NLPC “blows the whistle” on government officials and interest groups engaged in questionable activities. NLPC has filed formal Complaints with a variety of authorities and regulators, including the Federal Election Commission, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Congressional Ethics Committees.
NLPC supports government integrity in two additional ways: by promoting the First Amendment as the basis for campaign finance reform, and by promoting use of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Self-investigation has never been a signature virtue of Congress. So taxpayers should closely monitor the House ethics committee’s inquiry into the lucrative relationships between defense appropriators and military contractors.
The committee finally confirmed the inquiry — not yet a full-blown investigation — into suspicions that members and staffers earmarked hundreds of millions in defense contracts for favored companies in return for tens of millions in political donations. In a separate matter, the ethics committee opened an inquiry into whether Caribbean trips taken by Representative Charles Rangel and four other lawmakers violated House gift rules. It is encouraging to see such curiosity from the traditionally somnolent panel.
The head of an ethics watchdog organization is skeptical of the claim by Congressman John Conyers (D-Michigan) that he didn’t know his wife was taking political bribes.
Monica Conyers has resigned from her post on the Detroit City Council after admitting she took cash bribes in exchange for her vote on a lucrative city contract. Conyers is the wife of powerful Democratic Congressman John Conyers, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee.
While prosecutors say Congressman Conyers knew nothing of what his wife was doing, Ken Boehm of the National Legal and Policy Center, thinks otherwise.
“They’ve been married for a number of years. They’ve worked together as a political team,” he contends. “We have protections that go back centuries that a spouse can’t be made to testify against their other spouse. But I think from a common-sense standpoint, people can look at this and just wonder,
NLPC research is referenced in a new book titled Pay to Play: How Rod Blagojevich Turned Political Corruption Into a National Sideshow. Its by Elizabeth Brackett, a longtime correspondent for The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer and a winner of the Peabody Award for political coverage.
In February, NLPC released a study showing that interests owned or affiliated with Illinois race track owner John Johnston contributed more than $343,000 to Blagojevich’s campaign committee during 2002-2007. This total was $183,000 more than alleged in previous news accounts. Johnson owns Balmoral Park and Maywood Park, two Chicago-area harness racing tracks.
As described on page 39 of the December 2008 FBI affidavit outlining the criminal case against Blagojevich, Johnson supported legislation directing a percentage of casino revenue to horse racing tracks. The casinos would pay out almost $90 million and file a RICO suit to recover the money.
Magliochetti (sic) served as a staff analyst for the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Murtha was never Chairman or Ranking Member while Magliochetti (sic) worked for the subcommittee. In fact, Magliochetti (sic) worked for Chairman Bill Chappel and full committee chairman Jamie Whitten.
Please correct this mistake.
Since Murtha’s office seized on such a tiny and debatable “mistake,” I thought it would be fun to call Mazonkey to see how far he would go in trying to distance his boss from Paul Magliocchetti, the former principal of the PMA Group lobbying firm that collapsed shortly … Read More ➡
Alexander Comisar reported in Roll Call on June 23:
The PMA Group, the lobbying titan that closed its doors in March after an FBI raid, has filed more than a dozen lawsuits against former clients for failure to pay outstanding debts. Now, one company has responded with a $3 million countersuit that alleges PMA cheated it out of an earmark it was expecting to receive. PMA’s lawyer called the complaint absurd and said the firm has filed a formal response with the court.
The lawsuit filed by the Michigan-based Badenoch company provides yet further evidence of what many suspect is a pay-to-play scheme in which influential members of Congress target earmarks to companies in their districts and, in turn, receive cash donations for their re-election campaigns.
Though uncomfortably close, it was a victory for liberty. By a 5-4 margin, the U.S. Supreme Court today in Ricci v. DeStefano overturned a Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that defended a local government race-based job promotion policy. The City of New Haven, Connecticut, the High Court said, erred when it scrapped the results of a written exam designed for promoting local firefighters because the highest scorers did not include any blacks. The ruling is especially noteworthy because it rebukes Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, who wrote the circuit court decision. Whether the case will be used to bar race-based quotas in the future, however, is less certain.
The case originated in 2003 when the City of New Haven administered tests for promotion to lieutenant and captain within the fire department. Fully 77 persons took the test for eight lieutenant slots. None of the 19 blacks taking the test … Read More ➡
Already embroiled in an ethics probe now entering its tenth month, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, received more bad news Wednesday night as the House ethics committee announced it would look into Caribbean trips taken by the veteran lawmaker and four other Democrats.
In a statement released late Wednesday night, Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Jo Bonner (R-Ala.), the chairwoman and ranking member of the ethics committee, announced that the panel had voted to create a four-member investigative subcommittee to determine whether the trips violated House gift rules.
Mike Soraghan reports in today’s edition of The Hill:
An investigation into a trip taken by members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) is triggering a backlash against the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s signature ethics proposal.
CBC members, frustrated at what they perceive as an accusation by a conservative group that’s been blown out of proportion, last week formed a working group to look at taking on the 2006 resolution that created the OCE.
The junket to sunny St. Maarten took place the weekend after the election in 2008. I attended in order to document violations of House Rules that prohibit corporate sponsorship of travel and hospitality.
The trip was funded by “lead sponsor” Citigroup, a major recipient of bailout funds, which contributed $100,000. Other sponsors included IBM, AT&T, Verizon, Pfizer, Macy’s and American Airlines.
Last week, the Senate passed a resolution apologizing for slavery. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported:
The resolution, sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, passed on a voice vote. It now moves to the House, where it may meet an unlikely foe: members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Several Caucus members expressed concerns about a disclaimer that states that “nothing in this resolution authorizes or supports any claim against the United States; or serves as a settlement of any claim against the United States.” Those caucus members say the disclaimer is an attempt to stave off reparations claims from the descendants of slaves. “Putting in a disclaimer takes away from the meaning of an apology,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. (pictured)