Tag: fraud

Crooked Donald Trump used his foundation to buy off Florida Attorney General

By Donald Trump’s own standard of using a personal or family foundation for corrupt purposes, Trump is even more crooked than the Clintons ever could be.

Amid all of the corporate media hullabaloo about the Clinton Foundation and their corrupt dealings is recent media attention to a 2014 fundraiser for Republican Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, which was hosted by Trump:

…In March 2014, Donald Trump opened his 126-room Palm Beach resort, Mar-a-Lago, for a $3,000-per-person fundraiser for Pam Bondi. The Florida attorney general, who was facing a tough re-election campaign, had recently decided not to investigate Trump University.

Trump did not write a check to the attorney general that night. The previous fall, his personal foundation had given $25,000 to a pro-Bondi super PAC. But by hosting her fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago and bringing in some of his own star power, Trump provided Bondi’s campaign with a nice financial boost.

Since he began his run for the White House, Trump has repeatedly claimed that Bondi is merely someone he has supported politically. But his fundraising efforts for her were extensive and varied: In addition to the $25,000 donation from his foundation and the star-studded Mar-a-Lago event, Trump and his daughter Ivanka each gave $500 to Bondi’s campaign in the fall of 2013. The following spring, Ivanka and her father donated another $125,000 to the Republican Party of Florida ― Bondi’s single biggest source of campaign funds.

The reason why Trump’s ties to Bondi have come under public scrutiny in recent days is because of a couple of reasons.

First, that $25,000 check from Trump’s personal foundation to And Justice For All, a pro-Bondi SuperPAC, was a violation of IRS rules for Trump and his foundation. The IRS levied a $2,500 penalty against Trump for the illegal campaign donation from his foundation.

Second, Trump got something that is, to use a Rod Blagojevich saying, (expletive) golden in return for his efforts in helping Bondi get re-elected. Bondi’s office is supposed to be responsible for processing complaints against the fraudulent Trump University and its fraudulent predecessor Trump Institute, both of which masqueraded as online higher education institutions. However, Bondi’s office has done virtually nothing with the complaints, while the Connecticut Attorney General’s office, which is currently held by Democrat George Jepsen, has successfully helped people refunds for people who are victims of Trump’s deceptive practices.

Donald Trump has been caught engaging in some of the most blatant political corruption I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Although I’m probably asking too much of the GOP-controlled Florida state government, the State of Florida should assign a special prosecutor to determine whether or not criminal charges should be filed against Trump.

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It’s time to abolish charter schools in America

Charter schools are schools that are run with varying levels of autonomy from laws, rules, and regulations that apply to traditional public schools and are granted a charter by either a government entity of some kind (in the U.S., this is either a state-level education authority, a public higher education institution, or a local school district) or a private entity granted charter authorization power by a state or local government entity. In recent decades, charter schools have opened en masse in many U.S. states.

The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), a Wisconsin-based progressive watchdog group, recently conducted research of both a federal program designed to provide funding to charter schools, and they released their report on their findings last month. For supporters of public education and American taxpayers, the findings are not good at all.

At the federal level, there is a little-known federal government program that provides taxpayer-funded grants to charter schools, called the Charter Schools Program State Educational Agencies (CSP SEA). Out of a total of over $3.7 billion in federal funds given out to charter schools since 1995, over $3 billion of that has been given out via the CSP SEA program. Federal charter school grant programs operate with very little accountability or transparency. In fact, the federal government has passed off the primary responsibility of accountability for federal charter school grants to the states, which, in turn, have passed off responsibility for the federal grants to charter school authorizers, some of which are public entities and some of which are private entities. Additionally, there wasn’t anything resembling a public list of charter schools that received CSP SEA funds until CMD repeatedly asked for the federal government to give them a list of such charter schools.

In addition, CMD researched charter school practices in eleven states (California, Texas, Florida, Arizona, Michigan, Ohio, Colorado, New York, Utah, Wisconsin, and Indiana), as well as the District of Columbia. Here’s how federal funding in those jurisdictions was wasted:

