Posts Tagged ‘corruption’

Democratic State Senator Carlos Uresti’s Offices Raided by FBI, IRS

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Via Dwight comes word that the offices of Democratic State Senator Carlos Uresti have been raided by the FBI and the IRS:

Agents have been confiscating documents from the office of the Democratic lawmaker.

“I can confirm the FBI and IRS are lawfully present and conducting a lawful law enforcement activity,” FBI spokeswoman Michelle Lee told the Express-News.

Lee also said no arrests have been made so far.

Uresti is currently facing a grand jury investigation into possible public corruption charges related to his involvement with FourWinds, a San Antonio oil-field services company accused of defrauding investors.

While Uresti is “innocent until proven guilty,” having both the FBI and IRS lawfully conducting lawful law enforcement in your office is not a good sign.

When last we checked on Sen. Uresti, he was sharing a bathroom with a female staffer not his wife and involved in the UT admissions scandal.

Here’s more on the FourWinds story, which I had not been previously following:

The one-time marketing director for a bankrupt San Antonio frac-sand company with ties to state Sen. Carlos Uresti has been criminally charged in an alleged scheme to defraud investors.

On Wednesday, Eric Nelson was charged in an information with conspiracy to commit wire fraud for allegedly altering a FourWinds Logistics’ bank statement to inflate the amount of money in the account. The bank statement was then mailed by an unnamed co-conspirator to prospective investors, according to the charging document.

Nelson has agreed to a plea deal, according to sources, but records show that it is sealed. His attorneys declined to comment.

The San Antonio Express-News in August chronicled the demise of FourWinds, which had more than $14 million in claims against it. Investors have alleged that CEO Stan Bates wasted their money on personal expenses, expensive gifts, exotic car rentals and lavish vacation, according to a court document. Bates has denied the allegations.

Uresti provided legal services for FourWinds and served as its outside general counsel for four or five months in 2014, he said in an interview this summer. He received FourWinds shares, as well as a $40,000 loan from the company that he failed to disclose initially. He also collected a $27,000 commission on a Harlingen woman’s $900,000 investment in a joint venture with FourWinds. The woman ended up losing about $800,000.

Really, who of us hasn’t forgotten a $40,000 loan? “Oh yeah! That little thing! Sorry, totally slipped my mind!”

Uncle Sam’s mills grind slowly, but exceedingly fine. One way or another, I suspect Republicans will view Uresti’s west Texas District 19 as a pickup target in 2020…if not sooner…

Dawnna Dukes Indicted on 15 Counts, Faces 28 Years in Jail

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

The shoe has landed:

A grand jury has indicted state Rep. Dawnna Dukes on 13 felony corruption charges and two misdemeanors, with a maximum penalty of 28 years behind bars, a courthouse source said Wednesday.

Dukes, an Austin Democrat, faces two misdemeanor counts of abuse of official capacity and 13 felony counts of tampering with public records, a source with knowledge of the case said. Travis County prosecutors and investigators from the Texas Rangers presented the evidence to the grand jurors Tuesday, who indicted Dukes on the first day that they met to consider the case.

The indictment comes seven days after Dukes reneged on a promise to step down and took the oath of office for a 12th two-year term representing parts of North Austin, East Austin, Pflugerville and Manor.

Dukes posted a statement on Facebook following the indictment, which was first reported by Spectrum News: “Of course, I am disappointed but I expected that if I was sworn into office in January 10th that this indictment would follow. All I can say today is that I will be entering a plea of Not Guilty.”

One abuse of official capacity charge deals with Dukes using her legislative staff for personal purposes. In April, the American-Statesman reported that Dukes had arranged to give a taxpayer-funded raise to an aide to cover gas money for driving Dukes’ daughter to and from school.

With the other abuse of official capacity charge, the grand jury accused Dukes of using money raised from campaign contributors for personal purposes. Politicians may use campaign money to pay for election activities or for expenses related to carrying out their elected office, but state law forbids them from using it for personal purposes.

Dukes has made numerous questionable expenditures from her campaign account over the years, including $13,000 in payments to family members, $30,000 on gas and $2,700 to a seamstress, a Statesman investigation in June found.

$13,000 to family members? Yeah, that’s gonna raise red flags.

