Tag Archives: transparency

Congress Clouds the Already Weak Transparency of the STOCK Act;Updated

by Whitney Pitcher
CapitolBuilding
At the end of last week without even a vote, both the House and the Senate approved a repeal of a portion of the STOCK Act.  The STOCK Act, signed into law last Spring, is a transparency and ethics law aimed primarily at Congress and their staff. The law requires those individuals to disclose their conflicts of interests (such as stock purchases) and  prohibits the use of non-public information for private profit. However, the bill also applies to many higher ranking federal employees as well. With the repeal of the portion of this bill (if signed by the President),  two components of transparency will become opaque, as detailed by the Sunshine Foundation (emphasis added):

The bill enacted last year would require already public financial disclosures of senior congressional and executive branch officials to be put online in order to prevent or root out insider trading. There were concerns that some provisions of the bill were overbroad and would put some government employees at risk. Rather than craft narrow exemptions, or even delay implementation until proper protections could be created, the Senate decided instead to exclude legislative and executive staffers from the online disclosure requirements.  

The sweeping exemption goes even farther than critics of the disclosure requirements requested. For those to whom online disclosure would still apply (the president, vice president, members of Congress, congressional candidates and individuals subject to Senate confirmation) the Senate bill made electronic filing of the information optional and struck the requirement that online information be searchable, sortable and downloadable, making even the disclosures that remain in the bill tepid and relatively unusable.

Even prior to the aforementioned legislation, implementation of the STOCK Act had already been delayed multiple times. Additionally, the bill was not even available for public consumption on the  Library of Congress website until after the measure was approved by Congress. Imagine that–a bill that would repeal transparency passed through Congress in a non-transparent manner.

In today’s data-driven, information age, if such government information is not online, it is essentially useless to the American public. How will constituents be able to hold their leaders and their leaders’ staff accountable if such information in not available online? If such online disclosure is merely optional, there is little motivation for politicians to be voluntarily transparent.

The STOCK Act was the ultimately a hybrid of two bills proposed by Republican Senator Scott Brown and Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. When the STOCK Act was being discussed in Congress, Governor Sarah Palin called the bill ” particularly weak” because they did not require Congress to disclose their stock purchase or trades immediately. Governor Palin supported a more stringent bill from Congressman Sean Duffy,which would have required all Congressmen to create blind trusts or disclose stock trades within three days. Duffy’s bill never made it out of committee.

The research and work of Peter Schweizer led to such legislation being seriously considered at all. Legislation banning insider trading never got any traction until Schweizer’s book Throw Them All Out was released in 2011. Schweizer called the passage of the STOCK Act a “victory”, but noted that the bill did not go “nearly far enough to deal with the problems of cronyism and corruption that we face.”

What must Governor Palin and Peter Schweizer think of the non-transparent weakening of an already weak bill?

The STOCK Act only received 5 “nay” votes total between the House and the Senate when it passed in early 2012. Why did a bill that received overwhelming support now engender such an overwhelming response for its weakening? Why didn’t the co-author of the original bill, Senator Gillibrand, call for at least a legitimate vote on the weakening of her bill? Why did Congressman Duffy, who proposed a stronger piece of legislation, not reject such a bill?

It seems that the political forecast in Washington D.C. remains cloudy with little chance of sunlight and transparency.

Updated:President Obama has now signed this bill only further confirming that the “most transparent  administration” is nothing but.

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John McCain was Right, Sarah Palin was a Better Candidate than Mitt Romney and That Had Better Change!

By Gary P Jackson

John McCain, bless his heart, thought he was helping his buddy Mitt Romney when he said that he chose Sarah Palin to be his running mate, not because of problems with Mitt’s taxes, but because Sarah Palin was a better candidate. No truer words were ever spoken, but it’s Romney’s taxes, and other gaffes, that are giving those of us who want to see Barack Obama defeated heartburn.

Back in January, when Newt Gingrich was hammering Romney with the same leftist, class warfare, occupy tactics Obama is using, we called on Romney to release his taxes. Had he done so, none of this current nonsense would be happening. It would have been over and done with, a dead issue. Now it seems like either arrogance or that Mitt actually has something to hide.

At the time I opined that perhaps the reason Sarah was doing everything possible to drag the primary out, like suggesting voters cast their votes for Newt Gingrich, as a way to help toughen Mitt up. I still stand by that notion, as she constantly said she wanted the vetting to continue.

