Tag: scheme

Did Phil Mickelson bet on himself losing golf tournaments he played in?

Professional golfer Phil Mickelson, known for his aggressive, daring style of golf and his right-wing political views, has been found to have been involved with an illegal gambling ring:

Nearly $3 million transferred from golfer Phil Mickelson to an intermediary was part of “an illegal gambling operation which accepted and placed bets on sporting events,” according to two sources and court documents obtained by Outside the Lines.

Mickelson, a five-time major winner and one of the PGA Tour’s wealthiest and most popular players, has not been charged with a crime and is not under federal investigation. But a 56-year-old former sports gambling handicapper, acting as a conduit for an offshore gambling operation, pleaded guilty last week to laundering approximately $2.75 million of money that two sources told Outside the Lines belonged to Mickelson.

Gregory Silveira of La Quinta reached an agreement with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to three counts of money laundering of funds from an unnamed “gambling client” of his between February 2010 and February 2013. Sources familiar with the case said Mickelson, who was not named in court documents, is the unnamed “gambling client.” Silveira is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 5 before U.S. District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips and faces up to 60 years in prison, though the sentence will likely be far shorter.

Although the full identity of the “gambling client” has not been officially revealed, the initials of the “gambling client” were listed in court documents as P.M., and ESPN is reporting, citing unnamed sources, that the “gambling client” is Phil Mickelson.

While Mickelson is probably not going to face federal criminal charges due to the nature in which illegal gambling rings are prosecuted at the federal level in the United States (federal prosecutors only go after illegal gambling enterprises and the individuals running them, not individual bettors in illegal gambling enterprises), this raises a series of questions regarding Mickelson’s role in the illegal gambling enterprise:

  1. Did Phil Mickelson bet on golf tournaments?
  2. If the answer to question #1 is “yes”, did Mickelson bet on golf tournaments in which he was a competitor?
  3. If the answer to questions #1 and #2 are both “yes”, did Mickelson deliberately lose golf tournaments that he bet on?

To answer those questions, the PGA Tour, the United States Golf Assocation (USGA), the R&A, the Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA of America), the Augusta National Golf Club, and any other golf sanctioning bodies in which Phil Mickelson played sanctioned golf tournaments in should conduct an investigation in order to determine whether or not Phil Mickelson deliberately lost golf tournaments in order to receive monetary payouts from Gregory Silveira’s illegal gambling operation.

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Are Democratic donors only interested in sabotaging political campaigns?

Niko Elmaleh, a New York City real estate developer who has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Democrats in recent years, bragged in an email to Democratic National Committee (DNC) Treasurer Andy Tobias and Democracy for America (DfA) Chairman Jim Dean about a plan to sabotage the Democratic presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton by having Elizabeth Warren run for the Democratic presidential nomination, only to later drop out of the race after Warren had upstaged Hillary’s campaign:

In his April 3, 2015, email to the small group, Mr. Elmaleh refers to his concern that a lack of a meaningful primary opponent will result in a stale and complacent candidate. He writes, “I think we should seriously consider as an excellent way to keep Hilary fresh in the public eye; Elizabeth Warren should run against her.”

Later in the email he reveals that after an appropriate “show” has been staged, Ms. Warren would be expected to bow out, having strengthened Ms. Clinton as a candidate. “If we can put on a ‘show’ featuring two of the most prominent progressives who are women, it will focus the attention of the bulk of voters on us.”

He then proceeds to land a few glancing blows on the other side’s candidates: “The Republicans’ show is a comic circus and would not compete with ours. Of course, this has to be carefully managed so that Warren can gracefully withdraw after performing this vital task. I don’t think she can win yet (although she could in the future).”

