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10/20/2010 - 14:50

foreclosure photoIf one word best summarizes the current housing market, "foreclosure" would be it. Despite record-low interest rates, American homeowners are losing their properties with greater frequency than at any time since the Great Depression. Yet banks and other financial institutions, until very recently on track to seize 1.2 million homes this year, are facing growing pressure to impose "voluntary" nationwide moratoria on foreclosure repossessions and sales. If they don't do the job themselves, say critics, government should do it. Several major lenders in fact have ceased property seizures in the wake of widespread revelations of foreclosures lacking proper documentation. The calls for action are understandable. Yet a moratorium, rather than restore integrity to our financial system, would further imperil it.

10/18/2010 - 20:22

Barney Frank photoHouse Financial Services Committee Chair Barney Frank (D-MA) is just the latest member of Congress facing scrutiny for taking joy rides on a private jet owned by hedge-fund billionaire and federal bailout recipient S. Donald Sussman.

Republicans say that Frank needs to clear up ethical concerns about his flight to the U.S. Virgin Islands on Sussman's $25 million private plane in 2009, and his subsequent vacation at the hedge-fund owner's luxurious Caribbean mansion. Sussman, a major philanthropist to liberal causes, has reportedly raked in $200 million in federal bailout funds for his company Paloma Securities. As head of the House Financial Services Committee, Frank helped push through the Wall Street bailout as well as extensive financial reforms.

10/18/2010 - 12:35

Volt logoInformation about General Motors' Chevy Volt surfaced last week that caused the blogosphere to light up. It seems that the much-hyped Volt is technically a hybrid vehicle as opposed to a true electric car since at certain acceleration points it relies on a gas powered engine to assist its electric powertrain. This comes after three years of GM touting the Volt as a "one of a kind, all-electrically driven vehicle."  Sites such as Edmunds' Insideline.com proclaimed that "GM Lied: Chevy Volt is Not a True EV." There appears to be a disturbing picture developing at GM of a government owned corporation that is fostering a culture of deceit in order to generate public acceptance.

10/15/2010 - 17:16

John Bresnahan of Politico reports today:

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), who faces an ethics trial next month, has parted ways with his lead defense attorneys in the case, according to several sources familiar with the matter.

It is unclear what, if any, impact this will have on the Rangel trial, which is scheduled to begin Nov. 15. It is also not clear whether Rangel decided to get rid of his attorneys or if they left of their own volition.

Whatever the case, Rangel’s lawyers were not underpaid. During his August 10 House floor speech, when he wasn’t criticizing NLPC, Rangel complained that he “paid close to two million dollars” to his legal team.

10/13/2010 - 15:59

Rattner photoIn the coming weeks we are sure to hear a lot of hype over the upcoming General Motors IPO. As we approach the November elections, it is a certainty that the Obama administration will tout the government intervention and nationalization of a major US industrial corporation as a huge success. Claims have already been made that the American economy and millions of jobs have been saved by bailing out GM. There are many people, including the Mom and Pop investors that financed GM through their bond purchases, who see a less savory side to the bankruptcy process and view it as a model of corruption and cronyism.

10/13/2010 - 10:07

Murkowski photoOn July 26, 2007 Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) 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.”

We took Murkowksi’s action as an admission that we were right, and that it mooted out the issue. Since she undid the questionable deal, we assumed there was no reason for the Ethics Committee to pursue the matter. But now Murkowski is claiming that there was nothing wrong with the deal after all.

10/12/2010 - 13:54

Today I debated Wall Street pay with Keith Boykin of The Daily Voice. CNBC hosts were Melissa Francis, Larry Kudlow and Trish Regan. Here is a transcript:

10/09/2010 - 13:37

Hirni business cardJim Hirni, convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in the Jack Abramoff scandal, is again in the news. South Carolina’s largest newspaper, The State, reported on Thursday that Hirni has been assisting the South Carolina Republican Party with fund raising and organizing events.

Following the publication of our Special Report critical of Wal-Mart, Hirni in 2007 communicated to members of the Washington, DC public policy community that their employment could be negatively affected if they associated with NLPC.

10/08/2010 - 11:45

Chris Van HollenIt is almost beyond belief that Rep. John Adler, a Democrat from southern New Jersey and his allies could successfully plant a fake Tea Party candidate on the ballot in order to draw votes from the Republican candidate Jon Runyan.

It is possible that Adler and operatives of the Democratic Congressional Campaign  Committee (DCCC) violated a number of statutes and House Rules, but the more pressing priority is for Adler to fully explain his knowledge of these events. Moreover, DCCC Chairman Rep. Chris Van Hollen, at right, must fully explain any role he played, and the role of his staff. Any DCCC personnel involved should be immediately fired.

10/08/2010 - 09:42

Rangel and PelosiIt’s official. The House Ethics Committee will not conduct trials of Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Maxine Waters (D-NY) until safely after the November 2 election. Ethics Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) announced yesterday that Rangel’s trial is scheduled to begin on November 15 and Waters’ on November 19.

Politics have trumped ethics in the final days of this Congress. Notwithstanding her pledge to “drain the swamp” and preside over the most ethical Congress ever, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) simply will not allow high-profile ethics trials during the campaign season. This delay is sure to backfire. A new poll shows that most voters believe Congressional ethics have gotten worse in the last two years.  According to the Hill, which conducted the poll:

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