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Doing the job the media won’t do: St Louis Tea Party To Throw Document Parties
The chorus demanding answers to questions about the President’s firing of Inspector General Walpin is getting louder. GOP Lawmaker Wants White House to Produce Communications Related to Firing of Inspector General
The communications between the White House and the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California regarding the firing of an inspector general–who uncovered misuse of federal funds by a charity run by an Obama political ally–should be released and reviewed, said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Some background on the epidemic of politicizing the Inspector General position here.
A Monday-morning math lesson from OpenMarket.org: Stimulus = Welfare + Quotas + Corruption
Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package is now being used to force states to adopt racial quotas in government contracts, even if their state constitution or civil-rights laws forbid such quotas. Slate’s Mickey Kaus reports that “CalTrans, the huge state agency that spends billions in federal highway construction funds, ’sets a quota of having 6.75 percent of contracts go to women or members of a targeted group–African American, Asian-Pacific American, and Native American.
…Obama claimed the stimulus package was needed to prevent the economy from suffering from “irreversible decline,” but the Congressional Budget Office admitted that the stimulus package would shrink the economy “in the long run.” The stimulus package has since destroyed thousands of jobs in America’s export sector, and subsidized countless examples of government waste and corruption.
It repealed welfare reform, too. Much more at the link.
The “appearance of propriety” has gone the way of the Edsel and has been replaced with “our way or the highway” by Democrats. Exhibits 1-5:
Shooting the messenger: President fires official ‘out of the blue’
An inspector general fired by President Obama says he was given no warning and only one hour to decide whether to resign or be let go, hinting the action was retaliation for a report highly critical of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA basketball star and an Obama supporter.
Gerald Walpin, a 2006 Bush appointee who reviewed grants awarded by AmeriCorps and other national service programs, said the telephone call he received Thursday evening from White House counsel Norman L. Eisen informing him he was ousted “occurred totally out of the blue.”
…The White House hasn’t said specifically why it fired Mr. Walpin, other than to say that the president has lost confidence in him.
Michelle Malkin has a lot more on this, including the Michelle Obama connection.
Pulling out all the stops to pass cap and tax: GOP charges Markey with climate witness intimidation
Republicans have seized on a letter – a copy of which was obtained by The Hill – that Markey penned to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff asking FERC to investigate the actions of a major energy company on the same day that the company’s CEO was set to testify before the energy panel on the dangers of a carbon cap and trade system.
Not content with trying to intimidate Congressional witnesses, Democrats try to stop lobbyists from meeting with Republicans: Questions Over Lobbyist Meetings Complicate Health Care Negotiations
…But attendees at a June 10 meeting with top Democratic aides described apparent warnings about participating in two meetings with Republicans on Thursday. One meeting included Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Jon Kyl of Arizona and John Thune of South Dakota, and the other was with GOP leadership staffers.
Those apparent warnings came from Russell W. Sullivan, the Finance Committee staff director, and Jonathan G. Selib, chief of staff to Finance Chairman Max Baucus , D-Mont., according to a Democratic lobbyist who was among those cautioned about Thursday’s Republican meetings.
The lobbyist said that he didn’t feel threatened — “not at all” — but that there was a general message that working with Republicans would be a “hostile act.”
According to the lobbyist, Selib said: “I’m a Mets fan, and as you know, the Mets and Yankees hate each other. And you have to decide, are you for the Mets or the Yankees?”
The lobbyist said the message he got was: “This is going to be a big bill and we’re willing to work with people to change it. But if your clients have any interest in blowing it up, we’re not going to work with you.”
Another participant in the June 10 meeting said he also felt discouraged from working with Republicans.
“There was not an overt pressure about attending a specific meeting,” said the attendee, who also asked not to be identified. “There was a general comment made that it would be inconsistent to be actively working in a constructive manner with the Finance chairman and committee members to develop a bipartisan health reform bill while at the same time working on a strategy to undermine passage of health care reform.”
So much for bipartisanship. Thanks to Hot Air for the two links above.
