Posts Tagged ‘ethics’

Pruitt & Crapo ‘Put the Con in Condo’

April 25, 2018

Pruitt & Crapo 'Put the Con in Condo'

A new poster plastered around Capitol Hill (above) points out that Idaho’s Republican Senator Mike Crapo used the same energy lobbyist’s condo that Scott Pruitt bunked at for a fundraising event, and he even got a better deal than Pruitt’s $50 a day: It was free. Senator Crapo is on the Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources and Infrastructure — what a coincidence.

The phone number on the poster’s tear-off tabs belongs to the Federal Election Commission. Since Mr. Crapo didn’t claim use of the condo as an in-kind campaign donation, a complaint has been lodged with the FEC.

More:

“EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s Lobbyist-Owned Pad Was GOP Fundraising Hub,” Lachlan Markay, Sam Stein, Daily Beast

“Complaint claims Idaho senator didn’t report donated time at DC condo,” Cynthia Sewell, Idaho Statesman

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Trump: ‘Scott Pruitt Is Doing a Great Job!’

April 9, 2018

Capitol Hill celebrity Scott Pruitt, spoofed by Friends of the Earth. The tear-off phone number is that of the EPA Public Affairs Office.

In the face of mounting criticism for extravagant personal spending of public dollars and ethical lapses, EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt seems to be fighting for his job, but President Trump thinks he’s doing a great job of rolling back environmental regulations:

But it’s actually Scott Pruitt’s PR office that’s doing all the work. In reality, the process of rolling back regulations is as lengthy and difficult as establishing them. You can’t do it by press release.

More:

“The Myth of Scott Pruitt’s EPA Rollback,” Michael Grunwald, Politico

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Photo (“$50 a Night on Capitol Hill”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com. Read about the posters here.

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Scott Pruitt’s DC Bargain Bedroom Guide

April 6, 2018

Scott Pruitt's DC Bargain Bedroom Guide

Let’s say you were an energy state Attorney General who sued the EPA 13 times to reduce clean air restrictions on oil, gas, and coal use. You’d expect energy companies to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to your election campaigns, even in 2014, when you ran unopposed. What you might not expect is for Donald Trump to name you EPA secretary. But he did, Scott Pruitt. Now you’ve got to stay in DC, at least when you can’t jet somewhere else.

Scott Pruitt doesn’t mind spending taxpayer dollars on first-class air travel, a custom soundproof phone booth for his office, dubious raises for his appointees, or a full-time security detail, but spending his own money when he’s in Washington? No way. Mr. Pruitt is the poorest member of the Trump Cabinet, so of course he accepted a sweetheart deal on a Capitol Hill condo owned by the wife of an energy lobbyist, $50 a night, at least half the AirBnB rate for the neighborhood.

Ethical lapses may mean Scott Pruitt is on the way out, but not before he’s destroyed his agency and America’s environmental safeguards.

More:

“Pruitt Had a $50-a-Day Condo Linked to Lobbyists. Their Client’s Project Got Approved,” Eric Lipton, New York Times

“Scott Pruitt’s D.C. Lobbyist Landlord Also Funded His Oklahoma Attorney General Campaign,” Sam Stein and Lachlan Markay, Daily Beast

“EPA chief Pruitt joined by family in condo tied to lobbyist ‘power couple,'” John Santucci, Matthew Mosk, and Stephanie Ebbs, ABC News

“EPA ethics official says he didn’t have all the facts on Pruitt’s lease,” Cristina Alesci, CNN

“5 lies Scott Pruitt told this week about his mounting scandals,” Umair Irfan, Vox

“Scott Pruitt’s defenses are crumbling,” Aaron Blake, Washington Post

“Scott Pruitt Stiffed Taxpayers for Around $3 Million in 24/7 Security and Expensive Flights,” Tom McKay, Gizmodo

“Top EPA staff who criticized Scott Pruitt were either demoted or reassigned,” Kyla Mandel, Think Progress

“Top Pruitt aide resigns amid growing scandal at EPA,” Katherine Faulders, John Santucci, Trish Turner, and Stephanie Ebbs, ABC News

“Inside the EPA: ‘It’s just a slow-motion train wreck,’” Emily Holden, Politico

“Chief of Staff Advised a Resistant Trump to Fire the E.P.A. Chief,” Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Lisa Friedman, New York Times

“Let’s Meet Scott Pruitt’s Potential Replacements,” Brian Kahn, Earther

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Guilty: Kellyanne Conway Violated the Hatch Act

March 16, 2018

Guilty: Kellyanne Conway Violated the Hatch Act

The federal U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) recently ruled that Presidential Counselor Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act twice, both times while appearing on television in her official capacity.

