Tag Archives: Nevada Senate Race’

The Eternal Sunshine of a Perpetual Gadfly Candidate’s Mind: Tarkanian takes on Heller

The son of a former UNLV basketball coach, and leading candidate for the Sharron Angle Perpetual Campaigner award, Danny Tarkanian — Trump supporter and right winger has decided to give Senator Dean Heller a primary.  This may allow Senator Heller room to reprise his “I’m a moderate” role — well, yes, if one is compared to the Perpetual Candidate who says on his Facebook Page: (Let’s add some commentary– in red)

“Over the past several weeks, I have been inundated with text, emails, and phone calls from people of all walks of life across the state of Nevada who are upset with Dean Heller for campaigning one way in Nevada and voting the exact opposite in Washington DC. [This is interesting since Senator Heller has voted with Trump 89.6% of the time.]The refrain is the same: he turned his back on us.
Today, after much thought and discussion with my family and friends, I have decided to run for the United States Senate. [Here’s guessing he was waiting by the phone for the first call?] I am running for United States Senate because Nevada deserves a Senator who will keep his word and vote in Washington DC the same way he campaigns here in Nevada.  [Interesting since Heller tends to campaign as a moderate and vote as a conservative.]
I am a conservative Republican who supports the policies of President Trump to repeal Obamacare [And can we trust you have a PLAN to replace the ACA?] and end illegal immigration.  [Nothing like a flippant tip of the hat to gratuitous racism.] I will continue to support President Trump’s policies that have led to a 20% increase in the stock market in just six months. [continuing a market trend for the last umpteen quarters] I will join Senator Lee, Senator Cruz, and Senator Paul fighting for real reforms against the liberals in our party. [or, I intend to join the diehard purists in Congress who have contributed to gridlock; defining ‘liberal’ as anyone who isn’t carefully tucked into some corporate pocket…]
I look forward to campaigning across the state of Nevada [in perpetuity] and earning your support. It is time to take a stand. Together, we will make our state, and our country, proud.”

There’s more in the Nevada Independent.  <— well worth a click and read.

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Oh Heck, he’s not being very transparent

Heck Trump Hat Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3) candidate for the Nevada Senate seat in this election reveres the secret ballot, and tells constituents it’s nobody’s business who he’ll vote for in the upcoming presidential election. [RGJ]  While this is an honorable position, it doesn’t answer a crucial question. Is Heck supporting Donald J. Trump?

One of the problems for down ballot candidates who are associated with a presidential contender who has insulted 282 people, places, and things during this season, is how to finesse the prospects.  There are several ways and Heck’s about to try them all.

I will vote for the candidate of my party.”  OK, however the fact that you can’t say the name out loud indicates a level of discomfort not usually a function of the  normal campaign process.

I will endorse but I will not support…”  And what on Earth might this mean? Let’s guess it means I begrudgingly offer my official endorsement for my party’s candidate but don’t expect me to defend or explain the candidate’s campaign messages, and for Heaven’s Sake don’t put me on the same stage with him.

“I endorse my party’s candidate fully…” Until he or she does something so egregious I can’t stomach it and the poll numbers are cratering?

“I cannot endorse my party’s candidate…”  Usually announced after the top of the ticket does something egregious and the poll numbers have cratered.

“I won’t tell you who I’m voting for and you can’t find out.”  True. No one will ever know, and you can pray heartily that the candidate never finds out how you voted unless you voted for him, and the candidate’s fervent supporters will never find out you didn’t vote for him, or the candidate’s detractors in your own party never find out either way.  Good luck with that, because when you finally announce how you cast your ballot no one is going to believe you.

And why should they? – you’ve been as ‘transparent’ as Donald Trump’s tax returns.

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Warning: Republicans Are Hazardous to Your Bank Account, and this includes Rep. Heck

Dem Rep Job Creation These are some of the most dangerous words ever spoken – with regard to your bank account:

“After eight years of the Obama economy, Americans are struggling with stagnant wages, reduced hours, and decreased economic opportunity. The policies of this Administration, from the Affordable Care Act to the Dodd Frank financial reform legislation, have hurt economic growth and make it more costly and burdensome for businesses to expand and add workers.” [Heck]

Heck tries to waffle a bit in the last segment: “I will continue to support reasonable regulations that protect the consumer, employees, and the environment while working to reduce burdensome federal regulations so that businesses can thrive and create good-paying jobs.”

