General Motor's CEO, Dan Akerson, recently proclaimed that GM's balance sheet was "pristine" and that the company was aiming to have zero debt in the future. I guess the question is, "how do you define pristine?"
The recent prospectus for GM's Preferred Series "B" share offering gives the following accounting of some of the company's liabilities: as of September 30, 2010, $10.3 billion of outstanding debt and $9 billion Preferred Series "A" obligations. In addition, there are still under-funded UAW pension obligations of over $20 billion. The Preferred "B" share offering was for another approximate $4.5 billion of shares paying a 4.75% dividend. This is money that GM already has mostly committed to UAW obligations.
The radical nationwide nonprofit network, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now - better known as ACORN - has wound down operations in an effort at damage control. A new government report suggests more spin will be needed. On September 21 the Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), released an evaluation (see pdf) of certain expenditures of ACORN Housing Corporation (AHC), one of the largest affiliates under the ACORN umbrella. The review concluded that the Chicago-based nonprofit had misspent a sizable portion of the roughly $3.25 million it received from HUD during fiscal years 2008-09. While that $3.25 million figure in turn was only a little over a tenth of the more than $30 million in grants to AHC during that two-year period, the audit suggests that the entity, like its parent organization, has had a serious ethical blind spot. And HUD wants some of the money back.
The House Ethics Committee abruptly postponed the high-profile ethics trial of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) on Friday, after new evidence came to light which may contradict some of the congresswoman's previous claims. The Democratic lawmaker is being charged with helping to steer more than $12 million in federal bailout funds to One United, a bank in which her husband had a substantial financial stake.
Most news we hear regarding General Motor's IPO this week proclaim the event as a huge success. It would be prudent to consider whether the process leading up to and following the auto industry restructuring should be a template for future restructurings, as Al Koch (head of Motors Liquidation or "Old GM") has stated. While some may argue the positive aspects of the GM bailout, it is more than just sour grapes or GM hating that contributes to a desire to have a continuing dialogue on the precedent setting procedures that may lead to a subversion of contract law that has governed for over 200 years in this country.
The start of the Rangel scandals can be pegged to David Kocieniewski's New York Timesstory in July 2008. His article prompted us to begin our review of Rangel's finances, resulting in our exposé of Rangel's tax evasion and his acceptance of corporate-funded junkets.
It should be noted, however, that New York Post reporter Geoff Earle wrote a year earlier about Rangel's solicitation of corporate money for the Rangel Center.
July 23, 2007- Geoff Earle of the New York Post reports that Rangel is soliciting funds for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service from corporations that have interests before Congress, and that Rangel secured a $2 million "seed money" earmark from Congress.
It would be easy to believe that the GM IPO is an opportunity to make easy money based on the reporting by television news networks. Themes such as allowing retail investors to "benefit" from the IPO imply that GM stock has no where to go but up. However, under the surface of this optimistic appearance lurk some hazards.
A little research on the web uncovers some of the red flags potential investors in GM should be aware of. Rather than speculate on why it is a "Tale of Two Cities" when it comes to GM reporting by TV networks compared to the internet, let's focus on one of the major warning signs that the outlook for GM may not be as rosy as expected.
The House Ethics Committees says it will take up its charges against Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) following its trial of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY). But what exactly will it consider?
Last August, the congresswoman was charged with violating House ethics rules, for allegedly helping to steer over $12 million in federal bailout funds to a bank in which her husband had a substantial financial stake. Investigators say that Rep. Waters violated conflict-of-interest rules when she set up a meeting between OneUnited Bank officials and the U.S. Treasury Department.
In the interim, the Washington Timesreported that Waters co-sponsored legislation that directly benefited one of the top clients of a lobbying group that had her husband on the payroll.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) admitted to the FBI that he accepted free upgrades on a town home he purchased from convicted Chicago influence-peddler Tony Rezko, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The congressman has previously been the subject of a federal investigation for engaging in real estate deals with a developer named Calvin Boender.
During a 2008 interview with the FBI, Gutierrez reportedly said that he asked Rezko for upgrades on the town house before purchasing it. The congressman claimed that the price of the home had risen by $35,000 since he had first considered buying it, and Rezko agreed to give him an additional bathroom and a higher quality carpet to make up for the increase in cost.
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), whose House ethics trial is scheduled to begin tomorrow, used almost $400,000 in funds from his National Leadership PAC to pay legal bills to fend off corruption allegations. Rangel's ability to retain high-powered lawyers helped him delay the Ethics Committee action for more than two years, and push his trial past the election.
Rangel appears to have violated House rules. Members of Congress may use funds from their personal re-election committees for legal expenses related to their official actions. The National Leadership PAC is not Rangel's re-election committee but what is classified as a "leadership PAC," the purpose of which is make contributions to other candidates. Up to and during his tenure as Ways and Means Committee chairman, Rangel distributed hundreds of thousands to his colleagues, many of whom donated the money to charity as Rangel became an embarrassment.