Politicalgates: …. In a bold and spectacular move, Bloomberg Markets Magazine wrote a story titled “The secret sins of Koch Industries” which does not only focus on several new revelations, but also provides a comprehensive overview about scandals of Koch Industries which happened during the last decades. The story also explicitly puts the well known political activities of the Koch Brothers in context with their highly questionable behaviour in business.
…. No less than 15 Bloomberg-journalists in several countries have worked on it … This is Pulitzer-Prize territory….
…the article reveals, for example, that:
– Koch Industries used the European offices of their subsidiary Koch-Glitsch to sell millions of dollars of petrochemical equipment to Iran in an apparent violation of the US-Iran trade embargo, as recently as 2007
– Koch Industries paid bribes in six countries from 2002 to 2008 to win business in Africa, India and the Middle East, comparable to similar behaviour of German technology giant Siemens (Siemens subsequently had to pay a $ 1.6 billion fine!)
Washington Post: …. Rick Perry, whose bid for the White House depends heavily on support from religious conservatives, finds himself confronting an issue that is a flash point for that part of his base: his attempt to order schoolgirls to take a vaccine that would protect them against a sexually transmitted virus.
The uproar over the Gardasil vaccine – manufactured by Merck, a major Perry campaign donor – knocked the candidate off-stride during a Republican debate Monday night ….
Perry bristled at accusations from Michele Bachmann that he had pushed the vaccine in 2007 at the bidding of Merck, a Perry donor that also employed a former aide to the governor as a lobbyist.
“It was a $5,000 contribution that I had received from them,” Perry said. “I raise about $30 million. And if you’re saying that I can be bought for $5,000, I’m offended.”
But campaign disclosure records portray a much deeper financial connection with Merck than Perry’s remarks suggest.
His gubernatorial campaigns, for example, have received nearly $30,000 from the drugmaker since 2000, most of that before he issued his vaccine mandate, which was overturned by the Texas legislature.
Merck and its subsidiaries have also given more than $380,000 to the Republican Governors Association (RGA) since 2006, the year that Perry began to play a prominent role in the Washington-based group…
Perry served as chairman of the RGA in 2008 and again this year, until he decided to run for president. The group also ranks among the governor’s biggest donors, giving his campaign at least $4 million over the past five years….
…. One of Perry’s closest confidantes, his former chief of staff Mike Toomey, was then working as an Austin-based lobbyist for Merck, which was in the midst of a multimillion-dollar campaign to persuade states to make the vaccine mandatory.
Toomey, who has declined requests for comment, has since helped found Make Us Great Again, a pro-Perry super PAC that can accept unlimited donations from corporations and wealthy donors. The group plans to raise as much as $55 million to help Perry compete for the GOP nomination, according to media reports.
Salon: Donald Trump added a blatantly race-baiting component to his already racially charged campaign against Barack Obama’s Americanness this week when he claimed – based on things he’s “heard” – that Obama was a “terrible student” who got into Columbia and then Harvard based solely on affirmative action:
“How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard? I’m thinking about it, I’m certainly looking into it. Let him show his records,” he said, without providing backup for his claim. Trump added, “I have friends who have smart sons with great marks, great boards, great everything and they can’t get into Harvard.”
Leaving aside the fact that Obama, who went on to graduate Harvard Law magna cum laude, seems like he was probably a very good student, Mr. Trump might need a refresher course in how unqualified people actually do manage to get into the prestigious Ivy League Universities.
Let us take, as an example, the story of a student so obviously unqualified, so transparently unworthy, that a book was written about what his admittance into Harvard said about the sorry behavior of supposedly elite colleges.
That student was Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
Kushner’s father, real estate developer Charles Kushner, bought Jared his Harvard acceptance. It cost him $2.5 million. (Kushner later went to jail for tax evasion and witness tampering, so it was also, technically, dirty money that bought Trump’s daughter’s husband’s entry into the Ivy League.)
Steve Benen: … it looked as if JoAnne Kloppenburg had pulled off a miracle in the the state Supreme Court election in Wisconsin, narrowly defeating conservative Justice David Prosser. Yesterday, an expected discovery of thousands of votes quickly tilted the race in the other direction:
“The tally of a close Wisconsin Supreme Court election, which had come to be a referendum on Republican leadership in the state, turned upside down on Thursday evening: the incumbent justice, viewed as a conservative, took a lead of more than 7,000 votes after a clerk in one Republican-leaning county announced she had initially failed to report some 14,000 votes.”
The discovered votes came from Waukesha County, a suburban GOP stronghold, where county clerk Kathy Nickolaus cited a computer mishap for the error.
… it’s worth noting that Kathy Nickolaus is a Republican donor who’s been involved in a series of controversial elections, including a ballot mix-up in 2004, sample ballots in 2005 that accidentally told voters who to vote for, a 2007 incident involving touch-screen voting, and perhaps most importantly, a 2002 controversy in which Nickolaus was granted immunity as part of a criminal investigation into Republican misdeeds in the State Assembly.
This is the same Nickolaus who yesterday uncovered a net gain of 7,000 votes for the Republican candidate who was trailing in a closely-watched judicial race … Hmm.
Now, before anyone jumps to conclusions, Nate Silver noted that it’s likely nothing nefarious has transpired .. But just for the sake of conversation, I’d love to know what the reaction would be – from Republicans, on Fox News, etc. – if the situation were reversed…
Salon: Are you a major corporation that wants to do business with the state of Louisiana? The bad news is you can only donate $5,000 directly to Governor Bobby Jindal. The good news is, you can give an unlimited amount of money to his wife’s charity, the Supriya Jindal Foundation for Lousiana’s Children.
….corporations including Marathon Oil, AT&T, Northrup Grumman, Dow Chemical, Alon USA, and various state contractors have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the foundation. All of those companies have business with the state. All of them received permits or evaded fines or won contracts.
Everyone involved in this pay-to-play-ish venture claims nothing untoward is going on. The major corporations simply love children. And if, following an oil company’s donation, “state environmental officials [ease] requirements for the company to check for spills of oil, ammonia or other contaminants in waterways,” well that’s just a coincidence.
Supriya Jindal’s foundation reportedly does good work, handing out free “high-tech whiteboards,” to low-income schools across the state….
ThinkProgress: Foreign-Funded ‘U.S.’ Chamber Of Commerce Running Partisan Attack Ads
Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue with his old buddy GBW (April, 2008)
The largest attack campaign against Democrats this fall is being waged by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a trade association organized as a 501(c)(6) that can raise and spend unlimited funds without ever disclosing any of its donors.
The Chamber has promised to spend an unprecedented $75 million to defeat candidates like Jack Conway, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Jerry Brown, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), and Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA). As of Sept. 15th, the Chamber had aired more than 8,000 ads on behalf of GOP Senate candidates alone, according to a study from the Wesleyan Media Project.
The Chamber’s spending has dwarfed every other issue group and most political party candidate committee spending. A ThinkProgress investigation has found that the Chamber funds its political attack campaign out of its general account, which solicits foreign funding. And while the Chamber will likely assert it has internal controls, foreign money is fungible, permitting the Chamber to run its unprecedented attack campaign.
According to legal experts consulted by ThinkProgress, the Chamber is likely skirting longstanding campaign finance law that bans the involvement of foreign corporations in American elections.