil executive accused of trying to influence Rangel through a $1 million donation to the education center bearing Rangel’s name, is cooperating with an ethics committee investigation into the matter and predicts that the panel will find no wrongdoing.

The story by Susan Crabtree continues:

The assertion was caught on tape during a conversation with Peter Flaherty of the National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative watchdog that has investigated several ethics stories about Rangel. Flaherty approached Isenberg at the company’s annual meeting in Houston last week, taped the conversation and provided The Hill a transcript and audio recording.

As detailed in a previous entry, I actually questioned … Read More ➡

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