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US Elections

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American author Mark Twain once remarked about the US: " We have the best government that money can buy."

     

US presidential election 2012

Global meltdown

Pig Book

Open Secrets

 

Open the Books  

 

No donor limits

WASHINGTON - In another blow to federal election laws, the Supreme Court eliminated limits on the total amount people can donate to various political campaigns in a single election season.   (CNN)  JUDGMENT:   #12-536  .pdf    More political money allowed    Good news for those who buy legislators in bulk   

 

America's defiance revolution

Increasingly, and openly, ordinary Americans are committing a legal act that some police nonetheless regard as among the most heinous of all offences: it's called contempt of cop.   (CBC)  RELATED:   Effect of today's technology will be immense - and no country is ready for it

 

Leave of absence

WASHINGTON - Trey Radel, a Florida congressman who received a year's probation after pleading guilty to cocaine possession has announced he is taking a leave of absence.  (BBC) 

 

Signs of a failed system

WASHINGTON - In the fourth quarter of 2011, 49.2% of Americans received benefits from one or more government programs, according to data released by the Census Bureau.  (CNS News)    MORE:   $3.7T on welfare   Subterranean capitalist blues

 

'Insider threat program'

WASHINGTON - An “Insider Threat Program” being implemented in every government department requires all federal employees to help prevent unauthorized disclosures of information by monitoring the behavior of their colleagues.  (CPJ)   RELATED:   White House, IRS exchanged taxpayer info   White House meetings  

 

Best election money can buy

WASHINGTON - The Center for Responsive Politics calculates that the money spent on congressional and presidential races this year will come close to $6B dollars.  (Digital Journal)   MORE:  US presidential election 2012   Pro Publica: Dark money   Campaign 2012

 

Insider trading ban

WASHINGTON - A CBS 60 Minutes report found several representatives and senators, including senior figures on both sides of the political divide, had made trades shortly after receiving information not available to the public.  (BBC)

 

With a whimper

WASHINGTON - The Republican and Democratic leaders of a 12-member congressional "super committee" are set to declare defeat in a joint statement to be released after three months of talks failed to bridge deep divides over taxes and spending.  (IBT)   MORE:  Terrible swift sword   Budget Control Act of 2011   The Hollow Men     

 

US lobbyist battleground

WASHINGTON - One of the fiercest attacks involves a little-noticed provision requiring that companies disclose the ratio between the average pay of all employees and that of the CEO.   (LA Times)    MORE:   Bureau of Labor Statistics and elsewhere .pdf   Saez data  Golden decade ending   

 

Congressman resigns

WASHINGTON - Rep. Christopher Lee, a second-term Republican lawmaker representing western New York, abruptly resigned Wednesday after flirtatious e-mails, including a photo of him shirtless, were posted online by a gossip website.  (LA Times)  MORE:  Pol was warned to 'knock it off'   Chris Lee

 

Budget scam exposed

ALBANY - Gov. Cuomo condemned the entire state budget process as a scam ginned up by special interests that added as much as $9B to the deficit before anyone - the governor included - laid a hand on the upcoming spending plan.    (NY Post)  MORE:  'Deficit' deceit

 

Chairman steps down

WASHINGTON - New York Rep. Charles Rangel temporarily stepped aside as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee as he struggled with mounting ethics woes that left his political future uncertain at best.   (AP)  MORE:  Rangel broke ethics rules   'Resignation is accepted'   Firms with business before panel solicited   Rangel will give up 1 rent-stabilized apartment   Apartment bargain

 

$98B wasted

WASHINGTON - More than $98B in taxpayer dollars spent by government agencies was wasted, much of it on questionable claims for tax credits and Medicare benefits, representing an increase of $26B from the previous year. (AP)

 

Ethics inquiry looking at panel

WASHINGTON -  The appropriations subcommittee on defense has been under scrutiny since federal agents raided the now-defunct lobbying firm PMA Group late last year.  (LA Times)  MORE:  CREW statement   Congressional ethics report leaked   US House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct

CIA spying on Senate

WASHINGTON - The CIA Inspector General's Office has asked the Justice Department to investigate allegations of malfeasance at the spy agency in connection with a yet-to-be released Senate Intelligence Committee report into the CIA's secret detention and interrogation program.   (McClatchy DC)   MORE:   Obama knew CIA was spying    

 

Deported 'illegals'

WASHINGTON - Only 637 of the 17,689 people deported from the US in the first 2 months of the 2014 fiscal year were removed n the basis of convictions for aggravated felonies, TRAC said.   (LAHT)  REPORT:   2013 immigration removals    .pdf   Refugee roulette

 

