AG Sessions Asked to Investigate and Seek Removal of Ana Matosantos From Puerto Rico Oversight Board

Ana Matosantos

Today we asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate Ana Matosantos, a member of the Puerto Rico Financial Oversight and Management Board, and to seek her removal. We cited apparent violations of federal conflict of interest statutes by Matosantos. According to information that we unearthed, Matosantos’ family business and other private companies with which she has a financial relationship stand to directly benefit from actions of the board.

The unelected board was established in 2016 to oversee the response Puerto Rico’s debt crisis, and was granted powers by Congress akin to a bankruptcy court. As we have helped to expose in the past, political corruption is endemic in Puerto Rico. Apparently, the Commonwealth can’t even go broke without someone trying to take advantage of the situation. Here is the full text of our letter to the Attorney General:

Dear General Sessions:

National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) respectfully … Read More ➡ “AG Sessions Asked to Investigate and Seek Removal of Ana Matosantos From Puerto Rico Oversight Board”

Judge Gives Standing to Shaky ‘Emoluments’ Suit against Trump

As if President Donald Trump isn’t facing enough challenges to his administration’s legitimacy, now he’s got another one. On March 28, U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte granted standing to a lawsuit by the attorneys general of the District of Columbia and Maryland alleging that the president, by continuing to profit from his Washington, D.C. hotel, is violating the constitutional ban on federal officials receiving gifts from domestic and foreign entities. According to Judge Messitte, his actions are causing “economic harm.” Yet evidence suggests that neither economics nor constitutional principle has much to do with this case.

Public officials in this country from the start have faced the pressure of being “bought and paid for.” Our Framers, recognizing the ever-present temptations of corruption, created safeguards to bar office holders from receiving presents, or “emoluments,” from outside parties. Article I, Section 6, Clause 2 of the Constitution, for example, bars sitting members … Read More ➡ “Judge Gives Standing to Shaky ‘Emoluments’ Suit against Trump”

More Slaps on the Wrist for Corrupt Chicago Reps. Rush, Gutierrez

When it comes to ethically compromised congressmen, Chicago seems to produce a bumper crop. Last Thursday, March 22, the House Ethics Committee released separate reports admonishing Reps. Bobby Rush and Luis Gutierrez, both Democrats from Chicago districts, for violating House rules concerning outside financial activities of members. The committee ordered Rush (in photo, on left) and Gutierrez (in photo, on right) to pay respective sums of $13,310 and $9,700 to the U.S. Treasury. The investigations were triggered by a probe by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics. Given the facts, the sanctions appear to be slaps on the wrist. The case of Gutierrez, who is retiring after the current term, is especially disturbing in the context of other conflicts of interest.

Bobby Rush, now in his 13th term, represents the 1st District of Illinois, which covers a large portion of Chicago’s South Side. To many, he is best-known … Read More ➡ “More Slaps on the Wrist for Corrupt Chicago Reps. Rush, Gutierrez”

Can Trump Drain the Swamp at the Bureau of Indian Affairs?

If ever a federal agency was ripe for termination, the Bureau of Indian Affairs should qualify for consideration. The bureau has a justly-earned reputation as a patronage machine for tribal leaders and their cronies. The Trump administration has been emphasizing its intent to reform the agency. Tribal sovereignty, the product of several 19th-century treaties, is a fact of life. But there are ways of “draining the swamp” that would not require abrogating any treaties.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), created in 1824 and housed under the Department of the Interior since 1849, has much to manage with its current $2.5 billion annual budget. There are 567 federally-recognized Indian and Alaska Native tribes representing about two million persons. Many live on reservations comprising 55.7 million acres. Each tribe elects its own sovereign government to oversee such activities as courts, schools, job training, health care, infrastructure and gambling casinos.

This … Read More ➡ “Can Trump Drain the Swamp at the Bureau of Indian Affairs?”

May America Live Long and PROSPER: Reining in Student Debt

The federal government is currently on the hook for over $1.35 trillion in higher education loans, over half of which has accumulated since 2009. A number of Capitol Hill lawmakers have come up with legislation to reduce public exposure in the event of a calamity: the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity through Education Reform Act, or PROSPER. The House Education and the Workforce Committee approved the bill in mid-December in a 23-17 party-line vote; the Senate now is taking up its own measure. The context underscores the unsoundness of the Obama-inspired higher education overhaul of 2010 that has played no small role in bringing about this situation.