“In the first interview, Conway advocated against one Senate candidate and gave an implied endorsement of another candidate. In the second interview, she advocated for the defeat of one Senate candidate and the election of another candidate. Both instances constituted prohibited political activity under the Hatch Act and occurred after Conway received significant training on Hatch Act prohibitions ….” — OSC

That “significant training” was mandated after an earlier televised ethical breach, when Ms. Conway shilled for Ivanka Trump products during an interview on Fox News.

Special Counsel Henry Kerner sent his office’s findings to President Donald Trump “for appropriate disciplinary action.” As a presidential appointee, it is up to the president to decide on Ms. Conway’s punishment, so naturally she received a firm executive shrug. A career federal employee would be terminated for this. “The White House cannot continue to have one standard for the federal workforce generally and a lower standard for appointees who are close to this President,” observed Walter Shaub, former Director of the Office of Government Ethics.

More:

“Kellyanne Conway found to have violated Hatch Act,” John Bowden, The Hill

“Kellyanne Conway broke the law. The White House shrugs.” Washington Post editorial

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Donald Trump, Hat-Salesman-In-Chief

September 5, 2017

Donald Trump, Hat-Salesman-In-Chief

President Trump visited storm-wracked, flood-ravaged Texas last Tuesday and offered victims these heartfelt words of comfort: “What a crowd. What a turnout!” He was accompanied by the current Mrs. Trump, easily identified by her five-inch heels and a black baseball cap helpfully labeled “FLOTUS.” If you want to buy Melania’s disaster-zone garb, the snakeskin Manolo Blahnik stilettos will set you back $600, and you’ll have to settle for a knock-off FLOTUS cap.

But you can get her husband’s hurricane hat, an Official 45th President “U-S-A” cap, by forking over $40 to the Donald Trump Re-Election Campaign. That’s right, 7 months into his first do-nothing term, Mr. Trump is already flogging hats to fashion-forward fans to fund his 2020 run. After all, that’s how he funded his 2016 campaign, remember?

President Trump and the missus got such bad press from Tuesday’s Texas stumble that they had a do-over on Saturday. Another chance to advertise the family head-wear business.

More:

“How President Trump turned hurricane relief into product placement for campaign swag,” Jordan Libowitz, Washington Post

“Trump’s ‘USA’ Hat Criticized by Ethics Group and Those Who Don’t Like Ugly Hats,” Adam K. Raymond, New York Magazine

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Top image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Can The Honorary Boy Scout President Be Impeached?

July 26, 2017

Can The Honorary Boy Scout President Be Impeached?

The programs of the Boys Scouts of America teach young men civic engagement and citizenship, and since 1910 the sitting President of the United States has always been the organization’s Honorary President. On Monday, President Donald Trump addressed 40,000 Boy Scouts at their annual Jamboree in an exercise that can only be called child abuse. The BSA leadership had reminded scouts and scoutmasters that their organization is nonpartisan and above politics, but their current Honorary President didn’t get the memo:

“Over the next 35 minutes, the president threatened to fire one of his Cabinet members, attacked former president Barack Obama, dissed his former rival Hillary Clinton, marveled at the size of the crowd, warned the boys about the ‘fake media,’ mocked pollsters and pundits, and said more people would say “Merry Christmas” under his presidency. He also told a rambling tale about a famous, now-deceased home builder that meandered from a Manhattan cocktail party to a yacht and then to places that the president would only allow the boys’ imaginations to go.”

— ” Trump’s Boy Scouts speech broke with 80 years of presidential tradition,” Katie Mettler and Derek Hawkins, Washington Post

[The full transcript of the speech is here.]

The speech “had the feel of a third world authoritarian’s youth rally,” tweeted former acting CIA director John McLaughlin.

The President introduced several of his cabinet members who were Boy Scouts, but Eagle Scout Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General, was conspicuously absent. Another Eagle Scout was MIA, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a Boy Scout board member who advocated letting gay boys join the scouts.

Mr. Trump’s last known involvement with the scouts was in 1989 when he paid Don Jr.’s Boy Scout registration fee. He took the $7 out of his charitable foundation.

