republican corruption

NC Legislature fails the Sunshine test

Kirk Ross drops a whole salvo of truth bombs:

Communications between legislators and also between legislators and staff in the crafting of laws are among the few documents exempt from the state’s public records laws. The legislature’s requirements for county and municipal government agendas, meeting materials to be available well ahead of time does not apply to its own meetings.

The argument for legislative confidentiality, derived from English common law, is that the legislative process requires this privilege in order for agreements to be worked out. It’s a perfectly valid sounding rationale, but so unlimited and unchecked that it has long been intensely abused. It’s used to hide favors, fund pet projects and anonymously insert language into legislation.

I'm not even sure it sounds valid. Think about it: If lawmakers must have secrecy to agree to something, it naturally follows they're concerned about negative consequences if those communications came to light. Whether it's a strategic thing, where they don't want to give potential opponents to the measure a fair warning, or a personal concern, where they don't want to be associated with a controversial and maybe even unconstitutional act, it almost doesn't matter. They know they're on the wrong side of something, and they're trying to conceal it. Not just from other lawmakers, but from the general public. Which brings us back (once again) to the area of ethics, which should be just as important in holding lawmakers accountable as punishable crimes are. Back to the article, and what Kirk describes as the "black box":

Ethics complaint filed against Tim Moore related to lucrative property deal

Bending two branches of the government to the breaking point:

Internal emails that the group says it obtained from the NC Department of Environmental Quality show the company being granted a waiver of thousands of dollars in fees, and being given multiple extensions to address pollution on the site. DEQ officials could not immediately be reached to confirm that the emails are authentic.

Southeast Land Holdings, the company co-owned by Moore, bought the plant for $85,000 in 2013 and sold it for $550,000 in 2016, according to the complaint. Moore’s financial disclosure forms required by the state show he owned 25 percent of the property.

Hoo boy, this stinks to high heaven. Not only does it expose serious ethical questions about Moore, but both McCrory and Van der Vaart along with him. And it also brings into play another questionable Republican action, that of combining the offices of the Ethics Commission and state Board of Elections, which has thrown both into chaos and confusion. Which very well could have been the goal in the first place. In other words, this complaint may be floating in limbo for quite some time. But somebody needs to move on it soon, because this corrupt scheme goes all the way down to the county government level. Some excerpts from the 42 page complaint:

Add "Insider Trading" to the list of Trump administration crimes

trumpglare.jpg

It's all about the timing:

Between February 12 and February 22, three of Carl Icahn's companies happened to place four sell orders amounting to $31,277,063.43, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The filing was first reported by the liberal news site ThinkProgress. Trump didn't announce his plan to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent on aluminum products until Thursday, one week after Icahn's final transaction.

On February 23, a day after Icahn's final sales, Bloomberg reported the president had "told confidants" of his plan to impose steep steel tariffs. In an interview with CNBC on Thursday, Icahn said he hasn't "had much interaction with [Trump] at all in the last four or five months."

Trump can't even grasp the concept of ethics, much less how it applies to individual actions. It's amazing he hasn't been thrown in jail yet. Scratch that, it's not amazing, since he's a rich white man. But if you think this insider trading thing stinks, it's not nearly as rank as the Kushner family engineering a Persian Gulf crisis because Qatar refused to give them a big pile of money:

This lawsuit challenging 2016 "Special Session" may be the most important of all

bergermoore.jpg

Because if you can fix the process, the product should also improve:

The laws approved by the GOP-controlled General Assembly during that three-day session tilted the balance of power toward the legislative branch and away from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper just two weeks before he was sworn in. The approved legislation led to separate lawsuits by Cooper, who had just narrowly defeated GOP Gov. Pat McCrory. The lawsuit before the judges Wednesday takes a different approach by focusing on the legislative process that created the laws.

The session began the same day a separate "extra" session on Hurricane Matthew relief called by McCrory ended. The plaintiffs said GOP legislators deliberately hid their intentions by giving just two hours' notice before starting the session, even though requests seeking signatures necessary from House and Senate members to call the session were dated a day or two earlier.

In may not be applicable to use in the lawsuit, but an argument could be made the power-grab was the tail that wagged the hurricane relief dog. If you'll recall, that Hurricane Matthew Special Session was delayed for a few weeks, weeks where that relief was desperately needed. But those were also weeks the GOP may have needed to plan how to take advantage of that opportunity to reconvene. Whatever the case, making radical changes to the balance of powers in state government *should* require literally months of study and debate. Those who would circumvent that need to be labeled as what they are: Enemies of democracy. This guy may have said it better:

Bumpy road ahead for Robert Pittenger in NC9

Might be time to sell some of that property, dude:

In a much more expensive race in North Carolina’s 9th District, Republican incumbent Robert Pittenger is facing well-financed challengers in both the primary and the general. Pittenger is seen as vulnerable in the general election and has raised $780,000 compared to his Democratic challenger Dan McCready’s $1.2 million.

First, he needs to fend off his primary challenger — pastor and activist Mark Harris — who has raised more than twice as much money from individual donors as Pittenger. Harris also has nearly as much cash on hand as does Pittenger ($221,911 compared to Pittenger’s $286,607). Harris was narrowly defeated by Pittenger in 2016, so this race looks like a tight one for Pittenger both in May and November, if it makes it that far.

