Monday, January 27, 2014
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that U.S. District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff has ruled that Defendant Eric Aronson violated the antifraud and other provisions of the federal securities laws. In addition, the Court entered orders of permanent injunctions against Defendants Vincent Buonauro and Fredric Aaron and further imposed officer and director and penny stock bars against Aaron. Furthermore, the Court ordered Aronson's wife, Relief Defendant Caroline Aronson, to disgorge the ill-gotten gains she received from her husband.
The Commission's Complaint, filed in October 2011, alleged that, from 2006 to 2010, PermaPave Industries and its affiliates raised more than $26 million from the sale of promissory notes and "use of funds" agreements to over 140 investors. Eric Aronson, Vincent Buonauro and others told investors that there was a tremendous demand for the product - permeable paving stones - and that investors would be repaid from the profits generated by guaranteed product sales. In reality, there was little demand for the product, and defendants used investors' money to make "interest" and "profit" payments to earlier investors and to fund management's lavish lifestyles. In addition, shortly after an affiliate of PermaPave Industries acquired a majority stake in Interlink-US-Network, Ltd., Eric Aronson, Fredric Aaron - who was the attorney for Eric Aronson and the entity defendants - and others issued a press release stating that a company that had never heard of Interlink intended to invest $6 million in Interlink.
On August 6, 2013, the Court granted in part the Commission's motion for summary judgment. Finding that the Commission proved an "almost endless fraud" with evidence that Eric Aronson and others raised millions from investors, misappropriated the funds raised, and then converted the investments several times over to delay and ultimately avoid repayment, the Court ruled that Eric Aronson, age 45 and resident of Syosset, New York, violated Sections 5 and 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Sections 10(b) and 15(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder. Subsequently, on December 11, 2013, the Court granted the Commission's motion for reconsideration of the Court's summary judgment order and ruled that Eric Aronson also violated Section 20(e) of the Exchange Act by aiding and abetting Interlink's violations of Exchange Act Sections 10(b) and 13(a) and Rules 10b-5, 12b-20 and 13a-11. Relief for these violations will be determined at a later date.
The Court also granted summary judgment on the Commission's claim for disgorgement against Caroline Aronson, age 43 and resident of Syosset, New York. On December 23, 2013, the Court issued a final judgment ordering Caroline Aronson to pay the full disgorgement amount sought, $296,262.
Also on December 23, 2013, the Court issued judgments as to Vincent Buonauro, age 42 and resident of West Islip, New York, and Fredric Aaron, age 49 and resident of Plainview, New York. Vincent Buonauro agreed to consent to the judgment as to him, which enjoins him from violating Securities Act Sections 5 and 17(a) and Exchange Act Sections 10(b) and 15(a) and Rule 10b-5. Fredric Aaron also agreed to consent to the judgment as to him, which enjoins him from violating Exchange Act Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 and from aiding and abetting violations of Exchange Act Section 13(a) and Rules 12b-20 and 13a-11. The judgment as to Fredric Aaron also imposes five year officer and director and penny stock bars. The Commission's claims for monetary relief against Vincent Buonauro and Fredric Aaron will be determined at a later date.
The Commission's civil action also continues against Relief Defendant Deborah Buonauro. The Court previously issued final judgments against all entity defendants and entity relief defendants on January 19, 2012 and against Defendant Robert Kondratick on October 17, 2012.For further information, see Litigation Release Nos. 22117 (Oct. 6, 2011) and22231 (Jan. 23, 2012).
Monday, January 20, 2014
Thursday, January 16, 2014
Thursday, January 9, 2014
With the New Year’s celebration, it’s time for Judicial Watch’s annual roster of Washington’s “Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians.”
As Judicial Watch demonstrated in our recent survey, conducted in partnership withBreitbart.com, the American people are very concerned about a federal government that is completely out of control. I’m afraid a review of Washington’s worst offenders won’t allay these concerns.
However, this list, which is widely distributed by the press, serves an important purpose – to educate Americans about the bipartisan problem of corruption in Washington and about Judicial Watch’s critical work in holding corrupt politicians accountable to the rule of law.
