Tag Archives | Corruption

Former Congressman’s Federal Corruption Trial Begins

A leading watchdog group named Renzi, above, as one of the top 20 most corrupt congressmen for three straight years. (Photo: Wikipedia)

A leading watchdog group named Renzi, above, as one of the top 20 most corrupt congressmen for three straight years. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Opening arguments in the Tucson trial of former Arizona Representative Rick Renzi (R-AZ) began Wednesday with federal prosecution characterizing Renzi as having engaged in “lying and stealing … taking advantage of people” and having “sold out his office.” Meanwhile Renzi counsel Kelly Kramer contended that his client “didn’t extort anybody … solicit any bribes” or “defraud anyone.” Charged with 32 counts of conspiracy, fraud and extortion, if convicted the three-term former congressman from Arizona’s 1st District could face up to 400 years of prison.

Dennis Wagner writes at The Arizona Republic:

In 2005 Resolution Copper Mining wanted surface rights to an ore-laden national forest area near [the town of] Superior. Another investment group involving former Gov. Bruce Babbitt [(D)] was seeking to trade private conservation land for potential development properties owned by the government near Phoenix.

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How The CIA Helped Orchestrate The Extralegal Creation Of Disney World

disney worldVia the Daily Beast, T.D. Allman explains how top CIA alumni helped Disney buy up large swathes of South Florida land in secretive fashion and create its own private cities and quasi-government:

Disney’s key contact was the consummate cloak-and-dagger operator, William “Wild Bill” Donovan. Sometimes called the “Father of the C.I.A,” he was also the founding partner of Donovan, Leisure, Newton & Irvine, a New York law firm whose attorneys included future C.I.A. director William Casey.

In order to maintain “control over the overall development,” Disney and his advisers realized, “the company would have to find a way to limit the voting power of the private residents.” Here again the CIA was there to help. Disney’s principal legal strategist for Florida was a senior clandestine operative named Paul Helliwell. Helliwell came up with the approach that to this day allows the Disney organization to avoid taxation and environmental regulation as well as maintain immunity from the U.S.

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Pres Obama Signs Bill Killing Anti-Corruption, Pro-Transparency STOCK Act Provisions

via Daily Kos

Obama-Corruption

…yesterday, President Obama completed this rope-a-dope deception by signing this new bill, which stripped key provisions from the STOCK Act and rolled back a lot of the progress that the original bill made in promoting transparency and open government. The bill was signed without any cameras or fanfare, which is in stark contrast to the very public signing of the actual STOCK Act. It seems President Obama was glad to parade around the signing of the pro-transparency bill, but was not so open about his reversal of the most important parts of it a year later! Open Secrets describes the key provisions stripped out of the bill and labels this action “A reversal of the STOCK Act”:

The elements of the STOCK Act that were removed include:

Creation of searchable, sortable disclosure of the information contained in reports even for Congress, the president, vice president, the president’s cabinet and congressional candidates.

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Elizabeth Warren’s Foreclosure Settlement Bombshell: Banks Determined the Number of Victims of Their Own Foreclosure Frauds

via Wall Street on Parade

elizabeth warren

There is only one thing more Kafkaesque than the ongoing Wall Street frauds and that is watching a live United States Senate investigation of a diabolical settlement the banks themselves concocted to repay the victims of their own fraud. Such was the case yesterday when Senators Sherrod Brown, Jack Reed, and Elizabeth Warren grilled regulators from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Federal Reserve along with outside consultants over allowing banks to hand pick the consultants to do their foreclosure reviews, negotiate confidentiality agreements with them and pay them directly.

Hundreds of millions of dollars in checks from the Foreclosure Review settlement will start going out today, eventually topping $3.6 billion in the cash portion of the settlement, and yet it was revealed during yesterday’s Senate hearing that it was the actual banks that engaged in the illegal foreclosure actions that tallied up and classified their wrongdoing under various degrees of harm; deciding themselves how many people would receive $300 and how many $125,000.

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Republican Roy Blunt Revealed As Senator Who Snuck ‘Monsanto Protection Act’ Into Spending Bill

How Monsanto wrote its fondest wishes into law. Mother Jones reveals:

A recent Senate bill came with a nice bonus for the GMO industry: a rider, wholly unrelated to the underlying bill, that compels the USDA to ignore federal court decisions that block the agency’s approvals of new GM crops. Such a provision is [very] important to Monsanto and its few peers in the GMO seed industry.

Which senator pushed the rider into the bill? No one stepped forward to claim credit. But since then, Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) has revealed to Politico that he’s the responsible party. Blunt even told reporteer David Rogers that he “worked with” Monsanto to craft the rider. The admission shines a light on Blunt’s ties to Monsanto, whose office is located in the senator’s home state.

Blunt’s connections to lobbyists extend to his family. His wife, Abigail Blunt, serves as head of US government affairs for the processed food giant Kraft.

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NYPD ‘Get Out Of Jail Free’ Cards Selling On eBay

City officials are outraged at the reselling, yet don’t question the existence of cards which allow you to skirt justice. The New York Post reports:

Buying a “get out of jail free” card is just a mouse click away. Police union cards that cops hand out to friends and family free of charge are selling on eBay for as much as $100 a pop, even though the resale of the coveted plastic is strictly prohibited by the unions.

The cards are often used to get out of minor jams like speeding tickets or parking violations — flashing one with your driver’s license is a way of suggesting you’re a member of law enforcement or at least related to someone who is. “It’s a way for a police officer to vouch for another person,” said City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. “That type of recommendation shouldn’t be available to the highest bidder.”

Police union heads and elected officials are calling for a probe and an end to the practice.

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Walmart Bribes Spur Growth In Mexico

Teotihuacan. Source: Mixcoatl (CC)

While Robert Greenwald’s Brave New Films and its many allies called out Walmart for its unscrupulous business practices years ago in the documentary Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, the mainstream media has generally held up the mega-retailer as an example of American business at its best. That makes this lengthy investigation by the New York Times into Walmart’s endemic corruption all the more welcome. For disinfonauts who are interested in ancient civilizations, note that the latest site to suffer at the hands of the crooks of Bentonville is Teotihuacan, Mexico:

Wal-Mart longed to build in Elda Pineda’s alfalfa field. It was an ideal location, just off this town’s bustling main entrance and barely a mile from its ancient pyramids, which draw tourists from around the world. With its usual precision, Wal-Mart calculated it would attract 250 customers an hour if only it could put a store in Mrs.

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For-Profit Prison Corporation Accused Of Partnering With Violent Gangs To Run Jail

Corrections Corporation of America is accused of using targeted prison gang violence as a cost-saving measure, ThinkProgress reports:

A lawsuit brought by eight inmates of the Idaho Correctional Center alleges that the company is cutting back on personnel costs by partnering with violent prison gangs to help control the facility. Court documents and an investigative report issued by the state’s Department of Corrections show how guards routinely looked the other way when gang members violated basic facility rules, negotiated with gang leaders on the cell placement of new inmates, and may have even helped one group of inmates plan a violent attack on members of a rival gang.

The inmates contend that officials at the prison — the state’s largest, with more than 2,000 beds — use gang violence and the threat of gang violence as an “inexpensive device to gain control over the inmate population,” according to the lawsuit, and foster and develop criminal gangs.”

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Daily Beast’s David Frum on American Corruption

David Frum discusses American corruption at the University of Florida:

“…what we now see are members voting for very specific investment-oriented things in which they share the benefit with ten people, or twelve people. And finally there’s this very haunting fact that whenever we study the stock portfolios of members of congress, they seem to do about twice as well as the market.”

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