Sarah Palin is a seasoned veteran, having campaigned for her first office some twenty years ago. And Sarah campaigned against some of the dirtiest, sleaziest politicians imaginable. Mitt Romney would have done himself a lot of good had he aligned with her from the start. Sarah knows how to play in the big leagues, and how to win. It’s clear that Mitt is having major difficulties.

It didn’t help Mitt when perpetual screw-up Steve Schmidt contradicted his old boss John McCain, doing so on the self-admittedextreme left socialist-communist Lawrence O’Donnell’s MSNBC show. Schmidt claims it was Romney’s wealth, not his tax returns that killed his chances, but then ever the fool, Schmidt then says the campaign never actually saw Romney’s taxes. This allowed the far left a chance to not only bash Romney, but Sarah Palin as well as Team McCain. Schmidt has a knack for stabbing former employers in the back and giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

We know the truth about the thorough vetting Sarah Palin got, so it’s hard to believe Mitt Romney didn’t get the same once over. That said, here’s a poster that has been floating around that doesn’t help Mitt at all:

For the record, I, nor anyone but Team McCain, know what records Mitt provided while being vetted for Vice President, but we all know that these days, perception turns into reality very quickly, and it’s impossible to un-ring a bell.

Romney’s problems have been compounded by his wife Ann, who announced to the world last week that they would not be releasing more tax returns. From the Wall Street Journal: [emphasis mine]

Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, said the Romney campaign won’t be releasing older tax returns in order to block further attacks from President Barack Obama.

There are so many things that will be open again for more attack,” Mrs. Romney said on ABC’s Good Morning America. “And you just [would] give more material for more attack.”

She dismissed the suggestion – raised in recent Obama ads and web videos – that her husband, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, has dodged taxes or engaged in other financial misdeeds.

You should really look at where Mitt has led his life and where he’s been financially,” she said. “He’s a very generous person. We give 10% of our income to our church every year. Do you think that is the kind of person that is trying to hide things or do things? No. He is so good about it.”

She also noted that Mr. Romney took no salary as governor of Massachusetts.

We’ve given all people need to know and understand about our financial situation and about how we live our life,” she said. “And so the election, again, will not be decided on that. [It] will be decided on who is going to turn the economy around and how are jobs going to come back to America.

But Democrats – and some Republicans – are still calling for Mr. Romney to release more than two years of tax returns.

Read more.

I’m stunned at the way this was handled. Simply stunned. In her wording, she’s all but said, that those looking, would find something troubling in those returns. She also assumes the American people have all they need to know to make a choice.

We all know that Barack Obama’s first official act as President was to sign an executive order placing all of his records off limits. There are college transcripts, selective service documents, as well as passport information that many have wanted to look at. Many, including myself, feel a lot of unanswered questions regarding Obama’s questionable associations could be answered if we had a look at these documents. No doubt these disclosures would have hurt his chances in 2008.

If Romney was smart, he would have told Obama that he would be more than happy to release more tax returns as soon as we got to see all of his [Obama’s] sealed information. He would have put the onus back where it belongs, on Obama. But Mitt didn’t do this.

Now, instead of simply putting all of this to rest, and shutting Obama down, the democrat run media is doing their own speculating. The left now owns and controls the narrative.

Paul Abrams, over at the Hufffington Post has been working overtime creating a narrative that comes to the conclusion that Romney will NOT be the Republican Nominee. He bases this on the notion that Romney was guilty of tax evasion, hence the Swiss bank accounts, which Abrams claims “evidence exists” Romney received amnesty for having. Again alluding to some form of tax evasion.

No one who has received amnesty for a serious crime, such as tax evasion, can be president. One would think that someone for whom the clear implications are that he has received amnesty, but will not release exculpatory documents, also cannot be president.

As the press has been focused on what we now know as Romney’s “retroactive retirement“, that does not help him escape clear responsibility for his outsourcing strategy anyhow, I have tried to shine a light on the clearest, cleanest, unspinnable, problem with Romney’s finances — amnesty for his Swiss accounts — suggesting that the Republican leaders, who dislike him anyhow, could not abide such a fatally-flawed nominee.

But, all I had on my side was logic. Why would he have closed only the Swiss Account when the Cayman/Bermuda accounts are also abusive tax havens, and he left those alone? Why would Romney have bothered to close the Swiss account at all? I deduced that what was special about his Swiss Account was the amnesty program allowed by the IRS. I also surmised that it was amnesty, more than anything else, that would keep him from releasing earlier tax returns.

