Friday, May 12, 2006

TOP TEN SCANDAL stories -- Josh Marshall has some nominees, but seeks others.
GOP DIRTY TRICKS trial in NH -- Muckraker discusses the government's sentencing recommendation.
KY GUV INDICTED -- "A grand jury indicted Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R) on misdemeanor charges Thursday, accusing him of illegally rewarding political supporters with state jobs since he took office two years ago. Fletcher was charged with conspiracy, official misconduct and violating a prohibition against political discrimination."
CHEAPER MONEY TRANSFERS -- "The cost of sending money around the world has dropped significantly in the past five years, saving immigrants nearly $5 billion in fees, according to a report released today by the Inter-American Development Bank and the Annie E. Casey Foundation." Could a rise in money laundering or illegal financing activity be a side effect of this development?
That Mr. Jackson would commit an illegal act -- and rescinding government contracts for political reasons is illegal -- was strange. Stranger still was the fact that Mr. Jackson, a former head of the Dallas Housing Authority with many years of government experience, apparently didn't know that such behavior is illegal, since he bragged about it in public. Even more peculiar were the later justifications offered by his spokeswoman, Dustee Tucker, who, speaking as if she knew of the incident, told the Dallas Morning News that the contractor in question had been rude to Mr. Jackson, "trashing, in a very aggressive way," the HUD secretary and the president.

But hold on, because the story took an even more bizarre turn when Mr. Jackson issued a statement declaring that he -- and presumably Ms. Tucker -- had fabricated the entire story. "During my tenure, no contract has ever been rewarded, rejected or rescinded due to the personal or political beliefs of the recipient," he stated. It was, Ms. Tucker added, "a made-up story," intended to demonstrate how people in Washington "will come in, trash you, trash the president and then ask you for money."
Apparently this isn't the first time.
APPROPRIATIONS UNDER SCRUTINY in lobbying scandal -- It appears the Cunningham probe has broadened since yesterday to include more members of the committee

Federal investigators are examining the activities of several members of the House Appropriations Committee, including Representative Jerry Lewis, the California Republican and chairman of the panel that wields influence over government spending, government officials said Thursday.
The officials said the inquiry was focused on the often-murky relationships among lobbyists, contractors and committee members, who are able to steer lucrative government contracts to favored vendors virtually free of outside oversight through a process known as earmarking.
TOP SPOOK EYED in widening Capitol corruption probe -- "Kyle Foggo, who is the man known by friends and associates as Dusty — and who on Monday resigned his post as the third-ranking official at the Central Intelligence Agency — has become entangled in a widening investigation that has already brought down former Representative Randy Cunningham, a k a Duke. Investigators say they are examining what could be a larger pattern of bribery and government corruption."

Update -- More on Foggo here.
GRAND JUROR ARRESTED in insider trading case -- "A postal worker, Jason C. Smith of Jersey City, was arrested yesterday and charged with leaking secret information from grand jury proceedings to David Pajcin and Eugene Plotkin, the two men previously accused of running an insider trading ring that reaped $6.7 million in illegal profits in 2004 and 2005."

more here.
SPITZER PAYOLA PROBE goes country --
Music Row record label Universal South was specifically cited for wrongdoing as part of a $12 million payola settlement announced Thursday between its parent, Universal Music Group, and New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

A 41-page consent decree spells out at least two instances of attempts by Universal South to improperly influence radio airplay. The settlement agreement cites a 2003 case in which a Universal South representative swapped a $2,500 laptop computer for additional record "spins" for certain artists on a Rochester, N.Y., radio station.

It also details an offer by Universal South to fly a radio staff member and a guest to any concert by singer Pat Green for a certain amount of radio airplay within a specific timeframe.
STEROID PROBE ENSARES journalists -- "In the latest effort by the government to learn the identities of reporters' confidential sources, the United States attorney in Los Angeles issued grand jury subpoenas to The San Francisco Chronicle and two of its reporters on Friday."
For poor criminal defendants, "justice is simply unavailable" in New Orleans now, concludes a Justice Department report that calls for a major overhaul of the city's public defender system.

