What is the point of prohibiting members of Congress from accepting personal gifts worth more than $50 if the the House Ethics Committee simply waives the rule?
Freshman Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) has disclosed that she accepted substantial gifts from two donors to her political campaigns. Her office claims that the Ethics Committee waived the rule. The first was from a billionaire hedge fund operator named Lee Ainslie in the form of a private jet flight from New York to Boston. It was purported to be worth $3,300. A commercial flight would have cost about $300. According to the New York Post, which first reported the story, Ainslie and his wife have donated more than $80,000 to Rice’s various political campaigns.
The second was a gift of a ticket worth $2,500 to a gala opening of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Boston. The donor was a lawyer named … Read More ➡
The accusations looked suspicious from the start. And now federal as well as state prosecutors have debunked them. On June 1, U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger announced that he would not pursue civil rights charges against two white Minneapolis police officers in connection with the November shooting death of an unruly black suspect, Jamar Clark. The probe concluded there was insufficient evidence that the cops, Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, had violated Clark’s rights. The oft-repeated claim that Clark was shot while handcuffed and lying on the ground could not be substantiated. The decision follows an earlier one on March 30 by the Hennepin County D.A. not to file criminal charges. Black activists are livid. They would do well to review the details.
National Legal and Policy Center summarized this incident and its reaction in January as part of a lengthy introductory article on the network of demagogues known as Black … Read More ➡
The House today voted down an amendment, sponsored by Rep. Steven Pearce (R-NM), that would have cut the budget of the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). The tally was 137-270. During debate, Pearce said, "I would urge people to support this amendment to give notice to the OCE that we're watching what they are doing."
This kind of threatening language is inappropriate, and seems calculated to undercut the independence and effectiveness of OCE. Maybe Pearce hasn't noticed, but the American people have had it with business as usual in Washington. People are sick of all the corruption. We need stronger ethics enforcement, not less.
A coalition of ethics advocates yesterday sent this letter to the House of Representatives:
We strongly urge you to vote against the amendment expected to be offered by Rep. Steven Pearce (R-NM) to reduce the proposed budget of the Office of Congressional Ethics and keep it at its … Read More ➡
The Obama administration sees it as the middle class getting a raise. The details suggest it’s a demotion. On May 18, the Department of Labor published a final rule hiking the annual income ceiling for overtime pay eligibility of salaried employees from $23,660 to $47,476. Set to go into effect December 1, the regulation would benefit an estimated 4.2 million workers. However, it also may produce unintended consequences such as: loss of scheduling flexibility; pay cuts; benefit cuts; fewer work hours per week; higher employer compliance costs; and needless litigation. A group of lawmakers, led by Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., have responded with bills to nullify the rule and make it difficult for the DOL to offer a substitute.
The mandate originated with an executive order from President Obama on March 13, 2014. Obama had directed the Labor Department, pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards … Read More ➡
General Motors’ recently deceased, plug-in electric Cadillac ELR had not even officially been declared dead before word was out that GM has plans for another plug-in Cadillac for American markets; this one to be built in China. It seems that the brass at GM believe that the Chinese can succeed where American manufacturing has failed regarding being able to build electric Cadillacs that appeal to American consumers.
It has now been about seven years since taxpayers sunk about $50 billion into GM to fund the Obama Administrations’ auto sector bailouts which rewarded the Obama-friendly UAW while hosing less politically-popular classes like GM bondholders. That time span seems to be long enough for GM to feel that moving manufacturing jobs to China will not face criticism as the move to build Cadillacs in China follows earlier announcements that the Buick Envision SUV would also be built there.
During the 2012 … Read More ➡
Federal Trade Commission Chair Edith Ramirez is scheduled to testify tomorrow, May 11, before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law. The topic is “Examining the Proposed FCC Privacy Rules.”
The hearing comes amid allegations that Ramirez is not independent and takes her direction from Google.
On March 9, Ramirez contradicted herself in testimony she gave to the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the FTC’s dropping of an antitrust action against Google in 2013. She testified that the FTC decision not to sue Google was “consistent with the recommendation that had been made by our Bureau of Competition staff,” adding that any “press reports to the contrary are just flatly wrong.”
However, an FTC Staff report, portions of which were inadvertently released last year, revealed exactly the opposite. The Bureau of Competition staff sought an antitrust action against Google.
Remarkably, Ramirez misleading statement was apparently prompted by a … Read More ➡
Nothing of greater significance can be said about the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan program other than it was a wasteful failure. Nonetheless 85 U.S. Senators have determined that an additional, similar $1.6 billion program must be created, as part of a larger energy bill that passed last month.
Those who favored the extension of corporate welfare for alternative energy-fueled automobiles justified their decision with the same phony claims they made ten years ago when the ATVM program was established.
“Our measure will help manufacturers and suppliers research and develop innovative technologies to make the next generation of fuel-efficient vehicles, spurring job growth and reducing our dependence on foreign oil,” said Democrat Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.
NLPC has documented the stumbles of the stimulus-fueled ATVM program – which still has $16 billion available – extensively. Two of its loan recipients, Fisker Automotive… Read More ➡
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 ➡