Posts tagged "Scandals"

Billionaire Sheldon Adelson has a history of illegal behavior and controversial comments — facts that were left out of mainstream print reporting on GOP candidates trying to win his favor last week.

The Republican Jewish Coalition met March 27-29 in Las Vegas, and the event was dubbed the “Adelson Primary" as GOP presidential hopefuls used the meeting to fawn over magnate Sheldon Adelson. Adelson is the chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp., a casino and resort operating firm, who reportedly spent nearly $150 million attempting to buy the 2012 election with donations to a super PAC aligned with Mitt Romney and other outside groups (including Karl Rove’s American Crossroads). Before switching allegiance to Romney, Adelson had donated millions to Newt Gingrich. He has also given generously in the past to super PACs associated with a variety of Republican politicians, including Scott Walker, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, George W. Bush, and Eric Cantor.

Hoping to benefit from Adelson’s largesse, potential 2016 Republican candidates including Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush gathered at Adelson’s casino to “kiss the ring.”

While Republicans’ efforts to court Adelson made big news in print media over the past week, none of the articles mentioning Adelson in The New York Times, Washington PostPolitico, or The Wall Street Journal mentioned that he has come under investigation for illegal business practices, including bribery, or his history of extreme remarks.

A search of the Nexis and Factiva databases from March 24 to March 31 turned up several articles in the papers ­mentioning the billionaire, none of which mentioned Adelson’s checkered past. The New York Times called Adelson “one of the Republican Party’s most coveted and fearsome moneymen” and detailed his current fight against online gambling, while The Washington Post's March 25 preview of the event simply reported that Adelson was “driven by what he has said he sees as Obama’s socialist agenda. He is a fierce opponent of organized labor and is currently embroiled in a fight to ban online gambling.”

In 2012, Adelson’s corporation came under three different investigations from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Justice Department, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), an anti-bribery statute. Additionally, the Times reported at the time that several of the company’s subsidiaries also “came under investigation by Chinese regulators.”

Adelson allegedly attempted to bribe the Chief Executive of Macau, where a substantial portion of his casino business was located, and reportedly instructed Sands Corp. to bribe a Macau legislator with about $700,000 in “legal fees.” (ProPublica reported that “several Las Vegas Sands executives resigned or were fired after expressing concerns” about the fee.) A former Sands Corp. executive also alleged that Adelson fired him after he refused to engage in illegal activity and protested the presence of Chinese organized crime syndicates in Sands’ Macau casinos.

Adelson initially insisted that he was being unfairly targeted, but Sands Corp.’s own audit committee ultimatelyadmitted there were “likely violations” of the anti-bribery law. And in August 2013, Sands Corp. agreed to pay the federal government more than $47 million in a settlement to resolve a separate money-laundering investigation, in which the casinos were accused of “accepting millions from high-rolling gamblers accused of drug trafficking and embezzlement.”

Adelson has been described as a “fervent Zionist” for his opposition to any Palestinian state, and his hatred of Islam goes so far that he has said ”You don’t have to worry about using the word ‘Islamo-fascism’ or ‘Islamo-terrorist,’ when that’s what they are. Not all Islamists are terrorists, but all the terrorists are Islamists.” He has suggested that all Palestinians “teach their children that Jews are descended from swine and apes, pigs and monkeys,” and said that “all they want to do is kill” Jews.

As Rick Perlstein has noted in Rolling Stone, Adelson is also vociferously opposed to unions. In 1999, when Adelson built a new casino, he failed to pay so many of his contractors that they filed a whopping 366 liens against the property, in addition to filing complaints with stage agencies and the FBI. When the new casino eventually opened, union workers protested outside — and Adelson twice demanded that police arrest the peaceful protestors (emphasis added):

Adelson told the cops to start making arrests; the cops refused. Glen Arnodo, an official at the union at the time, relates what happened next: “I was standing on the sidewalk and they had two security guards say I was on private property, and if I didn’t move they’d have to put me under ‘citizen’s arrest.’ I ignored them.” The guards once again told the police to arrest Arnodo and again, he says, they refused. The Civil Rights hero Rep. John Lewis, in town to support the rally, said the whole thing reminded him of living in the South during Jim Crow.

Afterwards, Adelson went so far as to allegedly attempt to pay off a hospital when it announced it would honor the head of the Vegas hotel workers union.

Adelson told The Wall Street Journal that the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill which would allow workers to unionize a workplace with majority sign-up, was “one of the two fundamental threats to society.” The other was radical Islam.