Now, through investigative reporting, there is highly suggestive evidence that the logic was not wrong. Romney failed to disclose the documents he filed with the IRS in 2010, the year he has already released, that detail his Swiss Account holdings.

Read more.

First of all, Abrams has no evidence, just accusations. If we want to play the qualifications game, I doubt he wants to get into several cases of fraud Obama is said to have committed, including filing for and receiving student aid as a foreigner, and the numerous Social Security numbers both Obama and wife Michelle have allegedly used over the years. Things that Team Romney could, and should be helping expose, by the way.

Again, this is where the Romney campaign is weak and unfocused. The communist-democrats keep pounding him like it’s illegal to have money, and yet all of the big name democrats have actual corruption problems that have been well documented. For whatever reason, Team Romney never, ever talks about it. It’s like they aren’t concerned with massive government corruption. This begs one to ask why.

John Nolte recently pointed out that DNC chairwoman, and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, who has been one of the loudest ankle biters trashing Romney for his Swiss accounts and “outsourcing” has “outsourced” her money with the Swiss, as well as India, Germany, Japan, and a whole lot more.

Ed Morrissey notes that Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi made $5 million “outsourcing” her money offshore.

The allegations from HuffPo’s Abrams could be easily put to rest had Romney just provided his returns. Instead of being attacked by the communist swine, Romney could have turned the tables on them. We all know democrats, all democrats, are congenital hypocrites and liars. All of them are “guilty” of doing the same things Romney has done. Not that having money offshore is an actual crime.

Instead of ducking and dodging, Romney should be calling these people out. He COULD be calling these people out, had he made his own records an open book.

Corruption in government is one of the biggest issues that needs addressing. Hundreds of billions of tax payer dollars are lost to various corrupt schemes. Many of these schemes involve cronyism, something we’ve never heard Mitt Romney address. Peter Schweizer has called out Romney over the fact he won’t release the names of his bundlers. Again, this is essential for those of us who want to know who Romney might “owe” something to if elected. The bundlers Peter identified aren’t exactly squeaky clean.

Maybe I’m more used to the sort of politician who gets things done. Sarah Palin made her bones taking down corrupt politicians. From her earliest days as a member of the Wasilla City Council, throughout the rest of he political career she has taken on corruption. She called out corrupt Republicans, including the head of the Alaskan Republican Party, the state’s Attorney General, and Governor, and sent many to prison.

When Sarah was a candidate for Vice President this was a huge positive, and something that drew tens of millions of supporters to her. [even though the McCain campaign didn’t promote it enough] It’s still something that her supporters greatly admire. It shows an integrity that most politicians lack.

Mitt Romney has always had transparency issues though. When he left office, there was a serious attempt to cover his tracks. Politico reported last year:

Just before Mitt Romney left the Massachusetts governor’s office and first ran for president, 11 of his top aides purchased their state-issued computer hard drives, and the Romney administration’s e-mails were all wiped from a server, according to interviews and records obtained by the Globe.

Romney administration officials had the remaining computers in the governor’s office replaced just before Governor Deval Patrick’s staff showed up to take power in January 2007 … Beth E. Myers, who was Romney’s chief of staff, bought her hard drive on Aug. 18, 2006, the same month that she left state employment.

She later became Romney’s campaign manager.

Peter G. Flaherty, who was Romney’s deputy chief of staff, bought the hard drive from his computer on Nov. 3, 2006 … Flaherty later became the Romney campaign’s chief liaison to social conservatives.

That sort of thing doesn’t play well with Americans. Many of us wonder what Mitt has to hide.

Thing is, I’ve always looked at Mitt with an open mind. You read about his career and you can’t help but like the guy. He’s done some truly heroic things in both business and his private life.

I ran photos and video back in January of a sweaty, dirty Mitt Romney helping victims of the San Diego fires. It’s the kind of thing all Americans admire. There are also several stories of Mitt and his sons rescuing drowning boaters on more than one occasion.

We have heard about the heroic efforts to find Melissa Gay, daughter of Bain Capital executive Robert Gay. Mitt closed up shop and some 200 Bain employees hit the streets looking for her. Even hired a private detective. That’s far and above what one expects from an employer.

We also know that Mitt turned around the 2002 Olympics, and did the work for free. Palinistas love the fact that as Governor, Sarah turned down a $25,000 a year raise the legislature wanted to give her, and her Lt Governor, who also turned them down. Mitt took no salary as Governor. Yeah, he’s loaded, but many in his position would have taken the money.

