By Gregory Krieg for CNN – South Dakota Republicans on Thursday repealed a historic anti-corruption law approved by voters in a statewide referendum on Election Day. The measure, which passed with more than 51% backing in November, would have created an independent ethics commission, limited lobbyist gifts to lawmakers, banned officials from joining lobbying firms for two years after leaving office and created so-called “Democracy vouchers” for registered voters to steer toward their preferred candidates. But state GOP lawmakers said they didn’t think voters knew what they were doing.
By The Intercept. IF YOU’RE A public servant in Washington, you may be worried about what your job will look like after January 20 — who you’ll be working for, what you’ll be asked to do. You might be concerned that the programs you’ve developed will be killed or misused. Or that you’ll be ordered to do things that are illegal or immoral. You may be thinking you have no choice — or that your only alternative is to quit. But there is another option. If you become aware of behavior that you believe is unethical, illegal, or damaging to the public interest, consider sharing your information securely with us. History shows the enormous value of government workers who discover abuses of power collaborating with journalists to expose them.
By David Dayen for The Intercept – ONEWEST BANK, WHICH Donald Trump’s nominee for treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, ran from 2009 to 2015, repeatedly broke California’s foreclosure laws during that period, according to a previously undisclosed 2013 memo from top prosecutors in the state attorney general’s office. The memo obtained by The Intercept alleges that OneWest rushed delinquent homeowners out of their homes by violating notice and waiting period statutes, illegally backdated key documents, and effectively gamed foreclosure auctions. In the memo, the leaders of the state attorney general’s Consumer Law Section said they had “uncovered evidence suggestive of widespread misconduct” in a yearlong investigation.
By Glenn Greenwald for The Intercept – A PRIMARY ARGUMENT MADE by opponents of impeaching Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff was that removing her would immediately empower the truly corrupt politicians in Brasília – the ones who were the driving force behind her impeachment – and they would then use that power to kill ongoing corruption investigations and shield themselves from consequences for their own law-breaking. In that regard, Dilma’s impeachment was not designed to punish corruption but to protect it.
By Aaron Mehta for Defense News. Former executives from Boeing, Elbit and Cubic will help guide the Pentagon transition team for president-elect Donald Trump, alongside several retired Army officials The transition team makeup was announced Friday morning on the Trump team’s GreatAgain.gov website. The list leans heavily on retired officers, primarily from the Army, but also features strong reorientation from industry. In October, Trump told a crowd that he was going to “expand the definition of lobbyist so we close all the loopholes that former government officials use by labeling themselves consultants, advisers, all of these different things, and they get away with murder. Not gonna happen.” Those comments seem long ago, with today’s team announcement unlikely to change the belief among investors that the spigot of military dollars is about to reopen.
By Staff of Free Barrett – In the four years I’ve spent in federal prison for my supposedly criminal efforts to look into government misconduct in cooperation with a loose array of Anonymous-affiliated hackers, I’ve had the unique experience of investigating government misconduct from within. But although I’ve spent much of this time writing about prison life in articles for The Intercept and other outlets, I’ve generally refrained from going into the specific violations of Bureau of Prisons policy and even federal law that one witnesses on a daily basis in BOP institutions.
By Staff of GMA – OLYMPIA — In a historic decision, a Thurston County Superior Court judge today ordered the Grocery Manufacturers Association to pay $18 million in penalties and punitive damages, after Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s lawsuit revealed GMA intentionally violated Washington campaign finance laws. The case arose from Ferguson’s investigation of the finances of opposition to voter Initiative 522, which would have required labeling of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, in food sold to consumers.
By Mark Dunlea for Green Papers – We will never have an accurate vote count on election day as long as we leave the counting (and administration) to the two major parties, who throughout our history have repeatedly stolen votes to benefit those in power. Robert Caro, the Pulitzer-prize winning biographer of President Johnson, wrote about how LBJ got elected to the US Senate after he realized that he had allowed the Republicans to do a better job of vote theft in his first run
By Staff of Tele Sur – Eduardo Cunha, long regarded as one of Brazil’s most powerful, corrupt and unpopular politicians, faces multimillion-dollar fraud charges. Federal authorities have summoned Eduardo Cunha, the controversial former head of Congress and chief mastermind behind the impeachment bid against ousted President Dilma Rousseff, to face charges over accusations he hid laundered money in secret Swiss bank accounts while he was in office.
By Zaid Jilani for The Intercept – A TOP AIDE calculatingly inserted a passage critical of the financial industry into one of Hillary Clinton’s many highly-paid speeches to big banks, “precisely for the purpose of having something we could show people if ever asked what she was saying behind closed doors for two years to all those fat cats,” he wrote in an email posted by Wikileaks.
By Jamie Kalven for The Intercept – ON MAY 31, the city of Chicago agreed to settle a whistleblower lawsuit brought by two police officers who allege they suffered retaliation for reporting and investigating criminal activity by fellow officers. The settlement, for $2 million, was announced moments before the trial was to begin. As the trial date approached, city lawyers had made a motion to exclude the words “code of silence” from the proceedings.
By Kevin McCoy for USA Today – Wells Fargo Bank, one of the nation’s largest banks, has been hit with $185 million in civil penalties for secretly opening millions of unauthorized deposit and credit card accounts that harmed customers, federal and state officials said Thursday. Employees of Wells Fargo (WFC) boosted sales figures by covertly opening the accounts and funding them by transferring money from customers’ authorized accounts without permission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Los Angeles city officials said.
By Deirdre Fulton for Commondreams. Protests took place in multiple Brazilian cities on Sunday, in support of ousted president Dilma Rousseff and against the now-officially installed government of her successor, Michel Temer. Agence France-Presse reported from São Paulo: Demonstration organizers—who have rejected Temer’s ascendancy as a “coup”—said some 100,000 protestors filled the major artery Paulista Avenue, many holding banners that read “Out with Temer!” and “Direct elections now!” “We’re here to show that the people still have power and that despite the coup, we are here in the street to bring down the government and call for a new election,” protester Gustavo Amigo told BBC. Though he is prohibited from running in the next election because he was found guilty of violating campaign finance rules, former vice president Temer is set to serve the rest of what would have been Rousseff’s second term, ending in 2019.
By David Cay Johnston for the Daily Beast. By law FERC must balance the interests of pipeline owners and pipeline customers using the “just and reasonable” theory that owners are entitled to reasonable profits and customers to reasonable prices. Instead, it favors pipelines (and other monopolies it regulates) because most of the commissioners come from—and later go back to—the industries they regulate. In Judge Sentelle’s most recent previous decision in the matter he allowed the fake tax to be imposed by the pipelines using reasoning I think is specious. Sentelle made clear that he was deeply vexed by the idea of making shippers pay a tax that is not imposed by Congress. However, he ruled that, since FERC had explained its rationale, it was beyond the court’s authority to challenge the regulatory decision. In his latest ruling Sentelle seems to recognize his error, but unfortunately he did not block the fake tax from being collected. Instead he told FERC to undertake yet another rule-making proceeding. Based on past history you will keep being dinged for this fake tax. There is an easy solution to this and the man to solve it is Norman C. Bay, current FERC chairman. Bay can ask commissioners to vote on ending the inclusion of the corporate income tax in the rates that pipelines charge customers like United Airlines. But I doubt he will unless the public demands action to make sure that pipelines charge only for actual expenses.