And so, without further delay, the 2013 list in alphabetical order includes:
- Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH)
- CIA Director John Brennan
- Senator Saxby Chambliss
- Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
- Attorney General Eric Holder
- Former IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller / Former IRS Official Lois Lerner
- Former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano
- President Barack Obama
- Senator Harry Reid (D-NV)
- Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
Dishonorable Mentions for 2013 include:
- Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg
- Outgoing Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) / Incoming Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D)
- Former Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ)
- National Security Adviser Susan Rice
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH):
House Speaker John Boehner has apparently become a master at what Government Accountability Institute President Peter Schweizer calls the “Tollbooth Strategy.” As Schweizer explains in his new book, Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets: “You pay money at a tollbooth in order to use a road or bridge. The methodology in Washington is similar: if someone wants a bill passed, charge them money to allow the bill to move down the legislative highway.” According to Schweizer, Boehner apparently used theTollbooth Strategy to collect more than $200,000 in political donations from executives just days before holding votes on bills critically important to their industries.
The first bill was the Wireless Tax Fairness Act. Strongly supported by big phone companies like AT&T and Verizon, it sailed through the House Judiciary Committee, and was expected to immediately come to the floor for a full House vote. Instead of scheduling the bill for a vote, however, Boehner allowed it to languish on the calendar for the next three months. What finally prompted Boehner to bring the bill to a vote? As Schweizer explains it: “The day before the vote, Boehner’s campaign collected the toll: thirty-three checks from wireless industry executives, totaling almost $40,000.”
According to Schweizer, two more bills on which Boehner employed the Tollbooth Strategy were the Access to Capital for Job Creators Act and the Small Company Capital Formation Act. Brokers and venture capitalists and investment firms strongly supported the proposed law. Explains Schweizer in Extortion: “The Speaker of the House took in $91,000 in the forty-eight hours of October 30 and 31 from investment banks and private equity firms, two days before the vote. During the same time period, he took in $46,500 from self-described ‘investors’ and another $32,450 from bank holding companies. With the tolls paid, the votes took place on the full House floor. Both passed easily.”
CIA Director John Brennan:
In mid-December 2013, Judicial Watch obtained and released the full transcript of a May 7, 2012, teleconference between then-White House top counterterror adviser (now CIA Director) John Brennan and various TV terrorism consultants in which Brennen revealed that the U.S. and its allies had “inside control over any plot” in its efforts to thwart a May 2012 terrorism bomb plot, thus blowing the cover on undercover agents within al Qaeda.
The Brennan revelation of “inside control” – an intelligence community euphemism for spies within an enemy operation – reportedly helped lead to the disclosure of a previously well-kept secret at the heart of a joint U.S.-British-Saudi undercover terrorism operation inside Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). According to a Reuters May 18, 2012, report:
The next day’s headlines were filled with news of a U.S. spy planted inside Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), who had acquired the latest, non-metallic model of the underwear bomb and handed it over to U.S. authorities.
At stake was an operation that could not have been more sensitive — the successful penetration by Western spies of AQAP, al Qaeda’s most creative and lethal affiliate. As a result of leaks, the undercover operation had to be shut down.
In the transcript obtained by Judicial Watch, Brennan led the teleconference where he addressed the top terror consultants for ABC, NBC, CNN, and CBS including Caitlin Hayden, Frances Townsend, Richard Clarke, Roger Cressey, and Juan Zarate. In an apparent attempt to soft-peddle the thwarted terrorist attack, Brennan twice exposed the covert operation; first at the outset of the call, then as the conference drew to a close:
BRENNAN: The device itself, as I think the FBI statement said quite clearly, never posed a threat to the American public or the public … Well, as we, well know, Al Qaeda has tried to carry out simultaneous types of attacks, and so we were confident that we had inside control over the – any plot that might have been associated with this device.
CLARKE: If it gets asked. There was no active threat because we had insider control …
BRENNAN: I would not disagree with the way you put that, at all.
It should also be noted that records obtained by Judicial Watch in May 2012, through a Freedom of Information lawsuit, indicate that Brennan helped orchestrate the administration’s attempt to influence the storyline of the movie “Zero Dark Thirty.” A transcript of a July 14, 2011, meeting between Defense Department officials, including Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael Vickers, and filmmakers Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reveals that Boal met directly with White House officials on at least two occasions regarding the film: “I took your guidance and spoke to the WH and had a good meeting with Brennan and McDonough and I plan to follow up with them; and they were forward leaning and interested in sharing their point of view; command and control; so that was great, thank you,” Boal said according to the transcript. During Brennan’s February 2013 CIA confirmation hearings, he confirmed he had met with Boal “on how White House officials viewed the opportunities and risks associated with a film about the raid that killed bin Laden.”
