Wednesday, December 17, 2008

U.S. Congress to probe SEC role in Madoff affair

* Reuters, Wednesday December 17 2008

(Adds Cox comments)
By John Poirier and Rachelle Younglai
WASHINGTON, Dec 17 (Reuters) - A U.S. House of Representatives panel plans to convene an inquiry in January into the failure of securities regulators to unearth an alleged $50 billion securities fraud by Wall Street veteran Bernard Madoff, a key lawmaker said on Wednesday.
Madoff, a former Nasdaq Stock Market chairman, was arrested last week and charged with running a massive Ponzi scheme. He is accused of defrauding banks, investment funds, charities and wealthy individuals who invested in funds he controlled.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has come under fire for not uncovering the scandal until senior employees of Madoff went to authorities.
The agency, chaired by Christopher Cox, has been accused of missing a number of red flags about the way Madoff operated his investment business.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

3 ex-Ill. governors have served time since 1970s

By The Associated Press

Three former Illinois governors have gone to prison in the past 35 years, and a host of other governors have gotten into legal trouble.

_Otto Kerner, a Democrat who was governor from 1961 to 1968, served less than a year of a three-year sentence after his 1973 conviction on bribery, tax evasion and other counts. He was convicted of arranging favorable horse racing dates as governor in return for getting horse racing association stock at reduced prices. Kerner died in 1976.

_Dan Walker, a Democrat who was governor from 1973 to 1977, served 1 1/2 years of a seven-year sentence after pleading guilty in 1987 to bank fraud, misapplication of funds and perjury. The charges were not related to his service as governor.

_George Ryan, a Republican who was governor from 1999 to 2003, was convicted of corruption in 2006 for steering state contracts and leases to political insiders and helping cover up bribes paid in return for truck drivers licenses while he was secretary of state and then governor. He is serving a 6 1/2-year prison term.

In addition, William Stratton, Illinois governor from 1953-1961, was later indicted but was acquitted on charges of income tax evasion.

Governors from other states who have run into legal trouble include:

_ Alabama: Guy Hunt was removed from office upon his conviction on a felony ethics charge in 1993 for using $200,000 from his inaugural fund on personal purchases. A judge spared him from a prison sentence and Hunt eventually received a pardon. Don Siegelman, who served one term as governor before losing in 2002 amid corruption allegations, was convicted in 2006 on bribery and other charges. He was sentenced to more than seven years but then released after serving nine months while his appeal is pending.

_ Arkansas: Jim Guy Tucker was found guilty in 1996 of misusing a federally backed business loan. He resigned and served 1 1/2 years of home detention, avoiding prison because of health problems. He pleaded guilty in 1998 to conspiring to reduce his tax on a cable TV deal and ordered to pay restitution. Both cases had stemmed from the Clinton-era Whitewater investigation.

_ Arizona: Fife Symington resigned after being found guilty in 1997 of defrauding lenders in his previous career as real estate developer. His conviction was overturned on appeal and he was later pardoned by President Clinton. He was sentenced to 2 1/2 years but had remained free on appeal and did not serve any time.

_ Connecticut: John G. Rowland resigned as governor in 2004 and pleaded guilty to a federal corruption charge. He admitted trading access to his office for more than $100,000 in vacations, charter airline trips and home repairs. He served 10 months in prison.

_ Maryland: Marvin Mandel was sentenced in 1977 to four years in federal prison after being convicted of mail fraud and racketeering for helping five friends with legislation favorable to a racetrack they owned. He served 14 months.

_ Louisiana: Edwin W. Edwards was convicted in 2000 with four others in a scheme to rig riverboat casino licensing. He remains in prison and has served six years of a 10-year sentence.

_ Rhode Island: Edward DiPrete pleaded guilty in 1998 to bribery for accepting $250,000 from architects and engineers in exchange for state contracts. He served 11 months in prison.

_ Tennessee: Gov. Ray Blanton was ousted in 1979 amid charges of selling pardons. He was later convicted of conspiracy to sell liquor licenses and served 23 months of a three-year sentence. One of the charges was overturned.

_ West Virginia: Arch A. Moore Jr. pleaded guilty in 1990 to five felonies, including mail fraud and extortion. He served three years of a nearly six-year sentence. William Wallace Barron served over three years in prison after pleading guilty 1971 to paying a $25,000 bribe to a federal jury foreman during his 1968 corruption trial.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Top Five Republican Gay Sex Scandals

the top five republican gay sex scandals from
August 31st, 2007 by John Marcotte

Larry Craig has got his post on this blog, so here is the rest four.

Mark Foley

U.S. Representative
(September 28, 2006)

The Crime: Sending sexually laced, gramatically challenged instant messages and e-mails to teenaged boys in the Congressional page program for more than 10 years.

