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09/25/2015 - 11:24

John Boehner’s Speakership was a setback for Congressional ethics. He backslid on a number of important reforms, and helped to return the Ethics Committee to its traditional role of covering up wrongdoing by incumbent members of Congress.

Boehner ally Rep. Charles Dent (R-PA), the Chairman of the Ethics Committee, is currently orchestrating a whitewash of apparent House rules violations related to a junket by ten House members to Azerbaijan in 2013.

09/21/2015 - 08:25

The response of the Justice Department to General Motors’ ignition switch defect cover-up was announced last week. GM’s failure to address the deadly defect led to the loss of lives of at least 169 people. Any hopes for the families of the victims that the crony status of GM would not stand in the way of justice were squashed as the company was given a slap on the wrist by its friends at the Obama Administration.

09/18/2015 - 16:37

The good old days of union nepotism never really went away – not in Chicago anyway. According to published sources, International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 727, long a virtual candy store for boss John Coli Sr. (in photo) and extended family, has been providing lavish compensation for a law firm whose managing partner is one of Coli's sons.  The firm has been busy as of late.  In July, a Cook County judge ruled that the elder Coli and Teamsters Local 700, of which he is a trustee, were jointly liable for $2.3 million for breaking a building lease.  That's not even taking into account a now-dismissed RICO suit charging the Colis and Local 727 with stiffing a funeral employee pension plan out of contributions.  If the family needs allies, it knows where to look, especially Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

09/09/2015 - 10:52

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ CEO Sergio Marchionne’s quest to merge his company with General Motors continues to garner attention and draw suggestions that GM might be shooting itself in the foot by ignoring the offer to talk. Two respected sources weighed in on the drama, most notably CNBC anchor and ex-hedge fund manager Jim Cramer who has lost confidence in GM management and dumped his shares of the company.

09/03/2015 - 10:42

The latest batch of publicly-released State Department emails provide more evidence that a $10 million loan from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) to Clinton Foundation donor Claudio Osorio was made as a result of pressure from Bill and Hillary Clinton.

The loan to a company named InnoVida, owned by Osorio, was supposed to be for building houses in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, but Osorio used the money to finance a lavish lifestyle. Osorio is currently in prison for fraud. OPIC is an independent agency but submits its budget through the State Department.

09/02/2015 - 13:10

The National Labor Relations Board has provided unions with a variety of favorable rulings during the Obama years, but perhaps none as dramatic as one last Thursday.  On August 27, the NLRB, in a 3-2 vote, concluded that Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI) of California Inc. qualifies as a “joint employer” alongside another firm, Leadpoint Business Services, with which it had contracted to handle labor operations at a Bay Area recycling plant.  As such, both companies must negotiate with a Teamsters affiliate should the results of a representation vote last spring reveal a union victory.  The ruling could force many large employers to the bargaining table over labor issues which they have little or no direct control, while sharply raising business costs for contractors, franchisees and temp agencies.  And it isn’t just the Teamsters who are rejoicing.

08/31/2015 - 12:22

Lawyers for Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) recently asked that several of the counts in the indictment be thrown out because the investigation started after “unproven allegations” that Menendez has sex with underage prostitutes.

In response, the government says it has “corroborated” evidence of this misconduct, even though Menendez was not criminally charged with it. Paul Mulshine of The Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger, has a good account of this legal misstep.

08/27/2015 - 16:56

By now it is settled judicial opinion:  A private-sector union can’t force nonunion employees under contract to pay dues for purposes beyond those related to collective bargaining.  The Supreme Court cogently expressed this view in its landmark 1988 ruling, Communications Workers of America v. Beck.  Yet it is almost as if the decision never happened.  A new law journal article by prominent Right to Work attorney Raymond LaJeunesse, Jr. explains why.  He points a finger not only at the unions, who at least act out of recognizable self-interest, but more importantly, at the ostensibly nonpartisan National Labor Relations Board.  The NLRB, he argues, using a variety of tactics, over the years has acted more as a de facto advocate for unionism than as a guardian of the public trust.  And the situation has gotten worse under President Obama.

Ken Boehm
08/26/2015 - 15:50

The following letter was today sent to House Ethics Committee Chairman Charles Dent (R-PA), in photo, and Ranking Member Linda Sanchez (D-CA):

We are writing to express deep concern about the House Ethics Committee’s decision to withhold the findings of the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) related to its investigation of Member and staff travel to Azerbaijan.  The Committee’s action, along with its order to OCE to “cease and refer” without the Committee having officially started an investigation, sets a dangerous precedent that could fundamentally undermine the important benefits that OCE has brought to the House ethics process.

08/25/2015 - 12:00

Anthony FoxxAllegations in civil lawsuit threatens to mar the reputation of Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx (Flickr Photo: MTyndall).

He has been sued in the case of defunct DesignLine USA. The Charlotte-based hybrid electric bus-maker declared bankruptcy in 2013 after years of missteps that included maintenance problems, production problems, missed deliveries, lawsuits, and an FBI investigation. Its assets were sold to an investment group and the company now operates with a much lower profile, under the name EPV Corp.

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