The grand jury accused Dukes of converting to personal use campaign expenditures that were earmarked for the African-American Community Heritage Festival, an East Austin event Dukes co-founded 18 years ago but ended last year after negative attention caused by the investigation. Dukes has listed at least $17,600 in campaign expenditures for the festival, including $303 to an electronics store for “replacement of digital camera broken by staff,” $146 for Mardi Gras beads and more than $7,000 for musical performers, the Statesman investigation found.

The 13 charges for tampering with public records concerns an allegation that Dukes collected pay from the state during the 2014 legislative interim for days that she did not travel to the Capitol, which is required under House rules. The American-Statesman in May reported that a former Dukes staffer had accused the legislator of filing requests for per diem payments for days that she never traveled to the Capitol and may not have worked at all.

So Dukes was getting paid for not working. In other words, she was living the Democratic Party dream…

(Previously.)

(Hat tip: Dwight.)

Dawnna Dukes Case Headed to Grand Jury

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

In an update to the Dawnna Dukes story, her case is headed to a grand jury:

Travis County prosecutors and Texas Rangers will present evidence to a grand jury that state Rep. Dawnna Dukes abused the power of her office, Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore told the American-Statesman.

Among possible charges: abuse of official capacity and tampering with public records, Moore said.

Dukes was sworn into office for a 12th term Tuesday after reneging on a plan to step down before the Legislature convened.

Moore said that the grand jury proceedings will begin next Tuesday.

Snip.

Shortly after the Texas Rangers presented their case against Dukes to Travis County prosecutors in September, the Austin Democrat announced she would step down when her term expired, citing medical issues related to a 2013 car crash had made it impossible for her to serve.

Days ago, however, Dukes changed her mind. She was sworn in to a 12th term on Tuesday with the rest of her House colleagues.

The Travis County DA doesn’t have a great reputation (see also: Rosemary Lehmberg and Ronnie Earl), but the Rangers are in a different league entirely.

(Previously.)

Corrupt Democrat Sentenced (No, Not Her)

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

Remember Philadelphia Democratic congressman Chaka Fattah, who “used millions of dollars from nonprofits, some of them taxpayer-backed, to pay ex-staffers, friends, and their relatives“?

Well, he’s been convicted and sentenced:

Former Democratic Rep. Chaka Fattah was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison on federal corruption charges, including fraud, racketeering, and money laundering.

Fattah, who represented several areas of Philadelphia in Congress, was convicted in June on 23 charges of corruption. His prison sentence will begin on Jan. 25

Snip.

Fattah’s case primarily stems from a failed mayoral bid in 2007 during which Fattah took an illegal $1 million contribution. He was also accused of misusing campaign funds to pay off his son’s college debts, funneling money through a fake nonprofit to pay a political strategist, and taking $27,000 in bribes from a fundraiser.

The Philadelphia Democrat was elected to Congress in 1994 and only resigned his seat after he was convicted on the corruption charges in June.

If only he had blamed it on “Russian hackers”…

LinkSwarm for September 16, 2016

Friday, September 16th, 2016

It’s Friday! Something to be thankful for!

Its 52 days until the election! At least we can be thankful it isn’t more! (Alternate theory: We’ve all died and gone to Hell, and will be watching this Presidential race for the rest of eternity…)

  • Donald Trump widens lead in LA Times poll. “The poll shows Trump leading Clinton, 47%-41%.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades.)
  • Another poll puts Trump up by eight in Iowa. Downside: Same poll has Trump up by only seven in Texas. There’s no way in Hell or Terlingua that’s happening, but let’s hope Battleground Texas cons some national Democratic donors into throwing more money down that particular rathole based on that poll… (Hat tip: Ace of Spades.)
  • Scott Adams on Hillary’s 9/11 collapse: “The optics of a potential commander-in-chief collapsing at that holy place, and on an important anniversary, rendered her unelectable in my opinion.”
  • Hillary Clinton has stage-three Parkinson’s disease and suffers from seizures, according to three sources who have had a personal relationship with the Democratic Party presidential nominee.” Grains of salt, anonymous sources disclaimer, yadda yadda.
  • Did I miss this from 2015? “The charitable foundation run by Hillary Clinton and her family has received as much as $81m from wealthy international donors who were clients of HSBC’s controversial Swiss bank.” Including Frank Giustra. But why would you trust such a notoriously right-wing news outlet as The Guardian? (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “It Was Easier To Cure Trump Of His Trumpiness Than Hillary of Her Hillaryness.” “For Hillary, the problem runs deeper. People think she’s corrupt and dishonest. That’s because she’s corrupt and dishonest.” (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Email leak exposes Democratic Party Pay-for-Play scheme, despite cleverly hiding their intent by actually using the phrase “pay-for-play.” Just think: This would have been a major story dominating the news for months if it were a Republican Administration. In the age of Obama and Hillary, it’s just another selection on a vast buffet of corruption. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • America’s trust in media hits all time low:

