Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), issued a statement yesterday in response to the controversy swirling around the awarding of 23 scholarships by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) to relatives and associates. The statement read, in part:
Neither the Foundation nor the CBC will allow unethical behavior in the awarding of scholarships or any programs that are designed to benefit the community.
I will not allow the absence of integrity to invade the Foundation nor the scholarship program…
Payne had nothing to say about his participation in a 2008 Caribbean junket that he knew was funded by big companies like Citigroup in violation of House Rules.
Congressional Black Caucus member Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) has admitted to steering 23 scholarships worth over $25,000 to two grandchildren, two great nephews and the children of a top aide over the past four years.
The scholarships came from a non-profit affiliate of the CBC called the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, which Rep. Johnson sat on the board of from 2005 to 2008. The Texas congresswoman’s family members and aides’ children were considered ineligible for the scholarships under the foundation’s anti-nepotism rules.
It's been a week since the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation swept away ShoreBank's bad assets (cost: $367.7 million), changed its name to Urban Partnership Bank, and left it largely in the hands of the same people (and investors) who ran it before. Since then there have been several articles that called the process and new arrangement "unusual." I guess institutions loved by two presidents call for special treatment.
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is a case of "too big to fail." At least various members of Congress see it that way. And they are planning a push for legislation designed to shore up underfunded multiemployer private-sector pension funds, but which would put taxpayers on the hook for billions, if not tens of billions, of dollars over the long term. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., D-Pa., and Reps. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., and Patrick Tiberi, R-Ohio, the driving forces behind this measure, seek to shift the primary responsibility of keeping pensions adequately funded from unions and unionized employers to the general public. It's another example of the bailout culture in action.
Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski appears to be slightly behind Joe Miller, her primary challenger. AP reports that 16,000 absentee ballots were cast and will not be counted until August 31, so the winner may not be known for some time.
NLPC has been a critic of Murkowski and her relationship with associates of corrupt Alaska Republicans like the late Ted Stevens. On July 26, 2007 Murkowski announced that she would sell back an undeveloped piece of land that she purchased in 2006, one day after NLPC filed a Complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee alleging a “sweetheart deal.”
Among other things, it looks like the Chicago lobbying to save ShoreBank paid off. Earlier this month I discovered a letter sent by Windy City power player and big Democrat donor Lester McKeever, Jr., to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, which urged his intervention. "It is my hope," McKeever wrote, "and one shared by others who care deeply about its most vulnerable communities, that the ShoreBank recapitalization plan with investment coming from the U.S. Treasury will enable it to continue servicing its customers and fulfilling its mission."
David Kocieniewski reports in the New York Times that former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau (at right with Rangel) owned stock in Nabors Industries at the time he introduced the company’s CEO Eugene Isenberg to Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY). Isenberg made a $1 million pledge to the so-called Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York (CCNY) while Rangel helped preserve a tax break for Nabors worth hundreds of millions.
The revolution in tort liability has claimed another victim. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. is now traveling lighter by $140,000. The reason is a decision handed down about a month ago by a three-judge panel on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concerning two of its San Diego-area outlets that supposedly wouldn't comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The award might not be a king's ransom by the standards of one of the nation's most successful restaurant chains. But the ruling could have major consequences for the way business as a whole operates in this country.
Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) received up to six sweetheart home loans from Countrywide Financial, even though he has only publicly admitted to accepting two special deals, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
The revelations were brought to light by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, raising questions about a previous Senate ethics committee investigation into Dodd’s dealings with Countrywide that just disclosed information about two of the loans.