Just like last time around, I am torn on who to favor (or who to disfavor the most) in the GOP Primary. Pittenger has always been a greedy, opportunistic douchenozzle, but Mark Harris is a born-again, bigoted nut-job. He's guaranteed to be a champion of anti-choice legislation, and would likely take up the new approach of whittling down the number of weeks women have to legally terminate unwanted pregnancies. And of course he will oppose LGBT rights at every turn, just like he championed the ugliness of Amendment One here in NC. This article was found on his campaign page, and the recurring theme is obvious:

Patrick McHenry goes swimming with the loan sharks

PatrickMcHenry.jpg

Proving that weasels can swim if the mood hits them:

If you ever harbor any questions as to what Trumpism looks like in all of its corrupt, dog-eat-dog, predatory splendor, there are two classic examples from our nation’s capital today to jog your memory.

Exhibit One is the laughably entitled “Protecting Consumers’ Access to Credit Act of 2017” — a bill on which the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote today at the behest of its chief sponsor, North Carolina congressman Patrick McHenry. As you probably surmised, the measure has nothing to do with protecting consumers and is instead a blatant attempt by the payday lending industry’s favorite congressman to revive the discredited and predatory practice nationwide.

Just to give you an idea of the level of corruption that creeps in with some of these "career" lawmakers, McHenry receives around $100,000 from the payday lending industry every election cycle. They may not always be his top contributors, but they are as reliable as the sun coming up every morning. This pay-to-play nonsense is so blatant it has sparked more than one formal complaint filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics:

Legislative malpractice: Using school children to extort money and power

See below for excerpts of the bill's text:

Russia's top spy chiefs meet with US officials days before sanctions (were supposed to be) enforced

Sanctions? We're not worried about any stinking sanctions:

Russia's U.S. ambassador said Sergei Naryshkin, head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, was in the United States to discuss counterterrorism with his American counterparts. Naryshkin was accompanied at the meeting in Washington by Alexander Bortnikov, who directs the top KGB successor agency known as the Federal Security Service.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the timing of the meeting is suspicious because it came just days before the Trump administration decided not to issue new sanctions against Russian politicians and oligarchs over Russian interference in the election. He released a letter early Thursday demanding that Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats disclose details of the meeting by Feb. 9. Schumer said sanctions against Naryshkin impose severe financial penalties and prohibit his entry into the U.S. without a waiver.

Allowing these two (supposedly) sanctioned Russian spies into the country, not to mention meeting with them, is a message on its own. But what was discussed/conveyed at this meeting is of critical importance, as Schumer said. Keep in mind, even if Trump wasn't immediately informed of the proceedings (I'm sure he was), he gets a daily intelligence briefing after he finishes his cranky Twitter ablutions and crawls out of bed. We'll let Vladimir Putin fill in the missing information in his own words:

Trump White House: A culture of unethical behavior

It doesn't take a year to fill out financial disclosure forms:

A year into Donald Trump’s presidency, records show five of his top staffers still have not secured final approval of their financial reports — disclosures that are required by law to ensure Americans that these senior officials aren’t personally benefiting from their White House jobs. Another four staffers received certification by the Office of Government Ethics after McClatchy first requested their forms last month.

The delay is likely due to Trump staffers either refusing to disclose mandated information to OGE, failing to resolve a conflict of interest or violating an ethics law or regulation, according to two ethics experts familiar with the long-standing process.

If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, personally profits from government actions it helps facilitate like a duck, it's probably a corrupt duck. While a U.S. President (is supposed to) provide a leadership example for the rest of the world, he (or she) also provides an example to Cabinet and staff. And apparently Trump's example is, "We are above the law, and we can do whatever the hell we want." Here are a few of the more questionable violators:

And they shall be ruled by a Conspiracy Theorist

trumpeter.jpg

This man is not fit to be President of a homeowner's association:

President Donald Trump accused the Justice Department Tuesday of being part of the “deep state” and urged prosecution against a top aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former FBI Director James Comey. Trump’s latest tweets pressed familiar arguments for the president, who is set to begin his first full year in office with the victory of tax legislation but the Russia investigation still hanging over his administration.

“Crooked Hillary Clinton’s top aid, Huma Abedin, has been accused of disregarding basic security protocols. She put Classified Passwords into the hands of foreign agents,” Trump tweeted in an apparent reference to a report by the conservative Daily Caller. “Remember sailors pictures on submarine? Jail! Deep State Justice Dept must finally act? Also on Comey & others,” he added.

This "Deep State" thing has, for several years, been the clarion call of some of the most dangerous right-wing extremist groups. What Trump doesn't understand (because he's an idiot) is the true nature of the meme: The bureaucracy is a product of the Executive Branch, so Trump is really complaining about his own inability to control what he's supposed to be in charge of. It's a false meme of course, because the vast majority of Federal government employees operate under Constitutional Statutory guidance, but the ignorant love to create monsters out of thin air. Now we're going to switch to an article that explores some of the challenges Democratic Congressional candidates will likely face in the run up to November:

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - republican corruption