Ghost corporations and the 2016 election

Ghost corporations and the 2016 election

Two days before Christmas, a trust called DE First Holdings was quietly formed in Delaware, where corporations are required to reveal little about their workings. A day later, the entity dropped $1 million into a super PAC with ties to Jersey City, N.J., Mayor Steven Fulop, a Democrat considering a gubernatorial bid.

The trust, whose owner remains unknown, is part of a growing cadre of mystery outfits financing big-money super PACs. Many were formed just days or weeks before making six- or ­seven-figure contributions — an arrangement that election law experts say violates a long-standing federal ban on straw donors.

But the individuals behind the ghost corporations appear to face little risk of reprisal from a deeply polarized Federal Election Commission, which recently deadlocked on whether to even investigate such cases.

The 2016 campaign has already seen the highest rate of corporate donations since the Supreme Court unleashed such spending with its 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision.

One out of every eight dollars collected by super PACs this election cycle have come from corporate coffers, including millions flowing from opaque and hard-to-trace entities, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal campaign finance filings.

So far, 680 companies have given at least $10,000 to a super PAC this cycle, together contributing nearly $68 million through Jan. 31, The Post found. Their donations made up 12 percent of the $549 million raised by such groups, which can accept unlimited donations.

That means corporations are on track to far exceed the $86 million they gave to super PACs in the entire 2012 presidential cycle, when such donations totaled 10 percent of the money raised by such groups, according to data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

[The FEC just made it easier for super PAC donors to hide their identities]

Many corporate givers this cycle are well-established hedge funds, energy companies and real estate firms. But a significant share of the money is coming from newly formed LLCs with cryptic names that offer few clues about their backers.

Among the new players is Children of Israel LLC, a company formed in California last June by Shaofen “Lisa” Gao, a real estate agent in Cupertino, Calif., whose Happy Realty firm helps Chinese buyers find homes in Silicon Valley.

On a form filed with the secretary of state’s office in September, Gao listed Children of Israel’s type of business as “Donations,” according to a document found by a researcher for End Citizens United, a Democratic PAC that supports candidates in favor of stricter campaign-finance rules.

Weeks after being formed, Children of Israel gave $50,000 to Pursuing America’s Greatness, a super PAC supporting the presidential bid of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, FEC records show. In November, the LLC gave the pro-Huckabee group $100,000. And this January, it donated $250,000 to Stand for Truth, a super PAC backing Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

Gao — who has no history of making political contributions in California or at the federal level — did not respond to repeated calls and emails seeking comment.

Valerie Martin, a senior adviser to End Citizens United, said the blatant admission by the company that its purpose is to make contributions underscores the degree to which donors feel emboldened to hide behind such entities.

“This goes to the heart of what’s really wrong with the system and how it’s broken,” she said. “I think it really bothers Americans that people want to influence elections without fingerprints.”

Federal law requires political committees to confirm that a donation is legal before accepting it.

Eric Lycan, the attorney for the pro-Cruz Stand For Truth, declined to address specific donations but said in a statement that the super PAC “at all times complied with the law” and investigated any potentially illegal contributions.

“Contributions from an LLC to a super PAC are legal and permissible, and the fact standing alone that a contribution came from an LLC would not be reason to return the contribution,” he added.

The Little Rock-based treasurer for the pro-Huckabee super PAC did not respond to a request for comment about whether the group vetted Children of Israel.

[Ted Cruz is running a well-organized campaign. His super PACs — not so much.]

Some donors who have given through LLCs this year said they did so out of convenience rather than any effort to mask their identities.

Frank VanderSloot, the chief executive of an Idaho nutritional-supplement company, said he used two corporations he owns to give $175,000 to a super PAC supporting Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida in December because the group needed immediate donations to make its year-end deadline.

“It’s where I had the cash,” said VanderSloot, who also gave the super PAC $150,000 in his own name. “These LLCs have been around forever — they are working operations. It takes 12 seconds to see my name. It doesn’t take any great sleuthing.”

In other cases, it is much harder to pin down who is behind entities contributing large sums to super PACs.

Little is known about Tread Standard LLC, which gave $150,000 to a super PAC supporting former Florida governor Jeb Bush last June, weeks after an incorporation service set the company up in Delaware.

Equally elusive is Decor Services LLC, which was incorporated in Delaware by a paralegal in a Milwaukee law firm in January — two weeks before donating $250,000 to a super PAC backing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

One of the largest mystery donations this cycle came from DE First Holdings, the trust that gave $1 million to Coalition for Progress, the super PAC allied with Fulop. Neither a spokeswoman for Fulop nor Bari Mattes, the Democratic fundraiser who runs the group, responded to requests for comment.