First, it’s fact check time. As the chart above indicates the ACA and the Dodd Frank Act have not “decreased economic opportunity,” (whatever that might mean) and in light of what’s been happening with Wells Fargo Bank we need to talk about the “burdens of regulation.”  We also need to talk about a piece of legislation that just passed the House Financial Services Committee.

The “Financial Choice Act” —

“The Financial Choice Act split the banking panel with a vote of 30 to 26, with just one Republican, Representative Bruce Poliquin of Maine, siding with the committee’s Democrats against it.

Mr. Hensarling has been a prominent critic of Dodd-Frank and other changes after the 2008 financial crisis, including the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to regulate the consumer finance industry.

“It has been six years since the passage of Dodd-Frank. We were told it would lift our economy, but instead we are stuck in the slowest, weakest, most tepid recovery in the history of the Republic,” said Mr. Hensarling at Tuesday’s session. “The economy does not work for working people.”

The legislation, which was unveiled in June, calls for numerous changes to Dodd-Frank. One provision would allow some of the largest banks to exempt themselves from some regulatory standards if they maintained an important ratio of capital to total assets at 10 percent or more.” [NYT]

There’s more. The Financial Choice Act (comprehensive summary pdf) reads like the American Bankers Association Christmas Wish List and Birthday Party requests combined with everything a banker would want from a Financialist Santa Claus.

However, let’s start with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about which the House Republicans have several complaints:

“The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is not accountable to Congress or the  American people. The Bureau’s policies often harm consumers or exceed its legal authority because the Bureau is not subject to checks and balances that apply to other regulatory agencies.” [House pdf]

This is another iteration of the initial whine the GOP wheezed out when the idea of a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was suggested which would not be subject to the corporate/financialist tastes of Republican Congressional representatives.  The ones who want government so small it can be drowned in a bathtub – and the CFPB along with it.   At this point it might be instructive to ask: What harm has been done to consumers of, say, Wells Fargo Bank, by the CFPB?

“When news first broke that Wells Fargo would pay the largest fine in Consumer Financial Protection Bureau history for routinely opening unauthorized accounts that clients didn’t want or need, CEO John Stumpf put blame squarely on his worst-paid workers.

He’s changed his tune since, as political pressure over the years-long scandal mounted and evidence depicting the high-pressure sales culture at the bank got more attention.

And now, the bank’s board is reaching into Stumpf’s own pocket to discipline him. The CEO will forfeit $41 million in past compensation — all of it in the form of investment holdings that hadn’t vested yet — and the woman who ran his firm’s retail banking unit will give back $19 million of her own.” [TP]

What harm was done by this agency in fining Wells Fargo for its “cross selling scam” that created phony accounts to boost sales figures?  And, what is wrong with this result?

“By clawing back a large chunk of Stumpf’s roughly $100 million in compensation over the past decade, though, the board is hoping to signal that it’s taking the scandal seriously. The day news of the $185 million fine broke, Stumpf portrayed it as an issue of some bad apples at junior positions and said responsibility started and stopped with the 5,300 people fired in response.

That holier-than-thou response first started to crack in front of the Senate Banking Committee last week, when senators including Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) bounced the bank head off the walls of a hearing room for hours.

Wednesday’s announcement of clawbacks comes a day before Stumpf returns to Capitol Hill to face the House’s version of the same inquisition.

Clawbacks are a hot-button concept for finance watchdogs and Wall Street critics. Many of the industry’s sins stem from compensation policies that incentivize executives to break whatever rules they have to keep the company stock rising, knowing they’ll walk away rich even if the company gets caught. Clawbacks, observers and policymakers say, are an important tool in reversing that deviant cycle.” [TP]

So, how do the House Republicans mean to “improve” the CFPB? The CFPB that caught Wells Fargo? Made the Bank pay fines and restitution? Made the Board of Directors claw back the ill-gotten gains of the bank executives and not lay the whole scam on the lower level employees?

The House Republicans want to (1) replace the head of the CFPB with an awkward “bipartisan” board; that should facilitate logjams and obstructionism. (2) Make the CFPB budget subject to specific Congressional control – meaning the Congress can cut the budget until there is no way the agency can do its job. (3) Require a cost benefit analysis of every rule promulgated by the agency – which means if the regulation “costs too much” for the preservation of bank profits the rule dies. (4) Prohibit the CFPB from cutting off “access” to fraudulent or abusive bank practices and products.  In other words, the bankers have the CHOICE to offer any product they wish and if you buy in and get scammed that was your choice as a consumer.