More:

“Trump speech to Boy Scout Jamboree elicits widespread criticism for its partisanship, and profanity,” Jackie Calmes, Los Angeles Times

“After Trump Injects Politics Into Speech, Boy Scouts Face Blowback,” Alan Blinder and Mitch Smith, New York Times

“Boy Scouts of America distances itself from partisan politics after Trump speech,’ Politico

“The 14 Most Inappropriate Moments From Trump’s Speech at the Boy Scout Jamboree,” Margaret Hartmann, New York Magazine

“Donald Trump Tramples on Boy Scout Values,” Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker

“Despite that Trump rally, Scouting is about citizenship and togetherness,” Rosecrans Baldwin, Los Angeles Times

Update:

“Boy Scouts dispute Trump claim that their leader called his speech ‘the greatest,'” Jacqueline  Thomsen, The Hill

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The Head of the Office of Government Ethics Resigns

July 13, 2017

The Head of the Office of Government Ethics Resigns
Walter Shaub, head of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, the federal agency charged with overseeing the executive branch ethics program and preventing conflicts of interest, resigned last week. President Trump has no ethics, so there really wasn’t much for Mr. Shaub to do.

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Conflicts of Interest: The President Is Still a Businessman

May 24, 2017

President Donald Trump is advised by his daughter and son-in-law while profiting from the world-wide Trump Organization, run by his sons. NPR’s Marilyn Geewax explains the ethics and conflicts-of-interest issues.

Related:

“Trump’s connection to his businesses leaves more questions than answers in first 100 days,” Alexander Mallin, ABC News

“After 100 Days of Trump, America’s Gotten Corruption Fatigue,” Bridgette Dunlap, Rolling Stone

Updates:

“Trump’s Business Ties to Middle East Precede Him,” Steve Eder and Jesse Drucker, New York Times

“Donald Trump Jr., Dubai business partner discuss ‘new ideas,'” Jon Gambrell, Associated Press

“Trump Family Bolsters Its Dubai Connection,” Russ Choma, Mother Jones

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Steamy Scandal in the Heart of Dixie

April 10, 2017

Steamy Scandal in the Heart of Dixie

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley appears to have had an affair with a top aide, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, a married woman. That’s been pretty embarrassing for the “Love Gov,” a former Sunday school teacher, who was married at the time, but it gets worse. While Ms. Mason was the governor’s senior political adviser, it still wasn’t legal for him to use campaign funds to pay for her legal defense. As usual, the cover-up is worse than the sexy-time crime.

On Wednesday the Alabama Ethics Commission found probable cause that Governor Bentley violated the Alabama Ethics Act and the Fair Campaign Practices Act. On Friday the state’s House Judiciary Committee released a 3,000-page report with scandalous details about security personnel seeing Ms. Mason “leaving the office with her hair tousled and her clothing in disarray,”mushy text messages between her and the Gov, and allegations the governor threatened his wife’s staffers for talking about the affair. On Saturday the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that the legislature can go ahead with impeachment proceedings, and lawmakers are expected to begin impeachment hearings today.

Updates:

“Robert Bentley, Alabama Governor, Resigns Amid Scandal,” Alan Blinder, New York Times

“Alabama Guv Resigns, Is Convicted On 2 Campaign Finance Charges,”Allegra Kirkland, TPM Livewire

“Kay Ivey becomes governor; promises open administration,” Brian Lyman, Montgomery Advertiser

“Why It Took Alabama’s Governor So Long to Resign,” alan Greenblatt, Governing

“Robert Bentley joins a growing list of Alabama governors who had trouble with the law,” Travis M. Andrews, Washington Post

“How Alabama’s Shady Governor Cultivated a Culture of Disenfranchisement,” Brentin Mock, CityLab

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Justice Scalia Lived as He Died

March 10, 2016

Justice Scalia Lived as He Died
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in luxury at a ranch resort owned by a Texas millionaire who had business before the court last year:

“Though that trip has brought new attention to the justice’s penchant for travel, it was in addition to the 258 subsidized trips that he took from 2004 to 2014. Justice Scalia went on at least 23 privately funded trips in 2014 alone to places like Hawaii, Ireland and Switzerland, giving speeches, participating in moot court events or teaching classes. Just a few weeks before his death, he was in Singapore and Hong Kong.

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