Several campaign finance watchdog groups have filed complaints with the FEC against the recent pop-up LLCs, but the chances of the agency’s looking into the cases appear slim.

Last month, the agency closed a nearly five-year-old complaint about a limited liability company allegedly used to mask a donor’s identity — unable to even agree whether it merited investigation. The LLC had been set up in Delaware shortly before making a $1 million donation to a super PAC supporting then-Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. A Romney associate later came forward to acknowledge he was the source of the donation.

The FEC’s inability to come to a decision “creates incentives for people to take some risks, on the theory that even if some liability materializes, it may not be that serious,” said Bob Bauer, a veteran Democratic campaign-finance lawyer.

“It is inconceivable to me that they wouldn’t have taken the opportunity to clarify that at a very basic level, a donor cannot set up a LLC for the purpose of making contributions through the LLC and defeating the disclosure requirements,” he added.

[How much money is behind each campaign?]

Jan Baran, a longtime Republican election-law attorney, agreed that there is a need for the commission to weigh in, noting that the FEC has not issued any new rules regarding corporate donations since the Citizens United ruling made such spending permissible.

“The agency is just not providing any legal guidance on what the rules are in the aftermath of all these momentous court decisions,” he said. “That’s the job of the FEC, and it hasn’t done its job.”

FEC Chairman Matthew Petersen, a Republican appointee to the panel, did not respond to a request for comment.

Ellen Weintraub, one of two Democrats on the FEC’s six-member panel, warned that donors who try to hide behind shell corporations should not assume there will be no repercussions.

“The regulation is pretty darn clear, and I think there is potential criminal liability for people who are just flouting a plain-English restriction,” she said. “I don’t think people ought to take as much comfort as they seem to from the FEC’s apparent inability to muster four votes to enforce the law.”

Alice Crites contributed to this report.
Matea Gold is a national political reporter for The Washington Post, covering money and influence.

Rewarding the IRS with a Bigger Budget

The IRS Grinch
The good thing about being nonpartisan is that I can freely criticize (or even praise) policy makers without giving any thought to whether they have an R or D after their name.

That doesn’t mean Republicans and Democrats are the same, at least with regards to rhetoric. The two big political parties in the United States ostensibly have some core beliefs. And because of that, it is sometimes very revealing to identify deviations.

Democrats supposedly believe the rich should pay higher taxes and that low-tax jurisdictions should be persecuted, yet many Democrat bigwigs utilize tax havens.

Republicans supposedly believe in smaller government, yet many of them decide to get rich by lobbying to expand the size and scope of Washington.

Democrats supposedly believe there’s a big gender pay gap, but Obama’s top economic adviser said such numbers are fake and Hillary gave higher pay to men in her office.

Let’s now add to the list.

The IRS has stonewalled and treated Congress with contempt. The bureaucrats have disregarded the law to advance Obama’s hard-left agenda. They have used their power to help Obama’s reelection campaign. And IRS employees even donate lots of money to Democrats.

Given all this, you would think Republicans would be doing everything possible to punish this rogue bureaucracy. Even if only because of self interest rather than principles.

Yet GOPers decided, as part of their capitulation on spending caps (again!), to boost the IRS’s budget. I’m not joking. The Hill has a report with the sordid details.

The spending bill…provides an increase in funding to the Internal Revenue Service, a rare win for an agency that has been on the outs with congressional Republicans. The $1.1 trillion omnibus provides an additional $290 million for the IRS, an increase of 3 percent over the last fiscal year.

What’s especially discouraging is that Congress was on track to reduce the IRS’s bloated budget.

…the outcome for the IRS in the omnibus could have been far worse. A bill advanced by the House Appropriations Committee earlier this year that would have slashed IRS funding by $838 million, while a bill passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee would have reduced funding by $470 million. Instead, the spending package gives the IRS a nearly $300 million bump.

This is yet another piece of evidence that budget deals crafted behind closed doors inevitably produce bad numbers and bad policy.

And it’s certainly another sign that Republicans truly are the Stupid Party.

Just in case you think I’m being unfair to either GOPers or the IRS, let’s look at some recent developments. Here are the best parts of an editorial on unseemly IRS behavior from the Washington Examiner.

