Category Archives: Corporate Crime

The Rip Off Society

The New York Times

Fausset, Richard (5/4/20)

 

“ The state of Mississippi allowed tens of millions of dollars in federal anti-poverty funds to be used in ways that did little or nothing to help the poor, with two nonprofit groups instead using the money on lobbyists, football tickets, religious concerts and fitness programs for state lawmakers, according to a scathing audit released on Monday.”

 

According to the report, released by the state auditor’s office, the money also enriched celebrities with Mississippi ties, among them Brett Favre, a former N.F.L. quarterback whose Favre Enterprises was paid $1.1 million by a nonprofit group that received the welfare funds. The payments were for speaking engagements that Mr. Favre did not attend, the auditors said.

 

Other large sums went to a family of pro wrestlers whose flamboyant patriarch, Ted DiBiase, earned national fame performing as the “Million Dollar Man.” In a news conference on Monday, Shad White, the state auditor, said it was possible that many recipients of the money did not know it had come from the federal welfare program.

 

Mr. Favre could not be reached for comment Monday. Mr. DiBiase declined to comment.

 

Mr. White called the findings “the most egregious misspending my staff have seen in their careers.” The audit found that more than $98 million from the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, or TANF, was funneled to the two Mississippi-based nonprofit groups over three years. About $94 million of that was “questioned” by state auditors, meaning the money was in all likelihood misspent or the auditors could not verify that it had been spent legally, Mr. White said.

 

The breadth of the audit — which auditors said included funds that were “misspent, converted to personal use, spent on family members and friends of staffers and grantees or wasted” — raises broad questions about the efficacy of America’s social safety net.

 

In 1996, the TANF program converted the old federal welfare system, in which cash benefits to poor families were deemed an entitlement, to a system of block grants issued to the states. The new program created work rules and time limits on aid — and, notably, gave each state much more leeway on how to spend the money. Critics say that states do not have to clearly justify that they are spending the money on helping the poor.

 

“There’s this incredible amount of flexibility,” said LaDonna Pavetti, vice president for family income support policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “It could allow for a lot of things to happen.”

 

Mississippi Republican lawmakers concerned about the misuse of federal funds have enacted safeguards to prevent fraud by potential welfare recipients. A ThinkProgress article found that in 2016, only 167 of the 11,700 Mississippi families who applied for a TANF payment were approved.

 

For those who support anti-poverty initiatives, the unfolding scandal has left a particularly bitter taste. “It’s just, ‘How can you?’” said Oleta Garrett Fitzgerald, southern regional director for the Children’s Defense Fund.

 

Monday’s audit comes after the arrest in February of John Davis, the former director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services, the agency that distributes the federal welfare block grants. Mr. Davis is accused of taking part in a multimillion-dollar embezzlement scheme.

 

Five other people were charged in the apparent scheme, including Nancy New, a politically connected figure who was the executive director of the Mississippi Community Education Center, one of the two nonprofit groups mentioned in the report. All have pleaded not guilty.

 

According to the auditor’s report, sub-grantees who received federal money through Mr. Davis’s group told auditors that Mr. Davis often signed off verbally on the projects they intended to fund, leaving holes in any paper trail. Mr. Davis’s nephew and brother-in-law received work contracts, either through his department, Ms. New’s group, or the other nonprofit group that received money, the Family Resource Center of North Mississippi, the audit states.

 

Mr. Davis, in a statement to a congressional committee last year, said that Mississippi welfare officials were using the program “to address the needs of those we serve. We see this as a way to eliminate one of the last barriers to finding true self-sufficiency for those who seek to not be dependent on needs-based programs.”

 

The report also shed light on payments made to entities connected to the wrestling family, and the mixture of self-help and evangelizing that the welfare money was supposedly funding. Mr. DiBiase is listed on federal tax forms as the principal officer of a religious nonprofit called Heart of David Ministries. The report shows the ministry received roughly $1.9 million over three years.

 

One of his sons, Ted DiBiase Jr., also a wrestler, is listed on state records as the registered agent and officer of a company called Priceless Ventures, which offered a self-help program, “The Law of 16.” The company received more than $2 million, auditors said.