If I were running for public office, I would never take Niko Elmaleh’s money. All Elmaleh wants to do is start trouble within the Democratic Party and cost our party critical elections. While there have been numerous past instances of Democrats upstaging other Democrats who are running for public office (usually in the form of a superb and/or well-remembered speech at the Democratic National Convention or some other political gathering), this is the first time I can recall a Democratic donor being involved in a concerted scheme to sabotage someone’s political campaign by having another candidate upstage him or her. Sadly, the Democratic establishment thinks that grassroots activists are the ones who are causing trouble in the party, when, in reality, their own kind of people is causing a ton of trouble in the party.

If you want a progressive who is sick and tired of big-money political games and is interested in running a real campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, please encourage Bernie Sanders to run for president.

Bruce Rauner’s plan to allow Illinois communities to enact employee wage and benefit theft zones would crater the Illinois economy

Bruce Rauner is touting right-wing lies about wages, unionization, and the economy in his crusade to drive down wages, bust unions, and destroy the already weak economy in Illinois.

A key part of Rauner’s plan to bust unions in Illinois is to divide and conquer the state by allowing local communities in Illinois to vote on whether or not to enact local versions of so-called “right-to-work” laws, which allow non-union workers to benefit from wages, health insurance, retirement plans, safer working conditions, and other benefits of union contracts without either joining or paying dues to the union that negotiated the contracts. While Rauner would call areas in Illinois that vote to implement so-called “right-to-work” laws on a local basis “employee empowerment zones”, in reality, so-called “right-to-work” laws don’t empower employees, instead, they allow non-union employees to effectively steal wages and benefits from union-negotiated contracts. If Rauner were honest about his scheme to bust unions at the local level in Illinois, he’d call areas of the state that approved of his scheme “employee wage and benefit theft zones”, and I strongly encourage Illinois Democrats and progressives to refer to Rauner’s scheme as such.

Another claim that Rauner has made about his scheme to bust unions in Illinois at the local level is that, if one were to drive down wages and other costs that businesses incur, more jobs and businesses would be created. That’s simply not true. In fact, when wages are driven down and unions are busted, the overall economy craters because workers who lose pay and benefits as a result of lower wages and no union representation aren’t able to spend as much money on groceries, gasoline, household goods, and other types of goods and services. This results in businesses losing customers and revenue, and, in many cases, forced to close and leave their employees without a job, which starts a vicious cycle of economic loss. Additionally, very few people who couldn’t afford to start a new business with current labor costs would be able to afford to start a new business with lower labor costs, so any economic gains wouldn’t even come close to offsetting the massive economic loss that driving down wages and busting unions would cause.

Regarding the areas of Illinois that would likely enact employee wage and benefit theft zones if a state law allowing local areas of the state to do so were enacted, if the legislation allowed counties to make entire counties employee wage and benefit theft zones and allowed local municipalities (cities, towns, villages, and townships) to make their jurisdictions employee wage and benefit theft zones in counties that haven’t enacted an ordinance or passed a referendum to make the entire county an employee wage and benefit theft zone, most, if not all, of the collar counties and downstate counties would probably become employee wage and benefit theft zones, as well as a few suburban areas of Cook County. The amount of economic damage that this would cause would be massive, and this would badly divide the state.

The truth of the matter is that Bruce Rauner’s plan to allow local communities to enact employee wage and benefit theft zones here in Illinois would probably cause just as much economic damage as enacting a bill to turn the entire state into an employee wage and benefit theft zone (i.e., a statewide “right-to-work” bill) would.