President Obama’s IRS repeatedly los[es] hard drives loaded with data related to scandals at the agency. To lose one might be regarded as suspicious happenstance; to lose two looks like conspiracy. The most famous case is that of Lois Lerner, whose division became notorious for targeting conservative groups applying for nonprofit status. Her computer hard drive malfunctioned before that scandal broke, around the same time Congress was looking for information on a separate IRS targeting scheme aimed at conservative donors. …The newest case of IRS hard drive trouble happened last April, but came to light only this month. …the IRS has notified the Justice Department that it erased a hard drive after being ordered not to do so by a federal judge. In this case, the missing communications are those of a former IRS official named Samuel Maruca in the Large Business and International division. He is believed to have been among the senior IRS employees who made the unusual and possibly illegal decision in May 2014 to hire the outside law firm Quinn Emanuel to help conduct an audit of Microsoft Corporation.

And here’s some shocking (or maybe not so shocking) information from the Daily Caller. The IRS’s new ethics chief (wow, there’s an oxymoron) has a track record of illegally destroying records.

The new head of the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) ethics office once oversaw the illegal shredding of documents sought by the federal tax agency’s inspector general (IG), and allegedly retaliated on the colleague he believed snitched on him about it.

Yup, he sounds like the kind of guy who deserves a bigger budget.

Let’s close with some very good advice from the Washington Examiner.

In the nearly three years since the targeting scandal was revealed, it has become clear that it was just a symptom of a much deeper problem at the IRS — a culture that lacks accountability, rewards failure, and persecutes the innocent. …it needs a thorough housecleaning, not…bonuses.

Too bad Republicans decided the entire IRS deserved a big bonus.

P.S. From my archives, here are some examples of the bureaucrats who will benefit from a bigger IRS budget.

P.P.P.S. And since we’re recycling some oldies but goodies, here’s my collection of IRS humor, including a new Obama 1040 form, a death tax cartoon, a list of tax day tips from David Letterman, a cartoon of how GPS would work if operated by the IRS, an IRS-designed pencil sharpener, two Obamacare/IRS cartoons (here and here), a sale on 1040-form toilet paper (a real product), a song about the tax agency, the IRS’s version of the quadratic formula, and (my favorite) a joke about a Rabbi and an IRS agent.

The Truth is (Almost) Free

REPRINTED FROM BFINFOSYSTEMS.COM

UniversitiesIn recent years, the cost of higher education in America has skyrocketed. The truth that students of all ages was seeking seemed out of reach for many Americans. Now that truth can be learned for a sum that ranges from free to almost free.

American higher education is being revolutionized by technology. Long-distance learning is no longer considered invalid. Institutions of higher learning, such as MIT, Stanford, Duke and the University of Virginia are offering online classes for the masses. READ MORE

The Seductive Appeal of the 14th Amendment

The Seductive Appeal of the 14th Amendment

The liberal drumbeat for the President to circumvent the Congress and Article 1 Section 8 of the United States Constitution. Katrina Vanden Heuval of the Nation, a well known left-wing magazine, was given center of the page exposure on the editorial page of the Washington Post today. Her column predicted the end of war as we know it if the debt limit is not raised. Read it here. Vanden Heuval predicts a global economic calamity if the Democrats don’t get their way and the Republicans don’t give in on every issue under discussion. Could Barack Obama try to use Section 4 of the 14th Amendment to eliminate those pesky Republicans from the National Debt battle. Here’s what Section 4 says. You be the judge if this situation is covered or does the original Article 1 Section 8 prevail.

14th Amendment Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void. Here are the first two lines of Article 1 Section 8: The Congress shall have power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States; To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

Let’s put the 14th Amendment in its proper context. The 14th Amendment was adopted on July 9, 1868 as one of the Reconstruction Amendments. It consisted of five sections. It was the amendment that was used to make all of the slaves into citizens. It also set the standards for voting and prohibited former Confederates from voting or holding office. The Due Process Clause has been used by the courts for areas that the framers in the Congress at the time could not anticipated. It has been used by the courts to apply most of the Bill of Rights to the states. The Equal Protection Clause has been stretched by the courts to apply to vast areas of rights. It was the basis of Brown v Board of Education. Section 4 confirmed the legitimacy of all United States public debt legislated by the Congress. It also confirmed that neither the United States nor any state would pay for the loss of slaves or debts that had been incurred by the Confederacy. For example, several English and French banks had lent money to the South during the war.  In Perry v. United States (1935), the Supreme Court ruled that under Section 4 voiding a United States government bond “went beyond the congressional power”.  Section 5 gave Congress the power to enforce the laws created by the amendment. No President has ever tried to circumvent the Constitutional powers of the Congress as often and as blatantly as Barack Obama. If he indeed instructs Secretary Timothy Geithner to continue funding the debt payments and the government what will happen? Would Geithner refuse the illegal order and resign as Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus on October 20, 1973 during the Watergate scandal? The smart money is betting that the House would vote for the immediate impeachment of the President and send it to the Senate for the trial. Where would that leave the country? In the middle of a constitutional crisis and under severe financial constraints. Let’s hope that it doesn’t come to that. Let’s hope that lefties like Katrina Vanden Heuval are ignored by calmer heads in the White House.

