Archive for the ‘Political Corruption’ Category
FORBES: President Obama is proud of his bailout of General Motors. That’s good, because, if he wins a second term, he is probably going to have to bail GM out again. The company is once again losing market share, and it seems unable to develop products that are truly competitive in the U.S. market.
Right now, the federal government owns 500,000,000 shares of GM, or about 26% of the company. It would need to get about $53.00/share for these to break even on the bailout, but the stock closed at only $20.21/share on Tuesday. This left the government holding $10.1 billion worth of stock, and sitting on an unrealized loss of $16.4 billion.
By Ben Hart
The result of the trial of John Edwards is the correct one.
He was acquitted on one count, and got hung jury on the other five counts involving misappropriating funds from his 2008 Presidential campaign to hide his affair with his mistress Rielle Hunter.
The trial proved that John Edwards is a lying slimeball weasle. We already knew that.
But people don’t go to jail for this.
The problem is the vaguely-worded campaign finance laws — vaguely worded because election laws are written by politicians who want to be able to wiggle out of legal problems if they get caught doing pretty much the same thing as Edwards.
The prosecution’s case was built on the testimony of one of Edwards’ disgraced staffers named Vernon Jordan, who is a proven liar and who himself diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars from Edwards’ donors to pay for his own expenses and a pricey new home he was building in North Carolina.
Add to this that he wanted to make big money from book and movie deals related to the case. Jordan also tried to sell a sex tape of Edwards and the mistress.
Another big problem for the prosecution was that it had to prove Edwards knew his actions were illegal in order to secure felony convictions.
But legal professionals disagreed on whether Edwards’ actions actually were illegal at all. Election laws are famously bizantine, complex, vague, and often self-contradictory.
A previous investigation of Edwards by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) found that Edwards’ actions were not illegal. The Justice Department came to a different conclusion and so brought the felony charges.
But if the FEC did not think Edwards’ actions were illegal, it’s reasonable to assume that Edwards might not have thought his actions were illegal.
So the question is: Why did the U.S. Justice Department waste millions of taxpayer dollars and a lot of time to bring this felony case against Edwards when the law is so vague, when their star witness is a proven liar, and when a previous investigation of Edwards by the FEC concluded he had not broken the law?
This is not a defense of Edwards. He’s certainly been proven to be a first-class slimeball, a cad, a real creep.
But that’s not enough to get you jail time.
This is yet another example of excessively zealous prosecutors over-charging — much like in the Casey Anthony and George Zimmeman cases.
In the Casey Anthony case, prosecutors were going for the death penalty when the facts did not support the charge that she intentionally murdered her baby. From the evidence, it looked like an accidental death that Casey tried to cover up. She probably could have been convicted of reckless endangerment of a child, manslaughter or possibly even second degree murder if the prosecution had brought a charge on that level.
But death penalty for this mom?
Come on. Whatever Casey Anthony is, she’s not John Wayne Gasey or Jeffrey Dahmer.
In the case of George Zimmerman, the facts support self-defense more than they support second degree murder. But the prosecution is sticking with second degree murder for George.
The prosecution will lose on this.
The job of the prosecution is to seek honest justice, not to over-charge in order to get splashy headlines in high-profile cases so prosecutors can pad their resumes at taxpayer expense — which is exactly what’s happening all too often in the criminal justice system.
I don’t like John Edwards either. But he’s been thoroughly exposed for what he is. His political career is over. That’s punishment enough. He got exactly what he deserved.
J CHRISTIAN ADAMS-PJ MEDIA: I have learned that Florida election officials are set to announce that the secretary of state has discovered and purged up to 53,000 dead voters from the voter rolls in Florida.
How could 53,000 dead voters have sat on the polls for so long? Simple. Because Florida hadn’t been using the best available data revealing which voters have died. Florida is now using the nationwide Social Security Death Index for determining which voters should be purged because they have died.
Here is the bad news. Most states aren’t using the same database that Florida is. In fact, I have heard reports that some election officials won’t even remove voters even when they are presented with a death certificate. That means that voter rolls across the nation still are filled with dead voters, even if Florida is leading the way in detecting and removing them.
But surely people aren’t voting in the names of dead voters, the voter fraud deniers argue. Wrong.