Brennan, of course, was not the only Obama administration official who attempted to curry favor with “Zero Dark Thirty” filmmakers. In early December Judicial Watch released more than 200 pages of documents from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), including a previously unreleased CIA internal report, confirming that former CIA Director Leon Panetta revealed classified information at a June 24, 2011, bin Laden assault awards ceremony attended by filmmaker Mark Boal. Significantly, the entire transcript of the Panetta speech provided to Judicial Watch by the CIA was classified “Top Secret.” More than 90 lines are redacted for security reasons, further confirming that significant portions of the speech should not have been made in front of the filmmaker who lacked top security clearance.
Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA):
Sen. Saxby Chambliss makes the “Ten Worst” list for what he actually did in 2012, but which was finally exposed in 2013. Just as with House Speaker Boehner, Chambliss’s misdeeds were revealed in Peter Schweizer’s book Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets. In fact, Chambliss is highlighted as one of the key abusers who used leadership PAC loopholes to convert campaign cash into lavish lifestyle upgrades for themselves and their family members.
As the New York Times reported:
The book details the extravagant expenses of Senator Saxby Chambliss, Republican of Georgia, for instance, whose leadership PAC spent $10,000 on golf at Pebble Beach, nearly $27,000 at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, and $107,752 at the exclusive Breakers resort in Palm Beach, Fla. The amount Mr. Chambliss spent at the Breakers in the 2012 election cycle, the book reports, is three times what the senator gave to the National Republican Senatorial Committee during the same period.
When Chambliss’s campaign was asked about the flagrantly lavish spending, they responded that all spending was reported according to the law. Though it may be legal, it is a clear abuse. And one has to wonder if the hardworking Georgians who sacrificed their scarce funds to support Chambliss’ re-election would be comfortable knowing their campaign contributions were used to support the “lifestyles of the rich and famous.”
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:
On January 23, 2013, outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified to congressional committees regarding the terrorist attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, which led to the murder of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American citizens. At times evasive, at other times defensive and aggressive, Clinton delivered her version of events in the days before and after the murders in Benghazi. And, in the end, the Secretary of State pretended to take “responsibility,” but gave a predictable response regarding who is to blame: “…the level of responsibility for the failures…was set at the Assistant Secretary of State level and below,” Clinton said, referring to an investigation of the incident. In other words, this was not my fault.
At one point in her testimony, in what is, perhaps, the epitome of Obama-era contempt for accountability, Clinton yelled “What difference does it make?” in response to a reasonable question about why the attack transpired and why the administration told an obvious lie about an obscure Internet video as the cause of the attack.
If the mere mention of the contrived video scenario triggered Clinton’s emotional outburst, it is certainly understandable. Remember, it was Clinton herself who was instrumental in advancing the false narrative that the video sparked the attacks. For example, at a September 14, 2012, event honoring the victims, Clinton said, “We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We’ve seen the rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful video that we had nothing to do with.” To this day, she has not set the record straight.
In addition to Hillary Clinton’s apparent cover-up of the role she played in the Benghazi tragedy and its aftermath, she left office in another ethical cloud about conflicts of interest in the activities of her longtime top aide Huma Abedin. Abedin left the State Department in February 2013, and in May 2013, Politico broke the story that, since June 2012, she had been working as a “special government employee” (SGE), a consultant position allowing her to represent outside clients while continuing as a top adviser at State. While working as an SGE, Abedin’s outside clients included Teneo, a strategic consulting firm co-founded by former Bill Clinton counselor Doug Band. According to Fox News, Abedin earned $355,000 as a consultant to Teneo, in addition to her $135,000 SGE compensation.