Whack-A-Mole

Whack-A-Mole

Just when you thought that we conservatives were starting to tame the liberal beast a new sinister attempt to control our lives has reared its ugly head: Sustainability. If you haven’t heard about this one you better get your lib detectors up and detecting. I live in Albemarle County, Virginia and we are in the midst of heated controversy about sustainability. What is it you ask? The sustainability initiative was started by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives—ICLEI, later rebranded “Local Governments for Sustainability”. Under the guise of sustainable environmentalism this unelected group has managed to worm its way into local governments.Over 1200 cities, towns, counties, and their associations worldwide comprise ICLEI’s growing membership. In my area this organization formed an under-the-radar group that put forward a resolution for reducing emissions by 80% by 2050. All laudable on the face of it. Working through our regional planning commission, a mix of elected and unelected representatives, they applied for a grant from the federal government to implement their plan. In October 2010, the regional planning commission received a three-year $999,000 grant to develop a regional sustainability implementation plan. The Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The grant includes nine partners most of whom have no financial commitment. Oh, we didn’t tell you that there’s a $500,000 match to the grant. Most of the match is to be by local taxpayers. The University of Virginia, an institution that effortlessly raises money by the truckload, has no financial involvement with the exception of one staff person. Meanwhile, the taxpayers are on the hook without any formal vote by the local board of supervisors. Oh, one other thing. The application for the grant used a 13 year old “Sustainability Accords” document that almost none of our elected representatives voted for.

Here are the problems according to the regional planning commission’s COO. This is a direct quote.

  • Problem: Sustainability planning has been proceeding, but under a series of separately focused initiatives…

  • Problem: Sustainability goals have been established in major plans (Comprehensive Plans for Charlottesville and Albemarle County, MPO Long Range Transportation Plan) in the region but strategies for implementation have not been developed and adopted…

  • Problem: Sustainability is not being fully implemented in either the built environment or in the habitats of citizens and businesses…

  • Problem: Lack of available metrics to identify the region’s status in pursuing sustainability…”

In other words, ‘the local governments aren’t cooperating and giving up their decision-making power to us’. Does this sound familiar: “Taxation without representation is tyranny”. Thank goodness our local tea party jumped into the fray and alerted the Republican supervisors to this potential coup d’etat. In a series of county board meetings the Jefferson Area Tea Party (named for our former neighbor Thomas Jefferson) has been able to slow what was a seemingly-done deal to a near complete halt. The financial commitment alone is daunting in this era of lower budgets and penny-pinching. The next two weeks will tell the tale with our Board of Supervisors apparently split 3-3.

In the meantime, we have other controversies in the “sustainability” war. So-called smart meters are being installed by public utilities all across the country. What are smart meters you ask? A smart meter is usually an electrical meter (but can also be a meter to measure water consumption) that records consumption of electric energy in intervals of an hour or less and communicates that information at least daily back to the utility for monitoring and billing purposes. Smart meters enable two-way communication between the meter and the central system. Unlike home energy monitors, smart meters can gather data for remote reporting. In Virginia, Dominion Power actually will tell you your electric consumption as compared to your neighbors. At this point you can opt out of this insidious invasion of privacy. In California the use of smart meters has become a big controversy. Witness this web site that was set up just to stop smart meters. Look at all of the resource links on the right hand side of the page. Do a Google search on “stop smart meters” and you’ll come up with pages of websites, stories and videos. Citizens are fighting back with proposed legislation, protests and lawsuits. ‘The nation’s best defense is an educated citizenry.’ Jefferson would be proud.

Stop Smart Meters Protect in California

The New Barbary Pirates

The New Barbary Pirates

On October 31, 1803 the U.S.S. Philadelphia was captured when she ran aground some five miles east of Tripoli harbor. One of the ships that captured the Philadelphia was the bomb ketch Mastico. On December 23, 1803 the Mastico was in turn captured by the U.S.S. Enterprise (the second of this name) under the command of Lt. Stephen Decatur. The Mastico was renamed the U.S.S. Intrepid. On the night of February 16, 1804 Decatur in command of the Intrepid sailed into Tripoli harbor to burn the Philadelphia before it could be used as a corsair against merchant shipping. Leading a force of sixty seamen he captured the Philadelphia without firing a gun. He then ordered the ship fired. Decatur was the last man to leave the burning deck. British Lord Horatio Nelson upon hearing of the raid was said to have called it “the most bold and daring act of the age.”

