Category Archives: corruption

News From a Fire House Sprinkles on the Republican Finance Committee

April 3, 2017:  Republican Party issues the following announcement

“I am delighted to announce the addition of these longtime friends of the Party and supporters of this administration to our Finance leadership team,” said Chairwoman McDaniel. “Elliott Broidy, Michael Cohen, and Louis DeJoy will serve as National Deputy Finance Chairmen, and Brian Ballard, Bob Grand, Gordon Sondland, Geoff Verhoff, and Ron Weiser will serve as Regional Vice-Chairmen. Together this team will employ their extraordinary talent and understanding of Americans across the country to maintain and build uponF our unprecedented fundraising success.”

January, 2018:  Former casino owner Steve Wynn, steps down from the RNC finance committee as reports of sexual harassment hit the headlines. [Politico] Wynn has since resigned as casino company CEO (March 22, 2018), has settled a six year legal battle with his ex-wife (WSJ), and has asked to be removed as a “qualifier” from the list of key employees required to undergo background checks by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. [BostonH]  However, Wynn’s donations to a Trump super-PAC aren’t going to be returned:

“Wynn gave $500,000 to America First Action Super PAC on Jan. 23, just days before the first reports of his alleged harassment of women were published, according to first-quarter financial data from the Federal Election Commission. CNBC asked the group whether it has any intention of returning the contribution following the stories of Wynn’s alleged misconduct.

“We’re not returning the donation,” a spokeswoman for America First said.” [CNBC]

Thus, the next time a member of the GOP sputters about Democrats accepting money from a potentially dubious source, the appropriate response is, “Steve Wynn.” Chicago Cubs owner, Todd Ricketts, became the new RNC Finance Chair. [CNBC]

April 13, 2018: Another shoe drops — on Elliott Broidy.

“A major donor with close ties to the White House resigned on Friday as deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee after the revelation that he had agreed to pay $1.6 million to a former Playboy model who became pregnant during an affair.” [NYT]

Mr. Broidy comes with a bit of a “past,”

In 2009, Broidy pleaded guilty to committing a felony by giving nearly $1 million in illegal gifts to state officials in order to secure a lucrative deal with New York’s public pension fund for his then-firm Markstone Capital Partners.

Broidy avoided jail time by blowing the whistle on the same people who accepted his bribes. He admitted to ponying up $75,000 for an all-expanses paid luxury trip to Jerusalem, which included first-class tickets, luxury hotel suites, a helicopter tour, and a personal driver for New York State’s comptroller and his family. [TWrap] [WSJ] {Markstone Capital, NYT}

His appeals worked such that Reuters reported in 2012:

Los Angeles money manager Elliott Broidy was spared jail time and a felony conviction on Monday for his role in a “pay to play” scheme at the New York state pension fund.

Justice Lewis Bart Stone reduced Broidy’s felony to a misdemeanor and sentenced him to a conditional discharge.

Mr. Broidy had a busy social calendar entertaining those who sought access to the White House, including the following:

Mr. Broidy offered tickets to V.I.P. inauguration events, including a candlelight dinner attended by Mr. Trump, to a Congolese strongman accused of funding a lavish lifestyle with public resources. He helped arrange a meeting with Republican senators and offered a trip to Mar-a-Lago, the president’s private Florida resort, for an Angolan politician. And he arranged an invitation to a party at Mr. Trump’s Washington hotel for a Romanian parliamentarian facing corruption charges, who posted a photograph with the president on Facebook. [NYT]

The “past became prologue” when he used the services of yet another RNC Finance Committee member to clean up — dare we say “fix” — his issues with the Playmate and her pregnancy. Therefore, the correct response to any Republican who wishes to discuss “family values,” is… “Elliott Broidy.”

April 13, 2018:  Who helped arrange the $1.6 million payout to the Broidy’s ex-mistress? Another RNC Finance Committee member Michael Cohen. [CNN]  Mr. Cohen has drawn the attention of the prosecutors in the SDNY, complete with a highly publicized raid.

