Boehm Disses ‘Democracy Voucher’ Election Funding Scheme

CNN reports today on the recently passed “democracy voucher” initiative in Seattle, and other proposals for taxpayer funding of election campaigns. From the story:

But Ken Boehm, chairman of the right-leaning National Legal and Policy Center, argues the reform movement has a basic flaw, as candidates who accept the vouchers are blown out of the water by bigger spenders.

"If the opponent signs up for this, they get their little vouchers and they can send out some posters and stuff, but in terms of voter contact, they're getting creamed," Boehm said. "I don't know how they address that and they can't, because constitutionally you can't put an overall cap on spending."

Of course, there are other reasons why taxpayer funding is a bad idea. First and foremost, citizens should not be forced to fund political   expression with which they may disagree.… Read More ➡

Ex-NY State Sen. Leader John Sampson Convicted

New York State Senator John Sampson, a Democrat of Brooklyn, was convicted yesterday on three counts, including obstruction of justice. He was acquitted on six others, but the conviction should result in significant prison time. No date has yet been set for sentencing.

Between 1998 and 2008, Sampson allegedly embezzled approximately $440,000 from the foreclosure sales of four Brooklyn properties on which he was a court- appointed referee. The embezzlement charges were thrown out because the state of limitations expired. The charges on which he was convicted relate to the cover-up.

Reportedly, the Sampson investigation was an extension of the investigation of U.S. Representative Gregory Meeks (D-NY), prompted by newspaper headlines based on information provided by the National Legal and Policy Center.

Beginning in 2010, we reviewed public documents connected to Meeks and his political network. Meeks was involved with a nonprofit called New Direction Local Development Corporation. Among other … Read More ➡

Azerbaijan Junket Broke House Rules

According to a report by the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) that was leaked to the Washington Post, ten House members broke House Rules when they took an all-expenses paid trip in 2013 to a conference in Baku, Azerbaijan, courtesy of an oil company known as SOCAR. Also enjoying free trips were 32 staff members.

Azerbaijan is a country in Central Asia ruled by strongman Ilham Aliyev. In 2012, the Organized Crime and Corruption Project named him its “Person of the Year” for doing “the most to promote organized criminal activity or advance corruption.”

OCE apparently acted in response to a July 2014 story in the Houston Chronicle by Lise Olsen and Will Tucker describing the trip. In addition to SOCAR, BP, ConocoPhillips and KBR also helped to pay the costs of the event, estimated at $1.5 million. Those costs included $100,000 for hotels, $75,000 for food and entertainment, and … Read More ➡

Menendez Donor Melgen Indicted for Medicare Fraud

As we have expected for some time, Dr. Salomon Melgen was indicted today for Medicare fraud. The dollar amounts of his alleged ripoff are staggering. From 2008 to 2013, Melgen billed Medicare $190 million and received $105 million.

Hopefully, this indictment will put an end to the fiction that Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) went to bat for him in a “billing dispute.” Menendez was trying to thwart a fraud investigation, and successfully enlisted the help of then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

The indictment will also hopefully put to rest the allegation that Menendez is being pursued for political reasons. The Justice Department has certainly pulled its punches in recent years by failing to prosecute Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and former Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV), but the level of Menendez/Melgen corruption is apparently too much even for this Justice Department.

While securing visas for Melgen’s “girlfriends” is pretty … Read More ➡

Jeb Bush Relationship With Fraudster Claudio Osorio Gets New Scrutiny

CNN reporter Chris Frates has identified “plenty of red flags” that former Florida Governor Jeb Bush should have seen before he joined in a business relationship with a company called InnoVida, headed by Claudio Osorio, who is now serving a 12 ½-year prison sentence for defrauding investors. Osorio's mug shot is at right.

While Osorio’s efforts to cozy up to politicians in both parties have been previously reported, the CNN report includes important new facts. From the report:

"It's hard to imagine any due diligence investigation that would have missed lawsuit after lawsuit against Osorio alleging fraud, misrepresentation and ethics violations," said Ken Boehm, the chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, an ethics watchdog group that reviewed public records with CNN. "Even if they were doing due-diligence lite, they would have found the lawsuits. These lawsuits weren't hidden. They were in his home county."

 

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Fox & Friends Interview Kicks Off Publication of ‘Sharpton: A Demagogue’s Rise’

NLPC’s Carl Horowitz talked about Al Sharpton’s access to the White House, and his new book Al Sharpton: A Demagogue’s Rise, on “Fox & Friends” this morning. Here’s the video:

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Watchdog Criticizes Harry Wilson GM Buyback Plan as Favor to UAW

NLPC Associate Fellow Mark Modica was a guest on Closing Bell today on CNBC. He was joined by Kevin O'Leary of Shark Tank.

Here is a transcript:

Sara Eisen:  At first it seemed like it was just another activist investors at work but our next guest says something else is in play here. We're talking about Harry Wilson, the restructuring expert who served on President Obama's auto industry task force during the financial crisis and was instrumental in bringing GM out of bankruptcy. Now Wilson is a GM activist investor and represents hedge funds holding a total of 34 million shares asking General Motors' CEO Mary Barra for a seat on the board and is pressing for a stock buyback, Simon.

Simon Hobbs: Our next guest is a former GM bondholder who says the company isn't so financially healthy, that it shouldn't burn through its reserves with buybacks … Read More ➡

BOOK REVIEW: To Restore American Liberty: A 21st Century Patriot’s Declaration of Personal Independence

BOOK COVER“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension” – so observed George Burns, who managed to live just past his 100th birthday. George J. Heideman apparently never got that memo. Now 102, the not-quite-retired Heideman has been doing a lot of worrying lately.

He’s come out with a new book published by NLPC called “To Restore American Liberty: A 21st Century Patriot’s Declaration of Personal Independence.” A 280-page collection of essays, observations, and letters to newspaper editors, congressmen and at least one president, the book is a credible primer in natural rights for our political class. His goal: restoring lost liberties.

George Heideman, Illinois-born and bred, served his country honorably in the Navy during World War II. He’s seen a lot in his 10-plus decades of living. But rather than fade away at … Read More ➡

Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch is Soft on Political Corruption

Loretta Lynch and Barack ObamaLoretta Lynch, President Obama’s choice to replace Eric Holder as Attorney General, has an especially weak record of investigating and prosecuting political corruption. Moreover, her longstanding ties to the New York political machine have limited her independence as a prosecutor.

Lynch, who currently serves as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, has watched as Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the neighboring Southern District of New York, has prosecuted case after case. And Bharara would not have acted except for a slew of newspaper headlines about political corruption generated by the National Legal and Policy Center.

We conducted these investigations from afar, based primarily by an examination of public documents, without the benefit of tools available to prosecutors. Loretta Lynch had nothing to do with exposing all this corruption that was taking place right under her nose.

To his credit, Bharara is also investigating New York Governor … Read More ➡

White House: ‘Saudi Arabia Has An Extensive Border With Syria’

Mideast mapYesterday, the White House provided a background briefing via conference call for reporters covering President Obama’s speech last night on the American response to the advance of ISIL. A “senior administration official,” who was not identified by name fielded the question of “which countries will join the United States in launching airstrikes in this area?”

The administration official is now probably glad he was not identified. He probably should have consulted a map before giving this answer:

ISIL has been I think a galvanizing threat around the Sunni partners in the region.  They view it as an existential threat to them. Saudi Arabia has an extensive border with Syria. The Jordanians are experiencing a destabilizing impact of over a million refugees from the Syrian conflict, and are profoundly concerned that ISIL, who has stated that their ambitions are not confined to Iraq and Syria, but rather to expand to the

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