Now it’s time to return to Representative Heck’s own words: “…Dodd Frank financial reform legislation, have hurt economic growth and make it more costly and burdensome for businesses to expand and add workers.” 

Does Representative Heck believe that they current structure of the CFPB as an independent agency is a weakness?  Does he believe that it should be subject to Congressional pressure to weaken its enforcement activities?  Is CFPB protection from fraudulent practices and products really denying Americans “choices” in financial products?

If the “Financial Choice Act” (essentially a repeal of Dodd Frank) came up for a vote in the House today would Representative Heck vote in favor of it?

And how does he feel about the House GOP charges that the CFPB was late to the game and didn’t handle the Wells Fargo case adequately?

“Where was the CFPB? Why did they come in so late to the game?” he continued. “They have immense powers and this is their job to enforce these basic consumer laws and it appears they were asleep at the switch.”

Hensarling also has criticized regulators for the $185-million settlement with the bank, which allowed Wells Fargo to avoid admitting any wrongdoing. 

The controversy over the San Francisco-based financial institution has become the latest flash point in a bitter battle between Republicans and Democrats over the fate of the CFPB, which was created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank overhaul of financial regulations.

The legislation passed with almost no GOP support. Ever since, House and Senate Republicans have been trying unsuccessfully to reduce the power of the bureau, arguing it was designed to avoid congressional oversight and has limited consumer’s access to credit through over-regulation.” [LATimes]

Interesting that the very Republicans who were trying to reduce the power and capacity of the CFPB to regulate lending practices are now trying to blame the agency for not doing enough, fast enough.

“Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, said Republicans are pushing “a false narrative” about the CFPB’s role in the Wells Fargo case in order to discredit the agency.

“The fact is the CFPB and OCC were investigating before the L.A. Times story came out,” he said. “But that does not mean that the leading congressional opponent of the CFPB won’t try to pitch that narrative again at this hearing because it plays to his base. But it’s simply false.” [LATimes]

Nice try, Rep. Hensarling, but there’s an ample record of Republican opposition to the creation, organization, and implementation of the CFPB to make any contention that the 1,600 man/woman agency wasn’t trying to do its job in regard to the egregious practices of Wells Fargo. As the old saw goes: That dog won’t hunt.

So, the next question to Representative Heck (and Hardy and Amodei too) is: In light of the Wells Fargo scandalous behavior and the bilking of its own customers, what are you advocating to increase the power of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to actually protect PEOPLE and not the bankers who have been scamming them?  No one chooses to get bilked, and no one should have to tolerate banks who chose to bilk their customers.  Period.

** On the other hand Nevadans who want adequate protection from illegal, illicit, and otherwise unethical banking practices have an advocate running for the U.S. Senate – Catherine Cortez Masto, who has a track record of taking on the big banking interests on behalf of us “little people who pay taxes.”   A candidate with an endorsement from the woman who fought for the CRPB, Elizabeth Warren:

“I’m so grateful to have Senator Warren’s support,” said Cortez Masto. “Senator Warren and I are both committed to taking on the big banks, protecting consumers, homeowners and helping to grow the middle class – issues I championed as Attorney General and hope continue doing in the U.S. Senate with her. Unlike my opponent Joe Heck who has voted to keep tax breaks for big corporations and billionaires like the Koch brothers, I will fight for policies that help hard working Nevadans, not hurt them.”

“Catherine’s race is critical to restoring our Democratic majority,” said Senator Warren. “During her two terms as Nevada’s Attorney General, Catherine held big banks accountable and fought predatory lending, cracked down on sex trafficking and got tough on elderly, child, and domestic abusers. Catherine knows who she’s fighting for and I need her fighting alongside me in the Senate.” [Link]

And there’s the choice – let the banks make the choices? Or, protect people from the banks’ bad choices.

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Filed under Economy, financial regulation, Heck, koch brothers, Nevada economy, Nevada politics, Politics, Republicans

Some Assembly Required, but Cortez Masto Can Win

Masto Flip It Dem My Lord How The Money Rolls In!  On behalf of Representative Joe Heck from his friends the Koch Brothers and their associated efforts.  The result?

“I had a feeling this US Senate race would be hard fought, but I didn’t think it would turn this nasty this quickly. We’ve seen these Republican & Koch groups play quite fast & loose with the facts (to put it very politely) this summer, and it looks like they crossed a line about two weeks ago. Former Nevada Attorney General & long-time Republican George Chanos condemned this line of attack against Cortez Masto last week. And now, we see this.