“The longtime attorney for President Donald Trump’s real-estate empire, Michael Cohen, went to federal court on Monday in a bid to block federal prosecutors from reading documents and other materials that were seized from Cohen’s home in a sweeping raid. The porn star Stormy Daniels, whom Cohen allegedly paid off to protect Trump, was there to watch. And the hearing was presided over by Judge Kimba Wood, who ordered Cohen to reveal the name of a client he’d tried to keep secret: the Fox News host Sean Hannity.” [Atlantic]

The paragraph above sums up the Trumpian swamp which is looking more like a sink-hole with every passing day.  Thus, the appropriate reply to Republican assertions of “transparency and accountability” is “Michael Cohen.”

Meanwhile, will the last member of the Republican National Finance Committee please turn out the lights and lock the door?

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Filed under campaign finance reform, campaign funds, corruption, Nevada politics, Politics, RNC, Steve Wynn

The Russians Are Playing, The Russians Are Playing

The Russians Are Coming 1966

While playing connect the dots is a favored past-time among the punditry, it takes time to piece together the actions and intent of the Russians in terms of American politics.   We can, however, list some items which should be of continuing interest to the American voting public:

Item: Josh Marshall, at Talking Points Memo, has been doing some heavy lifting in the background information department.  He reminds us that the Russians aren’t playing from a position of strength; they aren’t the power they once were, and shouldn’t be perceived as the Cold Warriors of Old. This doesn’t mean we can dismiss their “asymmetrical” activities in American elections, but we should be clear about their capacity to do major harm.  They are engaged in trolling operations; and in “news” operations.  And, yes, as Marshall outlines it, there is a Putin-Trump connection.  What does make all this interesting is that both Putin and Trump are operating from positions of weakness, rather than strength; Putin in a declining economic power and Trump in a declining political position.

Item: The Manafort Issue is no less intriguing. CNN reports that the Trump Campaign chair received funds from the former Ukrainian regime, now under investigation for corruption. According to the NYT:

“And Mr. Manafort’s presence remains elsewhere here in the capital, where government investigators examining secret records have found his name, as well as companies he sought business with, as they try to untangle a corrupt network they say was used to loot Ukrainian assets and influence elections during the administration of Mr. Manafort’s main client, former President Viktor F. Yanukovych.

Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from Mr. Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012, according to Ukraine’s newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau. Investigators assert that the disbursements were part of an illegal off-the-books system whose recipients also included election officials.”

Manafort’s response has been varied.  He’s denied that any such transactions took place (Vanity Fair) and tried to shake off the allegations by saying that some donations to the Clinton Foundations were equally shady. (Politifact)  However, Mr. Manafort’s allegations of corruption were not substantiated with any actual evidence. [Politifact] This leaves us with an uncomfortable bit of circumlocution from Mr. Manafort — “I didn’t do it, but if I did what the Clinton’s did was worse.” This is not a very strong argument.

Item:  The matter of the DNC hack.  That the hack came from Russian sponsored sources is no longer a matter of debate – it did.  We should get used to titles like Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear in relation to the hack job. The first round of released information was enough to thoroughly embarrass the DNC, but the second round may be the most deleterious.  The hacking was more widespread than previously thought, and the DCCC information was both leaked and used – according to Minority Leader Pelosi:

“The California lawmaker was responding to the latest hacking incident, into the House Democratic campaign arm, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which on Friday night published members’ personal cell phone numbers and some private email addresses.”

Democratic lawmakers received obscene calls and texts. Pelosi advised members to change their phone numbers, and they were also advised on another concern, “One major concern are the emails sent to the members or the staff could include website links with malware or phishing attempts to steal identities or financial information. Congressional security officials have warned members and staff not to click on websites they are not familiar with.” [CNN]  Now, we’re getting into some truly nasty territory. It could be argued that the Trump Campaign has outsourced the Dirty Tricks Department to the Russians?