If print outlets are going to devote space to the fight among Republicans to win Adelson’s favor (and money), they owe it to readers to give a more accurate picture of the man holding the wallet.  

h/t: HANNAH GROCH-BEGLEY at MMFA

crooksandliars:

Gov. Christie Clears Himself Of Bridgegate Scandal With His Own Probe

Are you ready for the JOTD? (Joke of the day) Chris Christie’s lawyers are proclaiming Gov. Chris Christie is innocent of any wrongdoings in the Bridgegate scandal…

Hahahaha:

With his office suddenly engulfed in scandal over lane closings at the George Washington Bridge, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey two months ago summoned a pair of top defense lawyers from an elite law firm to the State House and asked them to undertake an extensive review of what had gone wrong.

Now, after 70 interviews and at least $1 million in legal fees to be paid by state taxpayers, that review is set to be released, and according to people with firsthand knowledge of the inquiry, it has uncovered no evidence that the governor was involved in the plotting or directing of the lane closings.

read more

h/t: Tim Peacock at Peacock Panache

Fox News host Mike Huckabee denied responsibility for shady email pitches sent to subscribers to his email list, telling Media Matters that he is “simply a conduit to send messages” and “can’t always vouch for the veracity” of the promoted products.

Huckabee is part of the conservative movement’s attempts to cash in on their followers by renting out their email lists to suspect sources. Fox News contributor Scott Brown was recently forced to disown a quack doctor after he sent a sponsored email touting the doctor’s dubious Alzheimer’s disease cures. Huckabee also sent emails promoting the doctor.

During a press conference held at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) outside Washington, Media Matters asked Huckabee about shady sponsored emails he’s sent with his name on it, such as the Alzheimer’s disease emails. 

Huckabee shrugged off responsibility for the emails, saying “You are supposed to read the disclosure and the disclaimer that is a part of the messages. We are simply the conduit to send messages, these are sponsored and I can’t always vouch for the veracity.”

Huckabee’s sketchy sponsored emails extend beyond questionable medical cures. He recently sent a sponsored email touting the stock recommendation of a financial analyst who was fired from Fox News for ethical violations.

Huckabee sent an email on February 14 from “Fox News alumnus” Tobin Smith and “our paid sponsor, Champlain Media” about “important information” regarding the stock of Gray Fox Petroleum (GFOX).Huckabee’s message added that the sponsorship does “not necessarily reflect my views.” A Smith-penned message implored readers to “Buy shares of GFOX now while you can still get them at around $1.00 and you could… TURN $10,000 INTO $282,000 in the next 6 months!”

Tobin Smith is so disreputable that he was fired from Fox News — no small feat — for receiving compensation to promote a company stock, a violation of network policy. Smith engages in “sponsored research,” in which companies hire analysts like Smith to act as pitchmen. MarketWatch’s Chuck Jaffee noted that people like Smith take “money to help small stocks find a market using fluff-and-shine hyperbolic chatter” and target “novice investors who fail to do due diligence.”

Small print in the Huckabee email states that the email is part of a “paid advertising” campaign “by Tobin Smith” and “Cenad Ltd. has paid $155,040.88 for the dissemination of this info to enhance public awareness for GFOX.” It also adds that Smith “has received twenty thousand dollars for this and related marketing materials.” It is not clear how much Huckabee received for the email dissemination, though a MikeHuckabee.com card states that his list has 700,000 subscribers and charges $27.50 per thousand emails, with a “300,000 NAME MINIMUM ORDER $1,000.00 MINIMUM PAYMENT.”

While it is too early to know how GFOX will perform, Huckabee fans should be cautious about taking the advice. In addition to the investing dangers of sponsored research, a Media Matters review last year found that Smith regularly pitched lofty stock price targets which weren’t met. For instance, Smith recommended in January 2013 that readers buy the stock of Boldface Group “at less than 50-cents, and you could … Turn $10,000 into $50,000 in the next 6-12 months!” It’s now trading at one cent.

Fox News helps grow Huckabee’s email list, as the former Republican governor regularly promotes MikeHuckabee.com on his weekly program. When visitors reach the page, they’re immediately asked to sign-up for his list. In other words, Huckabee is growing his email list through Fox News, and then selling access to that list so hucksters like Tobin Smith can target his Fox fans.

As Salon’s Alex Pareene noted, “the conservative movement is an elaborate moneymaking venture. For professional movement conservatives, their audiences and followers are easy marks.” 

H/T: Eric Hanaoki and Joe Strupp at MMFA

thepoliticalfreakshow:

Illinois GOP Official Bunked With Male Staffer Over 50 Times

We already know that Dan Rutherford, Illinois Treasurer and Republican candidate for governor, took his 28-year-old assistanton several overseas adventures and “double-occupied” hotel rooms on trips to New York and Washington. In fact, that was just a fraction of their time together.

