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 ➡
In Baltimore, the ashes have cooled; the curfew has ended; the National Guardsmen have left; and Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have gone home. But the apparent normalcy is misleading. For the orgy of looting, vandalism and arson last week following the death of a black petty criminal, Freddie Gray, may return with a vengeance if the six arrested local police officers, three white and three black, are not convicted. Gray died on April 19 of spinal injuries sustained a week earlier while in custody. Last Friday, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced arrests for one count of second-degree murder and several counts of manslaughter, assault and misconduct. Yet treating this case as a homicide, racially motivated or not, isn’t just premature. It’s also a capitulation and likely an incitement to mob rule.
It has become a familiar story over the past year. A white police officer or group of … Read More ➡
Back in November the Department of Energy boasted that its loan program for renewable energy technologies and “advanced” (mostly electric) vehicles had achieved a positive balance, which many in the media lapped up after so many failures such as Solyndra.
But now that the Government Accountability Office has revealed in a detailed study that the true cost of the loan program to taxpayers is $2.2 billion – plus administrative expenses – journalists are nowhere to be found. As for DOE, they still stick to their story.
The GAO explained that the staggering sum reflects the “credit subsidy cost” of the loans and loan guarantees in the portfolios of Loan Guarantee Program and the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program, which now have been combined. The credit subsidy cost is defined by GAO as “the net present value of the difference between projected cash flows to and from the government over the … Read More ➡
As our first African-American president, Barack Obama had the opportunity to personify the final triumph of civil rights, and in the process, become a celebrated and historic figure. Instead, his ironic legacy on race is one of abject failure, as the rioting and looting in Baltimore underscore. The tragic reality is that Obama passed on the opportunity to the “post-racial” president he promised to be when he first ran in 2008.
Instead, he farmed out leadership on racial issues to Al Sharpton, for whom grievance is like oxygen. The prejudgment of George Zimmerman, and related fury, set the stage for Ferguson, which was followed by the murder of New York City police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. Now Baltimore looks like a scene from 1968, with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake having no problem appearing with Sharpton on Thursday, an implicit endorsement of the violence, or at least, the Obama/Holder version … Read More ➡
It appears that General Motors is trying to remedy one of the latest criticisms against them. That criticism is that the company has way too large a “cash hoard” and most recently came from former Obama Auto Task Force member turned shareholder activist, Harry Wilson. Well Harry, be at ease; GM has managed to reduce that so-called hoard by over $3 billion in just three months as first quarter earnings flopped on Wall Street.
An analysis of GM’s earnings data release shows that cash and cash equivalents plunged from $19 billion to $15.8 billion. Marketable securities’ value also fell from $9.2 billion to $8.4 billion. Unfortunately for GM optimists who might want to point to GM’s share buy-back as the reason for the cash burn, it turns out that GM only used $400 million in cash during the quarter to repurchase 10 million shares. Despite that buyback, the number … Read More ➡
Today I sent this letter to Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT):
We strongly urge you to re-introduce legislation similar to the Government Settlement Transparency Reform Act (S.1654) in the 113th Congress.
As you know, the death toll from General Motors’ failure to act on an ignition switch defect continues to climb, now at 87. Although GM's decision to create a fund to compensate victims and their families is a step in the right direction, we are troubled by GM’s ability to write off the cost as an expense for federal tax purposes.
Because of the government-directed bankruptcy and restructuring, GM is now shielded from much of its liability incurred beforehand. In order to ensure at least some semblance of accountability, Congress must make sure that GM’s future payouts for its recklessness are not simply the cost of doing business.
As the families of GM's victims have emphasized, no … Read More ➡
Like clockwork, Al Sharpton, race-hustler extraordinaire, is positioning himself as an “adviser” to the family of Walter Scott, the black man fatally shot from behind on April 4 by a white police officer in North Charleston, S.C. after Scott resisted arrest. The shooting was captured on cell phone video by a nearby pedestrian. On Sunday, Rev. Sharpton spoke at a local church, praising officials for firing and prosecuting the cop, Michael Slager, for first-degree murder. He stated: “This is not about black and white. It’s about right and wrong.” He added: “I didn’t come to start trouble. I come to help stop trouble.” Given his history of demagoguery, North Charleston officials should ignore him. For this case, like all his others, is about black and white. And Sharpton is trouble.
National Legal and Policy Center many times has dissected the Reverend Al Sharpton. For three decades, the New York-based … Read More ➡
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 ➡
The verdict is in from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on General Motors’ corroding brake line problem. Despite having received thousands of complaints from motorists regarding brake failure due to brake line rust, the agency claims GM does not have higher failure rates than other manufacturers. The clear evidence to the contrary makes this a classic case of what economists call "regulatory capture." First identified by Nobel laureate George Stigler (in photo) in 1971, it's when a government agency tasked with protecting the public interest instead acts to the benefit of an industry or particular company.
In this case, it's a particular union. The ersatz GM bankruptcy and taxpayer bailout were orchestrated by the Obama Administration with the goal of preserving the political power of the United Auto Workers. Since that time the administration has sought to prop up GM in every conceivable way, with NHTSA just one … Read More ➡
Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) was indicted this afternoon on 8 counts of bribery, 3 counts of honest services fraud, one count of conspiracy, one count of violating the travel act, and one count of making false statements. His largest political backer, Dr. Salomon Melgen (in photo on left) was also charged by the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey.
The indictments were the result of a lengthy federal investigation that was initiated after media reports that Menendez attempted to intervene to thwart a Medicare-fraud investigation of Melgen, and that Menendez pressured government officials to further Melgen’s interests in a port security deal in the Dominican Republic.
Based on information provided by NLPC, the New York Times first reported on February 1, 2013 that Menendez went to bat for the Dominican port security deal that would have resulted in a "highly lucrative windfall" for Melgen.
The port security deal and … Read More ➡