And compounding the corruption scenario were the potential for conflicts of interest between Hillary Clinton’s role as Secretary of State and Bill Clinton’s international ventures, which grew increasingly controversial in late 2008 when the former president released a list of donors to his library and foundation in what he termed “a deal between” Obama “and Hillary.” According to an Associated Press wire story, “Saudi Arabia gave $10 million to $25 million to the foundation. Other government donors include Norway, Kuwait, Qatar, Brunei, Oman …”
Attorney General Eric Holder:
Attorney General Holder has become a regular on the Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians list.
In May 2013, Holder may well have committed perjury when he was involved in a back-and-forth with Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) about whether the Department of Justice (DOJ) could prosecute reporters under the Espionage Act for publishing classified material. In response to Johnson’s interrogatories Holder made the following statement: “In regard to potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material – this is not something I’ve ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be wise policy.”
Since Holder made that statement, NBC news reported that the attorney general had approved a search warrant for the email account and phone records of Fox News reporter James Rosen. As Hotair.com said at the time: “There is no other way to view this except as a lie. Even if Holder wasn’t under oath, that would constitute a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. It certainly should produce at least a resignation, and almost assuredly would require the appointment of a special prosecutor ….”
Time and again in recent years, Judicial Watch has had to take legal action to prevent Holder’s DOJ from bludgeoning states over taking steps to prevent voter fraud. After a June Supreme Court ruling striking down a Voting Rights Act requirement requiring certain states and local jurisdictions to get permission from the DOJ or a federal judge before enacting voting law changes, Holder announced his intention to skirt the law. In a speech in September at a convention of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Holder vowed that the DOJ would find ways to try to accomplish the goals of the section of the law that was struck down.
As a result, Judicial Watch went to court in North Carolina in early December to defend the State of North Carolina against a DOJ lawsuit to prevent enforcement of the state’s recently passed law HB 589, which simply requires that voters present a photo ID before casting their ballots. As PJ Media explains it:
Judicial Watch uncovered collusion between radical leftist groups and the administration to attack voter integrity laws around the nation. Indeed, the [Judicial Watch] brief notes:
On July 29, 2013, a group of political activists attended a meeting at the White House with Attorney General Holder, Labor Secretary (and former Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights) Tom Perez, and President Obama. Those attending included representatives from the ACLU, the NAACP, and the Rev. Al Sharpton. Mr. Sharpton told an interviewer for MSNBC that, based on what he heard at that meeting, he expected action regarding North Carolina ‘when this governor signs the bill.’
The DOJ is similarly assaulting Texas in federal court as part of this ideological effort to suppress efforts to protect election integrity.
More than a dozen states—including Kansas, Indiana, Tennessee and Wisconsin—have similar laws that require voters to show government-issued photo identification at the polls, and Obama’s attorney general has launched a campaign to challenge them all.
The Holder DOJ is clearly hostile to the idea of one person, one vote, one time.
Yet, even with all of that, Holder’s malfeasance doesn’t stop there. In August Judicial Watch released DOJ documents highlighting over $4.2 million in accrued travel expenses by Mr. Holder from March 2008 until August 2012; of which $697,525.20 were personal travel expenses. All, of course, at taxpayer expense. Add to this Holder’s continued stonewalling on the “Fast & Furious” gun-running scandal and it is all too obvious that Eric Holder’s corruption knows no limits.
Former IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller / Former IRS Official Lois Lerner:
Steve Miller, then head of the IRS, resigned in May 2013, after admitting to the targeting of anti-Obama Tea Party groups during the 2012 presidential election, which he offhandedly tossed off as “horrible customer service.” Under Miller, the IRS purposely stonewalledthe approval of nonprofit applications from “Tea Party” and other conservative groups that were seeking tax exempt status. According to a report by the agency’s inspector general released in May 2013, for more than 18 months beginning in early 2010: “The IRS used inappropriate criteria that identified for review Tea Party and other organizations applying for tax-exempt status based upon their names or policy positions instead of indications of potential political campaign intervention.”
As reported by CNN:
Among the criteria used by IRS officials to flag applications was a “Be On the Look Out” list, or a BOLO, which was discontinued in 2012 according to the report. The criteria on the BOLO included:
- Whether “Tea Party,” “Patriots” or “9/12 Project” was referenced in the case file.
- Whether the issues outlined in the application included government spending, government debt or taxes.
- Whether there was advocating or lobbying to “make America a better place to live.”
- Whether a statement in the case file criticized how the country is being run.