Will this be enough? Or will Cortez Masto & Nevada Democrats need to do even more to counter these attack ads? As I’ve said before, it’s always a tough tightrope walk that’s necessary to counter attacks like this. One must find a way to quash the narrative and not amplify it. Can Cortez Masto & her allies pull it off?” [LTN]

Heck Trump Hat

Not that there isn’t a strong tie between Representative Heck and the Koch Brothers Money Machine. It’s well documented here, and here, as well as here.  The Las Vegas Sun covered the connections, so did the Huffington Post.  The next questions is: Have the Koch Brothers gotten their money’s worth for the donations and support to Heck’s campaigns? That would be yes:

“… he has joined his fellow Republicans in Congress to consistently advocate for a special interest, self-serving agenda at the expense of Nevadans. This point is exemplified by Heck consistently voting for the Koch Brothers agenda in Congress, where in 2013 alone Heck voted with the Kochs 100% of the time.” [SMPac]

Indeed, Representative Heck has been part of the Kochtopus for some time, and remains so today.  (also here)

Can former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto meet the challenge from the Koch Brothers and their ever-so-willing puppet Representative Heck?  Possibly.

Heck’s gone hat and all into the Trump Camp.  This means writing off a significant portion of the Nevada electorate – that portion of Hispanic voters who come from 27% of the total state population, 59% of whom are native born. [PewHisp]  Persistent immigrant-bashing and a surrogate who warns that if Trump isn’t elected “there’ll be a taco truck on every corner” (as if that wouldn’t be a very nice and convenient thing to have) aren’t going to impress Nevada’s Hispanic citizenry.

Then there’s that Women’s Thing.  Heck is anti-choice and his record demonstrates that position.  Was Catherine Cortez Masto correct in calling this out?  The response from Politifact was “mostly true.”  Representative Heck was pleased to vote to defund Planned Parenthood – despite the FACT that most of what the organization does is to provide preventative, prenatal, and women’s health care in underserved communities.  By voting to defund the organization Heck is essentially saying that contraception, women’s cancer screening, healthy child check ups, vaccinations, and other services provided by Planned Parenthood are less important than demonstrating that he’s a good little GOP soldier in an obstructionist misogynistic Congress.  49.8% of Nevada’s population is comprised of women.

The numbers.  The voting registration numbers aren’t a clear advantage for Cortez Masto, but they do lean Democratic.  As of August 2016 there were 531,104 registered Democrats in the “active column,” and 459,467 in the active voter Republican column. She would still need to get a chunk of the 261,750 non-partisan registered voters.

Again using the active voter count,  Cortez Masto has the most potential support in the region with the most Democratic voters – Clark County, with 398,951 registered Democrats and 275,920 registered Republicans.  The next largest area in terms of population is Washoe County which by comparison brings only 89,770 active Democrats and 94,767 active Republicans.

The key to this election will be what it always turns out to be – Turn Out.  A depressed turn out like the 2014 midterm elections with a dismal 45.55% participation rate benefits Heck, a turn out similar to the 80.81% 2012 election benefits Cortez Masto.

Phone banks, canvassing, and well organized support could put Cortez Masto into the U.S. Senate.  For all the expense associated with the media side of campaigning, the election results are often a function of good old fashioned neighbor to neighbor political talks.

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Heck + Altria

Heck Altria donations

Just Asking? 

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Trump’s Racism: List One

Trump Racism 1

And, this is the man being supported by Representative Joe Heck, Representative Mark Amodei, and Representative Cresent Hardy.

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Filed under Amodei, Heck, Nativism, Nevada politics, Politics, racism, Republicans

Heck: The Bankers Good Little Soldier

Heck photo

The ad wars begin, with one from the Democratic side of the aisle noting the record of one Joe Heck, currently the Republican representative from Nevada District 3:

“The ad highlights legislation Heck sponsored as a state senator to repeal excise taxes on Nevada banks, criticizes him for accepting more than $300,000 in campaign contributions from the securities and investment industry, and portrays him as in “lockstep with Washington Republicans.”

It also notes that Heck, who now represents Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District, once called the mortgage crisis in the state “a blip on the radar” on a 2008 questionnaire.”  [LVSun]

The amount of money candidates receive from the financial industry doesn’t  bother me as much as the voting records of the candidates who receive them.  And, Representative Heck has been a very good little soldier for the financial sector interests.

Marching back to July 26, 2012 we find Representative Heck voting in favor of the interestingly titled HR 4078 “Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act.”  The title was commonplace, everything in those days had “small business” and “job creation” attached to the title, perhaps to obscure the fact that the Congress had done exactly diddly to create jobs or help really small businesses.  The effect would not have been small, or particularly creative.