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Filed under corruption, Foreign Policy, Republicans

>Overnight Express: News Roundup


The Nevada Economic Forum released its projections today showing the state will have $5.65 billion in revenue for the next two years, which is $1.2 billion less than government spending expected in the current biennial budget. [LVRJ] The troubles in California are well publicized, but there are other states joining the ranks of “budget challenged” as well. The Michigan Legislature opens its session with a shortfall estimated between $400 million to $900 million. [DFP] South Carolina is facing a $90 million shortage that will force the state to make cuts. [SCG] All told, some 41 states have projected shortfalls in fiscal 2009/2010. [CPBB]

Why is it that some of the first services cut fall into the mental health category? The Kansas state Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services announced today that it was immediately freezing access to a program that serves the disabled, and mental health advocates were told to expect a 7.3% cut in grants to assist patients. [LJW] Oregon’s Governor has submitted a budget that would cut substance abuse, and mental health services. [RG] Georgia is looking at total privatization of state psychiatric hospitals. [AJC] Massachusetts has cut approximately $33.5 million from its Department of Mental Health programs. [AttleboroSC] Mental health services have been slashed by $25 million in Hawaii. [HonoAdv] In Nevada, the Silver Springs Mental Health Clinic may be scheduled for closure if funds aren’t found by July 2009. [NA]

More of that Stupid economy: “JPMorgan to cut 9,200 Washington Mutual jobs” [Reuters] “Government expands tax probe to HSBC, Credit Suisse: report” [Reuters] “Layoffs coming to Insite Vision: Alameda based company to cut 15 jobs (35% of its workforce)” [SFBT] “Layoffs at Cemex come in time for holidays” [TampaTrib] “Ash Grove Cement Co. (ID) will lay off 45 of their 68 full time employees” [LN8 Pocatello] “Ford resists pressure to cut CEO compensation” [WSJ] “UAW wants limits on carmakers’ executive pay” [Reuters] “10 CEOs to go for 2009: Rick Wagoner of GM” [24/7]

Rumors of the impending fall of the Conservative Party government in Canada appear to be well founded. The Conservatives face a coalition of Liberals, New Democrats, and others prepared to assume power if the economic proposals (declared to be a confidence vote) are defeated in their Parliament. [NYT] The “Tories to consider all options to stop opposition” [Edmonton Sun] “Crisis on Parliament Hill: What happens next?” [NatPost]

We may know the five members of Congress mentioned by Mitchell Wade, who has been providing information to federal investigators. The nominees are: Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV), Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA), and Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) [Sunlight Fnd] Harris and Goode lost their seats in recent elections. Goode’s first recount hearing is scheduled for Tuesday. [NBC29] Mitchell Wade who founded MZM will be sentenced before December 25th, and could receive a four year sentence for pressuring his employees to make campaign contributions to Goode. [MDN] With Inouye’s name made public in connection with Wade’s MZM scandal, questions could be raised in the Democratic Caucus about his assumption of the Appropriations Committee chair?

The Southern Poverty Law Center won a jury verdict against the Imperial Klans of America; the $2.5 million award will likely cripple the hate group that has 16 chapters in eight states. The award comes on behalf of Jordan Gruver who was brutally beaten at a county fair in rural Kentucky in July 2006. [SPLC] Anti-Latino hate crimes are increasing for the fourth year, up 40% since 2003. [IR] The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights issued a statement condemning the escalation of attacks on communities of color, exemplified by the murder of Marcelo Lucero. [LCCR] The HRC has commended the selection of Eric Holder as Attorney General for being an “unswerving proponent of fully inclusive federal hate crimes legislation.” [Edge] “Attorney General inherits a damaged department” [McClatchy]

International headlines: “Israel blocks aid ship bound for Gaza” [GuardianUK] “Unpaid Zimbabwe soldiers fight police” [IndependentUK] “Northern Cyprus Prime Minister: Cyprus wounds must finally be healed” [Der Spiegel] “Congo rebel leader threatens war” [AJE] “US warned India twice about sea attack on Mumbai” [Times of India] “Venice sees worst flooding in 20 years: Reports say 40% of the city’s historic buildings have been affected as city mayor tells residents to stay home” [Guardian UK]

Want to take a quick test of your Current Events Knowledge? Try the “Take the Quiz” page at the Pew Research website. (Warning: the question about the Dow Jones Industrial Average is dated.)

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Filed under Canada, corruption, Economy, Hate Crimes, Mental Health

>Bits and Pieces: News Roundup


In the interest of giving credit where it’s due: Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV1) led the Nevada Congressional delegation in the most recently released League of Conservation Voters report on the 2nd session of the 110th Congress with a 92% rating for 2008. Her 2007 rating is listed at 75%, and she has a laudable lifetime rating of 85%. One might reasonably assume that incoming Representative Dina Titus (D-NV3) will have a better rating than the 54% earned by outgoing Rep. Jon Porter (R-NV3).

It’s official: the U.S. economy has been in a recession since December 2007 – so sayeth the official National Bureau of Economic Research. [TP] Not that the White House is at all inclined to use the term, “The White House commented on the news that a second downturn has officially begun on President George W. Bush’s watch without ever actually using the word “recession,” a term the president and his aides have repeatedly avoided. Instead, spokesman Tony Fratto remarked upon the fact that NBER “determines the start and end dates of business cycles.” [BusWk]

The recession should come as no surprise: “Global manufacturing gauges collapse in November: US ISM index falls to 36.2%, lowest in 27 years.” “The employment index declined to 34.2% in November, reaching the lowest level since 1991, from 34.6% in October. On Friday, the government will report on nonfarm payrolls for November; analysts are looking for a loss of 350,000 jobs, which would be the largest drop in almost three decades. The order backlogs index fell to 27%, the lowest level since ISM began tracking the data in January 1993, from 29.5%.” [MrktWtch]

Making matters worse for the housing situation: “Investor sues to block mortgage modifications: a lawsuit against Bank of America claims states and banks will short bondholders $8.4 billion and damage the market by cutting home payments.” [BusWk] The suit was brought by William Frey, a private investor in mortgage backed securities, who claims that “while loan adjustments may help to keep struggling borrowers in their homes today, […] those alterations run the risk of permanently damaging the secondary market for housing finance.” And, if Frey is successful we can reasonably predict that the construction sector will continue to produce more headlines like “October construction spending drops 1.2 percent” [IHT]

And then there’s the business with the cars: “November car sales slide shows auto crisis worsening” [Reuters] “Ford reviews plan to shed luxury Volvo brand” [DFP] “Column: Long term idea for Detroit 3: Think globally for way to survive” [DFP] “Each player in Big Three is devising it own plan” [NYT]

The top foreign policy officials have been appointed to the Obama Cabinet, [NYT] but what about the middle and upper tiers of the agencies? Spencer Ackerman lists “Five Foreign Policy Positions to Watch” in the Washington Independent. Ackerman’s list includes Ambassador to Iraq, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations, Low intensity Conflict and Interdependent Capabilities, Assistant Attorney General Office of Legal Counsel, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, and Director for the Middle East on the National Security Council. Someone is going to have to sort out the case of the 17 Uighurs being held at Guantanamo who are hapless victims of the Bush Administration’s detention policy which says they are no longer considered enemy combatants, but the Administration won’t release them because “only the President and the Department of Homeland Security have the authority to do so.” [WashInd]

Minnesota Recount: Matt Taibbi posts his commentary in “The Last Recount: In Al Franken’s race in Minnesota, blue and red tangle for the final time in the Bush Era.” [Rolling Stone] More at: “Recount Roundup: The Final Stretch?” [MNIndp] What do some of the challenged ballots look like? See “The Ballot Challenge” at the MST site. (log in required) About 88% of the ballots have been recounted. Coleman is leading by 282 votes. [MST]

Georgia on anyone’s mind? “Chambliss and Martin face Senate runoff in Georgia” [LAT] “Chambliss, Martin Stump today” [AJC] Palin is back on the trail for Chambliss, but the clothes thing just won’t go away; Bruce McCall puts a humorous spin on the GOP’s Shopper In Chief. [WashIndp] Alaskans don’t seem to be so taken with their Governor’s new calling, “Palin a GOP star but little liked by center” [AchDN]

That old Culture of Corruption: “As new trial looms, questions raised about prosecution of former procurement chief” [GovExec] “Dirty Don ditched by Republicans: corrupt Congressman removed from power” [Alaska Report] Young removed from GOP steering committee, and could soon be removed as ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee.

To our health? “Medicare’s private insurers await impending cutbacks” [The Hill] “FDA details its food safety program” [NYT] “Some US doctors may give up on vaccines due to cost” [AP] “Health needs of autistic children often unmet” [Forbes] “On world AIDS day, doctor says more pediatric AIDS drugs needed” [VOA]

Recommended Reading: “NBC and McCaffrey’s coordinated responses to the NYT story” Glenn Greenwald, [Salon] “Race, Youth, even ‘burbs go against Republicans: Albert R. Hunt” [Bloomberg]

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Filed under Berkley, corruption, ecology, Economy, Politics

>Coffee and the Papers: Post Tryptophan Edition


  • Just what we need? The Nevada State Tax Commission refunds to Nevada casinos and Southern California Edison? [LV Sun] And, why does “soon to be indicted” Lt. Governor Brian Krolicki believe that his scheme for securitizing Nevada Tobacco Settlement funds, and as a consequence, shutting off assistance for 22,000 elderly Nevadans so that they can remain in their homes, is a good idea? Hey, don’t worry – if you lose your home you can always get Medicare and live in a nursing home? Krolicki is still busy explaining why he did such a good job with the Nevada College Savings Plan that he’s being prosecuted for it.

  • According to Krolicki all the money was accounted for, no money was missing, and all the money was spent on the program – all undisputed. What Lt. Governor Krolicki’s contending is that the Legislative Counsel Bureau’s audit was biased and unfair because they chastised him for “not going through the budget.” However, it wasn’t just “The Budget” then Treasurer Krolicki bypassed; he managed to bypass the program’s board of trustees, and to spend far more funds than authorized by the State Legislature. Points not addressed in Lt. Governor’s Mea Not Culpa. Krolicki’s final comment: “Bottom-line – All funds related to this program were accounted for and balanced to the penny, and the Legislative Auditors basically didn’t like how the program paid its bills.” [LV Sun] Presumably, that would include the fact that the 9th finding in the audit showed that the composite hourly rate for program legal fees was set by statute at $225 per hour and Krolicki spent some $428.64? Or, the 12th finding that stated Krolicki spent more than the statutorily authorized $185,000 allowed each year for marketing? [DB]

  • Securitizing the TSF might be an option if some local southern Nevada physicians weren’t dipping and diving into Medicare funding, and now crying they were “railroaded” by the Justice Department’s investigation of what certainly sounds like a kickback scheme if there ever was one. [LV Sun] Of course, some senior citizens would have to agree to move out of their homes and into (yet more expensive) nursing facilities to make the scheme whole. “John L. Smith: While state government slashes, Nevada’s education crashes” [LVRJ] Could be worse – we’re “only” 47th in the nation in per pupil expenditures and student-teacher ratios.

  • You know an administrator is in trouble when the word “embattled” creeps into the descriptors, as in “Bob Loux, embattled director of the Nuclear Projects Office,” who says there was noting unethical about raising his own salary. [NV Appeal] Loux seems intent on deflating one right wing balloon – that the Federal government would pay Nevada to accept nuclear waste material. The “logic” appears to go this way (1) there might be an amendment to pay Nevada for accepting the dump; and (2) if the amendment came to the floor of the House and Senate it would pass; therefore (3) Nevada would get money for hosting the dump. [NV Appeal] Reality seems to dictate another series: (1) there is no amendment and there isn’t likely to be one; (2) it would have a snow cone’s chance in Hades of passage even if it did make the floor; ergo (3) there is NO money to bribe Nevadans into accepting a nuclear dump site.

  • Another investigation in the southland involves the Ponzi operation of developer Hans Seibt’s HSLV Development and its bilking of retired investors. [LV Sun]

  • And the corruption keeps coming out from the shadows: Mitchell Wade hints that there are more “Cunningham-like corruption cases” in the pipeline. [TP] Wade “has assisted the government in investigating five other members of Congress, numerous government employees and several private contractors, according to a memorandum filed by his attorney on Wednesday.” [WaPo] One individual mentioned in connection with “other investigations” is Rep. Virgil Goode, who has now officially asked for a recount after losing by 745 votes to Democrat Tom Perriello in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District. [WCAV] Another possible target of the investigations is none other than the rather infamous Katherine Harris (R-Florida Recount 2000).

  • While all eyes are focused on the situation in Mumbai [BBC] life is also unsettled in Thailand [BBC], and poll riots have erupted in Jos, Nigeria [BBC] Events in the Congo demonstrate that the region is still profoundly unsettled. A UN envoy is making a repeated bid to get peace talks underway, [AFP] the UN is trying to relocate refugee camps away from the front lines [BBC] while rebels in east Congo capture two border posts and a town, causing more people to flee the fighting. [NYT]

  • Layoff Watch: “Triangle homebuilders piling up liens, layoffs” [BizJNC] “Chrysler plans limited layoffs” [ModBee]

  • Department of Duh: “Citigroup CEO says bank ‘went wrong’ in real estate.” [Reuters]

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Filed under corruption, Economy, Krolicki, Nevada, Yucca Mountain

>Overnight Express: Water Wars and Remembrance


** Water Wars: Heaven only knows how many “Spring Creeks” there are in Nevada, but conservationists and the Confederated Goshute Tribes have served a 60 day notice to stop the Southern Nevada Water Authority from destroying the Spring Creek Rearing Station in Baker, NV. The Tribes are concerned that SNWA activities will disturb sacred cultural artifacts at the site. [PLAN PR] More information available at 702-791-1965. Trout Unlimited isn’t happy with SNWA either: “Fishermen everywhere should be alarmed that SNWA is planning to blunder into one of Nevada’s only remaining disease-free fisheries for its own greedy purposes in its continuing effort to suck the Great Basin dry,” he said. “Their planned activities threaten the future stocking of streams in eastern Nevada as introduction of pathogens into Spring Creek would jeopardize the operations at Spring Creek Rearing Station. We cannot simply stand aside while SNWA destroys yet another of the Great Basin’s scarce, precious waterways.

The Great Basin Water Network is also challenging the Nevada State Engineer’s decision on Cave, Dry Lake and Delamar Valley in Lincoln County saying the decision overestimated the perennial yield, failed to evaluate the impact to down-gradient senior water rights, and set an arbitrarily low and inadequate reservation of water for rural economic development. {PLAN PR}

** A recent decision by the FEC may represent a small win for more transparency in election finance. For some time now the law firm of Holland & Knight LLP has been asking the FEC if it could operate under the provisions of the 1971 Federal Election Campaign Act as a corporation instead of as a partnership – in which case contributions would be subject to the limits subject to the Act’s provisions. The FEC has released its advisory stating that an LLP is not a corporation and therefore its contributions are, indeed, subject to the amount limits in the Act. [FECpdf] One can only imagine what bundling might be gathered, and what services could be rendered, had the FEC ruled that LLPs could act as if they were corporations and not subject to the limits of the 1971 statute.

** McCain’s lying – again – and again – and again. This isn’t just me saying it. FactCheck says “McCain released three new ads with multiple false and misleading claims about Senator Obama’s tax proposals.”

** Senator John “Nuke Energy” McCain isn’t mentioning the 67% increase in the cost of the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Dump, nor has he made much of the Bush Administration plan to increase the hot trash load by 74%. {PLAN PR}

** Cleaning up after themselves? UBS is in discussions to buy back $18.6 billion worth of auction rate securities, in addition to paying a $150 million fine, and another $75 million in penalties to other regulators in the aftermath of the recent New York state investigation. [Forbes] Newsweek tied former Senator, and current McCain economic adviser, Phil Gramm to UBS in its “The Senator and the Swiss Bank: Did Phil Gramm help undo UBS?” last July.

“Credit crisis triggers unprecedented U.S. response” [WaPo]

** Adding insult to injury? The FBI and HUD launched investigations into whether contractors were paid for rehabilitation work after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans that was actually done by volunteers. [USAT] “Feds to sweep NOAH offices for records” [NOLA]

** “Housing program moves poor to suburbs, and tensions follow” [NYT]

** “Urgency has buckled since Minneapolis bridge collapse” [LAT] “Action lags 1 year after Minneapolis bridge tragedy” [ChiTrib] “Slow progress fixing Washington bridges” [SeattleTimes]

** Cultured Corruption: “Judge in Sen. Stevens trial rejects take-home jury questionnaire” [CNN] “Judge promises fast and fair trial for Stevens: September 24th, Senator asked for and received accelerated timetable, but still no change of venue decision” [AnDN]

** “FBI says it obtained reporters’ phone records” [NYT] “FBI apologizes to Post, Times: Phone records were breached” [WaPo]

** Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Patty Murray (D-WA) have requested a meeting with senior Bush Administration officials to protest the draft policy on abortion and birth control they believe would limit access to appropriate medical care for women. [The Hill]

** “Japan remembers Nagasaki atomic bomb victims” [Reuters]

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Filed under corruption, Economy, Health Care, Politics, water rights

>Ensign’s Already Spent Stevens’ Money; no mention of NRSC funding


Since Senator John Ensign (R-NV) considers the generous contributions he’s received over the years from indicted Senator Ted Stevens’ Northern Lights PAC “already spent” he has no inclination to join other members of the U.S. Senate in their rush to fund the charities of their choice. [LVRJ] It is of note that the article make no mention of the $30,000 Stevens donated to the Republican National Senatorial Committee.

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>Stevens Launches Incredible Hulk of Charity


More worries for Senator John Ensign (R-NV) of the Republican National Senatorial Committee – GOP senatorial candidates can’t seem to get rid of Senator Ted “Internet Tubes” Stevens (R-Alaska) Northern Lights PAC money fast enough. [MSNBC]

A list:

  1. John Sununu (R-NH) $10,000 donated to charity.

  2. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) $10,000 donated to Society of St. Andrew

  3. Gordon Smith (R-OR) $10,000 donated to charity.

  4. Susan Collins (R-ME) $10,000 to be donated to charity.

  5. Norm Coleman (R-MN) $10,000 decision not yet made.

  6. Pat Roberts (R-KS) $10,000, donated to several Kansas charities.

  7. John McCain (R-AZ) $5,000 “no word yet”

  8. National Republican Senatorial Committee $30,000.

No word yet from :

Lamar Alexander $10,000 Saxby Chambliss $10,000 James Inhofe $10,000

John Barrasso $10,000 Mitch McConnell $7,500 Thad Cochran $5,000

Mike Enzi $5,000 Richard Shelby $5,000 John Cornyn $ 5,000

Roger Wicker $5,000 Jeff Sessions $2,500 [MSNBC]

Among others who have received significant donations from the Northern Lights PAC or Stevens’ campaign funds is Senator John Ensign (R-NV) who has accepted $24,936 during his tenure in Washington according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

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Filed under corruption, Ensign, Stevens

>Sparks Town Hall: McCain Cranky With Questioners


** GOP candidate Senator John McCain got cranky with questioners in his Sparks, NV town hall session who wanted to know if he meant what he said both times about taxes. Is it that “everything is on the table?” Or, is it “No new taxes?” Inquiring minds got a typical McCain response. “You’re trying to put words in my mouth.” [INP] Actually, most people are just trying to figure out what McCain means when words do come out of his mouth.

Matthew Yglesias tried to determine if McCain was speaking for McCain on economic policy.

Think Progress asked if McCain were speaking for McCain on Affirmative Action.

McCain doesn’t seem to be speaking for McCain on raising the payroll tax. [Think Progress]

As for Senator McCain’s position on Iraq, it seems to be whatever Senator Barack Obama said yesterday. [NYT]

The Gleaner has more.

** Just yesterday Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) commented to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that “No one says we have to leave here on Friday.” Reid is considering pro forma sessions that would prevent President Bush from making any recess appointments, and thwart GOP efforts to filibuster an adjournment resolution on Friday evening. McConnell has threatened to filibuster the August adjournment if the Senate doesn’t vote on energy bills (such as the one to which they wouldn’t allow pending status yesterday). However, with no formal adjournment there isn’t anything for McConnell and Co. to block. [Politico]

** The Anchorage Daily News has several articles relating to the indictment of Senator Ted “Bridge to Nowhere” Stevens. “Ted Stevens indicted on corruption charges.” [AnDN] “Indictment opens up GOP race for Senate, pollsters say” [AnDN] “Stevens once thought untouchable” [AnDN] Does this mean the Alaskan Senator will have to give up his Incredible Hulk tie?

** Good news for those who believe in greater government transparency and accountability – the House passed H.R. 6388, “The Government Accountability Office Improvement Act of 2008.” The bill restores the GAO’s authority to pursue litigation if documents are improperly withheld from the agency, and reaffirms the GAO’s authority to go to court if the White House refuses to surrender records. [Gavel] “Other provisions of this bill give GAO authority to interview federal employees and administer oaths. The bill also affirms GAO’s right to obtain records from three agencies that have sometimes thwarted GAO oversight by denying access to documents: the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Federal Trade Commission. Finally, the bill creates a reporting mechanism so that Congress will be informed when federal agencies do not cooperate with GAO.” [Oversight] Prediction: The bill will now go to the Senate side where the Republicans will promptly announce their intention to filibuster it?

** The House also passed one of the Veterans’ bills, H.R. 2192, to create an Ombudsman within the Department of Veterans Affairs on a 398-0 vote with 36 not voting. All members of the Nevada delegation voted, none were included in the not voting category. [roll call 536]

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Filed under corruption, McCain, McConnell, Reid, Veterans

>Overnight Express: Quick Edition


** There’s one subject on which the entire Nevada congressional contingent can agree – the need to promote tourism. So, score another one for Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) who’s holding the one, and possibly only, bill Nevada members of the 110th Congress all want, a measure creating a public-private corporation to promote the American tourism industry. Both Rep. Jon Porter (R-NV3) and Rep. Berkley (R-NV1) have signed on, as have Senators Reid and Ensign. [LV Sun] We can only hope they dump the proposed slogan?

** High school chums and cousins attempt to dig the Nevada Governor out of his self inflicted political quagmire. [LVRJ]

** And, then there’s Assemblyman John Carpenter (R-Cimarron Station) saying the statute concerning agriculture use tax breaks, à la the Governor’s Lamoille property, should be tightened up. [NV Appeal]

** Nothing like greasing the outstretched palms? “Money, was anything said about money? [WaPo] …As in securing promises of cash in exchange for access to Bush Administration officials, documented by the Times (UK). The Houston lobbyist who once raised more than $300,000 for Bush’s campaigns in 2000 and 2004 is now being called a “bit player” by the White House. But, then, the White House said Bush didn’t really know Jack (Abramoff) either?

** CNN must be having a tough time finding people willing to make fools of themselves denying human contributions to global warming – CNN News on Sunday evening featured former Rush Limbaugh ‘reporter and producer’ Marc Morano as the spokesperson for the Deniers. Morano is perhaps best remembered as the reporter for Cybercast News Service who was among the first to write about the Swift Boat Veterans, and who questioned the Purple Heart awards earned by Rep. John Murtha. Morano is now the communications director for Senate Republicans on the Environment and Public Works Committee, working for Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), the ranking member.

** Not a wonderful life? Analysts aren’t predicting anything like the Savings & Loan debacle of not so long ago, but the New York Times reports several are predicting more small and regional bank failures, as “lagging indicators” of the nation’s current financial mess. “How bank failures happen and what they mean” [USAT] “The Fannie Mae Scandal: A History” [WSJ]
“Treasury, Fed take bold steps to back Freddie and Fannie” [Reuters]

** Lockheed’s CEO calls the Tanker contract bidding brouhaha “not a trade issue as much as an acquisition issue.” [Reuters] “EADS takes aim at U.S. defense business” [BusWk] “Tanker contract protest sounds familiar in Tri-Cities” [TCHerld]

** MessO’Potamia: “US pleased, worried, by newfound Iraqi confidence” [NwsWk] “Iraq improves, but what’s the plan?” [USAT] “U.S. Iraq scale down negotiations over forces, long term agreement will fall to next president” [WaPo] “Iraqi election law still incomplete” [LAT] “What journalists should be asking about the no-bid Iraqi oil deals” [Salon]

** Politics as usual: “Defections rattle GOP” [Roll Call sub req] Medicare is the first major crack in the Republican ranks, as “loyal colleagues defected in the face of political headwinds.” “Medicare bill nearly law but lobbies stay focused” [The Hill] “Bush likely to lose on Medicare” [The Hill]
“Gramm’s role reduced” [WaPo]

** Mine safety: “State (Utah) gets first coal mine safety director” [SLTrib] “Mine operators appeal citations, thwarting MSHA safety efforts” (June 17th) [SLTrib]

** Post Katrina: “New Orleans to begin citing residents of FEMA trailers” [USAT]

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Filed under corruption, ecology, Economy, Gibbons, Iraq, Katrina, Medicare, Mining