On February 22, 2011 Somali pirates executed four Americans who they had captured with their yacht. At the time the United States Navy was negotiating with the pirates for their release. In a confusing end to the standoff two kidnappers were also killed, while two others were found dead under unclear circumstances. Fifteen others were captured. This all occurred while four naval warships were tracking the captured yacht.

Since 2005 Somali pirates have preyed on merchant shipping passing by Somalia on the way to and from the Suez Canal. As of December 11, 2010, they are holding at least 35 ships with more than 650 hostages. A multinational coalition naval task force was formed in 2001 and consists of vessels from nine nations currently. They have been joined at various times by eight other countries. Unfortunately, they have not been able to stop the piracy. Witness the 35 vessels that are being held currently. Their purpose is to get ransom money for release of the crew, ship, and cargo. Pirates’ income from ransom has been estimated to be about $58 million in 2009 and $238 million in 2010. Direct costs of piracy are much higher and estimated to be between $7 to 12 billion as they also include insurance, naval support, legal proceedings, re-routing of slower ships, and individual protective steps taken by ship-owners. Further, piracy in Somalia leads to a decrease of revenue for Egypt as fewer ships use the Suez Canal (estimated loss of about $642 million), impedes trades with a number of countries such as Kenya and Yemen, and is detrimental to tourism and fishing in the Seychelles. The East African Seafarers’ Association estimates that there are at least five pirate gangs and a total of 1,000 armed men.

Rather than create a force of marines to clean out the pirate bases, the international community continues this ruinously expensive non-action. There are those who ascribe the pirates’ motives to the destruction of their fishing grounds due to toxic waste dumping. If that is the case then the international community would be better served by preventing dumping and spending the protection costs on cleaning up the waste. Whatever the motives these modern-day Barbary pirates must be stopped. The international community must stop kicking this can down the road for another generation to resolve.

2012 Potential Republican Candidates Part 4

2012 Potential Republican Candidates Part 4

Today, we’ll profile three current governors: Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Chris Christie of New Jersey and Mitch Daniels of Indiana. This will be a rather long post due to having three profiles.

Piyush Amrit “Bobby” Jindal is the 55th and current Governor of Louisiana and formerly a member of the United States House of Governor Bobby JindalRepresentatives. Jindal was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on June 10, 1971, to Amar and Raj Jindal, who came to the United States as immigrants from Punjab, India.

Jindal was one of 50 students nationwide admitted to the elite PLME program at Brown University, guaranteeing him a place in medical school. He was interested in public policy. Jindal also completed a second major in biology. He graduated in 1991 at the age of 20, with honors in both majors.

Jindal was named a member of the 1992 USA Today All-USA Academic Team. He studied at New College, Oxford, as a Rhodes Scholar. He received an M.Litt. degree in political science with an emphasis in health policy from the University of Oxford in 1994 for his thesis “A needs-based approach to health care”. He turned down an offer to study for a D.Phil. in politics, but instead joined the consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

In 1997, Jindal married Supriya Jolly who was born in New Delhi, India and moved to Baton Rouge with her parents when she was four years old. Supriya Jindal earned a Bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and an M.B.A. degree from Tulane University. She will receive a Ph.D. in marketing at Louisiana State University when she successfully completes her dissertation. They have three children: Selia Elizabeth, Shaan Robert, and Slade Ryan. Jindal was raised in a Hindu household, but converted to Christianity while in high school. During his first year at Brown University, he was received into the Catholic Church. His family attends weekly Mass at Saint Aloysius Parish in Baton Rouge.

In 1993 U.S. Representative Jim McCrery (whom Jindal had worked for as a summer intern) introduced him to Governor Mike Foster. In 1996 Foster appointed Jindal as Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, an agency that represented about 40 percent of the state budget and employed over 12,000 people. Jindal was the youngest ever Secretary of the DHH at 25. During his tenure, Louisiana’s Medicaid program went from bankruptcy with a $400 million deficit into three years of surpluses totaling $220 million. Under Jindal’s term, Louisiana nationally rose to third place in child healthcare screenings, with child immunizations rising, and introduced new and expanded services for the elderly and the disabled. In 1998, Jindal was appointed executive director of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare, a 17-member panel charged with devising plans to reform Medicare.

