Reverend Al Sharpton has something new to be angry about. Last Friday, April 23, Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer signed legislation known as "SB1070" requiring law enforcement authorities to ask all criminal suspects to provide evidence of legal U.S. residence. The law is set to take effect 90 days after signing. Sharpton is determined to prevent that from happening. He recently announced his intent to travel to Arizona to stage mass protests against what he says is an assault on Hispanic civil rights.
Staging this campaign will cost money. But "the Rev" doesn't have many worries on this score. His New York-based nonprofit group, National Action Network (NAN), continues to receive financial support from some of the nation's biggest and most well known corporations and unions. This was very much in evidence at NAN's four-day 12th annual conference, his biggest fundraising event of the year, held earlier this month in New York City.
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) used campaign cash to repay the costs of his corporate-sponsored Caribbean trips after being asked to pay for the trips himself by the House Ethics Commitee, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records. Rangel has also continued to pay legal fees connected to his ethics problems from his campaign funds.
After being publically admonished by the House Ethics Committee for accepting travel gifts from corporations, the congressman spent $3,480 from his campaign on Caribbean "travel refunds," according to his April FEC campaign report.
At a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing, NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm was the lone witness opposed to reauthorization of the taxpayer-funded Legal Services Corporation (LSC). The April 27 hearing was chaired by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), who favors the reauthorization bill that increases the LSC budget to $750 million and strips out important reforms instituted in 1996.
Boehm warned that the reauthorization would mean a new round of problems for the scandal-plagued program. LSC funds a network of lawyers in dozens of communities to provide civil (not criminal) day-to-day legal help to poor people. Many LSC-funded lawyers spend their time on left-wing political and social causes, instead of helping the poor. Click here to download a 14-page pdf of Boehm’s testimony.
Almost everyone connected to organized labor by now has heard the news: Andrew Stern soon will resign as president of the Service Employees International Union. His departure in all likelihood will be permanent. And, if somewhat muted, so will the edgy aggression of the union he redefined. Stern made the announcement on April 14 at an SEIU executive board meeting, confirming a flurry of rumors emanating from an internal e-mail sent by Seattle SEIU local leader Diane Sosne. Stern subsequently e-mailed his own members: "There's a time to learn, a time to lead, and then there's a time to leave. And shortly, it will be my time to retire...and end my SEIU journey." The date of departure, though unspecified, will be within a month. Better political instincts suggest Stern will find plenty of ways to keep himself busy.
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, better known by the acronym ACORN, exists only in shell form, having formally disbanded on April 1. Yet whatever name(s) the radical nonprofit organizing network and its countless affiliates currently go under, the issue of its right to receive federal funds is anything but a dead letter. A court ruling several days ago ensures as much. On Wednesday, April 21, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit temporarily reinstated a congressional ban on further public funding of the scandal-ridden group. The three-judge panel in Manhattan effectively overturned a lower court order barring enforcement of the cutoff, concluding that full arguments must be heard first. And they will be this summer.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission suspected that the Texas-based Stanford Financial Group was a massive Ponzi scheme eight years before it took any action to shut the company down, according to a shocking 151-page report released last week by the agency's inspector general. Click here to download a 159-page pdf of the report.
From 1997 to 2005, the SEC ignored tip-offs from Stanford Financial Group insiders, numerous complaints, and four separate examinations conducted by its own employees which concluded that the Stanford Financial Group was likely a front for a fraudulent investment scheme. It wasn't until 2005 that the SEC's Fort Worth office launched a formal investigation of the firm.
America's colleges and universities might not qualify as bailout material, but the nation should get ready for what amounts to massive federal government intrusion into higher education financing. Legislation signed March 30 by President Barack Obama practically seals the deal. And despite the administration's claims to the contrary, taxpayers may find the transition exceedingly expensive. The measure, tacked onto the health care overhaul, requires that campuses using the prevailing system - federally-guaranteed private-sector lending - must move to federal direct lending. The U.S. Department of Education would serve as loan originator, though with a likelihood of contracting with banks to perform servicing.
The National Legal and Policy Center filed a formal Complaint with the Federal Election Commission today against former Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY), and his campaign fund, that alleges violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA). Click here to download a 7-page pdf of the Complaint.
On April 16, Jake Sherman of Politicoreported that Massa’s campaign fund paid $31, 896 to GMAC just two days before Massa resigned from Congress. FECA prohibits the conversion of campaign funds to personal use.
On April 17, Carol Leonnig of the Washington Postreported that the Massa campaign made a $40,000 payment to Massa’s congressional office chief of staff, Joe Racalto. The expenditure was listed as a “Campaign management fee.” Racalto had previously on March 23 filed a sexual harassment complaint against Massa.
If Reverend Al Sharpton was radioactive to future President Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign, he's become a shadow member of the Obama cabinet in 2010. The close working relationship between the radical black civil rights leader and leading administration officials was very much in evidence last week at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers where Sharpton's nonprofit group, National Action Network (NAN), held its 12th annual convention.
With the SEC now charging Goldman Sachs with a billion dollar fraud, I hope CEO Lloyd Blankfein and his colleagues will end the sanctimony and indignation that has characterized their response to recent criticism of the firm, some of it coming from these quarters. The SEC charges come a day after reports surfaced that Goldman director Rajat Guptatold is under investigation for his possible role in the separate Galleon insider trading case.
We do not subscribe to the wilder conspiracy theories about Goldman, but we do have serious concerns in two areas: