Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) disclosed on Friday that he accepted a third flight on a jet owned by Dr. Salomon Melgen, his largest donor, who is apparently under investigation for Medicare fraud. Last year, when Menendez was forced to admit to that he accepted two flights from Melgen, his office asserted that there were no more flights. Menendez' failure to reimburse Melgen was characterized as an "oversight," the same term his office used in reference to the first two flights.
The Obama Administration may have sold the last of the taxpayers' shares in General Motors, but it appears that politics will continue to play a powerful role in the management of the company. New GM CEO Mary Barra did not seem too concerned about appearances when she attended the State of the Union as Obama's guest. Her predecessor Dan Akerson in previous months had gone to great lengths to distance GM from the federal government.
General Motors is now approaching its fifth year of existence since emerging as a new entity as a result of the 2009 auto bailouts which saw taxpayers fund a bankruptcy process to the tune of $50 billion. Much has been debated about the "success" of GM since the controversial government-orchestrated restructuring. While GM management recently announced a dividend in an attempt to ensure investors of financial stability, a more telling indicator of the likelihood of future profitability may be found through an analysis of how competitive the company's vehicles are.
New York TV station NBC 4 reported today that the federal criminal probe of New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez is expanding:
The Department of Justice is investigating Menendez's efforts on behalf of two fugitive bankers from Ecuador, multiple current and former U.S, officials tell NBC 4 New York. The probe into Menendez's dealing with the bankers comes as federal authorities are also investigating his relationship to a big campaign donor from Florida.
The donor is Salomon Melgen, Menendez' largest contributor. In 2012, Melgen contributed $700,000 to a super PAC affiliated with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that spent the bulk of the funds for Menendez' re-election. The report notes:
The internet was ablaze Tuesday evening with stories presenting a perceived positive move by General Motors' outgoing government-appointed management. All hail! "General Motors to pay first dividend since 2008," trumpeted the headlines. GM shares immediately spiked up in after-hours trading with shares rising about $1.60 or 4% on the news. Unfortunately for those duped by the proclamation, GM followed the story hours later with a profit warning. For the time being, the bad news outweighed the good with GM shares reversing course and ending the day Wednesday with a loss of over one and a half percent on a day that the market rallied.
General Motors seems to be really good at winning awards for its vehicles. The Chevy Silverado just took home the North American Truck of the Year Award at the Detroit Auto Show. The truck also was just embarrassingly recalled due to a potential fire hazard. Unfortunately for GM, the bad news outweighs the good as awards do not always result in increased sales. Just look at the award-winning Chevy Volt as an example.
The final tallies for 2013 sales are in for the Chevy Volt and its little sister, the Chevy Spark EV. The results are ugly.
While the Volt relies on both a gas engine and electric power, the Spark is actually an electric-only vehicle, assumedly designed to compete with the all-electric Nissan Leaf which had sales of 22,610 for the year. The Spark EV did not compete well, with sales for 2013 coming in at only 589 for the seven months in which it was offered. Chevy Volt sales for the year also disappointed, coming in at 23,094 and down from 2012 sales. The Volt's sales drop came during a year when overall US car sales rose about 8%.
In a sudden, unexpected burst of concern about how mandates of renewable energy harm its low-income customers, a Duke Energy executive testified Tuesday that aspects of the government-imposed schemes (mostly welcomed by public utilities) cost far more than they save, and said they are net job losers.
The admission, by Duke’s president for North Carolina (the company’s home state), came during a hearing of a state legislative commission on energy. The specific policy targeted by Paul Newton was the practice of net metering, in which individual homeowners who have installed solar panels are able to sell their electricity to a utility’s grid at the same full kilowatt-hour price that it is delivered to them from the grid.
As a Democratic North Carolina congressman, Melvin Watt had a hand in creating the mortgage meltdown. Now he’s the new head of an agency charged with helping to reverse the meltdown. Irony is well and alive in Washington, D.C. Yesterday former Rep. Watt (in photo) was sworn in to a five-year term as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), created in 2008 to oversee Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These two companies now hold or guarantee roughly $5.5 trillion in assets. The Democratic-majority Senate had confirmed Watt on December 10 by 57-41 following a failed effort in October to block a Republican filibuster.