It looks like General Motors is up to its old tricks as it stuffs inventory channels with higher profit trucks. GM is able to record revenue when vehicles are shipped to dealerships as opposed to actually being sold to consumers, so the move will help to paint a false picture of positive second quarter earnings.
According to CNBC, General Motors has ramped up its lobbying efforts to the tune of $3.58 million in the first quarter of 2011. This is nearly triple the $1.36 million it spent in the first quarter of the prior year. It is also over double the $1.67 million spent by non-bailed out Ford in the same quarter. The $50 billion that taxpayers gave to bail out GM is now partially being distributed back to President Obama, Congress and a variety of agencies in an effort by GM to, well, receive more taxpayer money.
The House Ethics Committee on Friday announced that it would "extend" a previously unacknowledged review of Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY).
In January 2010, we exposed Meeks involvement in a charity called New Direction Local Development Corporation that raised money for Hurricane Katrina victims who never received it, among other questionable dealings. In March 2010, we asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate Meeks for paying $830,000 for a newly built home in 2006 that was worth more than $1.2 million. Click here to download a 26-page pdf of the Complaint.
A Congressional watchdog group has asked the FBI to open a criminal investigation of Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.). Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) exposed internal emails and press reports that show Richardson repeatedly coerced her congressional staffers to work on her campaign or risk getting fired. "Richardson was vicious to her staff," CREW's Executive Director Melanie Sloan said. "She went through a lot of members."
Nancy Pelosi was quick to refer the Anthony Weiner scandal to the House Ethics Committee. Yet other more substantial matters, like the Maxine Waters trial, have languished for months.
In 2008, Waters, D-Calif., arranged a meeting with the U.S. Department of Treasury and OneUnited Bank. OneUnited claimed it was in dire need of federal cash as a result of its failed Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae investments. The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) provided $12 million to the bank.
The auto bailouts are now being touted by President Obama as a "success" even though the taxpayer is about to take at least a $10 billion hit when the government sells its remaining GM shares. There is, however, a missing dimension in this debate. It is the moral one.
Prior to General Motors filing for bankruptcy in June of 2009, I was involved as a GM bondholder advocate for a group called the Mainstreet Bondholders. Attempts were made by my group to bring about fair negotiations for creditors of GM, attempts that were ignored by the Obama Administration's Auto Task Force, headed by Steven Rattner. The Task Force stated that their goal was to restructure GM outside of bankruptcy as they laid out a "take it or leave it" bond exchange offer that was supposedly designed to keep GM out of bankruptcy.
As General Motors gambles on ramping up production of the Chevy Volt, a couple of new reports point to headwinds for demand of electric hybrid vehicles, like the Volt. A new British study disputes the perception of eco-friendliness of electric vehicles. The study takes into consideration driving, manufacturing and disposal and undermines the case being made for a rapid introduction of electric vehicles as a means to address environmental concerns.
Delay, waste and corruption are nothing new to subsidized housing programs. An expose of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's HOME Investment Partnerships Program published in the May 14-17 Washington Post has reinforced the longstanding view of agency critics that too much money is going to line the pockets of developers who either are shady or in over their heads.
NLPC has filed a formal Complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against Lois Frankel and her campaign committee. Democrat Frankel is running against incumbent Republican Rep. Allen West in Florida's 22nd Congressional District. Frankel is the former mayor of West Palm Beach, and announced her candidacy on March 21. She is opposed in the Democratic primary by businessman Patrick Murphy.
The Complaint alleges that Frankel reported more than $250,000 in income but failed to report virtually all of the expenses connected to fundraising or other campaign activity. The costs that apparently went unreported include direct mail, telephones, web hosting, a post office box, and the pay for a consultant named Brian Smoot. Click here to download a 6-page pdf of the Complaint.
There are some big rumors circulating about the finances of bailed-out General Motors. The first of these is that GM is considering repurchasing Treasury's stake in the automaker and were circulated by sources who, according to a Bloomberg report, "didn't want to be identified." The message was that GM is so cash-rich that they were considering buying back shares from Treasury, thus eliminating the government overhang on the company. This stance raises questions about past actions at GM. Why did GM issue $2 billion of new stock to help fund pension plans if they have adequate cash to do so? Why did GM's wholly owned finance arm need to issue half a billion dollars of junk bonds for "general purposes" if they are so flush with cash?