Congress Asked to Stop GM From Writing Off Ignition Switch Victim Compensation Costs

Today I sent this letter to Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT):

We strongly urge you to re-introduce legislation similar to the Government Settlement Transparency Reform Act (S.1654) in the 113th Congress.

As you know, the death toll from General Motors’ failure to act on an ignition switch defect continues to climb, now at 87. Although GM's decision to create a fund to compensate victims and their families is a step in the right direction, we are troubled by GM’s ability to write off the cost as an expense for federal tax purposes.

Because of the government-directed bankruptcy and restructuring, GM is now shielded from much of its liability incurred beforehand. In order to ensure at least some semblance of accountability, Congress must make sure that GM’s future payouts for its recklessness are not simply the cost of doing business.

As the families of GM's victims have emphasized, no … Read More ➡

Sharpton Visits South Carolina; Will Violence Follow?

Like clockwork, Al Sharpton, race-hustler extraordinaire, is positioning himself as an “adviser” to the family of Walter Scott, the black man fatally shot from behind on April 4 by a white police officer in North Charleston, S.C. after Scott resisted arrest. The shooting was captured on cell phone video by a nearby pedestrian. On Sunday, Rev. Sharpton spoke at a local church, praising officials for firing and prosecuting the cop, Michael Slager, for first-degree murder. He stated: “This is not about black and white. It’s about right and wrong.” He added: “I didn’t come to start trouble. I come to help stop trouble.” Given his history of demagoguery, North Charleston officials should ignore him. For this case, like all his others, is about black and white. And Sharpton is trouble.

National Legal and Policy Center many times has dissected the Reverend Al Sharpton. For three decades, the New York-based … Read More ➡

Menendez Donor Melgen Indicted for Medicare Fraud

As we have expected for some time, Dr. Salomon Melgen was indicted today for Medicare fraud. The dollar amounts of his alleged ripoff are staggering. From 2008 to 2013, Melgen billed Medicare $190 million and received $105 million.

Hopefully, this indictment will put an end to the fiction that Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) went to bat for him in a “billing dispute.” Menendez was trying to thwart a fraud investigation, and successfully enlisted the help of then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

The indictment will also hopefully put to rest the allegation that Menendez is being pursued for political reasons. The Justice Department has certainly pulled its punches in recent years by failing to prosecute Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and former Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV), but the level of Menendez/Melgen corruption is apparently too much even for this Justice Department.

While securing visas for Melgen’s “girlfriends” is pretty … Read More ➡

Regulatory Capture: NHTSA Toes GM Line on Brake Corrosion

The verdict is in from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on General Motors’ corroding brake line problem. Despite having received thousands of complaints from motorists regarding brake failure due to brake line rust, the agency claims GM does not have higher failure rates than other manufacturers. The clear evidence to the contrary makes this a classic case of what economists call "regulatory capture." First identified by Nobel laureate George Stigler (in photo) in 1971, it's when a government agency tasked with protecting the public interest instead acts to the benefit of an industry or particular company.

In this case, it's a particular union. The ersatz GM bankruptcy and taxpayer bailout were orchestrated by the Obama Administration with the goal of preserving the political power of the United Auto Workers. Since that time the administration has sought to prop up GM in every conceivable way, with NHTSA just one … Read More ➡

Senator Robert Menendez Indicted

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) was indicted this afternoon on 8 counts of bribery, 3 counts of honest services fraud, one count of conspiracy, one count of violating the travel act, and one count of making false statements. His largest political backer, Dr. Salomon Melgen (in photo on left) was also charged by the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey.

The indictments were the result of a lengthy federal investigation that was initiated after media reports that Menendez attempted to intervene to thwart a Medicare-fraud investigation of Melgen, and that Menendez pressured government officials to further Melgen’s interests in a port security deal in the Dominican Republic.

Based on information provided by NLPC, the New York Times first reported on February 1, 2013 that Menendez went to bat for the Dominican port security deal that would have resulted in a "highly lucrative windfall" for Melgen.