 

A Law of 16 workbook submitted to Congress features inspirational quotes from Ted DiBiase Jr. and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Auditors said that another son of the elder Mr. DiBiase, Brett DiBiase, also a wrestler, was paid with welfare funds to teach antidrug classes. But Mr. DiBiase, who was one of the six people indicted in February, never gave those classes, auditors said.

 

Ms. New, the head of the Mississippi Community Education Center, is a well-connected longtime educator who ran a private school in Jackson. Her work in the welfare field was feted by conservatives for helping poor people achieve self-sufficiency.

 

Mr. White’s office, in a statement, said the group was “particularly dependent” on TANF funding “and engaged in significant misspending.” From 2016 to 2019, the statement said, the group was given more than $60 million in welfare money, and raised less than $1.6 million from other sources.

 

Among the questionable spending by the nonprofit, the statement said, was the purchase of three trucks costing more than $50,000 each, which Mr. White said were used by Ms. New and two of her sons. Her lawyer could not be reached for comment.

 

The broader scandal is one of numerous major problems the state is facing, including the coronavirus pandemic and a prison system in crisis.

 

Danny Blanton, a spokesman for the human services department, said on Monday that steps were being taken to clean it up, including a planned forensic audit. Mr. White said that a state criminal investigation into the misuse of funds continues, in coordination with federal investigators.

Monday Morning Rundown: Bailout Payoffs, Pollution for Profit, Seizure of PPE, Elimination of Over-Sight

SUNDAY 17 MAY 2020: Morning Rundown:

Pollution for Profit

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/14/climate/trump-drinking-water-perchlorate.html

  • A new E.P.A. policy would revoke a 2011 finding that the chemical perchlorate should be regulated. This is a toxic chemical that contaminates water and has been linked to fetal and infant brain damage.
  • This policy defies a court order that required the agency to establish safe drinking-water standards for the chemical by the end of June.
  • The policy both acknowledges that exposure to high levels of the chemical can cause I.Q. damage and also opts not to limits the use of the chemical.
  • Both the Defense Department and military contractors such as Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman waged aggressive efforts to block the controls on the chemical.
  • The administration is using the fact that states like California and Massachusetts regulate the chemical to argue that few public water systems now contain perchlorate at high levels and so the nationwide monitoring of the chemical would outweigh the benefits.

The Elimination of Oversight

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/15/state-department-inspector-general-fired-261536

  • Trump has removed State Department Inspector General Steve Linick and replaced him with a buddy of Mike Pence’s.
  • This is just another move in a series of movies to eliminate independent government watchdogs.
  • Trump said in a letter that his replacement “meets the appropriate qualifications” for the position. The appropriate qualifications are unquestioning subservience to Donald Trump and his cronies.
  • Part of this replacement is evidently an attempt to protect Secretary Pompeo from an investigation into his misuse of a political appointee to perform personal task for him and his wife.
  • In the past few months, Trump has removed Health and Human Services Inspector General Christi Grimm who had issued a report critical of the administration’s response to the coronavirus. He also removed the Intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson.

Federal Seizure of PPE

https://www.citizensforethics.org/foia/fema-coronavirus-ppe-seizures/

  • After having refused to assume the duty of a federal government and left the states to fend for themselves to secure desperately needed PPE, federal authorities are now seizing and rerouting personal protective gear.
  • Massachusetts, Virginia and New Jersey have reported seizures of PPE shipments.

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/16/uss-theodore-roosevelt-sailors-test-positive-coronavirus-261873

Sailors with Coronavirus

  • Thirteen sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt who had Covid 19, have now tested positive again after being returned to the ship.

The Bailout Scam

https://www.propublica.org/article/another-private-jet-company-owned-by-a-trump-donor-got-a-bailout-this-one-for-20-million?utm_source=pardot&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=majorinvestigations&utm_content=river

  • A Nebraska-based private jet company whose principle owner donated to Trump and the Republicans before the 2016 election, received a $20 million taxpayer-paid for aid from the federal bailout package in March.
  • This was the second private plane company founded or owned by Trump donors to receive funds designed for the airline industry.
  • The other company’s founder gave nearly $50,000 to the Republican National Committee and Trump. They got $27 million in federal funds.
  • Why are you not furious?