Apologizes for Obamacare

WASHINGTON - Stressing that improvements are happening daily, the senior Obama official closest to the US administration's malfunctioning health care website apologized for problems that have kept Americans from successfully signing up for coverage.  (AP)   MORE:   Affordable Care Act   Heathcare.gov   CGI Group   CGI's woes   Obamacares magical thinkers

 

US avoids default

WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama has signed a measure into law reopening the federal government and averting a potential default.  (AP)   MORE:   Americans 'completely fed up' with Washington   US billings coming due   US shutdown of 2013   US debt ceiling crisis

 

US Congress cannot operate without bribes

WASHINGTON - After years of federal taxpayer dollars being misappropriated to pay for pet projects in the districts of congressmen and senators looking to curry political favor with the voters back home, a moratorium was passed in 2011 ending the Congressional pork parade known as “earmarking”.  (Forbes)     MORE:   Lettermarking   2012 defined by legislative gridlock in US    Democratic party 'culture of corruption'   Republican party 'culture of corruption' 

 

Tangled up in green tape

WASHINGTON - The EPA, Congress, activists, the courts and power companies themselves all share the blame for the chaotic nature of environmental regulation in America.  (Economist)   MORE:  Over-regulated America   Too big not to fail 

 

Value of lobbyists and lawmakers

WASHINGTON - A New York Times report found evidence of US firms trading legally with blacklisted countries such as Iran.  Loopholes and exemptions were exploited in a trade worth billions of dollars.  Most exemptions are inserted into sanctions legislation by individual members of Congress acting in the interests of a particular state or industry, he said.  (BBC) 

 

Corruption probe

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department is investigating whether former Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton illegally used her position to benefit Royal Dutch Shell PLC, the company that later hired her, according to officials in federal law enforcement and the Interior Department.  (LA Times)

 

How to run a successful business

WASHINGTON - Last year, Murtech received $4M in Pentagon work, all of it without competition, for a variety of warehousing and engineering services.  Robert C. Murtha Jr., 49, is the nephew of Rep. John Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat who has significant sway over the Defense Department's spending as chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee. (Washington Post)  

 

Bribe bra

BOSTON - Sen. Dianne Wilkerson  stood alone and soberly attired in federal court after being charged with accepting $23,500 in bribes - including $10,000 to fund her write-in campaign.  (AP)

 

Congress passes $634B interim spending bill

WASHINGTON - Automakers gained $25B in taxpayer-subsidized loans and oil companies won elimination of a long-standing ban on drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as the Senate passed a sprawling spending bill.  (AP)   MORE:   Current state of 'science'   White House skewed drilling-ban report  

 

Lobbying firm working to undermine Iraqi PM

CRAWFORD, Texas - A powerhouse Republican lobbying firm with close ties to the White House has begun a public campaign to undermine the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (CNN)    PREVIOUS:  US report see precarious Iraqi government

 

Raiding the Icebox

WASHINGTON - Invading Canada won't be like invading Iraq: When we invade Canada, nobody will be able to grumble that we didn't have a plan.  (Washington Post)   

 

Gonzales OK'd firings

WASHINGTON - Attorney General Alberto Gonzales approved plans to fire several US attorneys in a November meeting, according to documents released.  (AP)   MORE:  Six strikes and you’re out   US AG apologies over how prosecutors were fired   White House subpoena showdown goes to Senate   'Showdown' really a battle of partisan buffoons    White House Ok'd mass US attorney firing  

Federal agents raid office of Special Counsel

WASHINGTON - Agents fanned out yesterday morning in the agency's building on M Street, where they sequestered Office of Special Counsel chief Scott J. Bloch for questioning, served grand-jury subpoenas on 17 employees and shut down access to computer networks in a search lasting more than five hours.  (Washington Post)  

     

US Congress still spending

WASHINGTON - Egregious government waste that cost taxpayers $30B this year - all detailed in Sen. Tom Coburn’s annual “Wastebook.”  (Fiscal Times)

Tom Coburn

Wastebook 2013  .pdf

'Buying' US green cards for $1M

US congress approves budget

 
     

Feds flunk secrecy test

WASHINGTON - In March of each year, Sunshine Week celebrates open government, and promotes a dialogue to improve it. (Epoch Times)

Access to information scorecard 2014

Secrecy up

Transparency complaints

Mixed picture for Sunshine Week

Information officers blocking information 

 
     

FBI blocked in corruption probe

WASHINGTON - FBI agents have uncovered wrongdoing by 2 of the US Senate's most prominent figures - Majority Leader Harry Reid and rising Republican Sen. Mike Lee - but the Justice Department has thwarted their bid to launch a full federal investigation.  (Washington Times) 