    Well, what did they expect when they went all in for Hillary? And now Trump is climbing in the polls — 6 points up in the new L.A. Times poll — and they’ve already squandered their credibility. They can’t help her now. They tried too hard before. Too bad the Democratic Party didn’t give us a democratic experience this time. They foisted a candidate on us, they rigged it, with the assistance of the media. And now the candidate we didn’t want zombie-walks and stumbles to the finish line, and there is nothing the Party or the media can do to stir up our affection. Meanwhile, the man the media loved to hate is powering through to the Presidency, looking only stronger for all the shots he took.

  • More Americans murdered in Chicago since 2001 than U.S. casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
  • The European Dream gives way to nightmare:

    Viktor Orbán, together with the prime ministers of the Visegrad countries and the Ukrainian prime minister, took part in a discussion where he highlighted: a whole generation of European politicians had a “secret dream”, that they can use the EU to achieve the weakening of the member states’ national, religious, and historic identities, and that all this would be replaced by a new European identity. But we found out there is no such identity that could replace the old ones, he said. He added: now it is proven that the only successful countries are the ones with strong identities.

    (Hat tip Director Blue.)

  • Someone is learning how to take down the Internet.

    Someone is extensively testing the core defensive capabilities of the companies that provide critical Internet services. Who would do this? It doesn’t seem like something an activist, criminal, or researcher would do. Profiling core infrastructure is common practice in espionage and intelligence gathering. It’s not normal for companies to do that. Furthermore, the size and scale of these probes — and especially their persistence — points to state actors. It feels like a nation’s military cybercommand trying to calibrate its weaponry in the case of cyberwar… The data I see suggests China.

  • Former Ohio mayor arrested for raping a 4-year old. Guess which party they were a member of, and guess how deeply the Washington Post buried that information.
  • Have an Android? Enjoy your Big Brother inside.
  • Happy Land Social Club arsonist dies in prison. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • The end of the Euro?
  • Austin to hire an official Social justice Warrior.
  • Local Texas school districts try to reduce or repeal Local Option Homestead Exemptions, get smacked down by Texas Attorney general Ken Paxton.
  • This Week in Clinton Corruption for September 1, 2016

    Thursday, September 1st, 2016

    Another week, another Hillary Clinton corruption roundup. Remember, this is only what I had time to compile among all my other work, blogging, writing, etc. Cataloging Clinton corruption could easily be a full time job…

  • This week brought still more evidence that Hillary lied about her emails. (Clip and save that preceding sentence, as I’m sure you’ll be able to use it again.) “Approximately 30 of the 14,900 deleted emails recovered by the FBI from Hillary Clinton’s private email server may involve the 2012 attack on Benghazi, Libya, State Department lawyers said on Tuesday.”
  • She even sent out classified emails after she left office. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • The FBI is also gong to release the report that led to the Hillary non-indictment. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • 25 questions Hillary Clinton must answer under oath by September 29. This is another outgrowth of the Judicial Watch lawsuit. It being Hillary, I’m betting she finds some way to finagle out of it, or push it back after the election.
  • Legal loophole let’s state Democratic parties launder big money from federal donors over the legal limit right back to Hillary. Hillary’s the candidate of the fat cats, by the fat cats, and for the fat cats. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Hillary Clinton doesn’t discriminate: If you’re willing to give her large sums of money, she’s willing to take it, even if you’re on the terror watch no-fly list.
  • There were also at least five felons among Clinton Foundation donors.
  • Former Clinton campaign operative dishes the dirt. “She sleeps approximately 18 hours a day.” Usual anonymous source caveats apply. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • A record number of voters dislike Hillary Clinton.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Dr. Drew Pinsky’s show on headline News cancelled right after he says he’s gravely concerned about Hillary Clinton’s health. (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • More Dr. Drew on Hillary’s health.
  • “Recent search engine results indicate Google, whose CEO is a supporter of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, is suppressing negative search results about the Democratic party’s presidential nominee.” Indeed, the fervor with which Hillary’s backers and the mainstream media (but I repeat myself) attempt to suppress discussion of Hillary’s health issues suggests there’s something deeply damaging there…
  • Texas vs. California Update for August 30, 2016

