Just as the IRS tea party targeting scandal was erupting, Lois G. Lerner warned colleagues to “be cautious” about what information they put in emails because it could end up being turned over to Congress, according to an email message released Wednesday.
The 2013 email exchange between Ms. Lerner and fellow employees at the Internal Revenue Service also says that instant message conversations were probably never stored and weren’t checked during open-records requests – even though they also fell under the law requiring electronic records to be stored.
“I was cautioning folks about email and how we have had several occasions where Congress has asked for emails and there has been an electronic search for responsive emails — so we need to be cautious about what we say in emails,” Ms. Lerner wrote in an April 9, 2013, message.
She went on to ask whether the instant message communications were stored automatically. When a tech staffer said no but the records could be stored if employees copied them, she replied, “Perfect.”
“Why did it take us this long to get these emails? We’ve been after this for six months,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, the Ohio Republican who raised the emails with IRS Commissioner John Koskinen at a hearing Wednesday.
Mr. Jordan said the emails were part of a pattern of Ms. Lerner trying to hide her activities, following on the crash of her computer hard drive two years earlier, which erased thousands of messages.
Mr. Koskinen said he hadn’t seen the email before but questioned the connections Mr. Jordan was drawing.
“I don’t see anything in here where Lois Lerner says, ‘Wow, I got rid of my earlier emails and now I’ve got to check on it,’” the commissioner said.
Ms. Lerner’s email warning to colleagues to be careful about what they said in electronic communications issued less than two weeks after the IRS internal auditor shared a draft report with the agency accusing it of targeting tea party and other conservative groups.
A month after the email, Ms. Lerner would plant a question at a conference to reveal the scandal, just before the inspector general’s report was made public.
Ms. Lerner’s email was turned over to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week, more than a year after lawmakers sought it as part of their investigation into the IRS targeting.
Republicans said the email shows Ms. Lerner was aware that Congress was investigating the agency and that she was preparing to intentionally hide agency discussions from lawmakers.
Ms. Lerner’s email record has become a major scandal in and of itself after the IRS revealed that her computer hard drive crashed in 2011, causing the agency to lose thousands of her messages.
The IRS tried to recover some of the messages by asking others on the email chain to dig through their mailboxes, but the agency acknowledged that some messages may be permanently lost.
Some Republicans have questioned whether the IRS took enough steps to try to recover the emails from the hard drive in 2011.
The head of the National Archives testified to Congress that the IRS likely broke federal records laws by not storing Ms. Lerner’s emails properly.
IRS policy was to print out emails that constituted official records, but it’s unclear whether that ever happened.
Mr. Koskinen testified to Congress that he believed Ms. Lerner had printed out some emails. But Ms. Lerner’s attorney, William W. Taylor III, told the Politico online magazine that she didn’t know she was required print out emails and therefore did not do so.
On Wednesday, Mr. Taylor released a statement saying that “is not entirely accurate” and blamed a “misunderstanding.”
“During her tenure as director of Exempt Organizations, she did print out some emails, although not every one of the thousands she sent and received,” Mr. Taylor said.
“The facts are that Ms. Lerner did not destroy any records subject to the Federal Records Act, she did not cause the computer assigned to her to fail, and she made every effort to recover the files on the computer,” the lawyer said.
It seems like every single day we find out something else that has gone wrong on our border with Mexico. From the massive influx of illegal immigrant children to cases of extreme violence, the situation on the border seems to be rapidly deteriorating. It’s practically a war zone down there.
But it seems that we have an even bigger problem than massive numbers of undocumented immigrants streaming across the border. Apparently, many of our own border patrol agents are adding to the chaos.
Border analyst James Phelps, a professor at Angelo State University in Texas who reviewed the data, estimated that as many as 300 border officers are under investigation for corruption.
Phelps said that having a corrupted official with access to law enforcement databases creates more opportunities for drug cartels or human traffickers to pay off other officers.
“How do you corrupt someone like that? It’s real easy,” he told the newspaper. “You offer them more money in a weekend than they make in an entire year. If you can get a hold of a person’s driver’s license, you can find out everything – the works.
“If the cartels can identify an agent by name and find out where they live, they can come and make an offer. Take our money and turn a blind eye, or we kill your mom. Down in Mexico, the cartels have no problem doing that, and that’s where you have a lot of agents fail.”
While declining to discuss specific cases in the records, ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said: “ICE agents and officers are held to the highest standards of professional and ethical conduct. The agency does not tolerate misconduct, and reports of any such actions are swiftly investigated and dealt with appropriately.”
The Times said Customs and Border Protection officials didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.
Computer misuse at ICE and CBP “largely stemmed from improper access to electronic law-enforcement records,” according to the Times.
There was one instance in which investigators were informed about an official using his or her position to “conduct queries for friends and relatives engaged in criminal activity.”
The same report included a “substantiated” FBI special agent’s accusation that a credible witness was accessing “sensitive law enforcement information in order to warn friends and relatives of impending law enforcement activity.”
Although the redacted material in the report obscured the scope of corruption on the border, the violations included “improper entry by alien” and “bringing in or harboring certain aliens,” as well as fraud.
You can read more about the agents under investigation here. We simply cannot allow drug cartels to have so much control over our border and the people who are supposed to be guarding it. A long term solution to this problem must be reached, and FAST. The longer we wait, the worse the situation will become. And before we know it, drug cartels will have gained even more power and our country may never be able to recover.
Please share this article on Facebook and Twitter if you agree that this situation has gotten out of control and something needs to be done now.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has improperly paid millions of dollars to Medicare Advantage organizations on behalf of illegal immigrants.
In a new report released Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG) revealed that for calendar years 2010 through 2012, CMS provided $26.2 million in improper payments to Medicare Advantage organizations for 1,600 “unlawfully present beneficiaries” – or nearly $16,375 per illegal immigrant.
According to the OIG, CMS did not have policies in place to notify the Medicare Advantage organizations about the legality of potential beneficiaries. Without such data, illegal immigrants were able to enroll with Medicare Advantage organizations.
“In contrast to its fee-for-service (FFS) program, CMS did not have policies and procedures to notify the MA organizations of the unlawful-presence information in its data systems. Had CMS provided this information to the MA organizations, they would have been able to prevent enrollment and to disenroll beneficiaries already enrolled,” the report reads. “CMS would then have been able to recoup any improper payments.”