According to reimbursement recordsobtained by the Chicago Tribune, Rutherford and his assistant, Joshua Lanning, spent over 50 nights together in a studio apartment in Chicago when Rutherford visited the city during political campaigns in 2011 and 2012. (On visits for state business, the men billed the state for a single hotel room.) When confronted by the Tribune, Rutherford defended the arrangement:

Asked who he shared a room with other than Lanning, Rutherford said, “Well, I haven’t.”

Pressed on whether the practice raised questions about his judgment, Rutherford quickly responded, “No.”

“There’s nothing wrong with being friends with employees,” Rutherford said. “I consider myself friends with many in the office.”

The details of Rutherford and Lanning’s lodging arrangements come two days after Edmund Michalowski, a 43-year-old Rutherford aide, sued the Treasurer over claims of sexual harassment. Michalowski’s lengthy complaint alleges that, after he told the Treasurer’s chief of staff, Kyle Ham, about their boss’s sexual advances, Ham tried to cheer him up by arguing that Lanning had it much, much worse:

Rutherford grabbed Plaintiff’s arm and asked Plaintiff to go up to his hotel room. Plaintiff refused. Rutherford became angry, stating “you just said no to the Treasurer.” Upon returning to Chicago, Plaintiff reported the incident to Ham. Ham told Plaintiff that he was “not a team player.” Ham also informed him that “Josh Lanning has the worst job and you should feel lucky.”

Rutherford quickly denied the aide’s allegations, calling them “false,” “untimely,” and “calculated.” Lanning, on the other hand, has refused to comment to the Tribune and other outlets, including Gawker.

[Photo credit: Dan Rutherford’s Facebook page]

Dan Rutherford would make a terrible Illinois Governor.

Rachel Maddow: Michael Grimm the latest in ‘disgusting cesspool’ of corrupt NY lawmakers (via Raw Story )

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) may be famous in the wake of his belligerence toward a reporter, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow said Wednesday night, but he’s only the latest in a parade of New York state lawmakers making lurid headlines. “When it comes to…

thepoliticalfreakshow:

Federal authorities charged former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife with illegally accepting gifts from a Virginia donor in exchange for helping promote the donor’s business.

McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were indicted on 14 counts in a Richmond federal court, the Washington Post reported.

The McDonnells accepted more than $165,000 in loans and gifts, including a Rolex inscribed personally for Bob McDonnell, from Jonnie R. Williams Sr. The McDonnells promoted Williams’ business, and helped Williams meet with Virginia officials.

The couple was informed late last year they were going to be indicted, but authorities later deferred the decision about whether to indict to the new year.

McDonnell, a Republican, was elected in 2009 and concluded his single term this month.

NEW YORK, Jan 17 (Reuters) - More than a dozen New Jersey officials, including top aides to Governor Chris Christie, were served with subpoenas on Friday as the state assembly begins its investigation into a massive bridge traffic jam that was apparently politically motivated.

Christie, seen as a likely Republican candidate for the White House in 2016, has denied any involvement in the so-called “Bridgegate” scandal that is dogging his second term in office.

Assembly Democrats named 13 individuals who were served with subpoenas seeking information related to the September traffic snarl, created by the abrupt closing of access lanes to the busy George Washington Bridge, which spans the Hudson River connecting New York and New Jersey.

Among those receiving subpoenas were Christie spokesmen Michael Drewniak and Colin Reed, communications director Maria Comella, the governor’s incoming chief of staff Regina Egea, and Christie’s former campaign manager Bill Stepien.

The list also includes David Samson, chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, as well as Bill Baroni and David Wildstein, two former Port Authority officials who have resigned.

Two batches of emails between top Christie aides and officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the bridge, appeared to show the lane closures were orchestrated to punish Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor for not endorsing Governor Christie’s re-election bid last year.

Four days of hours-long jams left commuters fuming, and delayed school buses and emergency vehicles.

Nothing in the emails suggests that Christie had any direct knowledge of the plan to close the lanes. Christie has described himself as devastated and “blindsided” by his aides’ actions.

Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye, who ordered the lanes reopened, said in publicly released emails that he believed the closings violated state and federal law. New Jersey’s federal prosecutor has opened an investigation into the matter.

h/t: HuffPost

rtamerica:

Feds investigate NJ governor over Superstorm Sandy relief funds

Days after a traffic scandal transposed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to the center of a federal probe, a United States congressman now says the embattled Republican is being investigated for allegations he misspent millions of dollars in relief aid.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-New Jersey) asked the inspector general of the United States Housing and Urban Development Department back in August to examine how Gov. Christie’s office spent around $25 million in federal aid from Washington meant to assist with relief efforts following 2012’s Superstorm Sandy. Now five months later, Pallone says he’s been told that the probe has expanded to become “a full-blown investigation,” the second of such to be launched in under a week against the Christie administration.

