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04/19/2010 - 00:53

Sharpton photoIf Reverend Al Sharpton was radioactive to future President Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign, he's become a shadow member of the Obama cabinet in 2010. The close working relationship between the radical black civil rights leader and leading administration officials was very much in evidence last week at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers where Sharpton's nonprofit group, National Action Network (NAN), held its 12th annual convention.

4,154 reads
04/16/2010 - 13:16

Blankfein photoWith the SEC now charging Goldman Sachs with a billion dollar fraud, I hope CEO Lloyd Blankfein and his colleagues will end the sanctimony and indignation that has characterized their response to recent criticism of the firm, some of it coming from these quarters. The SEC charges come a day after reports surfaced that Goldman director Rajat Guptatold is under investigation for his possible role in the separate Galleon insider trading case.

We do not subscribe to the wilder conspiracy theories about Goldman, but we do have serious concerns in two areas:

2,608 reads
04/15/2010 - 11:30

subpoena photoOn Tuesday, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) formally notified the House of Representatives that he had received a subpoena, as required by House rules. The subpoena was first reported by the New York Daily News on April 2 in the wake of our allegations that Meeks got a sweetheart deal on his house, and is involved with a charity that raised money for Hurricane Katrina victims who never saw it.

Did Meeks and/or Pelosi sit on the subpoena notification until after the March 21 health care vote? It depends on when Meeks got the subpoena. House Rule VIII states:

2,328 reads
04/14/2010 - 13:04

Sharpton photoThe annual conference of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (NAN) runs today through Saturday in New York City. According to the official program, the “Republican National Convention” is among the 45 sponsors of the event that serves as Sharpton’s biggest fundraising event of the year. Perhaps the program was supposed to read “Republican National Committee.” According to NAN, sponsorship requires a contribution of $5,000 to $100,000.

If the RNC is now a donor to Sharpton’s group, it is another blow to RNC donors, already reeling from the lesbian bondage club episode. It would also mean that RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s staff has been less than forthcoming with me about the RNC’s actual involvement. Steele is speaking at the event this afternoon, an appearance we asked him to cancel. Yesterday, RNC Coalitions Director Angela Sailor insisted to me that Steele’s purpose in participating was to reach the 500-1,000 attendees with the GOP message.

9,268 reads
04/13/2010 - 17:11

Liu photoAmid allegations that President Obama’s appeal court nominee Goodwin Liu omitted extensive information from his senate questionnaire, Republican lawmakers are gearing up to challenge his confirmation at a hearing on Friday.

Liu, a nominee for the ninth circuit court of appeals, neglected to disclose 117 items on his Senate questionnaire, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee said last week. The mandatory questionnaire requires judicial nominees to disclose all organizational affiliations, speaking engagements, published work, and comments they have made to media.

2,130 reads
04/11/2010 - 09:22

Ratner & ProkhorovBruce Ratner is a New York real estate developer and owner of the New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association. For five years, he’s been trying to move the team to a new arena in Brooklyn that he hopes to build, relying on New York’s powers of eminent domain to move hundreds of homeowners and businessmen out of their quarters.

The Brooklyn arena project, known as Atlantic Yards, is on life support. It is only being kept alive by an investment of Russia’s richest man, Mikhail Prokhorov, who is reportedly worth more than $13 billion. He is investing $200 million with Ratner for a 85% ownership interest in the Nets, and a 45% interest in the $4.9 billion arena project, which includes residential and office towers.

3,144 reads
04/09/2010 - 12:15

Rubin photoRobert Rubin’s obstinate performance yesterday on Capitol Hill is sure to fuel popular disgust with the bank bailouts. Rubin appeared to be what he is, someone who has walked away with so much money that he doesn’t have to answer to anyone. When he was responsive, Rubin tried to claim that he had nothing to do with Citigroup’s meltdown. He also tried to make it complicated, which it is not.

All you have to do is read pages 145 and 146 of Charlie Gasparino’s book, titled The Sellout, for a concise account of Rubin’s role in leveraging up Citigroup. Rubin not only pushed for more risk-taking at Citigroup’s executive and board levels, but he also “was making the rounds of the various departments and talking to people about taking more risk.”

3,384 reads
04/07/2010 - 14:47

Jeff Flake photoRep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) will likely bring another resolution before the House of Representatives next week calling on the House Ethics Committee to release more details of the investigation into lawmakers linked to the PMA Group pay-to-play controversy, his office told the NLPC Tuesday.

Rep. Flake has been the lone member of Congress pushing for more information on the investigation since late February, when the Ethics Committee released a brief, 5-page report on its probe of the politicians who obtained earmarks for clients of the now-defunct PMA Group lobbying firm. The D.C.-based PMA shuttered its offices last year after the FBI began investigating allegations that the lobbying group exchanged campaign contributions for earmarks.

2,528 reads
Ken Boehm
04/07/2010 - 13:21

Google logoA federal judge recently gave us some fascinating reading when he ordered the release of documents in Viacom’s $1 billion lawsuit against YouTube, now owned by Google. Viacom has alleged that YouTube violated its copyrights on over 100,000 clips, including those of its most popular shows like South Park and The Daily Show.

The emails, obtained by Viacom as part of the litigation discovery process, reveal more than indifference to copyright, or simply looking the other way. Indeed, they chronicle a race to the bank by the YouTube founders who sought to build their user base by offering copyrighted material, in order to sell the company before the scope of what they were doing became apparent.

1,909 reads
04/05/2010 - 10:10

Mike DukeThe Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will not allow Wal-Mart to exclude from consideration an NLPC-sponsored shareholder proposal asking for a report on the company’s lobbying priorities. Wal-Mart suddenly finds itself on the opposite side of public opinion on ObamaCare and cap and trade, after having embraced both last year.

On January 9, Wal-Mart sought to preclude a shareholder discussion of these issues by asking the SEC if it could exclude our resolution on the grounds that it “does not focus on, or implicate, a significant social policy.” Oh, really?

6,002 reads
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