These are the kind of things Americans need to know and the campaign should be highlighting. Instead, the Romney campaign is out there fighting the battles on the democrat’s terms. That’s not how you win elections.

A few weeks ago I wrote that Mitt should pick Sarah as his running mate, noting she would be the steady, senior player guiding the relatively inexperienced starter, much like the Dick Cheney was to George Bush. While I have no delusions that Mitt would actually choose her, he’s surrounded by the same incompetents that sunk the McCain campaign, Mitt would be wise to reach out to Sarah for some advice and help.

This is the most important election in our nation’s history. If these past four years are any indication, I doubt America can survive another four with Obama at the helm. In fact, if re-elected, there will be nothing to hold Obama, who has no regard for Congress or the Constitution, back. It will be a very dangerous time for the nation.

Problem is, Mitt Romney and his team don’t seem to understand this. At least they don’t act like they do. I certainly don’t see the passion one is looking for. I still have memories of John McCain attacking supporters who held candidate Obama in low opinion. At one pint even telling supporters they had “nothing to fear” from Obama, man was he ever wrong!

I was reminded of this the other day as ABC News reported this gem:

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney disagreed with an Ohio town hall attendee who called President Obama a “monster” today, saying her son’s business shrunk “because of what this monster has done to this country.” Romney replied, “That’s not a term I would use,” adding that she “had every right to be angry.”

Yeah it’s a tad better than the sort of responses we got from McCain, but not by much. Obama is a monster, a monster hell-bent on destroying the country. He’s using the Cloward-Piven strategy of growing government so large it collapses under it’s own weight.

Back in November of last year, in an interview with Sean Hannity, Mitt refused to call Obama a socialist. I rarely call Obama a socialist either, but for very different reasons.

Mitt was afraid of offending someone, and I know Obama was raised from birth by communists. His mother and father were hard core communists, and his [white] grandparents had moved from Kansas to the Seattle area to be closer to the large Marxist-communist community there. We also know Obama was mentored by communist Frank Marshall Davis, as a youth. Calling Obama a socialist is being too kind.

I don’t understand a politician who is afraid of offending those who will never respect them or vote for them anyway. Calling Obama a socialist, when his policies are straight out of the Marxist handbook, is just telling the truth. We’ve shown over and over that most democrat members of Congress are members of the Socialist Democrats of America, the Communist Party USA, or both. It’s not like this is some fairy tale!

Mitt exhibits a weakness and timidity that most Establishment Republicans do. He, or at least his team, share the ability to attack Conservatives, while palling around with liberals, that all of the GOP Elite do. These antics don’t help Mitt with the base of the party. In fact, they don’t help him with voters in general.

Obama must go, but if that is going to happen, Mitt needs to learn how to be a serious candidate. America’s future depends on it. Sarah Palin is much better at this, and if Romney is smart, he’ll reach out to her. He needs her experience and leadership ability. I’m not holding my breath though.

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Sarah Palin Nails Obama On His Latest Scandal: Drillgate

Another day an other scandal from the most corrupt president in American history. One of the things our president promised during his campaign, in his best Orwellian “newspeak,” was transparency. Of course, like everything else Barack Obama uttered, this too was a lie.

Let’s look at some of the lies Obama has told, just about transparency alone: Obama promised health care negotiations would be broadcast on C-SPAN. Never happened. Instead, most of the negotiations were held behind locked, closed doors.

Obama promised that all legislation would be made available online for every American to read before it was signed into law. What we got in reality was such a strong push to bamboozle the public, and pass horrible legislation, that not only were the American people actively prevented from seeing legislation before it was passed, so were members of Congress!. We’ve had bills with thousands of pages of insanity, crafted in the dark of night, behind closed doors, that have been signed into law by the president, without being read in total by a single sitting member of the most corrupt Congress in history.

The president has promised bi-partisanship, and continues to give it lip service, but in reality the Republican party has been locked out of all negotiations on every issue.

In short this is the most secretive and corrupt government we have ever had.

This latest scandal regarding transparency involves one of Sarah Palin’s areas of strong expertise, energy. As everyone knows, America has more than enough natural resources to become energy independent, but the zealots and flat earthers are doing all they can to prevent this from happening.