The Hypocrisy: Chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children. One of the foremost opponents of child pornography in the Senate.

The Quote: “get a ruler and measure it for me”

Ted Haggard

Leader of the National Association of Evangelicals
(November 2006)

The Crime: Paying male prostitutes for sex and snorting crystal meth.

The Hypocrisy: A powerful force in the evangelical movement, Haggard participated in weekly meetings with President George Bush and top advisors where he gave spiritual advice. He taught that homosexuality was an abomination and actively lobbied against gay rights.

The Quote: “I did not have a homosexual relationship with a man in Denver.”

Bob Allen

Member of the Florida House of Representatives
Florida Chairman of John McCain’s Presidential Campaign

(July 11, 2007)

The Crime: Offering an undercover cop $20 to allow Allen to blow him in a men’s room in a public park. After being arrested, Allen tried to explain that he only offered to blow the cop because the cop was a “burly black man” and he “didn’t want to become a statistic.”

The Hypocrisy: Allen was one of 21 Florida legislators to sign Gov. Jeb Bush’s friend-of-the-court brief supporting the state’s ban on gays adopting children, and he co-sponsored an unsuccessful bill that would have enhanced penalties for “offenses involving unnatural and lascivious acts” such as indecent exposure.

The Quote: “I certainly wasn’t there to have sex with anybody and certainly wasn’t there to exchange money for it.”

Glenn Murphy Jr.

National Chairman of the Young Republicans
Chairman of the Clark County Republican Party

(July 28, 2007)

The Crime: Murphy got a fellow Young Republican drunk and then spent the night at his house. The other young man woke up in the middle of the night to find Murphy giving him mouth-to-penis resuscitation. After this incident, a 1998 sexual battery report came to light in which Murphy was alleged to have done the exact same thing.

The Hypocrisy: Murphy was a well-paid political consultant for Republican candidates and often advised them to use gay marriage as a wedge issue to paint their opponents as out of touch with traditional values.

The Quote: “I was in the Sound of Music in High School…don’t ask” (from his now-defunct Myspace page.)

The Spitzer Scandal: Lust Plus Pride

from Times
New York Governor Eliot Spitzer alongside wife Silda holds a news conference at his Manhattan office in New York City, USA on March 10, 2008, after it was announced that he has been involved in a prostitution ring.

The allegations could be particularly damaging to Spitzer, a former hard-nosed prosecutor who had made ferreting out corporate malfeasance and cracking down on corruption centerpieces of his political platform. "It's going to be really difficult for him to move on," says Justin Phillips, a state politics expert at Columbia University in New York City. "He had framed himself as someone who fought against corruption." His political opponents were quick to capitalize on the dissonance between the image he embraced and the figure he cut on Monday. "He has disgraced his office and the entire state of New York," James Tedisco, the state assembly's minority leader, told reporters. "He should resign his office immediately."

When Spitzer finally addressed the Emperors Club charges in a delayed and brief non-denial before the assembled media on Monday afternoon, the governor said, "I do not believe that politics in the long run is about individuals. It is about ideas." But if these accusations do spell the end of Spitzer as an individual in political life, his ideas — of reform and clean governance in Albany — had already stalled because of a different cardinal sin: not Luxuria (Lust), as in Monday's scandal, but Superbia (Pride). Spitzer's Superbia had rankled old and new in Albany, certainly the Republican majority in the statehouse, but also many Democrats who were astounded at his prickly partisanship and how it cut off all lines of communication between the executive mansion and the state assembly.

Gary Condit and Chandra Levy


A year after Chandra Levy vanished, her family and friends struggle to absorb the passage of time -- and hope

Kevin Fagan, Chronicle Staff Writer

In that other world before Sept. 11, the story that most captivated the nation had nothing to do with terrorism. It was the disappearance of Chandra Levy. And her secret affair with U.S. Rep. Gary Condit. And the seemingly ceaseless parade of purported ex-Condit lovers, talk show babble and far-out theories billowing around them.

On Tuesday, an entire year will have passed since the then-24-year-old Washington, D.C., intern from Modesto was last seen. Two things now stand out to those who either knew Levy or have hunted for her.

Most people, including cops on the case, assume that Levy is no longer alive, and they have so lost track of the time that they are shocked it's been this long. ...

Larry Craig bathroom sex case

Craig resigns in storm over sex sting in airport men's room

3:10 p.m. September 1, 2007
BOISE, Idaho – In a subdued ending to a week of startling political theater, Sen. Larry Craig announced his resignation Saturday, bowing to pressure from fellow Republicans worried about damage from his arrest and guilty plea in a gay sex sting.

“I apologize for what I have caused,” Craig said, his wife Suzanne and two of their three children at his side with a historic Boise train station as backdrop. “I am deeply sorry.”