- Whether it advocated education about the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Miller was eagerly aided in his suppression of conservative groups by former IRS Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner. Subpoenaed to testify before Congress in May 2013, Lerner disdainfully refused to answer inquiries, demanding full immunity concerning her role in the targeting scandal. Eventually, the IRS acknowledged that while she was in charge, IRS agents improperly targeted Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status from 2010-2012. Lerner retired from the IRS on September 23 with full benefits, even after an internal investigation found she was guilty of “neglect of duties” and was going to call for her firing, according to news reports.
Subsequent to Lerner’s lavish retirement, Judicial Watch, in October 2013, obtained email exchanges between her and enforcement attorneys at the Federal Election Commission (FEC) indicating that under Lerner’s direction, the IRS provided detailed, confidential information concerning the tax exempt application status and returns of conservative groups to the FEC – in violation of federal law.
Not only did Miller and Lerner deliberately target conservative organizations for IRS harassment, they both lied about it in separate appearances before Congress. In July 2012, Miller was asked at a congressional hearing, “What kind of … action is taking place at this time that you are aware of” to address complaints that groups seeking nonprofit status were being harassed. Claiming that an overload of applications had caused the problem, Miller covered up the fact that he had learned two months earlier that conservative groups were being inappropriately singled out for extra scrutiny. In May 2013, Lerner told a congressional committee that she found out about the harassment when she read about it “in the press” in early 2012. But, according to the IG report timeline, she was informed in June 2011 about the IRS’s BOLO criteria that included words such as “Tea Party” or “patriots.”
The true damage wrought by the Miller/Lerner witch-hunt may never be fully known. One can certainly speculate as to impact the Tea Party movement could have made had Miller and Lerner not cowed much of it into silence with their ruthless, reckless assault on Barack Obama’s political opponents. In short, the Obama IRS duo may have perfected the formula for stealing an election in plain sight.
Former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano:
In August 2013 Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano stepped down from her post expressing both “pride and regret” – the regret stemming from her failure to help push through the so-called Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. The truth is, however, that Napolitano actually played a major role in doing an end run around existing immigration law by helping President Obama implement his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) directive in lieu of DREAM Act passage.
Documents obtained by Judicial Watch in June 2013 revealed that Napolitano’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) abandoned required background checks in 2012, adopting, instead, costly “lean and lite” procedures in effort to keep up with the flood of amnesty applications resulting from the DACA directive.
The documents also revealed that, contrary to Napolitano’s claim that DACA applied only to minors who came to this country illegally “through no fault of their own,” the directive actually created a new avenue of chain migration, whereby immediate relatives of DACA requesters could be approved for amnesty. As a result, according to an agency memo from District 15 Director David Douglas, “some of the districts closer to the U.S./Mexico border have been inundated.”
The Obama/Napolitano stealth amnesty policy received a setback in July 2013 when the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas left DACA hanging by a string as he dismissed a challenge strictly due to jurisdictional issues. While the court determined that it did not have authority to hear the case, Judge Reed O’Connor agreed that program is likely unconstitutional, saying, “[T]he Court finds that Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim challenging the Directive and Morton Memorandum as contrary to the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.”
In an earlier ruling handed down in April, Judge O’Connor stated clearly that, “DHS does not have discretion to refuse to initiate removal proceedings when the requirements of Section 1225(b)(2)(A) are satisfied.” That section requires the agents to place aliens who are not “clearly and beyond a doubt entitled to be admitted” to the United States into removal proceedings.
DHS malfeasance did not stop there. And, in fact, according to a court order filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas on December 13, DHS has actually enabled cartel trafficking of minors, delivering those minors to illegals living inside the United States and completing criminal transactions for illegal immigrants. The court document details a guilty plea from Mirtha Veronica Nava-Martinez for being paid to smuggle a 10-year-old El Salvadoran female into the United States. Nava-Martinez was hired by Patricia Elizabeth Salmeron Santos, the mother of the 10-year-old, who was living illegally in Virginia after being denied legal entry into the U.S. in 2001. According to U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen who wrote the court order: “The DHS officials were notified that Salmeron-Santos instigated this illegal conduct. Yet, instead of arresting Salmeron-Santos for instigating the conspiracy to violate our border security laws, the DHS delivers the child to her – thus successfully completing the mission of the criminal conspiracy. It did not arrest her. It did not prosecute her. It did not even initiate deportation proceedings for her. This DHS policy is a dangerous course of action.”