Illegal immigrants are barred from obtaining federal health-care benefits. Last year, the OIG revealed that from 2009 to 2011, Medicare payments to health care providers for services rendered to illegal aliens totaled more than $91.6 million.
In its April report, OIG recommended that CMS recover the $26.2 million in improper payments on behalf of illegal immigrants, adopt policies to notify the organizations about unlawful-presence information, and recoup improper payments made after the audit period.
The OIG report noted that CMS partially agreed with the recommendations – concurring with OIG’s second recommendation, but said it was unable to agree to the specific OIG estimate because it said it could not confirm the amount.
In a bombshell article, the New York Times reported earlier today that the U.S. Census Bureau planned to radically alter its method of calculating the number of people without health insurance in the U.S. The result? The changes will be so radical that “it will be difficult to measure the effects of President Obama’s health care law in the next report, due this fall, census officials said.”
From the NYT:
The Census Bureau, the authoritative source of health insurance data for more than three decades, is changing its annual survey so thoroughly that it will be difficult to measure the effects of President Obama’s health care law in the next report, due this fall, census officials said.
The changes are intended to improve the accuracy of the survey, being conducted this month in interviews with tens of thousands of households around the country. But the new questions are so different that the findings will not be comparable, the officials said.
An internal Census Bureau document said that the new questionnaire included a “total revision to health insurance questions” and, in a test last year, produced lower estimates of the uninsured. Thus, officials said, it will be difficult to say how much of any change is attributable to the Affordable Care Act and how much to the use of a new survey instrument.
You know what else is due this fall? A big election in which the effects of Obamacare are sure to weigh on voters’ minds.
Don’t worry, though. Census officials said the timing of the change was “coincidental” and “unfortunate.” The latter is most certainly the case, but unfortunate for whom? Certainly not the White House, which mere days ago was bragging, Mission Accomplished-style, about how amazing the Obama implementation was going. Does anyone actually believe this White House would want to change and obscure favorable numbers in the weeks and months ahead of an election?
It turns out the suspiciously timed changes aren’t the only remarkable aspect of that NYT story. Apparently the government’s statisticians knew for some time that the old method of collecting data on the uninsured significantly overstated their numbers:
Census officials and researchers have long expressed concerns about the old version of insurance questions in the Current Population Survey.
The questionnaire traditionally used by the Census Bureau provides an “inflated estimate of the uninsured” and is prone to “measurement errors,” said a working paper by statisticians and demographers at the agency.
So not only will the new numbers be close to useless when it comes to using them to figure out if Obamacare has had its intended effect, it turns out the old numbers – which the White House used to cram the law down America’s throat – were bogus as well. Heads they win, tails you lose. But remember: all of this is totally coincidental and really unfortunate.
Unrelated: remember that time the Obama administration tried to force the head of the Census Bureau to report directly to the White House, rather than to the Secretary of Commerce, as required by law?
President Obama has decided to have the director of the U.S. Census Bureau work directly with the White House, the administration said today, a move that comes as the Census Bureau prepares to conduct the 2010 census that will determine redistricting of congressional seats.
We’re sure that was just a coincidence, too.
The US State Department can’t explain how it spent billions of dollars worth of contract funds in areas throughout the world, according to a newly unveiled report by the department’s internal watchdog.
The Office of Inspector General explained in a March 20 “management alert” to department leaders that approximately $6 billion has gone unaccounted for over the past six years. The note said the number of missing documents “exposes the department to significant financial risk” and is a dangerous lack of oversight.
“It creates conditions conducive to fraud, as corrupt individuals may attempt to conceal evidence of illicit behavior by omitting key documents from the contract file,” the inspector general wrote. “It impairs the ability of the Department to take effective and timely action to protect is interests and, in turn, those of taxpayers.”
There is no indication that representatives within the Bureau of Administration’s Office of the Procurement Executive (A/OPE) fraudulently filed any of the missing contracts, only that State Department brass misplaced the necessary paperwork. The omissions are especially notable, though, because of similar memos that have noted budgetary oversights in the past.
In one instance, the State Department could not locate files regarding payments to contractors assisting US military forces in Iraq. That incident, one of the “repeated examples of poor contract file administration,” according to the inspector general, included contracts worth $2.1 billion.
An unrelated audit of the Bureau of African Affairs indicated the department could not supply the “complete contract administration files” for even one of the eight contracts, worth a total of nearly $35 million, under examination.
“The failure to maintain contract files adequately creates significant financial risk and demonstrates a lack of internal control over the Department’s contract actions,” the report noted.
While no proof of fraudulent payments was mentioned, the Office of Inspector General did warn that lax record-keeping standards does create the potential for abuse.
“OIG recommends that the Under Secretary for Management ensure that contracting officers and their supporting personnel, and A/OPE specialists conducting oversight visits, have resources sufficient to maintain adequate contract files in accordance with relevant regulations and policies,” the officials recommended.
The report also encouraged the State Department to hold employees accountable when they are found to have committed such infractions.
The State Department, which is responsible for a vast number of duties relating to international relations, has also announced that it will publish ambassador qualifications from now on. The Obama administration has come under fire because of the perception that not all newly appointed State Department ambassadors were up to the task of heading up US relations in other countries. The necessary “certificates of demonstrated competence” were previously only available to lawmakers, but will now be made available to the public, American Foreign Service Association President Robert Silverman told USA Today.
“We believe transparency of the nomination process is an important step,” he said Friday “We very much appreciate the efforts of the White House and State Department, and AFSA – as the voice of the Foreign service – looks forward to working to assure that our country is represented by the very best men and women at our diplomatic missions abroad.”
A California state senator who authored gun control legislation asked for campaign donations in exchange for introducing an undercover FBI agent to an arms trafficker, according to court documents unsealed Wednesday.
The allegations against State Sen. Leland Yee were outlined in an FBI affidavit in support of a criminal complaint. The affidavit accuses Yee of conspiracy to deal firearms without a license and to illegally import firearms. He was arrested Wednesday.
Yee is also accused of accepting tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions and cash payments to provide introductions, help a client get a contract and influence legislation. He or members of his campaign staff accepted at least $42,800 in cash or campaign contributions from undercover FBI agents in exchange for carrying out the agents’ specific requests, the court documents allege.
Yee discussed helping the agent get weapons worth $500,000 to $2.5 million, including shoulder fired automatic weapons and missiles, and took him through the entire process of acquiring them from a Muslim separatist group in the Philippines to bringing them to the United States, according to the affidavit by FBI Special Agent Emmanuel V. Pascua.