Friday Notes: America’s Lawyer, Bailout Theft, Media, Science

th

Friday Notes:

As the corporate media becomes more and more useless, we must turn to other sources.

Podcast: America’s Lawyer, Mike Papantonio

April 1, 2020 Episode: The risks to meat packing employees of the mandated openings; the complicity of the Democrats in the class rip-off of the stimulus bill; Schumer and fast-tracking judicial appointments; claims of Tara Reade; lawsuits against big banks for discriminating against small businesses; insurance companies who refuse to pay claims because of the pandemic.

tps://www.rt.com/shows/americas-lawyer/

DNC Lawyers Argue DNC Has Right to Pick Candidates in Back Rooms

https://observer.com/2017/05/dnc-lawsuit-presidential-primaries-bernie-sanders-supporters/

When Science Loses Its Voice

Late February, after the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Nancy Messonnier, warned of the coming pandemic, Mike Pance was put in charge of the White House Coronavirus, and the CDC started declining interviews.  Federal employees were limited in what they could say publicly.  The NYT reported that federal health officials were required to coordinate their statements with Pence’s office.  Several lawsuits and complaints and lawsuits have been filed.

https://www.cjr.org/analysis/cdc-pandemic-transparency-comment-access.php

MSNBC public editor: Why pundits and journalists insist on false balance.

There is an illusion the media feels obliged to preserve, even more than the illusion of objectivity.  “What broadcast media is really selling—literally selling, to its advertisers and to its viewers—is the illusion of stability and certainty in American life, as well as its own role as a wise, trustworthy leader within that system.”

“National news organizations like MSNBC cannot operate effectively outside the assumption of calm, professional equanimity. Their real stock-in-trade is the impression, the conviction, that they know what is going on in the world; that is the reason viewers tune in and the basis of every ad buy. Normality. Stability, a world that is comprehensible and comprehended.”

https://www.cjr.org/analysis/83510.php

The Senate Corporate Bailout Package Is a ‘Robbery in Progress,’ Warn Critics

“It’s not a bailout for the coronavirus. It’s a bailout for twelve years of corporate irresponsibility.”

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/03/25/senate-corporate-bailout-package-robbery-progress-warn-critics

 

 

 

“…companies with political connections…”

THE BIGGEST CLASS THEFT IN THE HISTORY OF THE COUNTRY

The New York Times is reporting today that a doctor, Dr. Rick Bright , who was Director of the Department of Health and Human Services Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, was removed from his position because he insisted on rigorous vetting of treatments for the Coronavirus, specifically those touted by the Trump administration.

Bright led a federal agency involved in developing a vaccine for the Coronavirus.  He was abruptly dismissed.  He commented in a statement to the NYT:

“I believe this transfer was in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the Covid-19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit.”

Bright maintains that doing his job responsibly caused clashes with “HHS political leadership.”  He was, according to his statements, criticized for his “proactive efforts to invest early into vaccines and supplies critical to saving American lives.”  He also, “…resisted efforts to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections.”

Bright was talking about efforts to make chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, which, he said “clearly lack scientific merit.”

One of the risks, Bright pointed out of these drugs in clinical trials, was “increased mortality.”  That means the drugs are likely to kill you.

The political people have “politicized the work of BARDA” he says and  pressured him to “fund companies with political connections and efforts that lack scientific merit.”

This is where we are folks.  This Coronavirus effort on the part of the Republican Party and the Trump administration is just one huge feeding frenzy, a free-for-all of profiteering.  This is one point of corruption among countless others across the system where the con artists and grifters Trump and the Republicans have put in place are having the time of their financial lives.

The real question is whether we are going to let them get away with it.  trump pointing finger

Why Free Market Capitalism Will Bury Us, Literally

capitalism

Amid the absurdly trivial corporate media coverage of the Coronavirus crisis, are stories that slip by unnoticed.  One of them is another investigation, another investigation by a congressional subcommittee about whether “the U.S. government is paying too much for ventilators made by a Dutch company that received millions in tax dollars to develop an affordable one for pandemics, but is now charging quadruple the price under a new deal.”