The port security deal and … Read More ➡

Alcoa Gets First Loan From Energy Dept. Program— But Doesn’t Need It

Ernest MonizA stimulus-backed Department of Energy loan program that has not been tapped for four years, and was deemed unwanted two years ago by the Government Accountability Office, is suddenly ready and willing to dole out more taxpayer millions again – to a corporation that doesn’t need it.

In fact, Alcoa’s expansion project for which the funding is targeted – to produce special aluminum for automotive companies in Tennessee – has already been underway for 19 months and was first revealed almost two years ago.

DOE announced on Thursday that the renewed activity out of its Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program will deliver a $259 million loan to the multinational conglomerate. The excuse for the financing – considering that ATVM’s purpose was to support production of alternative energy-powered automobiles – is to produce “high-strength” aluminum for automakers “looking to lightweight their vehicles.” Yes, they used “lightweight” as a verb, … Read More ➡

Jeb Bush Relationship With Fraudster Claudio Osorio Gets New Scrutiny

CNN reporter Chris Frates has identified “plenty of red flags” that former Florida Governor Jeb Bush should have seen before he joined in a business relationship with a company called InnoVida, headed by Claudio Osorio, who is now serving a 12 ½-year prison sentence for defrauding investors. Osorio's mug shot is at right.

While Osorio’s efforts to cozy up to politicians in both parties have been previously reported, the CNN report includes important new facts. From the report:

"It's hard to imagine any due diligence investigation that would have missed lawsuit after lawsuit against Osorio alleging fraud, misrepresentation and ethics violations," said Ken Boehm, the chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, an ethics watchdog group that reviewed public records with CNN. "Even if they were doing due-diligence lite, they would have found the lawsuits. These lawsuits weren't hidden. They were in his home county."

 

 … Read More ➡

EPA Meddling in Our Lives in Ways Big and Small

grillingThose in business who have to oblige the Environmental Protection Agency (or the state government agencies that carry out federal laws) on a daily basis know there’s an endless list of issues upon which the cabinet agency can (and does) interfere and obstruct. But a few recent examples reveal the extent to which the government regulators are willing to extinguish our individual freedoms.

Attention this week is trained on the Supreme Court, where a costly Obama regulation on mercury emissions from utilities’ coal-fired power plants is under a challenge. That’s a big issue that addresses whether EPA conducted a proper cost-benefit analysis for limiting those emissions, which has major implications related to the cost of electricity, but is otherwise complex for the layman.

But other areas of increased meddling are more plain – and obnoxious.

Early this month the Associated Press reported that EPA plans to introduce new rulesRead More ➡

Mary Barra’s Veracity on Trial in GM Lawsuits

Depositions for General Motors’ executives, including CEO Mary Barra, will begin in May, according to the Detroit News. The testimonies will be at the center of class-action lawsuits (set for trial in January, 2016) against GM for its ignition switch defect cover-up and are slated to conclude in early October of this year. It will not be the first time Barra has testified under oath about the recall debacle which is now blamed for having caused 74 deaths.

Attorneys for plaintiffs now claim they have evidence that GM executives knew about (and covered-up) the defects long before they admitted they did. Barra has testified under oath on four occasions before congressional committees regarding her knowledge of the deadly ignition switch defect that went unaddressed by GM for years. Barra has stood by her testimony that she only learned of the ignition switch defect in December of 2013, despite her having … Read More ➡

Police Shootings in Ferguson Bear Mark of Holder, Sharpton

holder:sharptonNothing underscores the Obama administration’s failure on race relations more than its reaction to the wounding by gunfire in the wee hours last Thursday of two St. Louis-area cops at a Ferguson demonstration. Police Saturday night arrested Jeffrey Williams, a 20-year-old black who admitted to firing the shots but claimed he was aiming at someone else. Civil rights activists, predictably, are condemning Williams and denouncing “racist” police. The Department of Justice, which helped create this situation, is responding similarly. The outcome could be a nationwide law enforcement disaster.

Ferguson, a north side St. Louis suburb of about 20,000 residents, two-thirds of them black, for months has been a nationwide flash point. As I have chronicled in lengthy NLPC articles (here, here and here), and in a new book, Sharpton: A Demagogue’s Rise, the aggressive allegations of racial motivation behind the police shooting death last summer of … Read More ➡