This, of course, is insanity. At a time when we have massive unemployment, and rising energy costs, it is criminal for the nation to have it’s own energy resources placed off limits by an out of control, radical, tyrannical government. We send nearly one trillion dollars a year overseas, often to hostile regimes, in order to purchase the lifeblood of our economy, oil.

This is simply insane.

Sarah has found a new scandal concerning energy that must be highlighted. It seems now that the Obama administration is actively trying to hide the fact that most Americans are demanding we use our resources. In her latest Facebook post Sarah discusses this:

Drillgate

Many of us appreciated the President mentioning in his State of the Union address that “tough decisions” had to be made regarding offshore drilling. People have had doubts about his seriousness in regards to domestic energy policy because our Department of the Interior dragging its feet on Virginia’s offshore oil and gas leases. Still, we’ve held out hope that America’s voice will be heard on energy.

And now Vince Haley at Big Government reports this shocker:

In April of 2009, during a discussion about offshore exploration in San Francisco, Salazar said that President Obama directed him to “to make sure that we have an open and transparent government” and that “these are not decisions that are going to be made behind closed doors.” Salazar went on to say that President Obama wanted to make sure that DOI was “maximizing the opportunity for the public to give us guidance on what it is that they want to do.”

Yet, more than four months after the comment period ended, the Department of the Interior has failed to make any public announcement about the results, even though sources have told American Solutions for months the comments show a 2-1 advantage in support of offshore drilling.

It took American Solutions almost four months and the power of the Freedom of Information Act to finally uncover indirect confirmation that, out of over 530,000 comments submitted, pro-drilling comments outnumbered anti-drilling comments by a 2-1 margin.

In an email dated October 27, 2009, Liz Birnbaum, director of the Minerals Management Service, informs other Interior officials that a preliminary tabulation of the results of the comment period had not yet gone to Secretary Salazar, adding “[s]o the Secretary can honestly say in response to any questions that he’s [SIC] has not yet seen the analysis of the comments – staff is still working on it. I did, however, confirm to him the 2-1 split that these guys [at American Solutions] are emphasizing.”

When a public employee is on record condoning purposeful deception of the American people, the taxpayer should no longer have to fund his or her job. Secretary Salazar should immediately fire Liz Birnbaum for purposefully deceiving him, and in turn, the American people. It’s not possible for the Secretary to honor pledges of openness, honestly, and transparency in government if his staff is going to deliberately undermine such pledges.

Public opinion polls already measure near 70% support for offshore drilling, so the results from a public comment period that reflect the same public sentiment should not be surprising. But after all this talk of wanting the public’s input, Secretary Salazar and his team must find it a real stumbling block to have to explain all their anti-energy development actions in light of the comment period results to which they previously attached such great importance.

As Haley notes in his article, it’s astonishing that the Obama administration is dragging its feet on offshore drilling at a time when we’re so desperate for economic recovery and jobs. It’s no surprise that an overwhelming majority of Americans support offshore drilling: it will provide millions of good jobs and billions in revenue, and it will make us more secure by reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

Mr. President, we appreciate you asking for our input. We’ve provided it, so thank you for accepting it. With no time to waste, it’s time to listen to the American people – finally – and drill, baby, drill!

– Sarah Palin

Another outrageous web of lies and deceit from the Obama administration.

This is some powerful information and I urge readers to take the time to go to every link that Sarah has supplied to learn even more.

Energy is the lifeblood of our nation’s economy. It effects every aspect of our lives. As the American Energy Alliance notes, offshore drilling would significantly add to our nation’s economic health. Some of the benefits include:

* $8 trillion in additional economic output (GDP)

* $2.2 trillion in total tax receipts;

* 1.2 million new, well-paying jobs annually across the country; and

* $70 billion in additional wages each year.

At a time we have massive unemployment and underemployment, and an unsustainable national debt, and budget deficit, it is simply criminal not to be exploring for energy in every crack and crevice where we know there is energy to be had.

Folks ask us from time to time why we support Sarah Palin so fervently, well there are many issues on which we feel Sarah is eminently more qualified to lead the nation than anyone else, but it is her expertise on energy issues, her understanding of the significance of energy independence that we respect the most.

Being free and independent is a basic American right, but as long as we must bow to other nations, nations that do not have America’s best interests at heart, we will never be truly free, or independent. We will never have true national security.

Sarah gets it.

It’s time we hold the most corrupt president and the most corrupt Congress in our nation’s history accountable. It’s time we demand they listen to us and do as we say. In short, it’s time to Drill baby, drill!

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