The deal for the ventilators was struck between the Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Division of the Dutch Company.  (See other stories in Propublica).

In 2014, the agency’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) struck a $13.8 million deal with the company to develop ventilators for the Strategic National Stockpile. Based on the advice of experts, the agreement called for the devices to be low cost, portable, durable and easy to use by personnel with limited medical training.

Once Philips’ Respironics division received clearance for that ventilator from the Food and Drug Administration last year, BARDA ordered 10,000 of them for $3,280 each — a price agreed upon when Philips entered into the original deal in 2014.

As Propublica previously reported, Philips never produced any of those devices for the stockpile. Instead, as the coronavirus spread, the company manufactured commercial versions of the ventilator at its factory outside Pittsburgh and sold them for far higher prices overseas. Then, rather than pushing the company to accelerate the delivery of the ventilators developed for the stockpile, HHS this month agreed to buy 43,000 of the commercial version at a price of $15,000 per ventilator.

But once Philips got the crucial FDA clearance for the new design, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi said, “they turn around — at the very time we most need these ventilators — and use the fruits of taxpayers’ dollars to essentially sell a high-margin version of what taxpayers wanted to foreign consumers and deprioritized the sales of what taxpayers wanted.”

Notes:

Contact  Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, who chairs the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy. The subcommittee falls under the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Article: Callahan, Patricia and Sebastian Rotella (4/16/20) Congress is investigating…” Propublica

 

BOOK: Death in Mud Lick. Corporate Crime, Greed and Destruction

Review of Death in Mud Lick

Dwight Garner, “How Painkiller Pushers Took over Coal Country.” nyt

Eric Eyre, the reporter who wrote this book, won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting in 2017.  One of the important things he did was to expose, for the first time, in exact numbers, opioid shipments to West Virginia.  These were eye-opening statistics that made the responsibility for this crisis real to many people.

In the book, Eyre started with a story of one pharmacy in Kermit, WV, population 382.  In two years, the Sav-Rite in Kermit distributed nearly nine million opioid pain pills to its customers.  People were driving hundreds of miles to get to this particular pharmacy, bypassing other pharmacies.  Once there, the lines were so long, the owner sold hot dogs and popcorn to people waiting in the drive-in lane.

Most of the recipients started off with some kind of injury, usually work related.  But they very quickly found doctors willing to write prescriptions for pain medication and anti-anxiety drugs on top of that.  The toll was soon to follow – addicted babies, full jails, families destroyed, hospital emergency rooms overrun.

Eyre, unlike many journalists covering the same story, went after the big fish in the story, not the cash rich pharmacy owners or even the corrupt doctors, but the real high-level drug pushers.  He called what happened in West Virginia “a man-made disaster fueled by corporate greed and corruption.”

Eyre, for example, took aim at Cardinal Health (a drug wholesaler), which “sent more pain pills into West Virginia than any other company.”  Between 2007 and 2012, Cardinal sent a combined 240 million pills into WV.  That was 130 pain pills for every resident.  “The coal barons,” Eyre wrote, “no longer ruled Appalachia. Now it was the painkiller profiteers.”

Among the long list of villains in this story is West Virginia’s Trump loving attorney general, Patrick Morrisey.  Morrisey tried to derail Eyre’s investigation of Cardinal at the same time his (Morrisey’s) wife was being paid to lobby for the company.  According to Eyre (4/28/18) “Cardinal Health paid Denise Morrisey and her lobbying firm $1.4 million after her husband became attorney general…”

Morrisey also had ties to the company of his own.

At the same time his wife was lobbying on behalf of Cardinal Health, Morrisey’s office was overseeing a lawsuit that accused Cardinal Health of “fueling the opioid epidemic by shipping excessive amounts of hydrocodone and oxycodone to the state.”

Morrisey stepped aside from the case only after the Charleston Gazette reported that his inaugural party was paid for by Cardinal Health.

In 2008, Cardinal Health paid a $34 million fine to settle allegations that it had shipped hydrocodone to rogue Internet pharmacies that filled bogus prescriptions.  In 2016, Cardinal Health paid $44 million for opioid shipping violations.