He was unhappy with his life and told the agent he wanted to hide out in the Philippines, according to the affidavit.
“There’s a part of me that wants to be like you,” he told the undercover agent, according to the affidavit. “You know how I’m going to be like you? Just be a free agent there.”
The introduction with the trafficker took place at a San Francisco restaurant earlier this month, according to the documents. Yee said he wouldn’t go to the Philippines until November.
“Once things start to move, it’s going to attract attention. We just got to be extra-extra careful,” he said, according to court documents.
The affidavit names Yee and 25 others, including Raymond Chow, a onetime gang leader with ties to San Francisco’s Chinatown known as “Shrimp Boy,” and Keith Jackson, Yee’s campaign aide. Jackson is accused of multiple counts of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud.
Chow and Yee were arrested Wednesday during a series of raids in Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area.
According to court documents, Yee performed “official acts” in exchange for donations from undercover FBI agents, as he sought to dig himself out of a $70,000 debt incurred during a failed San Francisco mayoral bid.
Yee is also accused of accepting $10,000 in January 2013 from an undercover FBI agent in exchange for making a call to the California Department of Public Health in support of a contract was considering.
The agent who discussed arms with Yee presented himself as a member of Ghee Kung Tong, a fraternal organization in San Francisco’s Chinatown that Chow reportedly headed. It was among the sites searched Wednesday.
Firefighters were seen going inside with a circular saw and later said they had cracked a safe. FBI agents were seen coming out with boxes and trash bags full of evidence that they loaded into an SUV.
Chow is accused of money laundering, conspiracy to receive and transport stolen property and conspiracy to traffic contraband cigarettes.
Yee is the third Democratic senator to face charges this year. Sen. Rod Wright was convicted of perjury and voter fraud for lying about his legal residence in Los Angeles County, and Sen. Ron Calderon has been indicted on federal corruption charges. Wright and Calderon are taking a voluntary leave of absence, with pay, although Republicans have called for them to be suspended or expelled from the Legislature.
Mark Hedlund, spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, confirmed that the FBI searched Yee’s office in the state capitol on Wednesday.
Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said he had no comment and did not know anything about the investigation.
Officers from the California Highway Patrol and Senate sergeant-at-arms details were standing guard outside Yee’s office, where a morning newspaper remained untouched.
Yee, 65, represents western San Francisco and much of San Mateo County. A spokesman for the senator, Dan Lieberman, said he had no comment, but the senator’s office would release a statement in the afternoon.
He is best known for his efforts to strengthen open records, government transparency and whistleblower protection laws, including legislation to close a loophole in state public records laws after the CSU Stanislaus Foundation refused to release its $75,000 speaking contract with former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in 2010.
Chow ran a Chinese criminal organization with ties to Hong Kong and was convicted of gun charges. But he had recently been held up as an example of successful rehabilitation and was praised for his work in the community.
Yee’s arrest came as a shock to Chinese-Americans who see the senator as a pioneering leader in the community and a mainstay of San Francisco politics, said David Lee, director of the Chinese American Voters Education Committee.
“People are waiting to see what happens, and they are hoping for the best, that the charges turn out not to be true,” said Lee, whose organization just held a get-out-the-vote event with Yee and other Chinese-American elected officials last week.
For his efforts to uphold the California Public Records Act, Yee was honored last week by the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, which awarded him its public official citation for his efforts to maintain the requirements of the California Public Records Act.
Yee has at times clashed with fellow Democrats for casting votes of conscience, refusing to support the Democratic budget proposal in 2011 because of its deep cuts to education, social services and education. He also opposed legislation by a fellow Democrat, Assemblyman Paul Fong of Cupertino, that banned the sale of shark fins used for Chinese shark fin soup, saying that it unfairly targeted the Chinese-American community.
Yee is among three Democrats running this year for secretary of state, the office that oversees elections and campaign finance reporting. He lost a bid for mayor of San Francisco in 2011.
A man was charged last year for threatening Yee over legislation that he proposed to limit rapid reloading of assault weapons. The bill would have prohibited the use of devices that allow users to swiftly reload military-style assault weapons. Lee also authored legislation that that would have required the state to study safe storage of firearms.
Chow acknowledged in an unpublished autobiography that he ran prostitution rings in the 1980s, smuggled drugs and extorted thousands from business owners as a Chinatown gang member, KGO-TV reported two years ago.
In 1992, Chow was among more than two-dozen people indicted on racketeering charges for their alleged involvement in crimes ranging from teenage prostitution to an international drug trade mostly involving heroin.
He was later convicted of gun charges and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. He spent 11 years in prison and was released in 2003 after he cut a deal with the government to testify against another high-ranking associate, Peter Chong. Chong was later convicted of racketeering.
Chow told KGO-TV in a 2012 interview that he had changed and was working with at-risk children in San Francisco.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California issued a statement in 2012 recognizing Chow as a former offender who had become an asset to his community, the Sacramento Bee reported. Chow was also praised by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee for his “willingness to give back to the community,” the Bee reported.
Yesterday was a festival of Democrats getting arrested. We brought you the story of Leland Yee. Here now is his buddy, Keith Jackson, who was named in the Leland Yee affidavit. Jackson claims the inquiry was racist.
More to come…
Via SF Gate:
Keith Jackson, accused by the FBI on Wednesday of being involved in a murder-for-hire scheme and a gun- and drug-trafficking conspiracy, was San Francisco’s top elected educator during the late 1990s.
Jackson, 49, is a former president of the San Francisco Board of Education, having run for the board in 1994 on a pro-family slate.
But his tenure on the board was not trouble-free.
In 1997, The Chronicle revealed that Jackson owed more than $5,000 in child-support payments and that the courts were garnisheeing his wages. In an odd twist, Jackson blamed his child-support troubles on being fired from a job he’d held for just four days – as an investigator tracking down deadbeat dads for the San Francisco district attorney.
One of Jackson’s sons, Brandon Jamell Jackson, 28, is also accused in the FBI complaint of conspiracies to commit murder for hire and trafficking in guns and drugs.
As an elected official in the 1990s, Keith Jackson declined to discuss his money problems with The Chronicle. The problems included five federal and state liens totaling $4,369 for tax debts between 1989 and 1994, and a missed payment to the University of Phoenix in San Jose that a court ordered him to pay up with interest.