This will increase your confidence that Congress has your best interests in mind: Reports link senators to health industry
Influential senators working to overhaul the nation’s health care system have investments and family ties with some of the biggest names in the industry. The wife of Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, the lawmaker in charge of writing the Senate’s bill, sits on the boards of four health care companies…
And let’s not forget Paulson’s arm twisting in the service of Treasury taking over the banking industry.
Government of, by and for the gangsters. I’m not sure if they’re getting more brazen about their abuse of power and corruption, or if the facts are more accessible thanks to the internet. Either way, it’s ugly.
My Representative Peter Visclosky, representing northwest Indiana, was supoenaed in connection with the FBI’s investigation of PMA, a lobbying group that received a lot of earmarks from a group of Congressmen including Rep. John Murtha. PMA was Rep. Visclosky’s biggest campaign contributor.
Certain Visclosky employees have also been sent grand jury subpoenas requesting documents related to the PMA Group, a lobby shop with strong ties to the Indiana lawmaker. Visclosky’s former chief of staff, Rich Kaelin, was a high-profile lobbyist at the firm that closed its doors at the end of March.
Rep. Visclosky’s response:
“Federal law enforcement officials have issued grand jury subpoenas to my congressional office, campaign committees and certain employees to request documents relating to PMA,” Visclosky said in a statement.
“It is my intention to fully cooperate with the investigation consistent with my constitutional obligations to Congress and my duties and responsibilities to my constituents.”
Visclosky said he is confident that at the end of the investigation “no one will conclude that I have done anything wrong or harmed my constituents in any way.”
Powerline has a post on the TARP quarterly report recently released and finds a lot to worry about. TARP: The Looming Debacle
…The Inspector General’s report documents the stunning and at least partly illegal expansion of TARP from the $700 billion originally allocated by Congress to what is now a $3 trillion complex of programs…
The level of mismanagement is colossal. The report says,
Treasury has indicated, however, that it will not adopt SIGTARP’s recommendation that all TARP recipients be required to do the following:
• account for the use of TARP funds
• set up internal controls to comply with such accounting
• report periodically to Treasury on the results, with appropriate sworn certifications
In light of the fact that the American taxpayer has been asked to fund this extraordinary effort to stabilize the financial system, it is not unreasonable that the public be told how those funds have been used by TARP recipients. Treasury is now conducting regular surveys of the banks’ lending activities; however, with the exception of Citigroup and Bank of America, Treasury has refused to seek further details on TARP recipients’ use of funds.
It’s a slush fund extraordinaire and Treasury doesn’t even pretend to care what’s going on.
The report goes on to identify areas of concern, such as conflicts of interest, collusion between the bureaucrats running programs and their participants, and the potential for money laundering.
Powerline draws some conclusions:
What conclusions can we draw? 1) The government’s $3 trillion and counting TARP program represents the greatest opportunity for sharp operators to profit at taxpayer expense in history. 2) The Obama administration is either in favor of giving Wall Street sharks this opportunity or, at a minimum, doesn’t much mind doing so. (If this seems odd, remember where Obama got the biggest chunk of campaign contributions in 2008.) 3) It may be that the TARP complex of programs is the beginning of a national-socialist type takeover of the financial services industry by the federal government…
You should read the whole post. It’s worth going there just for the chart that details where the money went.
Payback is not always a bitch. Obama team reverses union transparency
Finance reporting rules deemed too onerous for labor leaders
The Obama administration, which has boasted about its efforts to make government more transparent, is rolling back rules requiring labor unions and their leaders to report information about their finances and compensation.
The Labor Department noted in a recent disclosure that “it would not be a good use of resources” to bring enforcement actions against union officials who do not comply with conflict of interest reporting rules passed in 2007. Instead, union officials will now be allowed to file older, less detailed conflict reports.
…The Labor Department also is rescinding another key labor financial disclosure regulation. The expansion of the so-called LM-2 rule, approved during the last days of the Bush administration, requires unions to report more information about finances and labor leaders’ compensation on annual reports.
Why it’s a bad idea:
However, Mark Mix, president of the pro-business National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which provides legal services to workers who say unions have violated their rights, called the rollback of union financial disclosures troubling.
“The department’s decision not to protect simple union disclosure protections creates increased vulnerability for American workers and should serve notice to legislators that now is not the time to grant union bosses more unchecked power over workers and our economy,” he wrote in a recent letter to the department.
