A coalition of good government groups has sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) urging him to appoint a co-chair of the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), which should not be confused with the House Ethics Committee. The groups also encouraged Ryan to support OCE, which enjoyed lukewarm support, at best, from his predecessor John Boehner.
OCE was established in 2008 and is somewhat more independent that the Ethics Committee because its board is comprised of former members of Congress and private citizens, rather than sitting members. OCE cannot sanction members but can only make referrals to the Ethics Committee.
Its role and importance were demonstrated in the Charles Rangel case. NLPC President Peter Flaherty tagged along on a Caribbean junket in November 2008 to sunny St. Maarten. He snapped photos and made audio recordings evidencing that the event was underwritten by big corporations like Citigroup, in violation … Read More ➡
Tesla Motors recently reported that it has received close to 400,000 orders for its yet to be released, $35,000 Model 3. Most of the pre-ordered vehicles are not even expected to be delivered until after 2018. While congratulations may be in order to Tesla for seemingly developing a mainstream electric vehicle (EV) that has so much consumer interest that demand is far outpacing supply, one question must be asked. Why the hell is the vehicle being subsidized to the tune of $1.5 billion in future tax credits?
If Tesla has proven that EVs can be profitably manufactured, it is time for our government to stop handing out the $7,500 tax credit that goes to each of the mostly affluent purchasers of the cars. The credits are capped for the first 200,000 vehicles delivered, making the total subsidy $1.5 billion. Tesla reportedly has doubled that sales figure before even building a … Read More ➡
If there is anything Black Lives Matter activists might enjoy even more than a downtown rally, it’s a campus rally. The social media-driven network of incendiary racial politicians is now a presence at colleges and universities across the U.S., conducting “anti-racist” campaigns against chosen targets. Case in point: the University of Kansas. Since November, black students at Kansas, inspired by BLM, have intimidated people they deem racist, aware that the feckless administration will do next to nothing to discourage them. The catalyst for all this was a claim by a black co-ed that several white males assaulted her at an off-campus Halloween party and that local police brushed off her complaint. Evidence suggests this was a hoax. The larger issue is academic freedom – and not just at KU.
The higher education gambit by Black Lives Matter, also known by the Twitter hashtag “#BlackLivesMatter,” requires context. For the group’s influence … Read More ➡
Another Clinton Foundation donor with ethics problems received a loan from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. This time, the dollar amounts are gargantuan, and the recipient is at the center of a corruption scandal in Pakistan.
According to a report in the Washington Free Beacon by Alana Goodman, a Middle Eastern investment firm called The Abraaj Group has contributed $500,000 to $1 million to the Clinton Foundation. Abraaj owns and manages a utility company named K-Electric in Pakistan. That country’s former oil minister, Asim Hussain, has been arrested for providing illegal favors for K-Electric and harboring Islamic terrorists in hospitals he owns. From the article:
The investigation has not impacted the U.S. government’s ongoing partnership with the Abraaj Group, which dates back to at least 2012. That year, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation—a federal agency that dispenses corporate loans under the
… Read More ➡
General Motors recently reported lackluster sales results for the month of March. GM share price took a hit on the news, but there is one fast-growing area of sales for the company that is outperforming other segments. Government sales for GM rose 55% in March and capped off a first quarter that saw government sales increase 23% over the prior year.
GM did not give an explanation for the increase in government sales, localities often contribute to the sales figures. In the past federal grants went to localities to pay for GM vehicles when the Obama Administration sought to prop up crony corporation GM in any way possible. Given the close ties between the Administration and GM, more transparency is needed as to exactly how taxpayer money is getting to GM.
I reported in November of last year that the Department of Homeland Security has been overspending on vehicle purchases… Read More ➡
Ken Silverstein in the New York Observer adds important new information to the case of Clinton Foundation donor Gonzalo Tirado, which was first exposed by NLPC. Tirado headed Ponzi-schemer R. Allen Stanford’s bank in Venezuela, but now lives openly in Miami.
After the Stanford flame out, the Venezuelan Tirado sought political asylum in the United States. Although never charged with a crime stateside, Tirado was an extremely dubious candidate for asylum. It is unclear whether he was actually granted it, but Tirado now resides safely in Miami, even as Stanford victims still struggle to recover a portion of their investments.
Tirado’s ability to stay in the United States almost certainly has something to do with paying Hillary insider Jonathan Mantz $350,000 to lobby the State Department on his behalf, on top of donations to the Clinton Foundation.
Moreover, the Justice Department indicted a decorated former DEA agent named Tom Raffanello, who had … Read More ➡
We are asking Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Edith Ramirez to address “contradictions” in testimony she gave to the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 9 regarding the FTC’s dropping of an antitrust action against Google in 2013.
The request points to a variety of evidence obtained through open government laws that suggests that Ramirez and other FTC officials have unusually close relationships with Google, and that those relationships may have helped the company avoid antitrust action.
By highlighting Ramirez' obvious efforts to mislead Congress, we seek to bring public attention to a larger problem. It appears that FTC officials operate much like employees of Google, and that Google calls the shots about its own oversight. This is the most extreme example of “regulatory capture” we have seen in Washington in recent years.
The issue first came to the fore in March 2015 when the Wall Street Journal reported that the FTC … Read More ➡
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that General Motors has paid over a billion dollars in cash and stock to acquire Cruise Automation, a San Francisco startup company that designs self-driving software. The technological and regulatory obstacles facing autonomous driving development are huge, but don’t expect that to stop GM from throwing billions of shareholder dollars at the latest hyped wonder-technology.
Cruise Automation is a small firm that employs about 40 people and has no major sales revenue to speak of. That works out to GM paying about $25 million per employee. The billion dollar company, however, is reported to be growing quickly with plans to hire another ten people.
The idea of GM wantonly spending $1 billion for the start-up brings to mind the costly Chevy Volt folly which saw a multi-billion dollar investment in an infeasible technology reap no rewards for GM shareholders. Even with billions of dollars … Read More ➡
A watchdog group is asking for an investigation of David H. Stevens, a former Federal Housing Administration (FHA) official, who currently serves as President and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).
The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) today asks in dual requests to the U.S. Attorney for District of Columbia, and the Inspector General of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, that Stevens be investigated for possibly violating the statutory one-year ban on having contact with his former agency, as well as the lifetime ban on having contact with officials on matters on which he worked while in government. Click here to download a copy of the requests.
At issue is Stevens’ apparent quarterbacking of a campaign by the big banks to win mortgage lending business from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the wake of the financial crisis, and the placement of the two Government Sponsored Enterprises … Read More ➡
“Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice shame on me.” That is a cliché that investors should keep in mind if they are considering buying into General Motors’ latest debt offering. In fact, holders of GM common stock should also assess the growing similarity that New GM has with the bankrupted Old GM.
GM announced last week that it will be offering an estimated $2 billion of unsecured debt to help prop up underfunded pensions with additional proceeds used for general business purposes. The move follows a contradictory continuing dialogue that proclaims the company is so cash rich that it can afford to buy back billions of dollars of common shares as it doles out $11,000 bonuses to UAW workers. GM share performance belies the notion that the company is firing on all cylinders.
Since GM’s public offering in late 2010, shares are down over 15% while the … Read More ➡