Reid, Lee come up in probe

Criminal charges likely

Utah report of investigative committee

Key findings

No federal charges for Utah AG’s

Harry Reid

Mike Lee   

 
     

Obama wins

WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama says he will return to the White House "more determined and inspired than ever" after defeating Republican rival Mitt Romney and winning a second term as president.  (CBC)  

US presidential election 2012

Barack Obama 

4 more years

Obama faces divided Congress

2 states legalize pot

US elections 2012

2012 Presidential race

Starve the campaign spending beast 

Time for a price check

 
     

Whoops

WASHINGTON - The congressional legislation intended to defund ACORN, passed with broad bipartisan support, is written so broadly that it applies to "any organization" that has been charged with breaking federal or state election laws, lobbying disclosure laws, campaign finance laws or filing fraudulent paperwork with any federal or state agency.  (Huffington Post)  

ACORN

Federal contractor misconduct database

ACORN rule may trap defense contractors

Senate cuts off funding

Scandal is just nutty

ACORN does it again

 
     

Solar panel deal

WASHINGTON - Rory Reid, is the primary representative for ENN Energy Group, a Chinese energy company seeking to build a $5B solar panel plant on a 9,000-acre Clark County desert plot in Laughlin, Nevada   (Breitbart)  

 

Harry Reid

Clark County commissioners

Reid and son called crooks

 
     

Spotlight on perks

SACRAMENTO - For many who join the select club of 120 known as the California Legislature, everything changes.  Once inside, they find an army of lobbyists and corporate executives at their disposal, more than eager to shower them with food, drink, travel and sex.  (LA Times)

Voting machines vulnerable

Diebold Election Systems Inc. voting machines are not secure enough to guarantee a trustworthy election, and an attacker with access to a single machine could disrupt or change the outcome of an election using viruses, according to a review of Diebold's source code.  (IDG)  

 
     

'Signing statements'

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration sometimes fails to follow all provisions of laws after President Bush attaches "signing statements" meant to interpret or restrict the legislation, congressional examiners say.    PREVIOUS:  Presidential Signing Statements accompanying the Fiscal Year 2006 Appropriations Acts    Presidential Signing Statements    Signing statements  

Defeat 'em all

WASHINGTON - A major piece of legislation with bipartisan backing and the strong support of the president failed to pass the Senate.  The bill runs more than 400 pages.  In its many sections are many innovations and many revisions of existing law. For almost any lay person outside of government, it might as well be written in Urdu - so indecipherable is the drafting language. That is by design. (NY Post)

 
     

Group sues for logs

WASHINGTON - The good-government group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), have filed a lawsuit to force President Obama's Administration to share White House visitors logs with the public.  (ABC)  MORE:  So much for transparency

Payback time

WASHINGTON - Though they worked behind the scenes in Barack Obama's campaign for president, bundlers who raised millions of dollars for his White House bid are starting to land significant posts on his transition team.  (Washington Post)   MORE:  Post-election lobby boom

 
     

44th President of the US elected

Barack Obama, a 47-year-old first-term senator from Illinois, shattered more than 200 years of history Tuesday night by winning election as the first African-American President of the United States.  (MSNBC)   PREVIOUS:   Democrats score Congress win   US voters hit the polls in huge numbers    CNN: Election 2008   Fox: America's Decision

Less pork spending this year

WASHINGTON - A moratorium on the insertion of pork-barrel projects into spending bills has slashed the amount of money for such earmarks by more than half.  Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) reports $13.2 billion in pork-barrel spending for the current fiscal year, down from $29 billion in 2006.  (Christian Science Monitor)

 
     

Nonprofit connects Murtha, lobbyists

WASHINGTON, DC - For a quarter of a century, Carmen Scialabba labored for Rep. John P. Murtha  (D-Pa.), helping parcel out the billions of dollars that came through the House Appropriations Committee, so when the disabled aide needed a favor, Murtha was there. (Washington Post)

Failure for lobbyists

WASHINGTON - In a political victory for the Obama administration and a surprising defeat for some lawmakers in both parties, the Senate voted to halt further production of the Air Force's F-22 Raptor fighter jets.  (Chicago Tribune)  MORE:  F-22 armored in pork: can't fly, won’t die   Cash flows to health-reform senators

 
     

Bush commutes Libby's sentence

WASHINGTON - President Bush on Monday spared I Lewis "Scooter" Libby  from prison, commuting the former White House aide's 30-month prison term.   The prison time was imposed after a federal court convicted Libby of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to investigators in the probe of the leak of the name of a CIA operative.  (CNN)     MORE:  Commutation fits pattern set by predecessors