Stevens’ troubles began decades ago

From Alaska Dispatch:
November 28, 2008 By Tony Hopfinger

“Politics is a very fickle thing,” said Sen. Ted Stevens. “The ebb and wane of support in a state like ours covers such a short period of time that it’s hard to predict continuity… I see this election as determining whether the state wants someone with great seniority.”

Sounds like Stevens is talking before he lost this fall’s election, right?

In fact, this is vintage Ted Stevens, back in 1988 when the state was trying to pull itself out of recession. The senator was up for re-election in 1990 but had already started talking about whether he planned to run again.

Judge Tosses Out Stevens Conviction

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 7, 2009; 12:01 PM

A federal judge this morning tossed out the conviction of former senator Ted Stevens after the Justice Department admitted its prosecutors mishandled evidence in the corruption case. The judge also initiated a criminal contempt investigation of six prosecutors in the case.

... ...

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. assigned a team of top department lawyers to examine the case. In a three-page motion filed last week asking Sullivan to dismiss the conviction, Justice Department prosecutor Paul M. O'Brien said he discovered evidence that two prosecutors did not turn over notes from an interview in April 2008 with Allen, the case's key witness.

Those notes contradicted a critical piece of testimony Allen later gave at trial.

Allen is a close friend of Stevens's who allegedly gave him many of the gifts and funded most of the renovations to his house.

At the interview in question, according to the notes, Allen said he did not recall talking to a friend of Stevens's about sending the senator a bill for work on his home, O'Brien wrote.

Under oath at trial, however, Allen testified that he was told by the friend to ignore a note Stevens sent seeking a bill for the remodeling work.

"Bill, don't worry about getting a bill" for Stevens, Allen said the friend told him. "Ted is just covering his [expletive]."

Illinois Governor Arrested on Corruption Charges

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff were arrested in Chicago Tuesday on two counts each of corruption charges relating to trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat.

From USAToday:

Rod Blagojevich has been intercepted conspiring to trade the senate seat for particular positions that the President-elect has the power to appoint (e.g. the Secretary of Health and Human Services). Rod Blagojevich has also been intercepted conspiring to sell the Senate seat in exchange for his wife’s placement on paid corporate boards or Rod Blagojevich’s placement at a private foundation in a significant position with a substantial salary. Rod Blagojevich has also been intercepted conspiring to sell the Senate seat in exchange for millions of dollars in funding for a non-profit organization that he would start and that would employ him at a substantial salary after he left the governorship.

Since approximately 2003, the government has been investigating allegations of illegal activity occurring in State of Illinois government as part of the administration of Governor Rod Blagojevich. As further detailed below, the investigation has developed evidence that: (a) beginning not later than in or about 2002, Rod Blagojevich has conspired with multiple individuals, including, beginning not later than in or about October 2008, John Harris, to devise and participate in a scheme, which used and contemplated the use of the mails and interstate wire communications, to defraud the State of Illinois and its residents of the honest services of Rod Blagojevich and John Harris by corruptly using the office of Governor of the State of Illinois to obtain and attempt to obtain personal gain, including financial gain, for Rod Blagojevich and third parties with whom he is associated; and (b) beginning no later than November 2008, Rod Blagojevich and John Harris have corruptly solicited and demanded the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members responsible for editorials critical of Rod Blagojevich, intending to be influenced and rewarded in connection with State of Illinois financial assistance in connection with the sale of Wrigley Field. The evidence demonstrates that the corrupt conduct undertaken included but was not limited to the following:

a. Defendant Rod Blagojevich and at times defendant John Harris, together with others, obtained and attempted to obtain financial benefits for Rod Blagojevich, members of the Blagojevich family, and third parties including Friends of Blagojevich, in exchange for appointments to state boards and commissions, state employment, state contracts, and access to state funds; b. Defendants Rod Blagojevich and John Harris, together with others, offered to, and threatened to withhold from, the Tribune Company substantial state financial assistance in connection with Wrigley Field, which assistance Rod Blagojevich believed to be worth at least $100 million to the Tribune Company, for the private purpose of inducing the controlling shareholder of the Tribune Company to fire members of the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune, a newspaper owned by the Tribune Company, who were responsible for editorials critical of Rod Blagojevich; c. Defendants Rod Blagojevich and John Harris, together with others, attempted to use Rod Blagojevich’s authority to appoint a United States Senator for the purpose of obtaining personal benefits for Rod Blagojevich, including, among other things, appointment as Secretary of Health & Human Services in the President-elect’s administration, and alternatively, a lucrative job which they schemed to induce a union to provide to Rod Blagojevich in exchange for appointing as senator an individual whom Rod Blagojevich and John Harris believed to be favored by union officials and their associates.