    Tuesday, August 30th, 2016
  • A new ranking of Freedom in the 50 states is out. Texas ranked 28th (too low, IMHO) while California ranked 49th:
    • Texas:

      Texas’s fiscal policy is very good. It is a fiscally decentralized state, with local taxes at about 4.5 percent of personal income, above the national average, and state taxes at about 3.6 percent of income, well below the national average. However, Texans don’t have much choice of local government, with only 0.36 jurisdictions per 100 square miles. State and local debt is above average (with the biggest problem being local debt burdens), at 23.1 percent of income, but it has come down slightly since FY 2011. Government subsidies are below average. Public employment has fallen significantly below average, at 11.8 percent of private employment.

      Texas’s land-use freedom keeps housing prices down. It also has a regulatory taking compensation law, but it only applies to state government. The renewable portfolio standard has not been raised in years. Texas is our top state for labor-market freedom. Workers’ compensation coverage is optional for employers; most employees are covered, but not all. The state has a right-to-work law, no minimum wage, and a federally consistent anti-discrimination law. Cable and telecommunications have been liberalized. However, health insurance mandates were quite high as of 2010, the last available date. The extent of occupational licensing is high, but the state recently enacted a sunrise review requirement for new licensure proposals. Time will tell whether it is at all effective. Nurse practitioners enjoy no freedom of independent practice at all. Texas has few cronyist entry and price regulations, but it does have a price-gouging law, and Tesla’s direct sales model is still illegal. The civil liability system used to be terrible, but now it is merely below average. The state abolished joint and several liability in 2003, but it could do more to cap punitive damages and end parties’ role in judicial elections.

    • California:

      Although it has long been significantly freer on personal issues than the national average, California has also long been one of the lowest-scoring states on economic freedom.

      Despite Proposition 13, California is one of the highest-taxed states in the country. Excluding severance and motor fuel taxes, California’s combined state and local tax collections were 10.8 percent of personal income. Moreover, because of the infamous Serrano decision on school funding, California is a fiscally centralized state. Local taxes are about average nationally, while state taxes are well above average. Government debt is high, at 22.8 percent of personal income. The state subsidizes business at a high rate (0.16 percent of the state economy). However, government employment is lower than the national average.

      Regulatory policy is even more of a problem for the state than fiscal policy. California is one of the worst states on land-use freedom. Some cities have rent control, new housing supply is tightly restricted in the coastal areas, and eminent domain reform has been nugatory. Labor law is anti-employment, with no right-to-work law, high minimum wages, strict workers’ comp mandates, mandated short-term disability insurance, and a stricter-than-federal anti-discrimination law. Occupational licensing is extensive and strict, especially in construction trades. It is tied for worst in nursing practice freedom. The state’s mandatory cancer labeling law (Proposition 65) has significant economic costs. It is one of the worst states for consumer freedom of choice in homeowner’s and automobile insurance.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • Texas tops yet another list as the best place to work and live.
  • “This notion of California as a land of outsiders is being turned on its head, our state’s dream repackaged – often with the approval of its ruling hegemons – as something more like a medieval city, expelling the poor and the young, while keeping the state’s blessings to the well-educated, well-heeled and generally older population”:

    California has been bleeding people to other states for more than two decades. Even after the state’s “comeback,” net domestic out-migration since 2010 has exceeded 250,000. Moreover, the latest Internal Revenue Service migration data, for 2013-2014, does not support the view that those who leave are so dominated by the flight of younger and poorer people.

    Of course, younger people tend to move more than older people, and people seeking better job opportunities are more likely to move than those who have made it. But, according to the IRS, nearly 60,000 more Californians left the state than moved in between 2013 and 2014. In each of the seven income categories and each of the five age categories, the IRS found that California lost net domestic migrants.

    Nor, viewed over the long term, is California getting smarter than its rivals. Since 2000, California’s cache of 25- to 34-year-olds with college, postgraduate and professional degrees grew by 36 percent, below the national average of 42 percent, and Texas’ 47 percent. If we look at metropolitan regions, the growth of 25- to 34-year-olds with college degrees since 2000 has been more than 1.5 to nearly 3 times as fast in Houston and Austin as in Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, or San Francisco. Even New York, with its high costs, is doing better.