A history of perceived revenge on Gov. Chris Christie’s critics includes an ex-governor who lost police protection, a professor who lost financing and a mayor’s town that became gridlocked.

[…]

In almost every case, Mr. Christie waved off any suggestion that he had meted out retribution. But to many, the incidents have left that impression, and it has been just as powerful in scaring off others who might dare to cross him.

Now, the governor is dogged by another accusation of petty political revenge. Two close political allies ordered the abrupt shutdown of two local access lanes on the George Washington Bridge in September, gridlocking Fort Lee, N.J., for four days. The borough’s mayor said it was punitive because he had declined to endorse the governor’s re-election.

The governor mocked the suggestion as preposterous. But Democrats in New Jersey — and privately, some Republicans too — say it would hardly be out of character for Mr. Christie. As the governor prepares to run for president, the accusation has reinforced his reputation as a bully.

“Every organization takes its cues from the leadership as to what’s acceptable and what’s not, and this governor, in his public appearances, has made thuggery acceptable,” said Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski, the Democrat leading the hearings that have exposed the role of the governor’s aides in the lane closings. “For the governor to say, ‘I knew nothing about this’? He created the atmosphere in which this is acceptable.”

It was the governor’s penchant for confrontation that first propelled him onto the national stage in 2010. As he pushed to cut public employee benefits, his staff celebrated video clips of him dressing down teachers at town hall-style meetings by posting them on YouTube. (“You want to come up here? Come up here,” the governor said to one teacher, a fellow Republican, who hesitated until the governor’s security state troopers gave him no choice. Wagging a finger, Mr. Christie lectured the man, then dismissed him from the hall.)

But his confrontations are not always that public.

In 2011, Mr. Christie held a news conference where he accused State Senator Richard J. Codey of being “combative and difficult” in blocking two nominees. Mr. Codey, a Democrat who had served as governor following the resignation of James E. McGreevey, responded that he had not only signed off on the nominations, but had held a meeting to try to hurry them along.

Three days later, Mr. Codey was walking out of an event in Newark when he got a call from the state police superintendent informing him that he would no longer be afforded the trooper who accompanied him to occasional public events — a courtesy granted all former governors. That same day, his cousin, who had been appointed by Mr. McGreevey to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, was fired, as was a close friend and former deputy chief of staff who was then working in the state Office of Consumer Affairs.

“I understand politics, that a new administration comes in,” Mr. Codey said, but he believed this was not about Mr. Christie bringing in his own people. “This was all about sending a message.”

The governor laughed at the allegation of retribution, and his spokesman belittled the Democratic Party chairman who complained about it.

Later that year, the governor was pressing hard on Alan Rosenthal, the Rutgers political scientist whom Republicans and Democrats had chosen as the tiebreaking member of the commission that was redistricting the state’s legislative districts. Mr. Christie wanted Mr. Rosenthal to vote for the map put forward by the Republicans on the commission, but instead he chose the Democrats’ plan, saying it offered more stability.

Soon after, Mr. Christie used his line-item veto to cut $169,000 for two programs at Mr. Rosenthal’s institute at Rutgers.

The apparent payback is not always directed at Democrats — Mr. Christie can be just as hard on Republicans in an attempt to enforce party discipline.

In 2010, when a blizzard paralyzed the state, State Senator Sean T. Kean, a Republican, told a reporter that the “one mistake” the Senate president and governor had made was not calling earlier for a state of emergency, which might have kept more cars off the roads.

Mr. Christie was smarting from criticism that he had remained at Disney World during the storm. When he returned, he held his first news conference in Mr. Kean’s home district. Shortly before, a member of the governor’s staff called Mr. Kean and warned him not to show up. His seat was eliminated in redistricting the following year.

Mr. Kean, now in the Assembly, declined to comment. At the time, an anonymous administration official told The Star-Ledger that Mr. Kean got what he deserved.

Last year, another Republican, State Senator Christopher Bateman, voted against the governor’s plan to reorganize the state’s public medical education system. Mr. Bateman had been working with the governor to get a judge appointed in his home county. Suddenly, after months when it looked as if it would happen, the nomination stalled.

H/T: NY Times

Steven “Laser” Haas is the owner and sole shareholder of Collateral Logistics Inc. (CLI) the firm which was retained to oversee the liquidation of assets in the bankruptcy of eToys in 2001. 

