Harry Wilson, the nemesis of General Motors bondholders who were wiped out in the government-orchestrated GM bankruptcy, is back on the scene. On the front page of today’s Wall Street Journal, Wilson is portrayed as an “activist” investor, who seeks to maximize shareholder value. While his suggestion that GM buy back $8 billion of common shares would give a temporary boost to share price, Wilson’s motivations may not be entirely pure. His real agenda could be to expand the already-favored position of UAW shareholders, and to bolster the political fortunes of unions in general.
Former New York State Senator Malcolm Smith was convicted in federal court last week of bribery, wire fraud and extortion. A former majority leader in the New York Senate, Smith was defeated for re-election in 2014.
Convicted at the same time was Vincent Tabone, a former Queens Republican Party official. Smith, Tabone, and other GOP officials conspired to allow Smith, a liberal Democrat, to run for New York City mayor as a Republican in 2013, in return for $25,000.
Smith is the latest associate of U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) to be convicted of crimes. Formal investigations of several New York politicians began in 2010 after the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) exposed corruption through stories in the New York Post, New York Times and New York Daily News.
On Monday, New York City Democratic leader Albert Baldeo was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. He was convicted of seven counts of obstruction of justice in August of last year.
Baldeo was originally charged with three counts of fraud related to the use of straw donors to qualify for taxpayer matching funds for 2010 for his unsuccessful City Council campaign. The scheme was exposed in a New York Post story of October 11, 2011, based on information provided by the National Legal and Policy Center as part of our investigation into U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and his political network.
Baldeo was acquitted of the fraud charges but was convicted of attempting to prevent the straw donors from cooperating with the investigation.
In the 2010 City Council election, the seat was won by Ruben Mills. Mills was arrested in May 2014 for allegedly looting a nonprofit group he … Read More ➡
The trumpets sounded this morning as General Motors reported its 2014 fourth quarter earnings. GM’s bottom line earnings exceeded expectations (although revenue missed and was down from last year) and the pre-market share price of GM immediately jumped over a dollar a share. Despite the victory laps being taken by GM and its friends in the media, it would be wise for individual investors to think twice before jumping on the GM bandwagon.
GM management often exhibits a political DNA which was implanted at the company as a result of the 2009 auto bailouts when the Obama Administration manipulated a bankruptcy process to benefit UAW allies. GM’s main goal now seems to be to give the appearance of financial strength while ignoring the fact that the auto industry is highly cyclical as well as brutally competitive. The strategy has not worked to date considering that, since GM’s IPO in late … Read More ➡
I was a guest this morning on Fox & Friends to discuss Al Sharpton’s longstanding practice of not paying his taxes. Here’s the video:
The discussion was prompted by an article on National Review Online by Jillian Kay Melchior that reports that each and every for-profit Sharpton entity has been shut down by authorities in at least one jurisdiction for failing to pay taxes.
Melchior’s story confirms a pattern also seen with his nonprofit groups and his political campaigns: Sharpton does not pay his bills.
Sharpton has run what are akin to “bust out” schemes. Sharpton takes in money for a project or cause. He lives lavishly on the cash flow, and then creditors, including taxation authorities, are left holding the bag.
Sharpton’s for-profit, nonprofit and political enterprises have always been hopelessly intertwined and conflated, often in violation of the law, … Read More ➡
Another disturbing revelation of experiments on humans by the Environmental Protection Agency has been uncovered, after similar tests were exposed at EPA’s Human Studies Facility at the University of North Carolina 2 ½ years ago.
This time the “research” was conducted at the University of Southern California and the University of California at Los Angeles. The test subjects were 20 children between the ages of 10 and 15, who were exposed to up to 300 micrograms of diesel exhaust particles via nasal spray, as part of a project that ran from 2003 to 2010. The information was uncovered in documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act by the Energy & Environment Legal Institute and the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, and explained in detail at the Web site JunkScience.com.
As both organizations explained, EPA long ago made official determinations that particulate matter, such as that from diesel … Read More ➡
General Motors recently announced that it bought back preferred stock from the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust and the Canadian government. The deal closed in December of 2014 and supposedly will result in a reduction to GM’s fourth quarter earnings to the tune of $800 million. GM had the option to redeem the shares at face value after December 31st of 2014. The timing of the deal brings into question the motivation behind the move and also leads us to reexamine a previous preferred share buyback that occurred in late 2013.
The 2013 deal seemed to have been designed to benefit the UAW rather than the shareholders that GM has an obligation to serve. Reuters reported on the deal in September of 2013 with the following:
… Read More ➡
General Motors Co (GM.N) said on Monday it would buy back just under half of its preferred shares held by the United Auto Workers
Sound the trumpets! Here comes the next best, all-new, electric wonder-car from General Motors. The dust had not even cleared from the rollout of the new and improved 2016 Chevy Volt when GM CEO Mary Barra announced the newest Tesla-killer from GM, the Chevy Bolt. Let’s hope that the engineers working on the Bolt put more thought into the design of the vehicle than the GM executives put into naming the car.
Seriously, the Bolt? The name sounds like something out of a Disney animated movie. I wonder if the names Ratchet or Socket were in contention. Whatever the case, the name may be new, but the hype is all too familiar.
Barra has touted the new Bolt as being “a real game changer” for GM, just like the previously-hyped Chevy Volt was. Anyone who has paid attention to the Volt debacle would know that the car has been … Read More ➡
President Obama traveled to Michigan this week to declare the auto bailout a success. Interestingly, he toured a Ford plant. The company did not participate in the bailout.
GM is still trying to shake the Government Motors moniker, and that was certainly the reason for Obama’s nonvisit.
Earlier this week, General Motors Company boasted that sales for December were the strongest in seven years. A review of the facts shows that this is not exactly true. You see, GM Co. has not been in existence for seven years. While GM points to this technicality when trying to weasel out of liability claims from the past, it continues to act as if the company is a stalwart 100 year-old American institution.
GM described December’s sales as follows in its press release, “General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) dealers in the United States delivered 274,483 vehicles last month for the company’s best December … Read More ➡
As if New York City did not have enough corruption of it own, the administration of Mayor Bill di Blasio has reached into New Jersey and recruited an operative named Bill Crawley for a key post in the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). As pointed out by investigative reporter Gerard Flynn on the Gothamist website:
Bill Crawley is the former CEO of a controversial Newark non-profit disbanded in 2011 amid allegations of millions of dollars in graft and a pay-to-play scandal that sent Newark’s deputy mayor to federal prison.
Newark’s deputy mayor may have gone to prison, but Cory Booker, then Mayor and now U.S. Senator, skated. Booker’s political organization was thoroughly corrupt. Crawley headed an entity called the Newark Downtown Core Redevelopment Corporation (NDCRC) that offered lucrative contracts in exchange for donations to Booker’s political campaign’s and pet causes.
The nonprofit NDCRC was founded in 2005 to buy … Read More ➡