    (Hat tip: Instapundit, who also notes “I remember talking to the Investor’s Business Daily folks a few years ago — they were headquartered in Marina Del Rey, a lovely place but one where they were constantly visited by inspectors, tax people, etc., all posing problems. When they opened an office in Texas, the state and local government people were all ‘tell us if we can help you.’ Very different experience.”)

  • “IRS Data: More Americans are relocating to Texas.” Though why an article datelined El Paso, and quoting only El Paso experts, uses a photo of Austin’s skyline to illustrate the story is a mystery…
  • The California Teacher’s Association: the worst union in America:

    Seen as a national leader in the classroom during the 1950s and 1960s, the country’s largest state is today a laggard, competing with the likes of Mississippi and Washington, D.C., at the bottom of national rankings. The Golden State’s education tailspin has been blamed on everything from class sizes to the property-tax restrictions enforced by Proposition 13 to an influx of Spanish-speaking students. But no portrait of the system’s downfall would be complete without a depiction of the CTA, a political behemoth that blocks meaningful education reform, protects failing and even criminal educators, and inflates teacher pay and benefits to unsustainable levels.

    Also this:

    According to figures from the California Fair Political Practices Commission (a public institution) in 2010, the CTA had spent more than $210 million over the previous decade on political campaigning—more than any other donor in the state. In fact, the CTA outspent the pharmaceutical industry, the oil industry, and the tobacco industry combined.

  • California state appeals court rules unanimously that, yes, public employee pension benefits can indeed be reduced. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • The court giveth, the court taketh away, as the Vergara lawsuit ends with a whimper, meaning teachers unions can screw poor kids in California for the immediate future.
  • Meanwhile, California’s Democrat-controlled legislature passes a bill to get their fingers on private retirement funds create a plan to create a pension for private employee who don’t have one. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • No, it’s just to create more opportunities for graft through taxation. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California’s cap-and-trade program is a colossal failure, and it may take the high speed rail boondoggle down with it:

    California concluded its most recent cap-and-trade program auction last week. Out of 44,268,323 metric tons of carbon dioxide credits offered for sale by the state Air Resources Board, only 660,560 were sold, 1.5 percent of the total, raising a paltry $8.4 million out of a hoped-for $620 million. Last May’s auction was almost as bad, raising $10 million out of an anticipated $500 million.

    California’s carbon dioxide cap-and-trade auction program was expected to bring in more than $2 billion in the current fiscal year that ends June 30, 2017, a quarter of which is earmarked for the high-speed rail project narrowly approved by voters in a 2008 ballot initiative. As a hedge against uncertainty, a $500 million reserve was built into the cap-and-trade budget. But, with the August auction falling 98.5 percent short, the entire reserve was consumed in the first of four auctions for the fiscal year.

    It gets better:

    In the meantime, the High-Speed Rail project, currently promised to cost “only” $68 billion to run from the Bay Area some 400 miles south to Los Angeles may be looking at $50 billion in overruns. To fund the costly train, which was sold to voters as not costing a dime in new taxes, the expected revenue stream from cap-and-trade has been securitized, putting the state on the hook to Wall Street for billions in construction money advanced on the promise of future cap-and-trade revenue.

  • California spends $1.5 billion for Chinook salmon.
  • The corrupt city of Maywood, California hired an engineering firm whose employees were so hard-working they put in 27 hour days.
  • The collapse of high-end California wine merchant Premier Cru, a $45 million wine Ponzi scheme.
  • Three skilled nursing facilities in Humboldt County, California to close because they can’t find enough nurses. Humboldt County is up on the Northern California coast.
  • The Inland Empire in Southern California, still reeling from its foreclosure crisis, saw the biggest jump in income inequality in the state at more than 40 percent. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Toastmasters International to move from Orange County, California to Colorado.
  • And least you think Texas is complete immune from pension worries, the Employees Retirement System of Texas is set to run out of money as well…in 2063. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • If California farmland overvalued?
  • California judge faces recall over being being too lenient to a sex offender. If the recall succeeds, liberals may very well regret setting this precedent…
  • California Governor Jerry Brown may push “green” initiatives, but he’s more than happy to take money for doing regulatory favors for Chevron and Occidental Petroleum. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • From 2010: California’s abandoned wind farms.
  • Texas vs. California Update for July 25, 2016