Napolitano’s legacy is one that has gutted, for political reasons, the very immigration laws she swore to uphold.
President Barack Obama:
President Barack Obama actually tops this “Top Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians” list for 2013 as the driving force behind so many of the misdeeds. This is Obama’s seventh straight year on the list, dating back all the way to 2007 (in 2006, he earned a “Dishonorable Mention”). He is a master at catch-me-if-you-can, corrupt politics. This year, he has again acted as a one-man Congress, rewriting entire sections of federal law on his own. Not only is his administration secretive and dishonest; its callous disregard for the rule of law undermines our constitutional republic. Examples include:
- Perhaps Obama’s most outrageous actions over the past year were his continual lies about the ability of Americans to keep their own health insurance under Obamacare. According the Free Beacon, Obama misled the American people a total of 36 times between 2008 and 2013 with his promise, “If you like your health insurance, you can keep it.” And according to NBC News, Obama knew, even as he repeated his lie, that “more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them:”
None of this should come as a shock to the Obama administration. The law states that policies in effect as of March 23, 2010 will be “grandfathered,” meaning consumers can keep those policies even though they don’t meet requirements of the new health care law. But the Department of Health and Human Services then wrote regulations that narrowed that provision, by saying that if any part of a policy was significantly changed since that date – the deductible, co-pay, or benefits, for example – the policy would not be grandfathered.
Buried in Obamacare regulations from July 2010 is an estimate that because of normal turnover in the individual insurance market, “40 to 67 percent” of customers will not be able to keep their policy. And because many policies will have been changed since the key date, “the percentage of individual market policies losing grandfather status in a given year exceeds the 40 to 67 percent range.”
That means the administration knew that more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them.
- Throughout 2013, the Obama family continued to use the White House as its own personal travel bureau and the taxpayers as their personal expense account.
- Though Obama quickly disavowed any knowledge of the IRS assault on Tea Party and other conservative groups leading up to the 2012 presidential election, the fact is that it was the president himself who fingered the groups for what might be called “special handling.” Consider Obama’s own hostile and aggressive statements, made just as his IRS officials were gearing up their assault:
August 9, 2010: During his weekly radio address, Obama warned of “attack ads run by shadowy groups with harmless-sounding names.” The President said: We don’t know who’s behind these ads and we don’t know who’s paying for them . . . you don’t know if it’s a foreign controlled corporation. … The only people who don’t want to disclose the truth are people with something to hide.”
September 20, 2010: Speaking in Philadelphia, Obama once again warned that “nobody knows” the identities of the individuals who support conservative groups.
September 22, 2010: Speaking in New York, Obama warned against groups opposing his policies “[posing] as non-for-profit social and welfare trade groups” and he claimed such groups were “guided by seasoned Republican political operatives” and potentially supported by some unidentified “foreign controlled entity.”
October 14, 2010: Obama attacked organizations with “benign sounding” names as “a problem for democracy.”
Little wonder that after their boss sounded the call to attack, Obama’s IRS appointees obeyed the command. And even less wonder that, caught red-handed, Obama first claimed total ignorance and, when the ploy failed, simply labeled it all a “phony scandal.”
- According to the Galen Institute, Obama has now unilaterally rewritten the Obamacare law as passed by Congress 14 times by executive fiat, with the majority of those changes coming in 2013. Those changes include such major overhauls as the congressional opt-out, eviscerating the individual mandate, and delaying the employer mandate. The latest Obama fix came on December 20, when he suddenly moved to allow hundreds of thousands of people who have lost their insurance due to Obamacare to sign up for bare-bone “catastrophic” plans. As National Review observed, “Of course, like every other exemption from Obamacare the latest fix is supposed to last only a year, raising the prospect that people will be kicked off their catastrophic coverage as soon as the 2014 election is safely in the political rear-view mirror.”
Senator Harry Reid (D-NV):
Last year, Harry Reid made the Judicial Watch Ten Worst list for his influence-peddling scandal involving ENN Energy Group, a Chinese “green energy” company for which Reid “applied his political muscle” – and which just happened to be a major client of the Nevada law firm in which Reid’s son, Rory, is a principal.