He said the AFL-CIO would “benefit greatly” from the delay or rollback of expanded reporting rules. “It immediately allows the AFL-CIO to avoid financial disclosure that is beneficial and necessary to rank-and-file workers who are forced to pay union dues and fees to keep a job,” he said.
It’s no big deal, say proponents:
Jim Coppess, associate general counsel for the AFL-CIO, discounted the criticism. He said the Labor Department’s recent moves did nothing to affect the transparency of union financial reports or the ability of federal regulators to monitor expenditures.
“All the department has done is propose the withdrawal of a rule hastily adopted on the very last day of the Bush administration and an examination of the actual costs and benefits of extensive reporting requirements imposed on unions in 2003 as the basis for possible future changes,” he wrote in an e-mail to The Washington Times.
The administration is a Who’s Who of Big Labor figures:
Patrick Gaspard, White House political affairs director, who worked at the Service Employees International Union.
T. Michael Kerr, who served as assistant to the secretary-treasurer at SEIU in charge of finance and administration before he was picked to serve as assistant secretary for administration and management at Labor.
Deborah Greenfield…is now a high-ranking deputy at Labor who also worked on the Obama transition team on labor issues. In her new job, Ms. Greenfield is in charge of the department’s executive secretariat office, which handles incoming correspondence to Ms. Solis, as well as memoranda and other documents from throughout the department.
Who says union leaders aren’t good businessmen? They got a very good return on their campaign donation investment.
If you’re following the TARP debacle, there’s an interesting post at NRO. TARP Looking More Criminal by the Minute
The issue of TARP corruption may now extend from corporate CEOs and federal regulators to New York’s attorney general.
Speaking of the current investigations, the author wonders what sort of public corruption is being investigated:
It’s easy to guess that Barofsky is looking into the possibility that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson coerced the CEOs of the nine largest banks to accept capital investments from TARP, even though several of them didn’t want the government as a stakeholder. Wells Fargo chairman Richard Kovacevich, for example, says that he was “forced to take the TARP money.” Philip Swagel, who served at the time as assistant secretary for economic policy at the Treasury, admits that “there is no authority in the United States to force a private institution to accept government capital. This is a hard legal constraint.”
…But then again, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, the statute that authorizes TARP, doesn’t give the Treasury the power to make direct investments in banks at all. It gives the Treasury the power to buy troubled assets and to write insurance against losses in troubled assets. But there’s not one single solitary word in the act that authorizes the Treasury to buy stock in banks.
And there’s not one single solitary word in the act that authorizes the Treasury to do anything at all for auto companies like General Motors and Chrysler. The act only authorizes helping “financial institutions.” Yet billions of TARP dollars have gone to the two automakers.
About NY Attorney General Cuomo:
…It would appear that Cuomo may have significantly misrepresented Lewis’s testimony by claiming that he “would have” disclosed the Merrill loss “but for the intervention of the Treasury Department,” since by Lewis’s own testimony the Treasury’s intervention wasn’t even on this subject. And Cuomo appears to mislead Congress when he says that Paulson “informed this office” — as though by way of clearing himself of culpability — of the very thing that Lewis himself already said.
If true, this is serious prosecutorial misconduct, very much in the mold of Cuomo’s predecessor Eliot Spitzer. The strategy seems to be to try the case in the media — which can be relied upon to uncritically carry the prosecutor’s message, as indeed the Wall Street Journal already has done — and to avoid the rigors of an actual courtroom, in which the accused will have the opportunity to defend himself.
Much more at the link.
An effective Tea Party movement looks more important than ever.
The plot thickens: Visclosky to return PMA campaign contributions
U.S. Rep. Peter Visclosky will turn over $18,000 in campaign cash to the U.S. Treasury after a federal investigation led to questions about the source of those donations, a spokesman said Wednesday.
That money was first thought to have arrived from donors connected to The PMA Group, a?Virginia lobbying firm raided by the FBI in November whose associates have given the most cash to Visclosky’s campaigns.
However, recent reports in the Washington Post and The Hill, a congressional daily newspaper, questioned the ties of three Visclosky donors to PMA.