FBI to examine Foley's e-mails

WASHINGTON, DC - The FBI announced last night that it is looking into whether former representative Mark Foley (R-Fla.) broke federal law by sending inappropriate e-mails and instant messages to teenage House pages. (Washington Post)  PREVIOUS:   Ex-page says he saw suggestive e-mails  Foley checks into alcohol rehab   Congressman quits over e-mails to teen

 
     

Fundraiser gets 18 years in prison

TOLEDO, Ohio -  Thomas Noe, a prominent coin dealer accused of taking at least $2 million, was convicted last week of theft, corrupt activity, money laundering, forgery and tampering with records.  (AP)  PREVIOUS:  Noe refused 10-year term in plea deal  

FBI investigating actions of Specter staff member

WASHINGTON - The FBI is investigating whether a member of Sen. Arlen Specter's staff broke the law by helping her husband, a lobbyist, secure almost $50 million in Pentagon spending for his clients, the senator acknowledged Tuesday.  (USA Today)

 
     

All charges dropped

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department is dropping all charges against former Sen. Ted Stevens, the 85-year-old Alaska Republican convicted of lying on Senate financial disclosure forms to conceal hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and home renovations from a businessman.  (LA Times)

Ted Stevens

Stevens convicted on 7 counts

Stevens out

Stevens convicted

Stevens wins Alaska primary

Alaska's corruption scandal

FBI taped Stevens' calls in sting

New ethics rules haven't squashed pet projects

 
     

America's scary non-voters

Adams's data show that the values rift between Republicans and Democrats is negligible when compared with the gulf between politically engaged citizens (of either party) and the nearly half of Americans who are politically disaffected.  (Tyee)

Judge sentences ex-Bush official to prison

WASHINGTON - David Safavian, the former chief of staff for the General Service Administration, was sentenced on obstruction and concealment charges for lying to investigators about his relationship with Abramoff.   (AP)

 
     

Nonprofit groups funnelled Abramoff funds

WASHINGTON - Newly released documents in the Jack Abramoff investigation shed light on how the lobbyist secretly routed his clients' funds through tax-exempt organizations with the acquiescence of those in charge.   (Washington Post)   Jack Abramoff

New guilty plea in lobbyist scandal

Teeth or NO teeth

Top lobbyist makes a deal

Independent Counsel report gets sliced up

Coins, contributions and BWC

 
     

Sen. Frist’s charity records raise questions

WASHINGTON - Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's AIDS charity paid nearly a half-million dollars in consulting fees to members of his political inner circle, according to tax returns providing the first financial accounting of the presidential hopeful's nonprofit. (MSNBC)

Kentucky governor indicted over hiring practices

Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher was indicted Thursday on misdemeanor charges that he directed a scheme to illegally award state jobs to political supporters, the latest twist in a year-long probe into hiring practices in his administration.  (CNN)

 
     

Lawmaker convicted

WASHINGTON - Former Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.), who gained national attention after federal agents found $90,000 in his freezer, was convicted of political corruption. (LA Times)

William J. Jefferson

House approves speedy Jefferson ethics probe

'Cold Cash' Jefferson indicted

CEO sentenced for bribing Congressman

Businessman gets 7 years for bribery

 
     

Ney pleads guilty in Abramoff case

WASHINGTON - The Jack Abramoff influence-peddling investigation claims its first member of Congress with Rep. Bob Ney set to plead guilty Friday to taking bribes.  Despite his admission of criminal activity, Ney, 52, is entitled to collect a congressional pension.  (CBS/AP) 

Former deputy Interior secretary pleads guilty

Report says nonprofits sold clout to Abramoff

Investigation of Jack Abramoff's use of tax-exempt organizations  .pdf 

Jack Abramoff scandals

US Congress: Culture of corruption

 
     

Ex-congressman begins prison sentence

SAN DIEGO - Former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham began his first day in prison after being sentenced to eight years and four months for taking $2.4 million in homes, yachts and other bribes in a corruption scheme unmatched in the annals of Congress.  (AP)

Corrupt congressman's loot to be auctioned off

How Local Politics Works in America

Defense contractor pleads guilty to bribery

Call for corruption crackdown

Spoils of war

 
     

Prison sentence

AUSTIN - Former US House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, once one of the most powerful politicians in Texas and Washington, was sentenced to 3 years in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering.   (WSJ)  

DeLay deserves more jail time 

Tom DeLay  

US politician guilty

DeLay to announce Resignation

Ex-DeLay aide pleads guilty

US Family Network

Premium on lobbyists who served in Congress

US House leader DeLay resigns

It didn't start with Tom DeLay

 
     

Congress should read bills before voting

  Lawmakers cash in on way out

Political bias affects brain activity

 

Lobbying database

Tracking campaign money

FOX Fraud File

How to steal an election

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