    Monday, July 25th, 2016

    Enjoy another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • June marked the 114th month that Texas was at or below the national unemployment average. Texas also created 246,600 jobs in the service sector.
  • Once again Texas ranks as the best state for business, and California ranks worst. (Hat tip: Fox and Hounds via Pension Tsunami.)
  • Elites watch while California crumbles:

    The basket of California state taxes — sales, income, and gasoline — rates among the highest in the U.S. Yet California roads and K-12 education rank near the bottom.

    California depends on a tiny elite class for about half of its income-tax revenue. Yet many of these wealthy taxpayers are fleeing the 40-million-person state, angry over paying 12 percent of their income for lousy public services.

    Excessive state regulations and expanding government, massive illegal immigration from impoverished nations, and the rise of unimaginable wealth in the tech industry and coastal retirement communities created two antithetical Californias.

    One is an elite, out-of-touch caste along the fashionable Pacific Ocean corridor that runs the state and has the money to escape the real-life consequences of its own unworkable agendas.

    The other is a huge underclass in central, rural, and foothill California that cannot flee to the coast and suffers the bulk of the fallout from Byzantine state regulations, poor schools, and the failure to assimilate recent immigrants from some of the poorest areas in the world.

    The result is Connecticut and Alabama combined in one state. A house in Menlo Park may sell for more than $1,000 a square foot. In Madera, three hours away, the cost is about one-tenth of that.

  • CalPERS suffers $30.8 billion annual loss. “CalPERS has notoriously minimized the annual pension contribution for its 3,007 government entities by fantasizing that its superior investments expertise will allow its investments to compound every year without loss for the next three decades at an annual rate of 7.5 percent.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • CalSTRS isn’t doing much better: “The California State Teachers’ Retirement System [earned] 1.4% for the fiscal year ended June 30.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Record tax revenues, yet somehow California is still broke:

    California taxpayers are getting taken to the cleaners, but most of them are completely in the dark about how and why.

    I will pose a quick question: Does it seem strange that California has recorded record revenue increases, yet we also see a record number of tax increases and bond issuances on the ballot?

    In other words, the state’s tax system is collecting massive amounts of revenues, record amounts, yet politicians are still asking for a record number of new tax increases. For taxpayer advocates, it just doesn’t seem fair and seems very strange at first glance as to how this can even occur.

    The truth of the matter is that California’s system of public finance is a complete train wreck and is set up such that no amount of tax revenues collected will ever be enough to satisfy “spending needs.” The so-called baseline expenditure increases are on autopilot and deficit projections are generated despite record revenue increases, a trend projected in the Governor’s May Revise.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • “As we roll toward the November ballot, I’m reminded of H.L. Mencken’s quip that “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” We always get it “good and hard” in California given the ever-expanding one-party rule. The worse it gets, the more voters from the GOP high-tail it to Nevada and Texas — and the worse it gets as political competition evaporates. It’s the political equivalent of a death spiral.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Lots of tax hikes are on the California ballot this November, for a variety of different ostensible reasons, but actually for a single reason: Pensions. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Beaumont, California: “Seven former officials were arrested and charged with stealing nearly $43 million during the city’s development boom. Now, residents are learning that the town’s problems go much deeper than the criminal case.” (Hat tip: Gregory Benford’s Facebook page.)
  • “California’s high-speed rail project increasingly looks like an expensive social science experiment to test just how long interest groups can keep money flowing to a doomed endeavor before elected officials finally decide to cancel it.” $68 billion and rising. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Teachers union writes a $10-million check for income tax ballot measure.”
  • “Oakland police officer Malcolm Miller more than quadrupled his $107,627 salary to $489,662 with overtime, benefits and other specialty pays last year — making him Oakland’s highest paid employee for the third year in a row.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “C.C. Myers Inc., one of California’s highest-profile freeway builders, has filed for bankruptcy.”
  • Also filing for bankruptcy: California-based developer Criswell-Radovan, which owns the Tahoe Cal Neva casino Frank Sinatra used to own.
  • One tiny bit of dubious good news for the Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California: Now they’re only the second in bankruptcy filings in the nation at 45,000, having been overtaken by the Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois at 47,535 filings.
  • Nissan and Toyota battle over Texas. “Both automakers are zeroing in on Texas as a key growth opportunity.”
  • California’s Democratic State Controller Betty Yee fined $2,082 for violations during her 2014 campaign.
  • Rent a security robot for $7 an hour. How many human security guards will be left at California’s $15 an hour?
  • Old and Busted: Participation trophies. The New Hotness: California’s Democratic officials giving awards to their own family members.
  • “Judge throws out ex-L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca’s plea deal, saying six months in prison not enough.” (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • This Week in Clinton Corruption for July 7, 2016

