Is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Staff Salary Cap a Way to Avoid Disclosure?

With great fanfare, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) recently announced that she would pay members of her staff a “living wage,” of at least $52,000 per year, and no staffer would make more than $80,000.

Alana Goodman in the Washington Examiner today raised the question of whether the cap served another purpose. From the story:

The National Legal and Policy Center, a government watchdog group, said the $80,000 salary cap for Ocasio-Cortez’ senior staffers was concerning because it could be used to intentionally evade financial disclosure laws.

“Purposefully underpaying staffers in order to avoid transparency is an old trick some of the most corrupt members of Congress have used time and again,” said Tom Anderson, director of the NLPC’s Government Integrity Project.

 … Read More ➡

Appeals Court Turns Back Constitutional Challenge to Mueller

Andrew Miller

Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected a constitutional challenge to the authority of Special Counsel Robert Mueller in a case brought by Andrew Miller, a former aide to Roger Stone during the 2016 Republican Convention who challenged a subpoena to appear before the grand jury last June.

“We are disappointed with the decision and will be considering future legal action, whether before the full court of appeals or the Supreme Court,” said Paul Kamenar, attorney for Mr. Miller. “The fact that the court took more than three months to decide this appeal after oral argument compared to the three days it took in December to decide another challenge to a Mueller subpoena issued to an unnamed foreign corporation, demonstrates that this was a serious and substantial challenge,” Kamenar added.

“We’re committed to continue supporting this legal challenge and any related actions“ … Read More ➡

Sorry Starbucks, You’re Stuck With Howard Schultz

Now that Howard Schultz supposedly has disengaged himself from Starbucks and is considering a run for the presidency in 2020, the company fears his political pursuits will hurt their bottom line.

Well too bad.

After decades of liberal activism and supporting Democratic candidates like Hillary Clinton, Schultz now says he may run as an independent. Some Democratic Party loyalists have gone ballistic, hurling invectives at Schultz and claiming that he will ensure the re-election of the president by splitting the anti-Trump vote.

Moreover, they are threatening boycotts. Leftist filmmaker Michael Moore urged everyone to avoid Starbucks until Schultz “announces he’s not running.”

And raising the stakes, Democratic Super PAC American Bridge 21st Century – backed by billionaire George Soros – recently targeted Starbucks, casting doubts on Schultz’s leadership. Among the charges: The company paid $46 million in settlements to employees over wage and compensation grievances. “[American Bridge] is clearly trying … Read More ➡

Congressional Black Caucus Members Make ‘Mockery’ of Travel Rules with South Africa Junket

Beyonce and Jay-Z in South Africa

From Washington Examiner by Alana Goodman:

Five members of the Congressional Black Caucus took an official three-day trip to South Africa to be feted as VIPs at a Beyonce and Jay Z concert, according to congressional disclosure records.

The stated purpose of the $60,000 trip in December was to attend the “Global Citizen Mandela 100” concert, the stated purpose of which was to celebrate the centenary of the birth of the late Nelson Mandela and raise awareness of global poverty. The extravaganza was headlined by Beyonce, Jay Z, Ed Sheeran, Pharrell Williams, and Chris Martin.

Democratic Reps. Gregory Meeks, Barbara Lee, Bobby Rush, Terri Sewell, and Hank Johnson attended the event with VIP backstage passes. Also at the concert was Deborah Birx, U.S. Global AIDS coordinator and special representative for Global Health Diplomacy.

Click here to read the rest in the Washington Examiner.Read More ➡

‘Unwelcome Surprise’ for Mueller?

The U.S. Court of Appeals has not yet ruled on the constitutional challenge to Special Counsel Robert Mueller by Andrew Miller. The case was argued on November 8. We had expected a decision much sooner and certainly by now.

So what is going on? The short answer is that we do not know. But the delay has led to speculation by reporters who are covering the story. On Monday Josh Gerstein wrote this in Politico:

A wait of more than three months for the first appeals court ruling on the legality of special counsel Robert Mueller’s appointment is fueling suspicion among court watchers that the decision might contain an unwelcome surprise for Mueller’s team.