This year Reid makes the Ten Worst list again. His “friends” list is examined by Frontpage.com:
On Monday, Harry Reid’s close friend and donor, Harvey Whittemore was sentenced to two years in prison for funneling more than $130,000 in illegal campaign funds to Sen. Harry Reid’s re-election committee in 2007 …
According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, Reid and Whittemore go way back; four of Reid’s sons were hired by the law firm in which Harvey Whittemore was a senior partner. Sen. Reid and Whittemore were involved in very big land deals, including federal legislation to help the development of Coyote Springs.
None of which is surprising, since Reid has long-since made funneling money to his family’s enterprises his stock-in-trade. According toPeter Schweizer, writing for Fox News, “Sen. Reid has sponsored at least $47 million in earmarks that directly benefitted organizations that one of his sons, Key Reid, [RW1] either lobbies for or is affiliated with.”
While not teaming up with family members to fleece taxpayers, Reid was teaming up with President Obama to use executive authority to skirt the law. Obama and Reid have long opposed a proposed nuclear waste dump in Yucca Mountain, Nevada, which has already cost U.S. taxpayers an astounding $15 billion, according to various federal audits. So, Obama simply instructed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission(NRC) to decline to conduct the statutorily mandated Yucca Mountain licensing process, essentially destroying the project.
In mid-August, a federal appellate court ruled that Obama “is simply flouting the law.” According to the court, “It is no overstatement to say that our constitutional system of separation of powers would be significantly altered if we were to allow executive and independent agencies to disregard federal law in the manner asserted in this case by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.”
Topping off the year, on November 21, 2013, – a day which should live in congressional infamy – Reid gutted the long-standing filibuster rules of the U.S. Senate in order to grease the path for Barack Obama’s court appointees. The new Reid rule prevents the minority party from filibustering any nominations other than nods to the Supreme Court. And to effect the change, Reid first triggered the “nuclear option,” which allows a change to Senate rules by majority vote (and which he had adamantly opposed in 2005, calling it “illegal” and “unAmerican”). Minority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Reid of attempting “break the rules of the Senate … in order to change the rules of the Senate.” Not surprisingly, as the Wall Street Journal editorialized, an ancillary benefit of the rule change is that it will get judges on the DC Court of Appeals who are more friendly to Reid’s agenda.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius:
It’s a wonder Secretary Sebelius was still around to do damage in 2013 after last year’s fiasco for which she appeared on the Ten Most Wanted list. The Obama administration’s own lawyers determined Sebelius could be fired for violating federal law when reports surfaced that she had campaigned for Obama while acting in her official capacity as an executive branch official during the last presidential campaign. This made Kathleen Sebelius the first member ever of a president’s cabinet to be found guilty of violating the Hatch Act.
In 2013, rather than solicit votes, Sebelius solicited financial support for President Obama’s huge health care disaster. In May, Secretary Sebelius was caught hitting health care companies up for cash to fund Obamacare after Congress rejected all of the administration’s requests.
But, that was just for openers – because in October Sebelius redefined the term “incompetence” when she oversaw the disastrous launch of the Obamacare website. As Mercedes Schlapp wrote in US News:
She refused to listen to the IT experts who expressed serious concerns about the launch as early as March of 2013. Henry Chao, deputy chief information officer said in a meeting that he was “pretty nervous” about the exchanges being ready for October 1. Prior to the launch, one insurance executive also stated, “the extent of the problems was pretty enormous.”
Yet the American people are forced to settle for mediocrity from their leaders who play political games rather than deliver effective products.
Pressed by Congress to explain the disastrous, costly website rollout, Sebelius rolled her eyes, shrugged her shoulders and caustically replied, “Whatever” blithely dismissing the lies and the fraud that have become part and parcel of Obamacare. The fact is, were Sebelius in the private sector, she would probably be prosecuted for fraud.
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg:
In late December, documents obtained by Judicial Watch revealed that former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg apparently used his top mayoral staff to work on Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) – of which Bloomberg is a co-founder – at taxpayer expense. Included in the documents were emails revealing that Bloomberg aid John Feinblatt worked closely with MAIG executive Mark Glaze on the following:
- On December 14, 2013, Glaze and Feinblatt discussed MAIG lobbying efforts in the state of Colorado.