    Thursday, July 7th, 2016

    I held off on analysis of the FBI non-indictment of Hillary Clinton because I knew there would be many piquant opinions to be harvested from around the Internet, and indeed there are:

  • “It’s not every day that an F.B.I. director makes up a legal standard to justify refusing to recommend prosecuting a presidential candidate.”
  • “The law in its majesty bows to the throne. Queen Hillary beat the rap. This will not work out well for her.”
  • “At one level, it seems like the people in charge are rubbing our noses in the fact they are beyond the reach of the public. They are no longer going to pretend to be citizens of a republic, beholden to the voters. They are above the law and the proof of that is one of their own has committed hundreds of crimes and will not be required to step aside, much less be prosecuted. The law is for the Dirt People and it will be enforced by the Cloud People, but, the Cloud People will do as they please.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Like the IRS and the Secret Service, more and more of the federal government is no longer trustworthy or competent….We used to try to do better in the United States, but lately the powers that be seem to be rubbing our noses in their untrustworthiness and their ability to avoid the consequences.”
  • The FBI report confirms what all non-shills have known for quite some time: Hillary lied under oath.
  • “If you’re wondering why Americans are losing confidence in our political system, this is why. Our political elites can’t even be bothered to conceal the appearance of corruption or their sense of entitlement.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Bernie Sanders supporters should be furious over emailgate. “If Hillary Clinton hadn’t lied her way through the primary, would she be the presumptive Democratic nominee?”
  • In other Clinton Corruption news:

  • An updated Clinton scandal primer. As with previous versions, he soft-peddles or omits several Clinton scandals…
  • More dirt on how the California primary was rigged against Sanders.
  • The return of Sudden Clinton Death Syndrome.
  • Son of well-heeled Clinton crony calls late Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel a “fascist.”
  • De Blasio: Kickbacks, Unions, Cops, Hookers, Horses

    Sunday, April 24th, 2016

    Just because current New York mayor Bill De Blasio is a left-wing loon doesn’t mean he’s not also corrupt up to his eyeballs:

    U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has his sights set squarely on the political operative turned chief executive.

    It’s a sprawling probe, but the main line appears to be following the money trail the Daily News’ Greg B. Smith, NY1’s Grace Rauh and others have extensively tracked since de Blasio ran for mayor in 2013.

    That was when a union run by his cousin and a top donor to him both wrote six-figure checks to an anti-carriage horse group run by big developers that days later cut checks for the exact same amount to another group — very ironically named New York City Is Not For Sale — that promptly spent the cash, not disclosed until well after the damage was done, on TV ads that brought down then-frontrunner Christine Quinn.

    Wait, Democrats and unions involved in corruption? What are the odds?

    That happened just as de Blasio found religion on the carriage-horse issue, repeatedly vowing to end on “day one” of his administration an industry that very few New Yorkers saw as a scourge but that would open up what’s now vastly valuable land where the stables now sit on Manhattan’s Far West Side. The developer behind that push, Steve Nislick, wrote a “Shermanesque” statement to the Voice of the People last year vowing he wouldn’t personally profit from their closing.

    And it’s not just ponies: “The feds are also looking at how the city helped turn a nursing home for AIDS patients into luxury condos and at a series of scandals involving hookers for top cops and diamonds for their wives.” Among many other transgressions.

    That cops and hookers scandal (which took place on a plane to Las Vegas, a nice plus for a juicy sex and corruption story) involved Jeremy Reichberg and Jona Rechnitz, both of whom are De Blasio donors.

    Given that Bharara took down former Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, there’s a good chance he’ll succeed in taking down De Blasio. Then it might finally be Andrew Cuomo’s turn in the barrel…

    (Hat tip: Instapundit’s Twitter feed.)