The report, obtained by The [LA] Times, says the city needs 70 full-time public defenders, more than six times the number of part-time defenders it has now, and a $10-million infusion of cash to have an adequate system.
DELAY LEAVING HOUSE June 9 -- "DeLay announced his resignation earlier this year in the face of a difficult reelection fight and after two of his former aides
pleaded guilty in an ongoing federal corruption probe."

Thursday, May 11, 2006

INCREASE JUDGE'S PAY? -- WSJ Law Blog is asking.
BOOK LIST -- David Sirota, democratic party operative, has a new book Hostile Takeover: How Big Money & Corruption Conquered Our Government – and How We Take It Back. Corporate Crime Reporter has a not so positive review.
SPEECH AND CORRUPTION -- George Will doesn't think McCain sufficiently balances free speech interests with anti-corruption efforts in seeking to reform campaign finance:

Unfortunately, although McCain is loquacious about corruption, he is too busy deploring it to define it. Mr. Straight Talk is rarely reticent about anything , but he is remarkably so about specifics: He says corruption is pandemic among incumbent politicians, yet he has never identified any corrupt fellow senator.

Anyway, he vows to "complete the job" of extirpating corruption, regardless of the cost to freedom of speech. Regardless, that is, of how much more the government must supervise political advocacy. President McCain would, it is reasonable to assume, favor increasingly stringent limits on what can be contributed to, or spent by , campaigns. Furthermore, McCain seems to regard unregulated political speech as an inherent invitation to corruption. And he seems to believe that anything done in the name of "leveling the playing field" for political competition is immune from First Amendment challenges.
JUSTICE DROPS ETHICS investigation -- "An investigation by the Justice Department ethics office into the conduct of department lawyers who approved the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program has been closed because investigators were denied security clearances, according to a letter sent to Congress on Wednesday."
HUD CHIEF KILLS contract based on politics? --
The administration's housing secretary sought to head off a furor Wednesday over his recent account of scuttling a government contract because the person who was about to get it was critical of President Bush.

Published reports quote Alphonso R. Jackson, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, as telling a real estate forum in Dallas on April 28 about how he withdrew an advertising contract that was about to go to a deserving minority publisher.
CHICAGO CASE MOVES closer to mayor -- "As jury selection began on Wednesday in the corruption trial of four former city officials accused of securing municipal jobs for people with ties to local political organizations, many people wondered how much higher the investigation might reach. The accusations include charges that job candidates were hired when they were unqualified, when they were overseas during the interview process, and when they were known to have a drinking problem."
EX-REP NOT COOPERATING in Pentagon probe -- "Randy Cunningham, the former congressman who pleaded guilty last year to taking bribes from military contractors, has refused to talk with Pentagon investigators about the bribery scheme and other people involved in it, a Pentagon official said Wednesday."
CUNNINGHAM PROBE EXPANDS -- "Federal prosecutors have begun an investigation into Rep. Jerry Lewis, the Californian who chairs the powerful House Appropriations Committee, government officials and others said, signaling the spread of a San Diego corruption probe."
OHIO GOP FUNDER to change plea -- "Tom Noe has signaled his intention to possibly accept responsibility for some, if not all, of the charges that he illegally funneled money into the re-election campaign of President Bush."
The country has John G. Roberts Jr. as its newest chief justice. What it doesn't have is an answer to the mystery of the missing file of his work papers on affirmative action.

The file, compiled during Roberts's tenure as an associate counsel in the Reagan White House, vanished in July when lawyers from the Bush administration were reviewing the materials at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., as part of a vetting process before Roberts's formal nomination to the Supreme Court.

A newly released report from the National Archives inspector general's office shows that federal investigators failed in their first attempt to nail down what happened to the file, which became a flashpoint in Roberts's otherwise smooth confirmation process.
ABRAMOFF UPDATE -- "U.S. Secret Service logs made public yesterday show only two visits by disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff to the White House -- including what administration sources said was a 2001 meeting with presidential adviser Karl Rove seeking to place two allies in agency jobs."
A SENSE OF THE PROBLEM: "In 2004 and 2005, more than 1,060 government employees were convicted of corrupt activities, including 177 federal officials, 158 state officials, 360 local officials and 365 police officers, according to F.B.I. statistics. The number of convictions rose 27 percent from 2004 to 2005."