During the process of liquidating the company Haas came across irregularities, unethical practices and outright criminal acts originating from the top at Bain Capital (Mitt Romney’s asset management firm), Goldman Sachs, Kay Bee Toys and Stage Stores, all of which were involved in the machinations to sell eToys for mere pennies to Bain through its interest in Kay Bee. Haas filed his suit under a provision of the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) statute which allows a plaintiff to become a “Private Attorney General” when it is necessary in order to address “Prosecutorial Gaps.”  According to Haas, that gap was created by Colm F. Connolly, former United States Attorney in Delaware who had been a partner in the law firm of  Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell (MNAT) in 2001, alleging he had failed to disclose that fact while also neglecting to investigate the complaints which Haas had lodged. 

Along with Romney, Haas has named Goldman Sachs, Bain Capital, Michael Glazer Barry Gold and Paul Traub in the suit. Haas has claimed that he has evidence that the parties involved have committed perjury on 35 separate occasions — even alleging that there have been murders carried out in attempts to cover up their wrong doing. His $100 million suit is intended to recover some of the losses incurred by the victims of the unethical and illegal actions of those involved in the chicanery and who reaped handsome profits from the deal. 

h/t: AATTP

Friday the 13th was a very unlucky day for Chris Christie.

So unlucky, in fact, that it might cost him a chance at the presidency.

Governor Chris Christie found himself in hot water this week after a story broke that initially appeared to be too sensational to be true.  The story goes that in mid-September, two lanes were closed on the George Washington Bridge, an incident that led to extensive traffic backups for three days out of the town of Fort Lee, New Jersey. Clearly, this was a case of bad timing and nothing more.  However, rumors began to circulate that these lane closures were done by Christie as retribution to Fort Lee Democratic mayor Mark Sokolich, who refused to endorse Christie’s re-election bid.

Sounds far fetched, right?

Here’s where the story gets interesting.  Last Friday, The Rachel Maddow Show reported that a man by the name of David Wildstein, the director of interstate capital projects at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, announced his resignation, effective January 1st, 2014.  Normally something like this wouldn’t be a big deal. However, Wildstein, a close Christie ally, had recently come under fire for his role in the mid-September incident and questions began to swirl about not only his own involvement, but whether or not Chris Christie himself might have been involved as well.

The New Jersey Star-Ledger posted a scathing editorial on December 5th, in which they tore apart Wildstein’s so-called “explanation” of the lane closures.  Wildstein was identified as the person who ordered the lane closures, which begged the question as to why an ally of Chris Christie was all of a sudden controlling traffic patterns over the GW Bridge.  The Star-Ledgernoted that the only person to offer a reason for the closures was Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni, who stated they were part of a traffic study.  However, Baroni could not produce the study nor could he give an explanation as to why police and ambulance crews were not given advanced notice about the closures, which was established agency policy.  The Port Authority’s executive director, Patrick Foye, denounced the closure and called it “dangerous” and “probably illegal”.

[…]

he situation offers him no way to claim victory.  If it is true, then he is a real-life Tony Soprano, using his power and authority to intimidate his political opponents and putting people’s lives and well-being at risk to prove a political point.  How can America be expected to elect someone who resorts to infantile revenge tactics when he feels he is wronged?  How can America elect someone who is the antithesis of the man we currently have in office?

If the situation is false, it raises huge questions about the people Chris Christie associates himself with.  How can he be expected to produce a presidential cabinet when he can’t even figure out who’s in charge of doing a simple traffic study?  How will he respond if office the first time a member of his close inner circle is criticized?  And, most importantly, how will he respond when even the smallest decision he makes is magnified and critiqued by multiple news outlets on a daily basis?

For those hoping to see the premature end of a Chris Christie Republican nomination, Christmas came early this year.

h/t: Trevor LaFauci at PoliticusUSA

assholeofday:

Is David Wildstein asshole of the day for closing part of the bridge to Ft. Lee as retaliation against its mayor?

According to this story, Wildstein closed two of the three lanes on the New Jersey end of the bridge last September, causing traffic tie-ups in Fort Lee. This was supposedly done in retaliation against Fort Lee’s mayor, who had declined to endorse Christie for reelection.

On Friday Wildstein announced that he would resign his position at the end of the year. And that traffic study? It turns out that folks in New Jersey have been asking for evidence of its existence for weeks and gotten nothing.

http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/12/new-jersey-man-wins-award-dumbest-political-retaliation-year

Yep, closed traffic on a major bridge as political retaliation. What a guy!