Taking on debt to attend college or graduate school is a way of life. According to a quarterly Federal Reserve Board data base, fully 42.6 million U.S. adults by the close of 2017 owed an outstanding $1,366.9 trillion in federal student loan … Read More ➡ “May America Live Long and PROSPER: Reining in Student Debt”

The EB-5 Employment Visa: Mend It or End It

President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address last Tuesday night offered some sensible recommendations for immigration reform. Unfortunately, he omitted a few things – such as the need to fix the EB-5 visa program. The EB-5, authorized by the Immigration Act of 1990, allows persons from abroad who invest in a U.S. startup business to become lawful permanent residents. All too often, it is an invitation to fraud and self-dealing.

The EB-5 visa, intended to spur business development, offers a green card for immigrant small venture capitalists. The visa holder must invest at least $1 million in a “new commercial enterprise” or at least $500,000 if the enterprise is located in a designated Targeted Employment Area. Upon approval of a petition, the investor and dependent family members may obtain a green card. The investor must show that the investment has created or preserved at least 10 permanent domestic … Read More ➡ “The EB-5 Employment Visa: Mend It or End It”

Time to Take John Muir’s Name Off His Trail?

The San Jose, California city council has voted to remove the city’s Christopher Columbus statue, becoming only the latest jurisdiction to join the assault on Columbus, George Washington and Confederate generals. I’m worried the mob will run out of targets, so I offer some more.

What about naturalist John Muir?

Born in Scotland in 1838, Muir founded the Sierra Club and was an early advocate for the preservation of American wilderness. Known as the “Father of the National Parks,” Muir’s legacy and writings continue to inspire modern-day environmentalists and anyone who loves the outdoors.

In 1867, Muir actually walked from his home in Indiana to Florida. He had no real purpose beyond studying the countryside, wildlife and plants. He chronicled this adventure in a fascinating, journal-styled book titled A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf.

While wandering through the river country of Georgia, Muir notes on September 25thRead More ➡ “Time to Take John Muir’s Name Off His Trail?”

Fusion GPS Hiring of Nellie Ohr Was Part of Scheme to Influence the Election

Luke Rosiak of the Daily Caller today looks at the employment of Nellie Ohr, wife of Department of Justice (DoJ) official Bruce Ohr, by the political hit-squad firm Fusion GPS under a contract with the Clinton campaign. From the article:

“The financial arrangement between Mrs. Ohr and Fusion GPS gives the appearance of government-for-hire,” said Tom Anderson, an ethics expert at the conservative-leaning watchdog group the National Legal and Policy Center. It “appears to be a sophisticated scheme to get access to the highest levels of our government … ensuring the use of government resources in an attempt to influence an election.”

A memo created and released by the House Intelligence Committee last week detailed how the “dossier,” produced by Fusion GPS- operative Christopher Steele, was used by the FBI as the basis for an successful application to a court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to spy … Read More ➡ “Fusion GPS Hiring of Nellie Ohr Was Part of Scheme to Influence the Election”

Mueller Probe Part of ‘Rear-Guard’ FBI Action

From a Daily Signal story today by Fred Lucas:

“As more time passes, the more Mueller’s credibility is reduced,” Peter Flaherty, president of the National Legal and Policy Center, a government watchdog group, told The Daily Signal. “The legal case to fire or relieve Mueller is strong. The question is the optics. It might be best to leave him there, since ultimately he will come up with little.”

Flaherty said he believes the Russia investigation is in place to shield the FBI from exposure in using the discredited “Steele dossier,” an anti-Trump document funded by the Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, to justify the probe of Trump associates.

“Mueller can rescue his credibility by expanding the investigation to Clinton and the genesis of the dossier,” Flaherty said, adding:

The problem with that is that the FBI was involved. The Mueller investigation from

Read More ➡ “Mueller Probe Part of ‘Rear-Guard’ FBI Action”

Rep. Kihuen Accused of Sexual Harassment; Won’t Seek Reelection but Won’t Step Down

The rising tide of allegations of sexual harassment has claimed yet another member of Congress: Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nevada. Last Saturday, Congressman Kihuen announced that he will not seek reelection. Yet as a House Ethics Committee investigation proceeds, Democratic Party leaders, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, are calling for him to step down. This he is refusing to do.

Ruben Kihuen, 37, born in Guadalajara, is a first-term congressman representing the 4th District of Nevada, which covers the northern portion of the Las Vegas area and points well beyond. Along with Rep. Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., he is one of two foreign-born members of the House of Representatives who illegally arrived in this country (or violated the terms of a legitimate visa) and subsequently has been allowed to stay under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. This grant of amnesty, created in 2012 by an Obama … Read More ➡ “Rep. Kihuen Accused of Sexual Harassment; Won’t Seek Reelection but Won’t Step Down”