HR 4078 would have prohibited any federal government agency from promulgating or taking “significant regulatory action,” unless the employment rate dropped below 6%, defining  “significant regulatory action” as any action that is likely to result in a rule or guidance with a fiscal effect of $50 million or more as determined by the Office of Management and Budget, or to adversely affect one of the following, including, but not limited to (Sec. 105) [PVS]  Now why would this bill illustrate Representative Heck’s allegiance to the banking sector?

Answer: Because the Dodd-Frank Act regulating the financial sector was enacted on July 21, 2010 – that would be the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act – and the agencies were in the rule making process when HR 4078 was considered in the House.  Now, what sector of the economy was going to see a $50 million dollar effect?  Here’s a clue: It’s not family owned bodegas and gas stations.  The banking industry did NOT want to see any regulation, any restraint, any inconvenience to their consumer gouging practices and HR 4078 was the result.  (And, the law if enacted would have prevented any more attempts to contain climate change – a bonus in GOP eyes.)

Move forward to October 23, 2013, and HR 2374 the “Retail Investor Protection Act.” There’s nothing in this bit of legislation that protects “retail investors.”  In fact, section 2Prohibits the Secretary of the Department of Labor from establishing a regulation that defines the circumstances under which an individual is considered a fiduciary until 60 days after the Securities and Exchange Commission establishes standards of conduct for brokers and dealers.”  Does this sound familiar? It should. It’s part and parcel of the fight to allow financial advisors to push products which improve their bottom line even if the advice isn’t in the best interests of their clients – like retirement funds.  The bankers have been fighting this right down to at least May 6, 2016.  However, the rule – now in place — has some benefits for “retail investors” as Morningstar summarizes:

“This change clearly is a victory for investors. Roughly half of retail U.S. mutual fund assets will be protected by the new, higher standards. They will not prevent bad advice, of course, nor trades from lower- to higher-cost funds. But they do command that all advice, whether successful or not, be offered in good faith, and that the rationale for all trades, whether into cheaper or pricier funds, be recorded. Such precautions will inevitably lead to better overall outcomes.”

Yes, those better overall outcomes and higher standards of responsibility for mutual funds were precisely what the bankers wanted to avoid, and exactly what Representative Joe Heck voted against on behalf of the bankers in HR 2374.

Catherine Cortez Masto It doesn’t take too much financial expertise to see which Nevada senatorial seat candidate is taking marching orders from the financial sector.  On one hand we have Joe Heck (R-NV3) who can be counted upon to find fault with the CFPB, the Dodd Frank Act, and efforts to make financial advisors account for their advice; and, on the other we have a former state Attorney General who actually Did something about that not-so-little blip that was the housing market crash/debacle in Nevada:

“2009: Cortez Masto Investigated And Found Broad Problems With The Bank Of America’s Interactions With Imperiled Borrowers. “In a complaint filed Tuesday in United States District Court in Reno, Catherine Cortez Masto, the Nevada attorney general, asked a judge for permission to end Nevada’s participation in the settlement agreement. This would allow her to sue the bank over what the complaint says were dubious practices uncovered by her office in an investigation that began in 2009. […] The breadth of the new Nevada complaint indicates that Bank of America’s problems extend throughout its mortgage operations, including origination, loan servicing and securitization. Nevada officials also found broad problems in the bank’s interactions with imperiled borrowers.” [New York Times, 8/30/11]”  [CCM]

And, there’s more. [here] What Representative Joe Heck was calling a “blip” was in reality the state of a state which led the national foreclosure rate stats for 62 straight months, and a scene in which some 58% of Nevada homeowners in 2011 were “underwater.”  Some blip.  Gee, even Representative Heck was pleased as of February 2012 with the settlement achieved in part by Cortez Masto,“Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., said he is ‘happy to see that an agreement was reached. At a time when Nevada families are struggling the most to make ends meet, I have high hopes that this settlement will provide them much needed relief.’ [Las Vegas Review-Journal, 2/9/12]”

There really doesn’t appear to be much question at this point which senatorial candidate is most disposed to protecting the interests of retail investors (or any other kind for that matter), and consumers of financial products (most all of us), and homeowners… we have a choice between the man who wanted to scale back the efforts of the Dodd Frank Act and CFPB and the woman who took on the Big Banks and fraudulent lenders.

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Filed under Economy, financial regulation, Heck, Nevada politics