Jackson called the inquiry a racially motivated attack. Jackson is black.
Today, Jackson runs the Jackson Consultancy business, according to the federal complaint, and he has been helping raise money for state Sen. Leland Yee‘s election campaigns since 2011. Yee was also arrested in the FBI sweep on Wednesday.
The Service Employees International Union will have to pay the second-highest fine in Michigan history for its failed 2012 campaign to preserve forced union dues among home care workers.
Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said that the politically powerful union agreed to pay the state nearly $200,000 for failing to properly disclose donors and file timely campaign reports.
The union funneled more than $9 million into two 501(c)(4) non-profit groups, Home Care First Inc. and Citizens for Affordable Quality Home Care, which served as the public face of a ballot initiative.
“These organizations cannot be used as a means to conceal the identity of the true contributors,” Johnson said in a release. “This agreement reflects our commitment to transparency and accountability in the campaign finance process, especially in an election year.”
The union could have faced millions of dollars in fines if it did not settle with the Secretary of State’s office. SEIU said in a statement that reporting oversights were inadvertent.
“We have decided not to dispute the preliminary findings of the Secretary of State and SEIU Michigan consider this matter closed,” the union said. “The mistakes were a result of errors and reports by the Citizens for Affordable Quality Home Care regarding the receipt and transfer of funds.”
The fine stemmed from an August 2013 complaint filed with the Secretary of State’s office. It alleged that the union and its 501(c)(4) groups misreported its campaign disclosures. For example, SEIU reported more than $4 million in direct contributions to the 501(c)(4)s in September filings, but those contributions were later scrubbed from an October campaign report, according to the Secretary of State’s complaint.
Patrick Wright, a senior legal analyst with the free market Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said the fine was an appropriate conclusion for an election battle “that started off ugly and ended ugly.”
The SEIU earned about $6 million per year from the forced dues program established by former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm. It was willing to spend big money to preserve it, according to Wright.
“They were willingly bend the rules to set the scheme up in first place, so their attempts to continue it through questionable campaign finance is in no way a shock,” he said. “Clearly it was a major income source and they were loathe to let it go.”
The fine is the second highest campaign finance violation in Michigan history. Former Democratic congressman Mark Schauer was forced to pay the state more than $225,000 for taking excessive contributions from his state Senate campaign fund in 2009. Schauer is now running for Michigan governor.
Wright said that the large amount indicates that the union recognized the state had powerful evidence of campaign malfeasance.
“They seem to be clearly admitting fault. The amount of money seems to indicate that the culpability was rather clear and that they’re hoping this will go away,” he said.
The Department of Justice will not disclose the names of its lawyers responsible for more than 650 ethical violations found in internal agency watchdog reports.
DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility documented more than 650 examples of its lawyers violating department ethics rules, according to a review of internal documents and OPR reports compiled by the Project on Government Oversight.
The review, spanning fiscal year 2002 through fiscal year 2013, found more than 400 cases of recklessness or intentional misconduct, according to OPR’s own standards. The office investigated approximately 2,100 alleged abuses during this time.
DOJ upholds a practice of not disclosing the names of lawyers identified by OPR as having committed offenses.
“The result: the Department, its lawyers, and the internal watchdog office itself are insulated from meaningful public scrutiny and accountability,” concluded the Project on Government Oversight.
Federal attorneys misled courts at least 48 times, including 20 intentional violations, breached constitutional or civil rights 13 times, and did not provide exculpatory information to defendants 29 times, according to OPR.
OPR also found examples in fiscal year 2012 in which lawyers were given brief suspensions or letters of admonishment for severe instances of misconduct.
Maybe we should start talking about the Isaias brothers instead of the Kochs.
The donations kept pouring in: hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to President Obama and more than a dozen members of Congress, carefully routed through the families of two wealthy brothers in Florida.
They had good reason to be generous. The two men, Roberto and William Isaias, are fugitives from Ecuador, which has angrily pressed Washington to turn them over, to no avail. A year after their relatives gave $90,000 to help re-elect Mr. Obama, the administration rejected Ecuador’s extradition request for the men, fueling accusations that such donations were helping to keep the brothers and their families safely on American soil.
“The Isaias brothers fled to Miami not to live off their work, something just, but to buy themselves more mansions and Rolls-Royces and to finance American political campaigns,” President Rafael Correa of Ecuador told reporters last month. “That’s what has given them protection,” he added, an allegation the Obama administration and members of Congress reject.
So we have fugitives funneling money to Obama and nobody seems to care.
Donations from the relatives of criminal suspects have proved vexing before. In 2012, Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign said it would return more than $200,000 raised by relatives of a Mexican casino magnate who had fled charges in the United States and sought a pardon to return.
The White House says that the decisions in the Isaias case are not influenced by donations.
Of course not. Even the NY Times, which reports this, is instead obsessing over the Kochs, two men who are legal citizens who’ve broken no laws. Yet these fugitives give thousands to Obama and get protection. We’re officially living in a banana republic.
Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of stories about Common Core, the controversial new educational agenda aimed at imposing federal government standards on every aspect of public and private education in America, which some are even calling “ObamaCore.” The first part spelled out the high stakes for parents, students and education. The second part followed the money trail behind Common Core.
The battle over the deceptively titled Common Core State Standards Initiative, or CCSSI, is raging, and the rhetoric is fierce. Supporters of the national standards have called their opponents “right-wing nuts” and “black helicopter” types.
“All of us get lumped together as ‘the fringe,’ ‘the far right,’ tea partiers,’ etc.,” said Jane Robbins, co-author of the report “Controlling Education from the Top: Why the Common Core is Bad for America.”
“When they don’t have the facts on their side they resort to ad-hominem,” she said.
Opponents of Common Core claim it is the product of progressive elitists who want to put all children under control of federal government bureaucrats. That view was reinforced when a panelist at the liberal think-tank Center for American Progress discounted the opposition as only a “tiny minority,” claiming such views should be ignored because “the children belong to all of us.”
The term “Common Core” has become “toxic,” according to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. He continues to support the standards in spite of a unanimous resolution by the Republican National Committee in April 2013 to oppose them. Huckabee told state education leaders at a meeting of the Council of Chief State School Officers: “Rebrand it, refocus it, but don’t retreat.”