In 1999 Jindal volunteered his time to study how Louisiana might use its $4.4 billion share of the tobacco settlement. In that same year, at only 28 years of age, Jindal was appointed to become the youngest-ever president of the University of Louisiana System, the nation’s 16th largest system of higher education with over 80,000 students per year. In March 2001 he was nominated to be Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Planning and Evaluation. He was later unanimously confirmed by a vote of the United States Senate and began serving on July 9, 2001. In that position, he served as the principal policy advisor to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. He resigned from that post on February 21, 2003, to return to Louisiana and run for the House of Representatives. He was elected to Congress for Louisiana’s 1st congressional district, elected in 2004. Jindal was re-elected to the House in the 2006 election with 88% of the vote. He is the second Indian-American elected to Congress.

On October 20, 2007, Jindal was elected governor of Louisiana, winning a four-way race with 54.2% of the vote. At age 36, Jindal became the youngest current governor in the United States. He is the first elected non-white Governor of Louisiana and the first Indian-American governor in the country. In 2008, Governor Jindal was ranked one of the nation’s most popular governors with an approval rating of 77%.

Jindal has been mentioned as a potential candidate for the 2012 presidential election. On December 10, 2008, Jindal indicated that he would likely not run for president in 2012, saying he will focus on his re-election in 2011 and that this would make transitioning to a national campaign difficult, though he later attempted to leave himself open to the opportunity to change his mind in the future – he did not rule out a possible 2012 presidential bid. Speculation increased when Republicans chose Jindal to deliver the response to President Obama’s first address to a joint session of Congress.

His web site is: http://www.bobbyjindal.com/

Governor Chris ChristieChristopher James “Chris” Christie (born September 6, 1962) is the 55th and current Governor of New Jersey. He was born September 6, 1962 in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Bill Christie and Sondra Grasso Christie. Upon his election to the governorship in November 2009, Christie became the first Republican to win a statewide election in New Jersey in 12 years. Christie, an attorney, previously served as United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey. He resides in Mendham, New Jersey, having chosen not to move his family into Drumthwacket, the official governor’s mansion.

He was raised in Livingston, graduating from Livingston High School. Christie graduated from the University of Delaware with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science in 1984 and Seton Hall University School of Law with a Juris Doctor degree in 1987. Christie was admitted to the Bar of the State of New Jersey and the Bar of the United States District Court, District of New Jersey, in December 1987.

In 1986, Christie married Mary Pat Foster, a fellow student at the University of Delaware. After marriage they shared a one-room apartment in Summit, New Jersey. Mary Pat Christie pursued a career in investment banking, eventually working at the Wall Street firm Cantor Fitzgerald. She left the firm in 2001 following the September 11th attacks, only recently returning to work part-time. They have four children. Christie is of Irish and Sicilian descent.

In 1987, Christie joined the law firm of Dughi, Hewit & Palatucci of Cranford, New Jersey. In 1993, he was named a partner in the firm. Christie specialized in securities law, appellate practice, election law, and government affairs. He is a member of the American Bar Association and the New Jersey State Bar Association and was a member of the Election Law Committee of the New Jersey State Bar Association.

He was elected a freeholder in Morris County in 1994 but was defeated in a primary after one term. On December 7, 2001, Christie was nominated to be the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey. He was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on December 20, 2001, and sworn into office on January 17, 2002. He served with distinction until 2008.

On January 8, 2009, Christie filed papers to run for governor. In the primary on June 2, Christie won the Republican nomination with 55% of the vote, defeating conservative opponents Steve Lonegan and Rick Merkt. On November 3, Christie defeated the incumbent governor Jon Corzine by a margin of 48.5% to 44.9%, with 5.8% of the vote going to independent candidate Chris Daggett.

Christie took office as Governor of New Jersey on January 19, 2010. On February 9, 2010, he signed Executive Order No. 12, which placed a 90-day freeze on the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) and established the Housing Opportunity Task Force to examine the State’s affordable housing laws, constitutional obligations, and the effectiveness of the current framework.

On February 11, 2010, Christie signed Executive Order No. 14, which declared a “state of fiscal emergency exists in the State of New Jersey” due to the projected $2.2 billion budget deficit for the current fiscal year (FY 2010). In a speech before a special joint session of the New Jersey Legislature on the same day, Christie addressed the budget deficit and revealed a list of fiscal solutions to close the gap. The cuts included withholding $475 million in State aid to more than 500 school districts, forcing them to spend their surpluses instead. State subsidies to NJ Transit, higher education, and hospitals were also cut. Christie also suspended funding for the Department of the Public Advocate and called for its elimination. Some Democrats criticized Christie for not first consulting them on his budget cuts and for circumventing the Legislature’s role in the budget process.

