Minor Thoughts from me to you

Archives for Corruption (page 1 / 1)

GOP Defectors Have Received Thousands From Teachers Union →

The two Republicans who broke ranks with their party and announced they would vote against education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos have received thousands of dollars from the nation's largest teachers union.

Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) and Susan Collins (R., Maine) have each benefited from contributions from the National Education Association. Collins received $2,000 from the union in 2002 and 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Murkowski, meanwhile, has received $23,500.

Is this an example of a special interest buying legislators or of legislators being responsive to public opinion? Careful — I'll hold you to your answer the next time that there's a vote involving a lobbying group and legislators that have received donations from that lobbying group.

Limited Government Limits Corruption

Alberto Mingardi, writing at EconLog:

We are back to the original argument: "liberalising" policies, that go in the direction of decreasing government powers, are in a sense the best competition policy. The less the government can give away, the least a private business could ask from it.

Most people seem to think that there's a way to limit government corruption while continually expanding the areas of our lives that the government controls or affects. This is a false. As long as governmental policies can have a large impact on the economy, people will find a way to make sure that the impact is positive for them (or at least negative for their competitors).

The only effective way to reduce corruption is to reduce the government's ability to make some groups winners and some groups losers.

Forget Justice: Cops Just Want Money →

California recently tried to reform its civil asset forfeiture laws, something supported by over three-quarters of all Californians. The bill was watered down to nothing and then killed off entirely, after intense lobbying by the police unions and police leadership.

In other words, state and federal law-enforcement officials stopped this state bill that would protect people from oftentimes unfair takings of their property because they depend on the money and it's too much of a hassle for police to make sure a targeted person has been convicted of a crime.

And this is the reason I don't respect the police. I'm not impressed that you "put your life on the line", if you also think that there's nothing wrong with seizing someone's property without ever convicting them of a crime.

This entry was tagged. Corruption Police

Cronyism 101 →

John Hinderaker recently did a presentation on corporate cronyism. He cleaned it up and posted both the slides and details online. It's true that the presentation was given at a semi-annual seminar hosted by the evil Koch brothers. I'm hoping that my liberal friends can manage to overlook that long enough to read the presentation and think about whether this level of government/corporate entanglement is a good idea.

What we have seen more recently, especially in the Obama administration, is something much more sinister — private sector, or corporate, cronyism — where the government uses its power to tax and spend, and its power to regulate, to help some companies and industries, making them artificially more profitable or keeping them in business, while using the same powers to disadvantage and potentially destroy other companies and industries that are not allied with the White House or with Congress.

Does being an Obama crony pay off? This graphic from Peter Schweizer’s book sums it up as well as anything: the members of Obama’s national finance committee have already recouped an average of around $25,000 in federal dollars for their companies, for every dollar they raised for Obama’s campaign. Is that a good investment, or what?

I'm opposed to these shenanigans no matter who is in power.

Meet Charlie Rangel

Governor Blagojevich isn't the only corrupt politician to be in the news recently. Let's hear three cheers for corrupt New York Representative Charlie Rangel:

The New York Times and New York Post have reported in recent months that Rep. Rangel occupies several rent-controlled apartments in New York; that he failed to report rental income from a vacation home; that he took a tax break for primary residences on a Washington, D.C., home while he also had a rent-stabilized apartment in New York that required a similar residency claim; and that he worked to preserve a tax loophole that benefited a company at the same time its chief executive was pledging $1 million for the Charles B. Rangel School of Public Service.

This is the guy who takes it upon himself to write the nation's tax laws. So far, he's remained the Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. Do you think you'd get such good treatment if you violated the tax laws the way he has?

The Fall of Rod Blagojevich

We finally get a good, old-fashioned, political scandal -- the kind involving money and power rather than money and sex. Illinois Governor Arrested on Corruption Charges - WSJ.com

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested Tuesday on charges of conspiring to get financial benefits through his authority to appoint a U.S. senator to fill the vacancy left by Barack Obama's election as president.

A 76-page FBI affidavit said the 51-year-old Democratic governor was intercepted on court-authorized wiretaps over the last month conspiring to sell or trade the vacant Senate seat for personal benefits for himself and his wife, Patti.

"I want to make money," the affidavit quotes him as saying in one conversation.

I knew Governor Blagojevich was corrupt but Illinois politics are just a cut above (below?) everyone else.