So far, Arizona, Iowa, Florida and Pennsylvania have followed his advice, eliminating the name “Common Core” from their state standards.
‘White suburban moms’
Education Secretary Arne Duncan claims opposition to Common Core is coming from “white, suburban moms” who are suddenly discovering their children are not “as brilliant as they thought they were.” When Duncan’s comments went viral, “white, suburban moms” quickly found many defenders in the blogosphere and opinion columns.
In January, Duncan spoke to a gathering of curriculum professionals. As he lectured them on the distinction between standards and curricula, he asserted that “not a word, not a single semi-colon of curriculum [sic] will be created, encouraged, or prescribed by the federal government.”
But Duncan’s pep talk to curriculum specialists about their role in implementing the standards only increased the perception that it is indeed a federal, not a state, initiative. George Will noted in his Washington Post article “Doubts Over Common Core” that when the federal government initiates top-down “reforms” in education, any mistakes that result are “continental mistakes.”
Will stated the obvious: “National standards must breed ineluctable pressure to standardize educational content. Targets, metrics, guidelines and curriculum models all induce conformity in instructional materials.”
Indeed, textbook companies now advertise “Common Core Editions,” and educational testing companies provide “Common Core-aligned” standardized tests.
The link between the national SAT test and Common Core was forged when the College Board, which puts out the placement test for college-bound students, hired David Coleman as president. The Gates and Mott foundations gave Coleman’s nonprofit, Student Achievement Partners, money to write the standards, which were commissioned by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association.
The new College Board assessments will start rolling out this year with the redesigned PSAT. The new SAT is scheduled for 2015. The once-venerable Iowa Test of Basic Skills is now Common Core-aligned, and even the GED is getting its first makeover since 2002 so it will line up with the standards.
Teachers withdraw support
Fearing this link between the national standards and high-stakes testing, the board of New York’s teachers union voted unanimously Jan. 25 to withdraw its support for the national standards “as they are being implemented.” The union board also declared no confidence in Education Commissioner John King Jr., a Common Core backer, and asked the Board of Regents to remove him. Union leaders urged the state education department to make “major course corrections to its failed implementation plan” and enact a three-year moratorium on the testing.
The Board of Regents responded to the concerns by giving public schools five more years to implement Common Core. Public school teachers will not be held accountable for student test scores for two years.
There is some movement in Congress to oppose the CCSSI. On Jan. 30, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., introduced Senate Bill 1974. It is now in the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, on which Roberts sits.
The bill, titled the “Learning Opportunities Created at the Local Level Act,” would prohibit the federal government from coercing states to adopt education standards like Common Core. The act would forbid the federal government from intervening in a state’s education standards, curricula and assessments through the use of incentives, mandates, grants, waivers or any other form of manipulation.
Roberts opposed the Obama administration’s Race to the Top grant program, and he and nine other senators have gone on record against spending any federal funds to develop education curriculum or standards, including the Common Core. Given the present make-up of the Senate, Roberts’ efforts may not gain much headway in Congress.
The real battle against Common Core is being waged in the states. As of Feb. 8, edu-blogger Mercedes Schneider had identified legislative action on the Common Core in 30 states.
“Legislators in most of these 30 states are advancing bills to halt the testing consequences of a CCSS that they admittedly do not understand – and for which they must now count the cost,” Schneider wrote.
Initially, the only states that didn’t compete for Race to the Top funds were Alaska, North Dakota, Texas and Vermont. For Texas legislators, that wasn’t enough. They wanted to ensure the State Board of Education would not follow Alaska’s example and adopt Common Core anyway. In June, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed H.B. 462, effectively banning the Common Core State Standards from Texas schools. The bill had passed by a 140-2 vote in the Texas House.
Some states are now delaying implementation of the standards, such as New York. Illinois has bills in both legislative chambers to delay implementation. Colorado’s legislation would delay them until public hearings have been held. Rhode Island wants to study and evaluate the standards.
After its Board of Education voted in 2010 to adopt the CCSSI, Indiana became the first to align its teacher preparation standards to Common Core. However, even members of the state legislature’s education committees didn’t know much about what the adoption entailed until they started hearing from alarmed parents when the standards began to impact school curricula.
As opposition to the standards spread, former Indiana Superintendent of Instruction Tony Bennett visited tea-party meetings around the state to defend them. His Democrat opponent in the 2012 election, Glenda Ritz, told parents she wanted to “pause” adoption of the Common Core.
When election results came in, Bennett was out, in spite of the $90,000 reportedly given by the Gates Foundation to fund pro-Common Core advertising on Indiana TV and radio. Last May, newly elected Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill delaying adoption of the Common Core. In January, the Indiana Senate Education and Career Development Committee voted to send a measure to the Senate floor to repeal the Common Core Standards. If the state legislature passes the bill, it would charge the State Board of Education with developing by July 1 new “college- and-career-ready standards,” a favorite phrase with the pro-Common Core faction.
Erin Tuttle, founder of the grassroots Hoosiers Against Common Core, told the Indy Star that the State Board of Education should not make a few tweaks and slap the label “Indiana Standards” on any new guidelines. She said parents will notice if their children are assigned homework that looks like Common Core.
“Parents will be outraged. They will feel tricked,” he said.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has been an active advocate of Common Core, not only in Florida but across the country. His nonprofit, Foundation for Educational Excellence, which received $500,000 from the Gates Foundation in 2010, has lobbied for the Core and sent letters to state legislators in embattled states.
Jane Robbins, senior fellow at the American Principles Project, said Jeb Bush “is the ‘big gorilla’ behind the Common Core movement.”
“Bill Gates is the financier, but Jeb Bush is the one who is twisting the arms of all of these Republican governors and legislators around the country not to do the right thing and regain local control,” Robbins said.
In 2013, after he was voted out as Indiana school chief, Bush’s protégé, Tony Bennett, was appointed Florida’s Education Commissioner. His tenure didn’t last long. He resigned after eight months when it was discovered he had been involved in a plan to improve the school evaluation grade of an Indiana charter school run by Christel DeHaan, a major donor to the Republican Party and to Bennett.
Now the question is whether Bush’s influence in Florida is strong enough to stop efforts there to repeal Common Core. A bill to prohibit the State Board of Education from continuing to implement the Common Core Standards has been introduced in the Florida House, which convenes March 4. The bill (H.B. 25) would stop implementation until certain requirements are met for the adoption or revision of state curricular standards. It also would prohibit Florida from implementing Common Core-aligned assessments.
