NLPC today asked the New York Times ombudsman to review the newspaper's front-page series on natural gas published last week. The articles by Ian Urbina alleged that there is a speculative bubble in natural gas drilling. We have identified a number of apparent ethical problems with Urbina's methods and sources.
Here is the complete text of my letter to The New York Times ombudsman Arthur Brisbane, whose actual title is Public Editor:
Last August, things looked sunny for former Illinois Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich. He and his lawyers had just obtained a hung jury on 23 of 24 corruption charges. But Justice Department prosecutors, confident they had their man, continued to pursue the case - and this time with different results. Last Monday, June 27, a Chicago federal jury, after nine days of deliberation, found the man known as "Blago" guilty on 17 of 20 charges, nearly a dozen of them related to his attempts during the fall of 2008 to fill the pending Senate vacancy left by President-Elect Barack Obama in return for campaign cash.
Last week's announcement by the House Ethics Committee that it is investigating Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), a year after questions about his finances were in the headlines, has put the spotlight back on the Committee's ability to do its job.
The Committee recently hired 10 new and internal counsels, bumping their staff up to 23 members. But even with the beefed-up staff, the status of other, more high profile cases is still unknown.
It looks like General Motors is up to its old tricks as it stuffs inventory channels with higher profit trucks. GM is able to record revenue when vehicles are shipped to dealerships as opposed to actually being sold to consumers, so the move will help to paint a false picture of positive second quarter earnings.
According to CNBC, General Motors has ramped up its lobbying efforts to the tune of $3.58 million in the first quarter of 2011. This is nearly triple the $1.36 million it spent in the first quarter of the prior year. It is also over double the $1.67 million spent by non-bailed out Ford in the same quarter. The $50 billion that taxpayers gave to bail out GM is now partially being distributed back to President Obama, Congress and a variety of agencies in an effort by GM to, well, receive more taxpayer money.
The House Ethics Committee on Friday announced that it would "extend" a previously unacknowledged review of Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY).
In January 2010, we exposed Meeks involvement in a charity called New Direction Local Development Corporation that raised money for Hurricane Katrina victims who never received it, among other questionable dealings. In March 2010, we asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate Meeks for paying $830,000 for a newly built home in 2006 that was worth more than $1.2 million. Click here to download a 26-page pdf of the Complaint.
A Congressional watchdog group has asked the FBI to open a criminal investigation of Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.). Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) exposed internal emails and press reports that show Richardson repeatedly coerced her congressional staffers to work on her campaign or risk getting fired. "Richardson was vicious to her staff," CREW's Executive Director Melanie Sloan said. "She went through a lot of members."
Nancy Pelosi was quick to refer the Anthony Weiner scandal to the House Ethics Committee. Yet other more substantial matters, like the Maxine Waters trial, have languished for months.
In 2008, Waters, D-Calif., arranged a meeting with the U.S. Department of Treasury and OneUnited Bank. OneUnited claimed it was in dire need of federal cash as a result of its failed Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae investments. The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) provided $12 million to the bank.
Union leaders, frustrated over their inability to sway Congress, more than ever are relying upon the National Labor Relations Board to enact stealth legislation. The board, now with a Democratic majority, seems willing to oblige them. Case in point: an NLRB proposal announced last Tuesday, June 21, and published in the Federal Register the next day, to substantially reduce the duration of election campaigns for union representation. While the board touts the regulation as an overdue streamlining of an inefficient system, its covert motive, say critics, is to hamstring employer opposition.
The auto bailouts are now being touted by President Obama as a "success" even though the taxpayer is about to take at least a $10 billion hit when the government sells its remaining GM shares. There is, however, a missing dimension in this debate. It is the moral one.
Prior to General Motors filing for bankruptcy in June of 2009, I was involved as a GM bondholder advocate for a group called the Mainstreet Bondholders. Attempts were made by my group to bring about fair negotiations for creditors of GM, attempts that were ignored by the Obama Administration's Auto Task Force, headed by Steven Rattner. The Task Force stated that their goal was to restructure GM outside of bankruptcy as they laid out a "take it or leave it" bond exchange offer that was supposedly designed to keep GM out of bankruptcy.