Consider the case of Lafayette Keaton. Keaton not only voted for a dead person in Oregon, he voted for his dead son. Making Keaton’s fraud easier was Oregon’s vote by mail scheme, which has opened up gaping holes in the integrity of elections. The incident in Oregon just scratches the surface of the problem. Massachusetts and Mississippi are but two other examples of the dead rising on election day.
Florida should be applauded for taking the problem seriously, even if Eric Holder’s Justice Department and many state election officials don’t.
The Joke’s on Taxpayers
PHILLY.COM: Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco is retiring Friday, but only so she can collect a $478,057 pension check and return to work Monday, when she will be sworn in for her seventh term.
Tasco was one of six Council members to enroll in the city’s controversial Deferred Retirement Option Plan, better known as DROP. She did not immediately return a request for comment.
Plan participants trade a lower lifetime pension for a large one-time lump sum payment, but they are supposed to retire when they get that check.
Several elected officials, however, exercised a right approved by two city solicitors to run for election, retire for a day, collect their DROP payments, and return to work.
Tasco was one of six Council members to do that. But DROP enrollment became such a political liability that participation in the plan played a role in the decisions of four other Council members – Frank DiCicco, Donna Reed Miller, Jack Kelly and President Anna Verna – not to run again. Councilman Frank Rizzo lost his reelection bid in part because he was enrolled in DROP.
Taco may have paid a price, too. She was widely expected to replace Verna as president, but as the DROP controversy grew, Tasco’s candidacy for the leadership spot faded. Instead, Councilman Darrell Clarke, who is not enrolled in DROP, will be the next president.
DROP allows participants to pick a retirement date four years in the future. That decision freezes their yearly pension payment and prompts the city to deposit an amount equal to their payment in an interest-bearing account. At some point before the end of the four years, the employee retires and collects the lump-sum check.
When DROP was introduced during the Rendell administration, it was thought that it would cost little or nothing.
But a study by the administration of Mayor Nutter said DROP had cost the city $258 million over 10 years. A later study paid for by Council put the pricetage at $100 million over 10 year.
Nutter proposed abolishing DROP, but Council instead chose to modify it to reduce its cost.
POLITICO: Solyndra executives repeatedly invoked the Fifth Amendment this morning as House lawmakers pressed them to answer questions about the company’s financial collapse and any hopes of repaying their $535 million federal loan guarantee.
“While I hope to have an opportunity to assist this committee in the future, on the advice of my attorney, I must respectfully decline to answer any questions,” Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison told Energy and Commerce oversight subpanel Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), who opened the questioning.
STUNNING CLAIM: Obama White House pressured general to change testimony on new exploding scandal affecting U.S. national security
General had said that Obama donor’s new satellite broadband network might interfere with GPS systems the Pentagon needs to protect America
DAILY BEAST: The Pentagon has worried for months that a project backed by a prominent Democratic donor might interfere with military GPS. Now Congress wants to know if the White House pressured a general to change his testimony.
The four-star Air Force general who oversees Air Force Space Command walked into a highly secured room on Capitol Hill a week ago to give a classified briefing to lawmakers and staff, and dropped a surprise. Pressed by members, Gen. William Shelton said the White House tried to pressure him to change his testimony to make it more favorable to a company tied to a large Democratic donor.
The episode —confirmed by The Daily Beast in interviews with administration officials and the chairman of a congressional oversight committee —is the latest in a string of incidents that have given Republicans sudden fodder for questions about whether the Obama administration is politically interfering in routine government matters that affect donors or fundraisers. Already, the FBI and a House committee are investigating a federal loan guarantee to a now failed solar firm called Solyndra that is tied to a large Obama fundraiser.
Now the Pentagon has been raising concerns about a new wireless project by a satellite broadband company in Virginia called LightSquared, whose majority owner is an investment fund run by Democratic donor Philip Falcone.
According to officials familiar with the situation, Shelton’s prepared testimony was leaked in advance to the company. And the White House asked the general to alter the testimony to add two points: that the general supported the White House policy to add more broadband for commercial use; and that the Pentagon would try to resolve the questions around LightSquared with testing in just 90 days. Shelton chafed at the intervention, which seemed to soften the Pentagon’s position and might be viewed as helping the company as it tries to get the project launched, officials said.
I didn’t know we were still kicking him around
DETROIT NEWS: Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick told a Little Rock audience Saturday that his time in prison brought a new focus to his life, one that does not involve running for office or returning to the city of his highly publicized mistakes.