We have never predicted that Miller would win at this level, the second highest court in the land. Miller’s attorney, Paul Kamenar, has said that the case may reach the Supreme Court. A loss could … Read More ➡

Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s Failed Leadership

The latest earnings report from Alphabet, Google’s parent company, demonstrates that the company is still a cash cow, but it does nothing to allay fears about the intrusive role “big data” plays in our lives. Nor does it provide respite from serious credibility problems facing the company’s leadership.

For instance, Google CEO Sundar Pichai may have lied to Congress. Pichai testified in December before the House Judiciary Committee, where members grilled him about transparency, data collection, and how Google filters search results. Moreover, several Republican congressmen wanted answers about political and ideological bias.

The plaintive Pichai was unequivocal. “We don’t manually intervene on any particular search result,” he claimed, because of the massive scale of trillions of searches each year. “It is not possible for an individual employee or groups of employees to manipulate our search results.”

However, according to an internal discussion thread leaked by an anonymous company … Read More ➡

NLPC Raises New Questions About Maxine Waters Campaign Finances

Rep. Maxine Waters took the helm of the Financial Services Committee this month after easily winning re-election as part of the Democrats’ House takeover. But according to the California Democrat’s post-election filing – which has prompted fresh calls for a full audit – her campaign may have some financial issues of its own to sort out.

The Citizens for Waters report to the Federal Election Commission from Dec. 11 lists $183,022 in debt to her daughter Karen Waters, who is in charge of distributing “slate mailers.”

The mailers have faced scrutiny since 2010 because the campaign, beginning in 2004, has paid Waters’ daughter or her public relations firm Progressive Connections to produce, print and mail the sample ballots. Watchdog groups have raised questions about the propriety of campaign funds financially supporting a family member, as well as Waters raising contributions in excess of federal limits through an unusual process. Since … Read More ➡

Stone Arrest is Mueller’s Political Theater; No Decision Yet on Constitutional Challenge

The dramatic, predawn arrest of Roger Stone demonstrates how Robert Mueller’s investigation has devolved into political theater. Helmets and flak vests, really, were they afraid Roger would hurl martini glasses at them? Or maybe Roger would come out blazing with his tennis racket? This show of force — with CNN’s camera’s conveniently present — was meant to suggest that Stone was some kind of dangerous criminal.

But the indictment itself is proof positive that Mueller probe has come up empty. Finding Stone’s role in the release of DNC emails by WikiLeaks was always Mueller’s Plan B. If he could not directly implicate Trump in Russian campaign interference, he could at least link a prominent Trump supporter to the email release, but he hasn’t even been able to do that. Mueller poured an enormous amount of time and resources into the pursuit of Stone, but it turned out to be a … Read More ➡

No Decision Yet on Mueller Constitutional Challenge

As of today, the U.S. Court of Appeals has not ruled on the constitutional challenge to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The case was argued on November 8 before a three-judge panel consisting of Judges Judith W. Rogers, Karen Henderson and Sri Srinivasan.

That hearing, which lasted well over an hour, took place against the backdrop of the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Judge Henderson opened the session by saying, “We have caucused on this. Argue this case as if it was being argued yesterday morning.”

The Sessions resignation proved to be anti-climatic as it pertained to this litigation. The Court asked for supplemental briefs on how it impacted this case. In response, both sides asserted that it should have none.

The plaintiff in the case is Andrew Miller of St. Louis, Missouri, who has been subpoenaed as a witness in Mueller’s Russia probe. Miller worked as an aide to … Read More ➡

Trump Should Make GM Repay Bailout Costs

In response to General Motors’ intention to close American assembly plants and effectively move manufacturing offshore, President Trump should seek repayment of costs associated with the auto bailout. The direct loss to taxpayers when the Treasury sold the last of its GM shares in 2013 was approximately $10 billion.

There is precedent for requiring direct bailout costs to be paid back. In January 2010, President Obama proposed a new fee on the banks that took TARP funds, even though TARP funds were already in the process of being paid back, and with interest. Obama said, “We want out money back. We want our money back, and we are going to get it.”

In 2013, the National Legal and Policy Center asked then-GM CEO Dan Akerson to repay the $10 billion, prompting his widely publicized refusal during a speech at the National Press Club.

The rationale for the bailout was to … Read More ➡