  • In California, home to one-fifth of the nation’s charter school students, a total of 13 charter schools closed after receiving a total of over $4.7 million in federal grants.
  • In Indiana, two charter schools that received a total of over $1.4 million in federal grants were closed due to poor student performance, one charter school received a $702,000 federal grant before becoming a private religious school, one charter school that never opened was awarded a $193,000 federal grant, and one charter school that has yet to open was awarded $193,000 federal grant.
  • In Michigan, which provided CMD with the least amount of information regarding charter school funds, nearly $1.75 million in federal grants was paid out to 21 “ghost schools”, or charter schools that never opened.
  • In Ohio, a total of over $4.6 million in federal grants was awarded to a total of 19 charter schools that either closed or never opened.
  • In New York, a nearly $200,000 net discrepancy in 2011-2012 and an over $300,000 net discrepancy in 2012-2013 existed between New York state records on federal charter school grants and federal records on federal charter school grants awarded to New York charter schools.
  • In Texas, a $600,000 federal grant was awarded to a charter school created by the founder of a religious education association.
  • In Utah, the state hasn’t accepted any federal grants for expanding or replicating charter schools, although the state has spent millions in state taxpayer money on charter schools.
  • In Arizona, the federal government has granted roughly $69 million in federal funds for charter schools since 2009, and, from mid-2010 to mid-2014, more than 100 Arizona charter schools closed their doors.
  • In Colorado, the federal government has awarded up to $81 million in federal grants for charter schools. More than a dozen charter schools have closed in Colorado.
  • In Florida, the federal government awarded the state up to $104 million in federal charter school grants to the state in 2011. Since Florida authorized charter schools over a decade ago, more than 120 charter schools have closed down.
  • In Wisconsin, a total of over $2.5 million in federal grants were awarded to a total of 10 charter schools that closed.
  • In the District of Columbia, where charter schools operate a short distance away from the U.S. Department of Education headquarters, the federal district’s charter school authorizer has landed a total of over $37 million in federal charter school grants since 2010, despite the fact that, up until 2013, the federal district saw 30 charter schools close their doors.

That’s just the waste of federal taxpayer dollars on charter schools. There are many more problems with charter schools and agencies responsible for authorizing and regulating them. While problems with charter schools and their regulation vary from state to state, they include the following:

  • lack of government oversight and transparency
  • financial mismanagement
  • charter school supporters getting into positions of government power over charter schools
  • refusing to respond to open records requests in a timely manner
  • poor academic results and learning conditions
  • low enrollment numbers
  • at least in California, unsafe charter school buildings
  • misreporting charter school data, such as enrollment figures, to governmental authorities
  • charter schools violating laws, rules, regulations, and their charters
  • at least in Indiana, racial segregation
  • in Michigan, criminal activity, including felony fraud and tax evasion, by charter school operators
  • religious schools operating as charter schools and receiving taxpayer funding for charter schools
  • for-profit companies running charter schools
  • charter schools that closed or never opened receiving taxpayer funding
  • in Ohio, scrubbing performance data of online charter schools
  • charter school operators having undue political influence over regulators
  • in Colorado, sexual misconduct
  • in Colorado, at least one charter school operator not following multiple federal and state employment laws
  • state legislators and executives advocating for charter schools and implementing pro-charter school legislation
  • lack of efforts by regulators and authorizers to ensure that charter schools are non-religious in nature
  • taxpayer money that should go to traditional public schools going to charter schools instead

While CMD has recommended much stronger accountability measures for charter schools, I think that the problems that are inherent with charter schools are too serious to justify their continuation, and I support completely abolishing charter schools and giving the taxpayer money that would otherwise go to charter schools to traditional public schools instead.

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton indicted on securities fraud charges

Everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes white-collar crime.

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been indicted by a grand jury on three criminal counts by a grand jury in Collin County, Texas (northern Dallas suburbs, including McKinney, Plano, and Frisco). Two of the charges are for securities fraud, the other is for failing to register with the Texas securities board:

The grand jury in the northern Dallas suburb of McKinney handed up a three-count indictment against Mr. Paxton several days ago, officials said. The indictment is to be unsealed on Monday, when Mr. Paxton is expected to turn himself in to the authorities at the Collin County Jail. The charges — two counts of first-degree securities fraud and one count of third-degree failure to register — are tied to Mr. Paxton’s work soliciting clients and investors for two companies while he was a member of the Texas House of Representatives but before he was elected attorney general in November 2014.

In the most serious charges — first-degree securities fraud — Mr. Paxton is accused of misleading investors in a technology company, Servergy Inc., which is based in his hometown, McKinney. He is accused of encouraging the investors in 2011 to put more than $600,000 in Servergy while failing to tell them he was making a commission on their investment and misrepresenting himself as an investor in the company, said Kent A. Schaffer, one of the two special prosecutors handling the case. The group of investors had been Mr. Paxton’s friends and included a colleague in the Texas House, State Representative Byron Cook.

[…]

The grand jury in Collin County, which began hearing evidence in early July, determined that Mr. Paxton’s failure to register with the state for his work for Mowery Capital Management amounted to a crime, and charged him with the one felony count of failure to register. Mr. Paxton had also failed to register with the securities board during his work in 2011 for Servergy, but Mr. Schaffer said they decided not to seek a failure-to-register felony charge from the grand jury in that instance because the statute of limitations had run out.