On August 25, 2010 it was announced that New Jersey had lost out on $400 million in federal Race To The Top education grants due to a clerical error in the application by a midlevel official.

On numerous occasions Christie has stated that he will not run for the presidency but his high poll numbers are impressive.

His web site is: http://www.state.nj.us/governor/

Mitchell Elias “Mitch” Daniels, Jr., (born April 7, 1949) is the 49th and current Governor of Indiana. He was born April 7, 1949 in Monongahela, Pennsylvania, to Dorothy Mae (née Wilkes) and Mitchell Elias Daniels, Sr., spending his early childhood years in Governor Mitch DanielsPennsylvania, Tennessee, and Georgia. The Daniels family moved to Indiana from Pennsylvania in 1959 while he was still in grade school. His paternal grandparents were Christian immigrants from Syria. Daniels has been honored by the Arab-American Institute with the 2011 Najeeb Halaby Award for Public Service.

In 1971, Daniels earned a Bachelor’s degree with Honors from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and, in 1979, a Juris Doctor with Honors from Georgetown University Law Center.

Daniels had his first experience in politics while still a teenager when, in 1968, he worked on the unsuccessful campaign of William Ruckelshaus for the U.S. Senate. While in college, he interned in the office of then-Indianapolis Mayor Richard Lugar. In 1971, Daniels worked on Lugar’s re-election campaign and then joined his mayoral staff. Within three years, he became Lugar’s principal assistant. After Lugar was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1976, Daniels followed him to Washington, D.C., as Administrative Assistant. Daniels served as Chief of Staff during Lugar’s first term (1977–82); and, during this time, he met Cheri Herman, who was working for the National Park Service. The two married in 1978 and had four daughters; they divorced in 1993 and remarried in 1997.

In 1983, when Lugar was elected Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Daniels was appointed its Executive Director. Serving in that position (1983–84), he played a major role in keeping the GOP in control of the Senate. Daniels was also manager of three successful re-election campaigns for Lugar. In August 1985, Daniels became chief political advisor and liaison to President Ronald Reagan.

In 1987, Daniels returned to Indiana as President and CEO of the Hudson Institute, a conservative think-tank. In 1990, Daniels left the Hudson Institute to accept a position at Eli Lilly and Company. He was first promoted to President of North American Operations (1993–97) and then to Senior Vice President for Corporate Strategy and Policy (1997–2001).

Daniels’ decision to run for governor came as a surprise to his Party’s leadership, and he was initially considered a dark horse. He was challenged in the Primary Election by conservative activist and lobbyist Eric Miller, whom he easily defeated. His campaign platform focused on cutting the State budget and privatizing public agencies. He began his first four-year term as Indiana’s Governor on January 10, 2005, and was elected to his second term by an 18-point margin on November 4, 2008. Upon becoming Governor, Daniels pressed for a series of changes that brought him into conflict with both Republicans and Democrats. During his first year in office, he proposed a number of tax increases, budget cuts, and privatization plans to balance the budget. Because of the opposition led by the Republican Speaker of the House, only two of the new taxes were approved. Support for a switch to Daylight Saving Time, the privatization of the Indiana Toll Road, and the closure of many license branches brought him into conflict with Democrats; and, in 2005, his approval ratings dropped to 42%. In 2007, he began pressing for constitutional changes to cap State property taxes at 1-3% of value. The caps were approved by the Indiana General Assembly as statute, and the resulting drop in revenue was offset by an increase in the State sales tax. His support for the property tax limits, and its subsequent adoption, helped raise his popularity and secure his re-election bid. His second term saw a major drop in State revenues, leading to major spending cuts to maintain a balanced budget.

Although Daniels had claimed to be reluctant to seek higher office, many media outlets, have speculated that Daniels may be in position to seek the Republican nomination for President in 2012. Speculators have cited Daniels’ record of reforming government, reducing taxes, balancing the budget, and connecting with voters in Indiana. However, Daniels has expressed some positions that have ruffled feathers within the far-right social conservative wing of the Republican Party. He “has called for a ‘truce’, for instance, on social issues, and expressed a willingness to consider tax increases to rectify a budget deficit.”

