What's Hot
10/29/2010 - 07:39

GM logoGeneral Motors is expected to begin soliciting for its IPO within the next few weeks. Some warning signs are surfacing regarding the risks relating to investing in New GM. These risks will be easily recognized by astute money managers and may require GM (and its owners, the US Treasury) to rely more upon the Mom and Pop investors who are less sophisticated and more susceptible to being taken advantage of.

Prior to filing for bankruptcy, General Motors funded its operations by borrowing from small investors. This funding came in the form of "baby bonds" that were traded on security exchanges and made readily available to retail buyers. Around the same time that unethical practices led to predatory lending in the mortgage industry, GM engaged in its own practice of predatory borrowing. The individuals who lent money in good faith eventually had their rights subordinated to the politically powerful labor unions.

10/28/2010 - 21:19

John Bresnahan of Politico reports today:

Rep. Charles Rangel is heading into a Nov. 15 ethics trial with no lawyers, little money and a risky strategy that may turn his trial into a political showdown, rather than a legal face-off, according to sources close to the New York Democrat.

It's not even clear if the ethics trial will start on time. Rangel has asked for a delay in the proceedings, but the ethics committee - with members off running their own reelection campaigns - has not publicly ruled on the request.

Ken Boehm
10/28/2010 - 20:05

Obama Schmidt photo

From the White House blog yesterday:

As special interest billionaires continued to pour secret donations of millions of dollars each into front groups supporting Republicans, we asked the obvious question: "What do they expect in return?

Congressional Republicans have made clear that lobbyists have a seat at the table even when they are formulating their party's broader strategy and governing vision.

People in glass White Houses shouldn't throw stones. Consider these recent news items:

10/27/2010 - 11:53

Camelot ClubJames A. Wayne Sr., executive director of Capital Area Legal Services Corporation (CALSC), must have a taste for irony. He's reportedly making a list of employees to lay off by year's end. Yet wasteful and possibly illegal spending by his Baton Rouge-based organization could pay for the annual salary and benefits of a few staffers. That's a logical conclusion anyway in light of a report (see pdf) released September 27 by Legal Services Corporation's Office of Inspector General (OIG) identifying more than $300,000 over several years in undocumented and/or ineligible costs at CALSC. Wayne, though vowing to work with the OIG to better document expenses, has disputed the findings. The accompanying summary broadcast put together by the WBRZ-TV Channel 2 local news team in Baton Rouge suggests he doesn't have an easy case.

10/27/2010 - 10:57

Bank of America logoPajamas Media reports today:

Shortly after Labor Day, as polls continued to sink, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) realized it needed a cash infusion for the upcoming midterm elections. Its chairman, former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, turned to the Bank of America to secure a $15 million revolving credit line. Then, in the middle of this month, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) got another loan from BofA for an additional $17 million.

The loans might be illegal. A key question is whether adequate collateral was posted for the loans. The DNC says it pledged its donor mailing list but:

10/26/2010 - 12:02

Alicia Shepard photoOn Thursday, National Public Radio’s Alicia Shepard (at right) defended the firing of Juan Williams by claiming on the NPR website:

Even though NPR handled this situation badly, the fact remains that NPR must uphold its journalistic standards, which, after all, provide the basis that earned public radio's reputation for quality.

Shepard described the unprecedented outpouring of outrage at NPR at the firing but also ballyhooed “hundreds” of listener requests to fire or discipline Williams. She quoted exactly one:

10/21/2010 - 21:35

Soros report coverNational Public Radio's firing of Juan Williams and its acceptance of a $1.8 million gift from left-wing billionaire George Soros' foundation have put the spotlight on the NPR's taxpayer subsidy. What is less well known is that Soros' private foundations also receive millions in taxpayer funds.

Not only that, but the projects that taxpayers fund through Soros' foundations appear to violate a federal prohibition on the use of taxpayer funds to promote drug use and prostitution. Our efforts to expose this misuse of tax money in 2007 were met with hostility by the State Department and disinterest in Congress.

10/21/2010 - 18:33

Obama Schmidt photo

According to Jesse Drucker of Bloomberg today:

Google Inc. cut its taxes by $3.1 billion in the last three years using a technique that moves most of its foreign profits through Ireland and the Netherlands to Bermuda.

Google’s income shifting -- involving strategies known to lawyers as the “Double Irish” and the “Dutch Sandwich” -- helped reduce its overseas tax rate to 2.4 percent, the lowest of the top five U.S. technology companies by market capitalization, according to regulatory filings in six countries.

Of course, Google executives were among Barack Obama largest campaign contributors. CEO Eric Schmidt stumped for candidate Obama, and he and other senior executives contributed $150,000 to help pay for the inaugural celebration.

10/21/2010 - 17:49

According to WebCPA.com:

A senior executive of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone who is also a tax preparer has pleaded guilty to submitting false and fraudulent tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service and cashing approximately $250,000 in fraudulently obtained tax refund checks.

Kelvin Crucey, 41, has been employed since 1996 by the empowerment zone, most recently as senior vice president of finance and administration.

Embattled Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) played a key role in the creation of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ). He exercises dominating influence over its board of directors and has secured millions in federal earmarks. Rangel directed millions in taxpayer money through UMEZ to another nonprofit known as Alianza Dominicana, which is Spanish for Dominican Alliance.

10/20/2010 - 16:24

Sussman photoA liberal financier at the center of two congressional ethics controversies may also be involved in some questionable business dealings, according to the New York Times. S. Donald Sussman, a billionaire hedge-fund titan, made news after his fiancé, Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), was accused of traveling on his private jet to campaign events.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) has also been scrutinized for traveling to Sussman's Virgin Islands mansion on the billionaire's plane. Republicans have said the trip had the appearance of impropriety, since Frank serves as chair of the House Finance Committee and a company owned by Sussman has received $200 million in federal bailout money.

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