“We’ve been disturbed by what we read in the paper,” David St. John, a spokesman for Visclosky’s campaign, said.
The Hill reported that Florida-based donors John Pugliese and Jon Walker are listed in federal election commission documents as employees and associates of The PMA Group and gave a combined $16,000 to Visclosky’s campaigns in the last two election cycles.
However, The Hill reports that one is a sommelier at the Ritz Carlton hotel on Amelia Island and the other is a golf marketing director at the same resort. Both were on PMA’s board of directors but had no connection to lobbying or politics.
A third donor, Marvin Hoffman of Marina del Rey, Calif., is listed as a PMA-connected donor who gave $2,000 to Visclosky, but he told the Washington Post he’s never heard of PMA or the congressman.
Federal election laws limit the amount of money individuals may contribute to candidates.
Strawman donors? Maybe. The Federal investigation should tell.
But there’s more, a lot more, going on. Via Hot Air, the earmarking business is like a military operation: Firm with Murtha Ties Got Earmarks From Nearly One-Fourth of House
More than 100 House members secured earmarks in a major spending bill for clients of a single lobbying firm — The PMA Group — known for its close ties to John P. Murtha , the congressman in charge of Pentagon appropriations.
“It shows you how good they were,” said Keith Ashdown, chief investigator at the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. “The sheer coordination of that would take an army to finish.”
PMA’s offices have been raided, and the firm closed its political action committee last week amid reports that the FBI is investigating possibly illegal campaign contributions to Murtha and other lawmakers.
No matter what the outcome of the federal investigation, PMA’s earmark success illustrates how a well-connected lobbying firm operates on Capitol Hill. And earmark accountability rules imposed by the Democrats in 2007 make it possible to see how extensively PMA worked the Hill for its clients.
In the spending bill managed by Murtha, the fiscal 2008 Defense appropriation, 104 House members got earmarks for projects sought by PMA clients, according to Congressional Quarterly’s analysis of a database constructed by Ashdown’s group.
Those House members, plus a handful of senators, combined to route nearly $300 million in public money to clients of PMA through that one law (PL 110-116).
And when the lawmakers were in need — as they all are to finance their campaigns — PMA came through for them.
According to CQ MoneyLine, the same House members who took responsibility for PMA’s earmarks in that spending bill have, since 2001, accepted a cumulative $1,815,138 in campaign contributions from PMA’s political action committee and employees of the firm.
Will this be in the same league as the Abramoff scandal? Or worse? Time will tell.
A lot of Democrats, looks like. Democrats by the Numbers
$133,900: the amount Fannie Mae “invested” in Chris Dodd (D-CT), head of the powerful Senate Banking Committee, presumably to repel oversight of the GSE prior to its meltdown. Said meltdown helped touch off the current economic crisis. In only a few years time, Fannie also “invested” over $105,000 in then-Senator Barack Obama.
$140,000: the amount of back taxes and interest that Cabinet nominee Tom Daschle (D) was forced to cough up after the vetting process revealed significant, unexplained tax liabilities.
$800,000: the amount of “sweetheart” mortgages Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) received from Countrywide Financial, the details for which he has refused to release details despite months of promises to do so. Countrywide was once the nation’s largest mortgage lender and linked to Government-Sponsored Entities like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Their meltdown precipitated the current financial crisis. Just days ago in Pennsylvania, Countrywide was forced to pay $150,000,000 in mortgage assistance following “a state investigation that concluded that Countrywide relaxed its underwriting standards to sell risky loans to consumers who did not understand them and could not afford them.”
$2,000,000,000: ($2 billion) the approximate amount of money that House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-WI) is earmarking related to his son’s lobbying efforts. Craig Obey is “a top lobbyist for the nonprofit group” that would receive a roughly $2 billion component of the “Stimulus” package.
$3,700,000,000: ($3.7 billion) not to be outdone, this is the estimated value of various defense contracts awarded to a company controlled by the husband of Rep. Diane Feinstein (D-CA). Despite an obvious conflict-of-interest as “a member of the Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee, Sen. Feinstein voted for appropriations worth billions to her husband’s firms .”
We need an ethics stimulus bill, quick.