"In other conversations, FBI agents say the governor, his aide and others tried to use the governor's position to withhold state assistance to the Tribune Co. to induce the firing of a Chicago Tribune editorial board member critical of the governor."

I wonder what the editorial board member could have possibly been critical of? After all, the Governor is a reformer!

"Mr. Blagojevich took the chief executive's office in 2003 as a reformer promising to clean up former Gov. George Ryan's mess.

Mr. Ryan, a Republican, is serving a 6-year prison sentence after being convicted on racketeering and fraud charges. A decade-long investigation began with the sale of driver's licenses for bribes and led to the conviction of dozens of people who worked for Mr. Ryan when he was secretary of state and governor."

Then you read things like this: Senate Sale - Jonah Goldberg - The Corner on National Review Online.

"Following a 90-minute audition meeting today with Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. said he was confident in the process the governor is using to make his choice for a Senate successor to President-elect Barack Obama.

"Jackson has mounted the most highly visible campaign among several people who are being considered for the Senate post. He said the meeting with Blagojevich amounted to a "very productive conversation, very thoughtful" that covered a broad range of issues."

Does that mean what I think it does? Exactly how thoughtful was that conversation and what range of issues did it cover? Byron York provides some juicy excerpts from the Federal indictment.

"if . . . they're not going to offer anything of any value, then I might just take it." ... "unless I get something real good for [Senate Candidate 1], shit, I'll just send myself, you know what I'm saying." ... "I'm going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain. You hear what I'm saying. And if I don't get what I want and I'm not satisfied with it, then I'll just take the Senate seat myself." Later, ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that the Senate seat "is a f---ing valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing."

On November 7, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with Advisor A about the Senate seat. ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he is willing to "trade" the Senate seat to Senate Candidate 1 in exchange for the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services in the President-elect's cabinet. 99. Later on November 7, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH discussed the open Senate seat in a three-way call with JOHN HARRIS and Advisor B, a Washington D.C.-based consultant. ROD BLAGOJEVICH indicated in the call that if he was appointed as Secretary of Health and Human Services by the President-elect, then ROD BLAGOJEVICH would appoint Senate Candidate 1 to the open Senate seat. HARRIS stated "we wanted our ask to be reasonable and rather than. . .make it look like some sort of selfish grab for a quid pro quo." ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he needs to consider his family and that he is "financially" hurting. HARRIS said that they are considering what will help the "financial security" of the Blagojevich family and what will keep ROD BLAGOJEVICH "politically viable." ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated, "I want to make money." During the call, ROD BLAGOJEVICH, HARRIS, and Advisor B discussed the prospect of working a three-way deal for the open Senate seat. HARRIS noted that ROD BLAGOJEVICH is interested in taking a high-paying position with an organization called "Change to Win," which is connected to Service Employees International Union ("SEIU"). HARRIS suggested that SEIU Official make ROD BLAGOJEVICH the head of Change to Win and, in exchange, the President-elect could help Change to Win with its legislative agenda on a national level.

Oooh. That's good: three-way quid pro quo between a corrupt governor, a potentially corrupt union, and a newly elected President from a corrupt state machine. This could be the Teapot Dome or Grant years all over again!

Finally, it looks like that Senate seat will stay open and U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald will get to keep his job. Merry Fitzmas in Illinois! - David Freddoso - The Corner on National Review Online

But for now, two important observations. First, no one wants a Senate appointment from a man accused of selling the seat. We may need a change of governor soon. There is no law in Illinois providing for situations in which the governor temporarily gives up his powers. The general assembly would have to pass such a law. An impeachment is probably more likely. Blagojevich could appoint someone from jail, but I don't think the Senate would seat such an appointment under these circumstances. Second, by arresting Blagojevich before Inauguration Day, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has done the one thing that absolutely prevents Barack Obama from removing him from his position. As he has worked doggedly to send corrupt politicians (many of them Obama's friends and political allies) to prison Fitzgerald has arguably become the most important man in Illinois politics.

And there's not a thing President Obama can do to stop any of this. His political support will start evaporating the moment he looks anything like a corrupt Chicago politician. Voters were hoping to elect a clean politician who would give them Hope and bring about Change to Washington. He can't afford to look like just another corrupt pol.

I'm going to pop some popcorn and settle back to find out exactly how many Illinois governors in a row can be arrested on corruption charges. We've got 2 so far. Can we make it 3?