His web site is: http://mymanmitch.com/

We Owe Them Everything

We Owe Them Everything

I regularly read the Washington Post and when I do I always read the obituaries in the paper. Anyone who had the remotest connection to the Washington area appears in the Posts’ obituaries. They always have the obituaries of Medal of Honor recipients. Last week I read the obituary of one Barney F. Hanjiro, PFC, U.S. Army. Private Hanjiro was a 19-year old when his actions in October 1944 earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor. Here is his citation:

Private Barney F. Hajiro distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 19, 22, and 29 October 1944, in the vicinity of Bruyeres and Biffontaine, eastern France. Private Hajiro, while acting as a sentry on top of an embankment on 19 October 1944, in the vicinity of Bruyeres, France, rendered assistance to allied troops attacking a house 200 yards away by exposing himself to enemy fire and directing fire at an enemy strong point. He assisted the unit on his right by firing his automatic rifle and killing or wounding two enemy snipers. On 22 October 1944, he and one comrade took up an outpost security position about 50 yards to the right front of their platoon, concealed themselves, and ambushed an 18-man, heavily armed, enemy patrol, killing two, wounding one, and taking the remainder as prisoners. On 29 October 1944, in a wooded area in the vicinity of Biffontaine, France, Private Hajiro initiated an attack up the slope of a hill referred to as “Suicide Hill” by running forward approximately 100 yards under fire. He then advanced ahead of his comrades about 10 yards, drawing fire and spotting camouflaged machine gun nests. He fearlessly met fire with fire and single-handedly destroyed two machine gun nests and killed two enemy snipers. As a result of Private Hajiro’s heroic actions, the attack was successful. Private Hajiro’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon him, his unit, and the United States Army.

Even in the neutral description of the citation you can feel the bravery of this young man. He was a native Japanese-American from Hawaii who joined the military to fight for his country even though many of his fellow Japanese-Americans were incarcerated in concentration camps. The further irony is that the operation that that his unit was conducting was to rescue the famed “Lost Battalion” of the Texas division, essentially an all-white unit.

Occasionally, I will peruse the list of Medal of Honor winners when one comes up in the news. It is a fraternity of extraordinary courage and daring. We need to remember that all veterans and serving members of the Armed Forces are heroes. I know a young man here in Central Virginia who had two tours in Iraq and served as a Marine engineer most notably at the Battle of Fallujah. His two younger brothers were also Marine engineers serving in Iraq. They all joined a reserve unit and went willingly. Thankfully, they all returned home unharmed.

Charlottesville, Virginia is the home of several traumatic head injury treatment centers. Unfortunately, business has been brisk. Many of our soldiers have suffered traumatic brain injuries, particularly due to IED attacks. We’ve also had men and women lose arms and legs. In past wars many of these people died but the level of medical treatment is such that today most will survive. As a country we owe them the very best care and rehabilitation available.

The next time you see someone wearing a veteran’s cap or is otherwise identified as a veteran or a serving member of the military thank them for their service to our country. You see, we owe them everything. We owe them our safety, our freedom, everything that is the United States of America, including our very existence as a nation.

The WikiLeaks Fiasco

The WikiLeaks Fiasco

Today, WikeLeaks founder, Julian Assange, is in a British court for an extradition hearing to Sweden. He is accused of the sexual assault of two Swedish women. In the meantime, the United States government continues to vacillate on pressing charges against Assange and his organization. Documents continue to be released. The most recent batch revealed our negotiating strategy for the recent Nuclear Disarmament treaty with the Russians. In the release it has been revealed that the administration was willing to trade British nuclear arms secrets to Russia. This after the British government refused the administration’s request to do so.

Why hasn’t the Obama Administration responded more forcefully to the release of hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents? So far the only person detained is Private Bradley Manning who is currently in the Quantico Marine base brig. There are several theories why the Department of Justice has remained immobile. Giving the DOJ the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they feel that they have insufficient evidence to indict Assange. Another theory is that the current administration is inept and timid. They don’t want the rest of the world community to think badly of them. They never learned Kissinger’s first rule of power politics: the perception of power is more important than actual power. The next theory is that our leaders are incompetent. Eric Holder’s DOJ is still investigating possible crimes relating to the documents. How hard is this? Private Bradley Manning stole the documents from United States government computers. He then passed them on to (eventually) Julian Assange. The documents were stolen; therefore Assange is a receiver of stolen goods. This is not a situation where someone buys an item that is later found to be stolen. Assange was aware that the documents were removed by Private Manning illegally. Why haven’t we shut down his servers and sworn out an international warrant for his arrest. Felony theft would be a good starting point. Instead, months later the DOJ is still “investigating”. Finally, the more extreme conspiracy theorists (personified by Glenn Beck) believe that the Obama administration is doing all of the above to diminish American power.