Common Core supporters are hoping H.B.25 won’t go anywhere. It’s being held in the House and Senate education committees until a companion bill is offered in the Senate. Karen Effrem, co-founder of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, said a Senate companion bill has been written and will be submitted.
Effrem said that since Florida is “the land of Jeb Bush,” if these bills pass “it would be a huge shot in the arm to the anti-Common Core movement not only in Florida, but in the rest of the country.”
“And that is why ‘the powers that be’ are fighting us so hard.”
The Heritage Foundation, Heartland Foundation, Pioneer Institute and the American Principles Project, which produced the scathing report on Common Core, “Controlling Education from the Top: Why Common Core Is Bad for America,” are all providing intellectual bullets and moral support to those on the battle lines. Co-authors of the APP report, Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins, have been traveling around the country to speak to groups that are fighting the standards.
Robbins said proponents of Common Core did not anticipate how much opposition they would face.
“They thought people would be sheep and roll over and accept what the experts told them to do; but it hasn’t turned out that way,” she said.
Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee now have bills in their state legislatures to halt or abolish the standards.
Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. That adage has more application than usual in California, where Democrats hold all of the statewide offices and supermajorities in the legislature. They can enact any policies they want, with only the judicial branch offering belated checks on their power. And when I say belated, that’s literally the case with state Senator Rod Wright, whom a jury found guilty in January of committing eight felonies regarding his residency and eligibility for the office he held.
Normally, politicians who get that kind of a verdict have the decency to resign. If not, the body in which they serve would almost assuredly eject them – but not California Democrats:
Senate Democrats on Thursday blocked a move to expel their Democratic colleague Sen. Rod Wright by sending a Republican proposal to the Rules Committee, where it could permanently stall.
Sen. Steve Knight, a Republican from Palmdale, introduced a resolution to expel Wright from the Senate because a jury found him guilty of eight felonies last month for lying about living in the district he represents.
“This will be precedent-setting,” Knight said as debate on his measure was being quashed on a 21-13, mostly party-line vote.
Democrats insist that Wright does not need to resign until after sentencing, because the judge could overturn the verdict. That’s a possibility, but it’s rare. Judges almost always abide by the verdicts of juries in criminal cases, especially because they have the opportunity themselves to dismiss charges if they determine that the state has not met its burden of substantiating the charges for a jury to find a defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
In the past, a jury verdict of corruption has been enough to press for resignations from the California legislature. Democrats insisted yesterday that a resignation wasn’t necessary because Wright has been stripped of his committee assignments, and – I’m not making this up – he’s on paid leave, and apparently only since Tuesday.
Barack Obama told Bill O’Reilly there was “not even a smidgen of corruption” in the IRS targeting scandal.
Then explain this…
The attorney for Lois Lerner will not testify next week in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform without immunity or a court order.
FOX News reported:
The attorney for Lois Lerner, a central figure in the IRS scandal, said Wednesday his client will not comply with a request to return to Capitol Hill next week to testify.
Attorney William Taylor said Lerner, who resigned last year as the agency’s tax-exempt organizations chief, will return only if compelled by a federal court or if given immunity for her testimony.
Taylor stated his position in a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He was responding to a letter Tuesday from Issa saying, in part, that Lerner’s testimony remains “critical to the committee’s investigation.”
The committee continues to investigate the IRS’ targeting of Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations trying to get tax-exempt status.
Issa and Lerner’s attorneys continue to argue about whether she is protected under the Fifth Amendment from having to testify.
Last year, Lerner invoked the Fifth Amendment right during her first-and-only appearance before the committee, but only after she professed her innocence during an opening statement.
“We understand that the committee voted she had waived her rights,” Taylor wrote Issa. “We continue to respectfully disagree.”
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy Discusses Bill To Stop IRS Targeting Of Political Groups On Greta Van Susteren’s ‘On the Record’ Program
Complete House Oversight & Government Reform Committee Hearing On IRS Targeting Of Conservative Groups – 02/26/14
A comprehensive tax-reform plan House Republicans will unveil this morning takes dead aim at what Republicans perceive to be the IRS’s persistent abuse of its authority. According to Republican aides familiar with the plan, it will curb the power of the nation’s tax-collecting agency, something Republicans have attempted to do since the agency admitted to improperly singling out conservative non-profit groups last May.
The legislation, authored by Ways and Means Committee chairman Dave Camp (R., Mich.), introduces reforms that directly address the circumstances that led to last year’s scandal. The specter of Lois Lerner looms large in the minds of many Republicans, and the plan mandates the termination of any IRS employee found to have taken official action for political purposes. The 1988 bill that restructured and reformed the IRS spells out ten actions for which the IRS commissioner must terminate an agency employee after an “administrative or judicial determination” that the employee has committed the prohibited action – among them, providing a false statement under oath on a matter involving a taxpayer and violating the rights of a taxpayer. Today’s bill would add the commission of politically motivated acts to the list.
The plan would also require the IRS to modify its interpretation of a critical provision of the Internal Revenue Code that has been used to protect the privacy of those accused of leaking confidential taxpayer records and to deny information to the victims of IRS abuse.
Under the proposed reforms, the provision, Internal Revenue Code section 6103, would require the government to disclose to victims both the status of an investigation as well as its result, including the identity of the perpetrator.
As currently interpreted, section 6103 prohibits congressional committees or inspectors general from identifying a government employee who has leaked confidential taxpayer information. It even prohibits inspectors general from confirming or denying whether they have conducted an investigation. Disclosing tax returns to the public is a felony, but the results of investigations conducted by congressional committees or inspectors general are considered the confidential tax information of the perpetrator and so, in an ironic twist, perpetrators are currently protected by the very law they violated.
As Republicans, including Camp, have investigated the IRS targeting scandal, they have run head first into the restrictive nature of the 6103 provisions. “The law, intended to protect taxpayers, is being used as a shield for those who perpetrate this wrongdoing,” Camp told National Review Online in October.
The National Organization for Marriage, a conservative organization that had its donor list leaked by the IRS, has filed suit against the agency after it was unable to get answers from the government. Camp’s Ways and Means Committee, which investigated the leak, was prohibited from releasing the findings of its investigation, which concluded in October. In court, according to NOM’s attorneys, the IRS has admitted to disclosing the document but maintains that the disclosure was “inadvertent.” The case is in discovery phase and a trial is expected in April or May.