“I’ve vacationed in the valley of the shadow of death, and I’ve learned to get back up,” he said in his first public appearance since his Aug. 2 release from prison.
He spoke at the kick-off for Philander Smith College’s Black Male Initiative, a student leadership, volunteer and tutoring program for men.
Kilpatrick, 41, was sent to jail in May 2010 for violating probation and failing to disclose assets that could have been used to pay $1 million in restitution he owed Detroit. That restitution was part of a plea deal he made in 2008 that also included his resignation as mayor and pleading guilty to obstruction of justice.
Saying he was “beloved in Detroit,” Kilpatrick said he had no plans to live there again.
“If I go back right now, I’ll win again,” he said, noting that he had no plans to run for mayor.
NBC CHICAGO: Rod Blagojevich has been found guilty of 18 of the original 24 counts. Here’s what the jury decided today:
- Count 1-Wire fraud related to Children’s Memorial Hospital-GUILTY
- Count 2-Wire fraud related to the Senate Seat-GUILTY
- Count 3-Wire fraud related to the Senate Seat-GUILTY
- Count 4-Wire fraud related to the Senate Seat-GUILTY
- Count 5-Wire fraud related to the Senate Seat-GUILTY
- Count 6-Wire fraud related to the Senate Seat-GUILTY
- Count 7-Wire fraud related to the Senate Seat-GUILTY
- Count 8-Wire fraud related to the Senate Seat-GUILTY
- Count 9-Wire fraud related to the Racing Bill-GUILTY
- Count 10-Wire fraud related to the Senate Seat-GUILTY
- Count 11-Attempted extortion related to School Shakedown-NO VERDICT
- Count 12-Attempted extortion related to Children’s Memorial Hospital-GUILTY
- Count 13-Bribery related to Children’s Memorial Hospital-GUILTY
- Count 14-Extortion conspiracy related to Racing Bill-GUILTY
- Count 15-Bibery conspiracy related to Racing Bill-GUILTY
- Count 16-Attempted Extortion related to Tollway Shakedown-NO VERDICT
- Count 17-Bibery related to Tollway Shakedown-NOT GUILTY
- Count 18-Extortion conspiracy related to the Senate Seat-GUILTY
- Count 19-Attempted extortion related to the Senate Seat-GUILTY
- Count 20-Bribery conspiracy related to the Senate Seat-GUILTY
MICHAEL BARONE-WASHINGTON EXAMINER: If this article by professors at Harvard Law School and Indiana University Business School is correct (hat tip to Paul Caron’s taxprof blog and Glenn Reynolds’s Instapundit), the Treasury acted contrary to law when it ruled that post-bankruptcy General Motors could utilize $45 billion in pre-bankruptcy net operating losses to reduce any corporate income taxes it may owe.
The article is entitled “Can the Treasury Exempt Its Own Companies from Tax? The $45 Billion GM NOL Carryforward,” and the authors’ answer is No.
“Treasury solved this problem by issuing a series of “Notices” in which it announced that the law did not apply. On its terms, § 382 states that the NOL limits apply when a firm’s ownership changed. That rule, the Treasury declared, did not apply to itself. Notwithstanding the straightforward and all-inclusive statutory language, GM would be able to continue to use its NOLs in full after the Treasury sold its stock.
The Treasury had no legal or economic justification for these Notices, which applied to Citigroup and AIG as well as to GM. Nonetheless, the Notices largely escaped public attention, though they had the potential to transfer significant wealth to loyal supporters (the UAW). That it could do so illustrates the risk involved in this manipulation. We suggest that Congress give its members standing to challenge such manipulation in court.”
Hey, so how’s your pension doing?
ROLL CALL: While Rep. Anthony Weiner may no longer have the benefit of Congress’ generous health care plan once he resigns, he will still be able to collect his pension and other benefits that could total more than $1 million during his lifetime.
According to an analysis of his available benefits by the National Taxpayers Union, the New York Democrat’s pension and a savings plan lawmakers have access to similar to a 401(k) could be worth $1.12 million to $1.28 million.
At 46, Weiner will not be eligible for his pension for another decade, at which point he could begin drawing a reduced rate of $32,357 a year, according to NTU. If he waits until age 62 to begin drawing his pension, he will receive his full benefits, or $46,224, according to NTU’s calculations.
ANOTHER RECESSION WINNER: Pelosi’s net worth grows from $21.7 million in 2009 to $35.2 million in 2010 >>>