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08/04/2010 - 12:15

ShakedownDemanding large financial settlements on behalf of black farmers has been a cottage industry for litigators in this country for more than a dozen years. It has flourished because few in Congress or in successive administrations have chosen to challenge this juggernaut. It appears now, however, that this passivity is beginning to recede. Late last month, the Senate stripped $1.25 billion from a far larger supplemental defense spending bill that would have compensated black farmers for alleged acts of racial discrimination by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) going back to the early Eighties. Following Senate passage, the House followed suit; President Obama signed the measure last Thursday. In the context of the recent and highly-publicized forced resignation of a mid-level black USDA official, Shirley Sherrod, the issue has taken on an extra edge.

11,050 reads
08/04/2010 - 09:42

Kilpatrick photoRep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI) was defeated in a Democratic primary yesterday. Kilpatrick was one of six members of Congress investigated by the Office of Congressional Ethics and the House Ethics Committee for accepting a corporate-sponsored Caribbean junket in November 2008. I attended the event in St. Maarten before organizers had me detained by the Police Korps of St. Maarten. The investigations were launched on the basis of my photographs, audio recordings and other evidence of sponsorship by companies like Citigroup.

2,828 reads
08/03/2010 - 12:26

Ben Chandler photoMark Hemingway of the Washington Examiner reports that 45 members of Congress are clinging to campaign funds received from Rep. Charles Rangel’s National Leadership PAC during the 2008 election cycle. The total of outstanding funds is $303,000.

From the Examiner:

"It just shows how out of touch they are and certainly explains Congress' 11 percent approval rating," said Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center. "It's a case where greed trumps common sense and everybody knows that returning the money is the ethical thing to do."

2,777 reads
08/02/2010 - 18:18

Waters photoThe House ethics committee announced Monday that it is charging Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) with congressional rules violations, just days after another House Democrat, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), was also hit with ethics charges by the committee.

The ethics committee has not released the details of Rep. Waters’ alleged violations, but the charges are believed to stem from the congresswoman’s suspected attempt to obtain bailout funds for a bank where her husband served as a boardmember.

Rep. Waters has denied the allegations, and said she will fight them in a public hearing.

1,986 reads
08/02/2010 - 16:00

Bill Lann LeeBill Lann Lee, a former U.S. Assistant Attorney General who served during the Clinton administration, is deeply involved with a group that donated thousands of dollars for the legal defense of convicted terrorist lawyer Lynne Stewart.

Five-and-a-half years after being convicted of providing material support for terrorism, Stewart last month was resentenced to ten years.

Lee, who was Bill Clinton's top civil rights officer from 1997-2000, is a donor to, and serves on the advisory board of, the Impact Fund. The Berkeley-based foundation directed a $5,000 grant to the Lynne Stewart Defense Committee in 2006.

3,292 reads
07/30/2010 - 13:46

AFSCME logoCasinos held a special appeal for Paula Dorsey, even as her losses mounted. Her big mistake was using union funds to cover those losses. Dorsey, formerly president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) District Council 48, agreed to plead guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin on June 25 to embezzling roughly $180,000 in union funds. She admitted her actions to officials of the Milwaukee labor organization after being contacted by the union bank concerning suspicious withdrawals. In addition to payment of restitution, she faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

4,795 reads
07/29/2010 - 17:19

Rangel/NY PostThe House Ethics Committee threw the book at Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) today, alleging violations of House rules on 13 counts. Click here to download a pdf of the 40-page Statement of Alleged Violations.

One of the more serious violations was Rangel’s failure to disclose or pay taxes on rental income from a vacation home at the Punta Cana resort in the Dominican Republic. Following a review of Rangel’s financial disclosures in August of 2008, NLPC dispatched an investigator to the Dominican Republic who established that Rangel’s beachfront “villa” was continuously rented out.

3,344 reads
07/29/2010 - 17:05

Kerrry boatSen. John F. Kerry has just passed another tax onto wealthy Republicans - by having his wife pay half-a-million dollars in back taxes on his yacht.

Kerry has been docking his $7 million, 76-foot yacht, Isabel, in Rhode Island, which has no yacht tax, since he purchased it in March. However, Massachusetts has a 6.25 percent "use" tax on any item bought elsewhere for use in Taxachusetts. State officers regularly track down those purchasing tires, alcohol, or other consumer goods in neighboring states, such as tax-free New Hampshire.

6,841 reads
07/29/2010 - 11:03

Ben ChandlerThe eight members of the House Ethics Committee sit in judgment on Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), but it is hard to see how at least two of them can be impartial when they have received campaign funds from Rangel’s National Leadership PAC.

According to Federal Election Commission records, Rep. Ben Chandler (D-KY), in photo, received two contributions of $5,000 each during the 2004 election cycle, on 12/15/03 and 1/20/04.  Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D-NC) received contributions of $1,000 and $2,000 during the 2004 cycle, on 6/29/04 and  7/13/04 respectively.

4,232 reads
07/28/2010 - 15:27

Sheila BairThe deadline for ShoreBank to come up with sufficient outside capital has been extended again, with the Federal Reserve saying more than $150 million from the likes of Goldman Sachs and Citigroup and $75 million in TARP money aren’t enough to save the politically-connected community lender. Crain’s Chicago Business reports it’s the third extension the Wall Street firms have granted to enable ShoreBank to get its act together, with the new deadline August 6.

4,905 reads
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