To put that into perspective, the top law enforcement official in the State of Texas is now under indictment for:

  • Encouraging his buddies, which include Texas State Representative Byron Cook (R-Corsicana), to invest in a technology company without telling them he was making money off of their investment
  • Misrepresenting himself while encouraging his buddies to invest in the technology company
  • Working for an investment advisory firm without registering with the Texas State Securities Board

Ken Paxton should resign the office of Attorney General of Texas immediately, as he is an absolute disgrace to Texas. Sadly, this kind of criminal activity by right-wing politicians in Texas is far too commonplace. There are good people in Texas, but it seems to me that they’re in the minority, especially when one considers how ridiculously easy it is for Republican crooks to get elected statewide there.

As I said above, everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes white-collar crime.

The Republican Party is a party of scammers

Media Matters for America (MMfA), a progressive media watchdog group, published this piece showing how ridiculously infected with scams and scammers the Republican Party and the conservative movement in this country are. Among the scams promoted by Republicans and conservatives include, but are not limited to, reverse mortgages, quack doctors, conspiracy theories, fraudulent financial schemes, worthless stocks, and political organizations that exist solely or primarily to pay political consultants.

MMfA cited 11 examples from the past two and a half years of Republicans and conservatives scamming fellow Republicans and conservatives:

  • Mike Huckabee sold out his fans to a quack doctor, conspiracy theorists, and financial fraudsters.
  • Conservative media such as Erick Erickson’s RedState, Dick Morris, Newsmax, Townhall, and Human Events have pushed paid promotions for dubious marijuana stocks.
  • Tea party scammers have been aided by media outlets like CNN and Fox News, which, in the words of one of the shady groups in question, have given the tea partiers “great television news coverage” to promote their efforts.
  • Subscribers to CNN analyst Newt Gingrich’s email list have received supposed insider information about cancer “cures,” the Illuminati, “Obama’s ‘Secret Mistress,'” a “weird” Social Security “trick,” and Fort Knox being “empty.”
  • Five conservative outlets promoted a quack doc touting dubious Alzheimer’s disease cures.
  • Conservative media sold out their followers to a disgraced financial firm, Stansberry & Associates.
  • Fox News contributor Wayne Rogers acted as a “paid TV spokesperson” for a company pitching reverse mortgages to senior citizens. Fox had previously reported that “there’s a lot of evidence” that reverse mortgages are “predatory loans.”
  • Tobin Smith, the dubious stock pitchman fired from Fox News.
  • Fox analyst Charles Payne was paid to push now worthless stocks.
  • The Dick Morris/Newsmax super PAC boondoggle.
  • Right-wing media helped “scam PACs” raise money from their readers.

Click on every one of those links above, as they go into detail about how Republicans and conservatives scam their own kind of people. The Republican Party is absolutely rife with all kinds of scams and scammers, and the scary thing about that is that the corporate media in this country helps promote right-wing scams.

Rick Scott can’t tell the difference between an electric device and an electronic device

Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott, facing a tough re-election battle against Democratic challenger Charlie Crist, a former Republican governor of the state who left the Republican Party a few years ago and joined the Democratic Party a couple of years later, refused to appear at a debate with Crist for several minutes over something as trivial as Crist using a fan to keep himself cool:

While Scott claimed that Crist’s use of an electric fan violated the debate rules, the debate rules reportedly prohibited electronic devices from being used in the debate, not electric devices. Electronic devices are items with computer chips in them, such as computers, cell phones, tablets, and other similar devices. Electric devices are items that are powered by electricity, but do not have computer chips in them, such as light bulbs and…you guessed it…electric fans.

Crist called Scott’s refusal to appear at the debate on time over his use of a fan “the ultimate pleading of the Fifth”, referring to Scott invoking the Fifth Amendement a total of 75 times in a deposition related to a civil case involving Columbia/Hospital Corporation of America (Columbia/HCA), which Scott was a former CEO of, at the same time the federal government was prosecuting Columbia/HCA for, among other things, Medicare and Medicaid fraud.

Several minutes after Crist appeared on stage, Scott relented and appeared on the debate stage. When asked by debate moderators about why Scott delayed his appearance at the debate, Scott tried to claim that Crist didn’t plan on showing up to the debate despite the fact that Crist appeared on stage several minutes before Scott did. That’s an absolutely absurd claim by Scott.

I’m certain that Floridians are sick and tired of Rick Scott’s corruption and political games.