Camp and his Republican colleagues are also tackling the IRS’s proposed regulations for social-welfare groups, which have rankled groups on both the left and the right. The plan proposes to delay the rules, which would curb the political activity of 501(c)(4) groups, for one year. Camp has proposed a bill in the House that does just that, and Senate Republicans have done the same, but the bills have yet to come up for a vote.
501(c)(4) groups must promote social welfare and, by law, can’t “primarily” engage in political activity. The rules proposed by the agency in November, which have garnered over 70,000 (mostly critical) public comments, would classify such activities as voter-registration drives and the production of voter guides as political activity that does not count toward an organization’s primary purpose, essentially limiting the amount of political activity groups can engage in. Camp has charged that the rules were “reverse engineered” by the IRS in an attempt to codify the targeting of tea-party groups that it was previously performing behind the scenes.
The proposed rules have ignited a firestorm on the right, and, on the left, groups including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Service Employees International Union have spoken out against them. even as Democratic senators urge the agency to codify them in advance of the midterm elections.
The forthcoming legislation would also introduce an additional layer of oversight onto the IRS, directing the Government Accountability Office to review each of the agency’s operating divisions in order to determine that they are properly screening cases. The GAO would conduct follow-up reviews every four years.
California State Senator Ron Calderon and his brother, former Assemblyman Tom Calderon, have been indicted on political corruption charges resulting from an FBI investigation, the Los Angeles Daily News/Whittier Daily News reported Friday, citing what officials call “the largest insurance fraud case to date in California.
“Sen. Ron Calderon was charged… with fraud, bribery, conspiracy to commit money laundering, money laundering and aiding in the filing of false tax returns,” the report explains. “His brother, Tom Calderon, a former Assemblyman, was also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering.
“The charges seemed certain to tarnish the Calderon clan, a political dynasty that’s long held power in southeast Los Angeles County,” the report predicted.
That power within the Calderon’s “political web” is further elaborated by The Los Angeles Times in a report yesterday detailing “The Calderon family’s connections,” and featuring not just Tom and Ron, but also brother Charles, a former assemblyman and state senator, and his son Ian, 27, “who became the assemblyman representing Whittier in 2012.”
In a development tangentially related to the corruption charges, a $25,000 contribution last year by “Yes We Can,” a political committee tied to the California Latino Legislative Caucus, a group Thomas Calderon was vice chair of, to Californians for Diversity, a nonprofit group that in 2011 listed him as president, was “raising eyebrows around the Capitol,” The Los Angeles Times reported in October. Not only had Calderon’s group not filed tax returns for 2012 at the time of that report, but concerns were raised over the inordinate amount of expenditures for “travel and food and beverages [and] entertainment for public officials.” That prompted Kathy Feng, executive director of the “progressive” advocacy group California Common Cause, to assess “that Californians for Diversity is a nonprofit that does not have a clear charity or social benefit purpose. I am also concerned that this nonprofit may have been created just to serve as a pass-through for money.”
One connection “Authorized Journalists” writing for “mainstream” outlets have not, and will not explore, is the affinity the Calderon clan has for using their political power to impose citizen disarmament edicts.
Among his many anti-gun votes, Ron Calderon supported prohibiting semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines, expanding the list of crimes to disqualify individuals from firearms ownership, prohibiting lead ammunition for hunting, and expanding loaded firearm restrictions.
When he was in power, indicted brother Thomas earned an “F” rating from NRA, a “0%” score from Gun Owners of America, and a “100%” approval from the Jack Berman Advocacy Center, a group “created… to work on violence reduction and gun control.” Likewise, brother Charles was given an “F” by NRA in 2010, and young Ian also appears to be insatiable on the gun issue, supporting magazine capacity limits and all the other restrictions Uncle Ron demands.
While the charges have yet to be proven in a court of law, and while the Calderons deserve a presumption of innocence, there’s a pattern emerging here that is familiar to gun owners, especially those who have noticed an unmistakable connection between the politically powerful, the connected, the special interest panderers and the corrupt, and how many of those types always seem to take the lead in demanding “ordinary citizens” be disarmed.
That such types always appear to have a lock on power in their districts, no matter how they conduct themselves and in spite of all the red flags they raise, points to factors other than strictly politics in play. It more than hints at cynical, self-interested exploitation of human issues to advance the larger agenda for what Barack Obama calls “a fundamental transformation,” currently blocked in part by a major obstacle “progressives” need to overcome: an armed citizenry that will not be ruled by men such as these.
Stalin would be proud. And of course the irony here is if you Google this issue you’ll see lots of blog coverage but only a couple of mainstream media organizations are reporting on the fact that the Fed is sending people into newsrooms to pressure them into certain types of news coverage. You see, Obama’s Gestapos have decided they know what news you need to hear. This is just a tad strange considering most newsrooms are already in Obama’s pocket. But give Dear Leader and inch and he’ll take a mile…
The Obama Administration’s Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is poised to place government monitors in newsrooms across the country in an absurdly draconian attempt to intimidate and control the media.
Before you dismiss this assertion as utterly preposterous (we all know how that turned out when the Tea Party complained that it was being targeted by the IRS), this bombshell of an accusation comes from an actual FCC Commissioner.
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai reveals a brand new Obama Administration program that he fears could be used in “pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories.”
As Commissioner Pai explains in the Wall Street Journal:
Last May the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run. A field test in Columbia, S.C., is scheduled to begin this spring.
The purpose of the CIN, according to the FCC, is to ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters about “the process by which stories are selected” and how often stations cover “critical information needs,” along with “perceived station bias” and “perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.”
In fact, the FCC is now expanding the bounds of regulatory powers to include newspapers, which it has absolutely no authority over, in its new government monitoring program.
The FCC has apparently already selected eight categories of “critical information” “that it believes local newscasters should cover.”
That’s right, the Obama Administration has developed a formula of what it believes the free press should cover, and it is going to send government monitors into newsrooms across America to stand over the shoulders of the press as they make editorial decisions.
And what has Obamas gestapos decided are the Critical Information Needs? From their “study” report:
And this at The Blaze from Jay Sekulow:
But Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ, a conservative legal group, worries it could be used to intimidate certain news organizations into covering issues that government officials feel are important.
