Renewed Spotlight on Salomon Melgen, Sen. Menendez’ Biggest Donor

Melgen MenendezIt took a lawsuit by the Wall Street Journal to pry loose information from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services about which doctors get Medicare reimbursements.

An lo and behold, look who is topping the list. It is Dr. Salomon Melgen, Senator Robert Menendez’ biggest donor, whose eye practice in Palm Beach, Florida has been twice raided by the FBI. Apparently, Melgen was the top recipient of Medicare reimbursements for the whole county. In 2012, he received more than $20 million. The news has put renewed scrutiny on Melgen and his relationship with Menendez, which is reportedly under investigation by federal law enforcement authorities.

The probe was reportedly initiated after media reports that Menendez intervened on Melgen’s behalf with government officials regarding a Medicare billing dispute and a port security deal in the Dominican Republic.

Based on information provided by NLPC, the New York Times first reported on February … Read More ➡

Al Sharpton Revealed as FBI Mob Sting Informant

Obama and SharptonThe Reverend Al Sharpton, anchorman, preacher, politician and shakedown artist extraordinaire, has led what can be viewed as a charmed life. A lengthy expose published yesterday on The Smoking Gun website (see pdf) provides some insight as to why. Starting in 1983, the New York-based civil rights activist, who 20 years later would run for president, allegedly worked for several years as an FBI informant to avoid prosecution. In return for helping the feds root out organized crime from the entertainment industry, Sharpton since then has operated with near immunity. “The Rev” denies he worked as an informant, adding that the report simply rehashes “old news.” Yet the weight of evidence, carefully amassed by Smoking Gun editor/co-founder William Bastone, can’t be ignored. Sharpton might consider hiring an extra bodyguard.

As the host of MSNBC-TV’s “PoliticsNation” program since the summer of 2011, as well as his own radio show, Al Sharpton, now 59, … Read More ➡

Can GM’s March Sales Figures Be Trusted?

On April 1st, General Motors announced that they were having “computer system” issues and that their March sales figures would not be released until later in the day. The company eventually reported a year over year sales gain of about four percent versus an estimate of less than a one percent gain. This came as GM CEO, Mary Barra, was preparing to testify at hearings over the recent GM recall scandal which is reported to have contributed to at least 13 deaths. Coincidentally, GM share price had been taking a hit as well.

My immediate thought during the sales release delay was that the company was not quite done cooking the numbers. Of course, this is speculative and just my opinion, but the fact that GM has been anything but trustworthy in the past led others to share my sentiment. One website title read, “General Motors Delays Sales Announcement Due Read More ➡

Rangel Stiffed NY State on Office Rent

RangelWhat is it about Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and real estate? From yesterday’s New York Post:

State taxpayers were stiffed out of at least $87,000 when Rep. Charles Rangel stopped paying for the district office he rents in Harlem’s Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building, records ­obtained by The Post show.

His staffers’ excuse? They lost the lease, according to state Office of General Services correspondence.

“I finally heard back from Congressman Rangel’s office and it seems we haven’t gotten the signed lease back because they lost it!” OGS real-estate specialist Sydney Allen wrote in a July 30, 2013, e-mail to a colleague that was ­obtained by The Post.

Rangel paid $7,253 in monthly rent on the 125th Street office he has rented since 2000, expense reports from 2012 show. But the payments stopped for all of 2013.

And the reaction of the New York state government, which is … Read More ➡

Energy Dept. Revives Stimulus Loans as Another Electric Vehicle Co. Stalls

Frito Lay Electric TruckAs Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced last week a renewed push to provide $16 billion in taxpayer-backed loans for “clean” technology vehicles, more bad news emerged from another stimulus-funded electric vehicle company over the weekend.

Smith Electric Vehicles, the truck company that was supposed to “make it” because electrification made so much sense for short, urban delivery routes, halted production at the end of 2013. A quarterly report at Recovery.gov attributed the stoppage to “the company’s tight cash flow situation.”