The Wisconsin GOP’s court-packing scheme is straight out of the FDR playbook…this time, there’s no valid reason for it whatsoever

During the midst of the Great Depression, then-Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was stymied by a conservative-led U.S. Supreme Court that struck down many of FDR’s New Deal programs. On February 5, 1937, FDR unveiled a court-packing scheme, titled the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937, that, in part, would have allowed FDR to pack the bench of the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) by appointing either six new justices or a number of new justices equal to the number of current justices who were older than 70 1/2 years of age, whichever was lesser, which would have resulted in a SCOTUS bench consisting of up to 15 members and, more than likely, a solid pro-New Deal majority. Nearly two months after FDR’s court-packing plan was unveiled, then-SCOTUS Associate Justice Owen Roberts, the usual swing vote on the New Deal-era SCOTUS who had previously sided with the “Four Horsemen”, as the anti-New Deal justices were known as, sided with the pro-New Deal justices in a 5-4 decision upholding the State of Washington’s minimum wage law. That decision also effectively ended any chance of FDR’s court-packing scheme from becoming law and kept the SCOTUS bench at nine members, which it remains today.

Nearly eight decades after FDR’s federal court-packing scheme failed, Wisconsin Republicans are attempting to pack the Wisconsin Supreme Court (SCOWI) with conservative justices. However, the Republicans in Wisconsin are not trying to increase the number of justices on the bench of Wisconsin’s highest court (currently seven), and they aren’t stymied by liberal justices who are using the court to block Republican Governor Scott Walker’s far-right political agenda (in fact, Walker’s conservative allies have a solid majority on the court and have rubber-stamped every part of Walker’s agenda that has come before the court, including the union-busting Act 10 law). Instead, they’re “stymied” (note the quotation marks) by SCOWI Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, who is a liberal chief justice on a conservative-controlled court by virtue of being the most senior member of the court, and their efforts to pack Wisconsin’s highest court so that all seven spots on the SCOWI bench are held by far-right justices is a three-pronged effort:

  1. Enact a state constitutional amendment that would allow SCOWI justices to elect their own chief justice, which, if enacted, would result in one of the conservative justices, probably Patience Roggensack, becoming chief justice. This amendment will go before Wisconsin voters on April 7, and “yes” votes from a majority of voters would be required to ratify the amendment and effectively remove Abrahamson from the chief justice’s chair on the SCOWI bench. I’ve endorsed a “no” vote on this amendment.
  2. Enact a state law that would set a mandatory retirement age of 70 years for state judges in Wisconsin. This would automatically remove Abrahamson, as well as Patrick Crooks, the lone moderate on the SCOWI bench, from the bench entirely, and their replacements would be appointed by Walker, who would appoint far-right justices to replace Abrahamson and Crooks on the bench. Given that Republicans control both houses of the Wisconsin State Legislature, and Walker would almost certainly sign a judicial mandatory retirement bill into law, it’s not a matter of if a judicial mandatory retirement bill will be enacted, but when it will enacted.
  3. Defeat liberal SCOWI justice Ann Walsh Bradley, the other of the three justices who usually side against Walker and his cohorts on the SCOWI bench, in this year’s state supreme court election. Conservatives are running James Daley, a Rock County circuit court judge, against Bradley, however, Daley is not a strong candidate, having repeatedly flip-flopped on the proposed chief justice amendment that will be on the ballot at the same time he is, so there’s a good chance that Bradley could win re-election.

The proposed Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice amendment is about more than simply removing Shirley Abrahamson from the chief justice’s chair on Wisconsin’s highest court. It’s the first prong of Wisconsin Republicans’ three-prong court-packing scheme designed to completely remove liberals and moderates from Wisconsin’s highest court and replace them with right-wing extremists who will rubber-stamp Scott Walker’s destructive agenda and oppose all efforts by Wisconsin Democrats to implement progressive policies designed to make Wisconsin a better place to live if and when Democrats regain control of the governor’s office and/or the state legislature. Wisconsinites can oppose the first and third prongs of the GOP’s court-packing scheme by voting for Ann Walsh Bradley for Wisconsin Supreme Court and voting “no” on the chief justice amendment on April 7, which will send a strong message to the Republicans that control Wisconsin’s state government that they won’t support the second prong of their court-packing scheme. The state court-packing scheme that Republicans are trying to implement in Wisconsin is even more ridiculous than FDR’s federal court-packing scheme that he proposed nearly eight decades ago.