- On the day following the Sandy Hook tragedy, Glaze and Feinblatt conferred on how they could “”keep the mayor ahead of congress, the white house, the press.”
- On December 17 and 18 and email exchange makes it clear that Feinblatt was involved in the day-to-day operations of MAIG, including media buys by the organization.
- On December 19, an email from Glaze to Feinblatt indicates that Feinblatt was directly involved in MAIG finances.
Outgoing Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) / Incoming Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D):
The citizens of Virginia got a dubious “twofer” in 2013, as both their outgoing and incoming governors were revealed as having been embroiled in apparently shady dealings, to put it mildly.
In April 2013, outgoing Governor McDonnell became the subject of an FBI probe because of his possible quid-pro-quo dealings with Jonnie R. Williams Sr., the chief executive of Star Scientific, a company that makes a tobacco-derived dietary supplement. Williams allegedly paid $15,000 to cover catering expenses at the June 2011 wedding of McDonnell’s daughter at the time the McDonnell family was actively promoting the supplement. And that’s just the beginning. According to The Washington Post report on the relationship, “Williams’s company donated $28,500 worth of flights to McDonnell’s successful 2009 campaign for governor and $80,000 worth of air travel to his political action committee after the election, the Post reported. Williams also allowed the governor’s family to borrow a Ferrari and stay at a western Virginia vacation home he owns in July 2011.”
In mid-December, federal prosecutors told McDonnell that he and his wife would be charged in connection with the scandal. Senior Justice Department officials delayed the decision, however, reportedly to wait until after McDonnell leaves office.
For his part, incoming Governor Terry McAuliffe is preparing for his inauguration with a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation hanging over his head. Perhaps Mother Jones magazine best explains the latest McAuliffe scandal:
When McAuliffe in 2009 created GreenTech, a now-troubled electric-car company, he turned to an old pal for assistance in courting foreign investors: Tony Rodham, who is best known as one of Hillary Clinton’s embarrassing brothers. A former repo man, prison guard, and private eye, Rodham by then had a long history of trying to cash in on his famous sister’s connections and generally causing problems for her…
But McAuliffe somehow thought Rodham was just the guy to help him with his electric-car venture. Rodham owns a company that solicits foreign investors for American projects (deals that allow these foreign investors secure US visas). GreenTech relied heavily on foreign investors.
According to The Washington Post: “In May, the SEC subpoenaed documents from GreenTech Automotive and bank records from a sister company, Gulf Coast Funds Management of McLean. The investigation is focused, at least in part, on alleged claims that the company ‘guarantees returns’ to the investors, according to government documents.”
Former Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ):
Former three-term Republican Congressman Rick Renzi first made the Judicial Watch Ten Worst list back in 2008, when was indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiracy, extortion, money laundering and wire fraud. At the time, we said, “He allegedly used his influence on a House Natural Resources Committee to orchestrate a land swap with the federal government that financially benefited himself and his associates. The 49-year-old lawmaker, who owns an insurance business, is also charged with embezzling more than $400,000 from insurance clients to fund his congressional campaign.” Well, now we can drop the “allegedly” – because in June, 2013, Renzi was convicted on 17 counts of extortion, racketeering and other federal charges. And in October, he was sentenced to three years in prison.
National Security Adviser Susan Rice:
Last year, Susan Rice shared Ten Worst dishonors with Hillary Clinton for their dual roles in the high-profile campaign to portray the deadly attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, as solely related to a privately produced YouTube video that was offensive to Muslims. On the Sunday following the attack, Rice repeatedly stated on five different network TV news programs that the Benghazi assault had been a spontaneous reaction to an obscure online video mocking Mohammed, rather than a planned terrorist attack.
This year, Rice makes the Ten Worst list all on her own by joining with Barack Obama to add insult to injury by pulling an end-run around the United States Congress. Realizing that after her campaign of deception involving Benghazi, she could not be approved by the Senate for the job of Secretary of State she so clearly coveted, Rice accepted the position of National Security Advisor, which requires no Senate approval. Thus, her duplicity could be rewarded – without the American people having any say whatsoever in the matter.