While not a beneficiary of the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program that Moniz wants to revive, Smith Electric is another reason why subsidies of any type for this floundering pseudo-industry – loans, grants, tax breaks, etc. – are enormous wastes. In light of the hundreds of millions of dollars that other companies like Fisker Automotive, Ecotality and A123 Systems received, Smith’s $32 million in grants is comparatively … Read More ➡

GM Attempted Ludicrous ‘Fix’ for Defective Ignitions in 2005

General Motors’ CEO, Mary Barra, testified this week at government hearings on the deadly recall delay that contributed to at least 13 deaths of motorists driving GM vehicles with defective ignition switches. During that testimony Ms. Barra discussed one of GM’s ridiculous early “solutions” for problems with ignitions turning to the off position as vehicles were being driven. GM engineers designed an insert to be placed in the keys’ holes in an attempt to limit how much key chains dangled. This “fix” saved the company a few dollars in labor costs that would have been charged if they recalled the vehicles to replace the defective ignitions.

Ms. Barra did not seem to think that this solution was as ludicrous as I do and the government investigative team did not press the issue. Maybe future hearings will question why such an absurd solution was offered.

NBC News reported that GM engineers … Read More ➡

Barra Can’t Blame ‘Old GM’ for Today’s Problems

Roll Call mastheadRoll Call published my piece today. It was written before the recall of 1.5 million vehicles for steering loss, in apparent response to our March 19 request.

Why did General Motors wait a full decade to recall more than 1.6 million vehicles that have been connected to 13 deaths and dozens of injuries?

Most of the questions at this week’s Congressional hearings will certainly focus on who knew what, and when they knew it. The answers, and how they relate to the 2009 government bailout of GM, could have political and criminal implications. When it comes to questions of vehicle safety, congressional investigators no doubt will find that the bailout only enabled a culture of mediocrity at GM.

The 2009 auto industry bailout meant goodbye to the “Old GM” and ushered in the “New GM.” The GM bankruptcy agreement granted legal immunity to the automaker for all incidents prior to … Read More ➡

Modica: GM Hid Ignition Defect From Bankruptcy Judge

NLPC Associate Fellow Mark Modica was a guest last night on The Willis Report on Fox Business Network.

Here’s a transcript:

Gerri Willis: Well, Kenneth Feinberg as you heard is in. But Mary Barra making it clear today that doesn’t mean money is going to be doled out. So should there be a compensation fund for GM victims? Many people talking about that tonight. Here to weigh in, Mark Modica, the National Legal and Policy Center, and Jack Burkman, a Republican strategist. Mark, I will start with you. So as I said they retained Ken Feinberg. As you know he has been critical, 9/11, BP, Boston marathon, doling out the dough. What does this tell you? Is this the right thing to do for GM right now? Mark, to you.

Mark Modica: Absolutely, absolutely. I think that was the direction this … Read More ➡

Power Steering Recall Could Cost GM Over $1.5 Billion

GM RecallAlmost two weeks after NLPC first requested that General Motors recall vehicles with defective power steering components, the company has agreed to the recall and finally remove the dangerous vehicles from the roads. Over 1.3 million Saturn Ions and related vehicles are included in the recall, bringing the total amount of GM vehicles recalled over the past month or so to over 6 million. The total cost to GM for the recalls will be in the billions of dollars with the latest recall probably accounting for over $1.5 billion on its own. The costs to GM’s reputation are even greater.

GM has known about the latest power steering defect since 2009. It appears that the issue revolves around a defective power steering assist motor supplied by JTEKT. GM sued that company back in 2009 and recalled Chevy Cobalts and Pontiac G5s in March of 2010 which had the same … Read More ➡

GM Recalls 1.3 Million Vehicles With Steering Loss Defect

In apparent response to our request, General Motors announced today that it would recall 1.3 million vehicles that may experience sudden power steering loss.

We made the request on March 19 after NLPC Associate Fellow Mark Modica found a glaring anomaly while examining documents on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website. NHTSA had already ordered a recall in March 2010 of Chevy Cobalts and Pontiac G5s for the steering loss defect but three years later had not yet ordered a recall of Saturn Ions, which have the same power steering system. In my March 19 letter to GM CEO Mary Barra, I wrote, “We do not know why NHTSA has not already ordered a recall or whether politics enter into its decision-making process.  It doesn’t matter. You have the authority to immediately recall these vehicles.”

The recall is even broader than we requested. We asked GM … Read More ➡

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