General Motors recently launched a pilot program in the Pacific Northwest offering free auto insurance on GM vehicle purchases. The move immediately drew criticism from independent insurance agents who point to possible legal problems with the move, as reported by liveinsurancenews.com. The agents are obviously concerned with the potential loss of business, but they make valid points that there are regulatory and licensing requirements that go with the offering of insurance products.
Constituents of six House Republicans can expect to receive an automated phone call from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) informing them of their representative's allegedly unethical practices. But DCCC's accusations follow in the wake of many Democratic mishaps including the scandals involving ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner and Rep. Maxine Waters.
Out of the six representatives under fire, four of them are new to the House. The congressmen include: Charlie Bass (N.H.), Vern Buchanan (Fla.), Stephen Fincher (Tenn.), Frank Guinta (N.H.), David Rivera (Fla.) and Scott Tipton (Colo.).
Is Andrew Stern, the retired president of the Service Employees International Union, a born-again capitalist? That's the emerging view at SEIU headquarters in downtown Washington, D.C. and various points beyond. For months, Stern, who stepped down last spring after 14 years at the helm, has been championing a proposal to grant a limited-period tax break for U.S. corporations on investment income earned abroad and transferred to here. Stern's allies in the labor movement are shaking their heads in disbelief. His union enemies are saying, "I told you so." Many in the business world are welcoming him like an old friend. Yet the real story may be that Stern is being his old self: a believer in a large-scale government-corporate-union partnership to generate jobs - preferably union ones.
The Detroit Free Press reports that the House committee holding hearings on the auto bailout process wants clarification from former head of President Obama's Auto Task Force, Ron Bloom, regarding testimony he gave about a statement he allegedly made at a 2009 celebratory dinner. According to a news article written at the time and fellow ex-car czar, Steve Rattner, Bloom stated that he "did this all for the unions." Bloom denied making the statement while under oath. The congressional panel isn't buying it and has written a letter to Bloom requesting that he amend his testimony.
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.