“This is an extremely troubling and dangerous development that represents the latest in an ongoing assault on the Constitution by the Obama Administration,” Sekulow said in a statement. “We have seen a corrupt IRS unleashed on conservatives. We have seen an imperial president bypass Congress and change the law with executive orders.”
The FCC only has jurisdiction over the broadcast industry, and not over cable news or print publications. So networks, local stations as well as most radio stations would be subject to the evaluation.
“Now we see the heavy hand of the Obama administration poised to interfere with the First Amendment rights of journalists,” Sekulow continued. “It’s clear that the Obama administration is only interested in utilizing intimidation tactics – at the expense of Americans and the Constitution. The federal government has no place attempting to control the media, using the unconstitutional actions of repressive regimes to squelch free speech.”
The director of Colorado’s health exchange has been placed on administrative leave after the state discovered she had been indicted for stealing from a non-profit, the Denver Post reports:
[Christa Ann] McClure, 51, pleaded not guilty Feb. 6 in federal District Court in Montana to eight counts of theft and fraud from a nonprofit housing agency in Billings.
She was indicted Jan. 16 and notified her current Denver employer, the state-sponsored health exchange, on Monday, a few days after the story broke in Montana media, Connect for Health spokesman Ben Davis said in a telephone interview.
Connect for Health performed a criminal background check and checked references before hiring McClure in March, Davis said.
“She was completely clean,” he said. Her position as executive director of Housing Montana of Billings, he said, made her well-qualified for her post as Connect for Health’s director of partner engagement – she was liaison with state and federal partners, such as Medicaid officials. The job pays $130,000 a year.
…McClure, who has not been convicted of any charges, should have informed Connect for Health much earlier of the accusations she was facing, Davis said.
McClure was released pending trial, now scheduled for June. Each of the counts in the indictment against her carry potential penalties of five, 10 or 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
The 12-page indictment alleges that, while serving as executive director of the federally funded Housing Montana, McClure, between 2008 and 2010, paid herself “significant sums” for consulting services, although she was already on the payroll as a full-time employee.
She also made payments to her family and used federal money for personal travel, to pay family bills and to buy consulting services, the indictment alleges.
She also is accused of charging homeowners for a $750 warranty that did not exist, converting a laptop for personal use, inflating the hours she was to be compensated and writing herself a $21,000 check to which she was not entitled.
The indictment did not specify the total amount she allegedly embezzled.
A jury convicted former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin Wednesday on 20 of 21 federal corruption counts, including bribery, marking a stunning fall for the feisty official who gained a national profile following Hurricane Katrina.
The 57-year-old Democrat, who led his city through the aftermath of the 2005 storm, was found guilty of charges that he accepted bribes, free trips and other gratuities from contractors in exchange for helping them secure millions of dollars in city work while he was in office.
He will remain free on bond while he awaits sentencing. Each of the charges carries a sentence from three to 20 years, but how long he would serve was unclear and will depend on a pre-sentence investigation and various sentencing guidelines. No sentencing date was set.
Nagin sat quietly at the defense table after the verdict was read and his wife, Seletha, was being consoled in the front row. Before the verdict, he said outside the New Orleans courtroom: “I’ve been at peace with this for a long time. I’m good.”
Nagin, who left office in 2010 after eight years, was indicted in January 2013 on charges he accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and truckloads of free granite for his family business in exchange for promoting the interests of local businessman Frank Fradella.
He also was charged with accepting thousands of dollars in in payoffs from another businessman, Rodney Williams, for his help in securing city contracts.
Nagin is best remembered for his impassioned pleas for help after levees broke during Hurricane Katrina, flooding much of New Orleans and plunging the city into chaos.
Nagin testified that key witnesses lied and prosecutors misinterpreted evidence including emails, checks and pages from his appointment calendar linking him to businessmen who said they bribed him.
The defense repeatedly said prosecutors overstated Nagin’s authority to approve contracts. His lawyer said there is no proof money and material given to the granite business owned by Nagin and his sons was tied to city business.
The charges against Nagin included one overarching conspiracy count along with six counts of bribery, nine counts of wire fraud, one count of money laundering conspiracy and four counts of filing false tax returns. He was acquitted of one of the bribery counts.
Each charges carries a sentence from 3 to 20 years, but how long he would serve was unclear and will depend on a pre-sentence investigation and various sentencing guidelines. No sentencing date was set.
Prosecutors say he took hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of bribes including money, free travel and granite for Stone Age LLC, a family granite business.
They allege the corruption spanned the time before and after Hurricane Katrina struck in August 2005.
The charges resulted from a City Hall corruption investigation that had resulted in several convictions or guilty pleas by former Nagin associates by the time trial started on Jan. 27.
Fradella and Williams, both awaiting sentencing for their roles in separate bribery schemes alleged in the case, each testified that they bribed Nagin.
Nagin’s former technology chief, Greg Meffert, who also is awaiting sentencing after a plea deal, told jurors he helped another businessman, Mark St. Pierre, bribe Nagin with lavish vacation trips. St. Pierre did not testify. He was convicted in the case in 2011.
Nagin said he did not to know his vacation trips to Jamaica and Hawaii were paid for by St. Pierre. He also said he wasn’t told that a family trip to New York was paid for by a movie theater owner who, prosecutors said, received help with a city tax issue after Katrina wiped out the theater.
Not a smidgen of corruption.
A Republican House committee chairman said the Internal Revenue Service targeted tax-exempt conservative groups for audits, widening the scope of GOP ire over the agency’s oversight of political activities.
House Democrats pushed back, saying Republicans were seeking to use the IRS controversy to score political points with their conservative base in an election year.
The IRS has been under scrutiny since an inspector general’s report last May found that the agency had targeted conservative groups for lengthy and heavy-handed review of their applications to become tax-exempt organizations under section 501(c) 4 of the tax code. The controversy led to significant management shakeups at the IRS and generated a slew of congressional investigations, some of which are still going on.
On Tuesday, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R., Mich.) said his committee’s continuing investigation has found that the IRS also singled out established conservative tax-exempt groups for audits.
“We now know that the IRS targeted not only right-leaning applicants, but also right-leaning groups that were already operating as 501(c)(4)s,” Mr. Camp said in a statement. “At Washington, DC’s direction, dozens of groups operating as 501(c)(4)s were flagged for IRS surveillance, including monitoring of the groups’ activities, websites and any other publicly available information. Of these groups, 83% were right-leaning. And of the groups the IRS selected for audit, 100% were right-leaning.”