MORRISEY IS STILL WEST VIRGINIA’S ATTORNEY GENERAL.

MORRISEY NARROWLY LOST HIS BID TO BECOME A U.S. SENATOR.

CARDINAL HEALTH IS STILL IN BUSINESS.

MORRISEY’S WIFE IS STILL A LOBBYIST FOR THE HEALTH CARE INDUSTRY.

ERIC EYRE LEFT THE CHARLESTON GAZETTE-MAIL LAST WEEK.

 

 

 

 

Notes:

Eyre (4/28/18) https://www.wvgazettemail.com/news/politics/morrisey-s-wife-lobbied-on-opioids-for-drug-firm-disclosures/article_be3d9ee8-00e1-570c-b161-c7b59c7c31d0.html

Cardinal Health lists on its website: “Cardinal Health: We Supply Everything You Need.

Heller, Matthew ()“Cardinal Health Fined $8M for FCPA violations.”  https://www.cfo.com/legal/2020/03/cardinal-health-fined-8m-for-fcpa-violations/

Review in New York Times: Death in Mud Lick

Trump’s Action Raised the Democras’ Ire

Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., right, walks to meet with Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, after the Senate voted to not allow witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. (AP Photo/ Jacquelyn Martin)

The Trump Administration is using every method available to centralize power in the United States and transform what once was a democracy into an authoritarian kleptocratic state.  The Democrats are sitting by and allowing them to do it.

Friday night, Trump fired Michael Atkinson, the senior official who first alerted Congress that a whistleblower complaint had been filed that eventually led to Trump’s impeachment.  With the excuse that he no longer had confidence in Atkinson, Trump sent a clear signal through the government service.  If you challenge Trump, even if in doing so you are only carrying out your job, you will be destroyed.

 

Donald Trump is settling scores and sending a warning.  And, this is the kind of government 50% of the population wants?

 

But, instead of doing anything about this situation, Democrats are wringing their hands, again.  Mark Warner complained that the action was “unconscionable.”  Nancy Pelosi scolded.  But, what is going to be the result?  Nothing.

 

In February, Trump appointed Richard Grenell, a former Fox News contributor whose only credentials seemed to be his personal loyalty to Trump, as head of all the U.S. spy agencies, the NSA, the FBI, and the CIA.

 

This was said to have raised the “ire” of the Democrats.

 

By the time the coronavirus crisis is over the Republicans under Trump will have consolidated power in this country and so disrupted the voting process that getting them out office will be impossible.

 

Meanwhile the Democrats are giving lectures and rigging the Democratic nomination process to benefit the worst candidate in the field.

 

Welcome to America.

Thursday Night Blog Notes: Scams, Coronavirus, Free-For-All, Meaningless Statistics, Trump, Corruption, Graft, Greed

Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., right, walks to meet with Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, after the Senate voted to not allow witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. (AP Photo/ Jacquelyn Martin)

Thursday Night Blog Notes

  • I can’t even keep up with the Trump scams surrounding this coronavirus crisis.
  • Brian Kemp, the governor of Georgia, is claiming that he just now learned that asymptomatic people could pass on the coronavirus to other people.
  • Every day there’s another presser with Trump congratulating corporate CEOs and touting meaningless statistics.
  • The Republicans are all over twitter congratulating private industry for “contributions” and “donations.” So, the people in this country who pay taxes, are reliant on donations, charity from big business to get them through a crisis.
  • This entire Trump/Repubican approach is designed to school people that the government cannot/will not help them if them are in need.
  • The Federal Government, however, under the Republicans will give $500 billion of public money to corporations.
  • According to Mehdi Hasan, South Korea and Japan’s unemployment rates are nothing like we are seeing in this country.
  • The Navy is expected to fire the captain who raised an alarm saying that his sailors had the Coronavirus.
  • The Nation is reporting that there is a Democratic primary in Wisconsin on Tuesday and Milwaukee is planning to decrease the polling places from 180 to 10. This is democracy?
  • Trump is complaining on Twitter that the hospitals and states have “insatiable appetites & are never satisfied (politics?)
  • I’ll never, never be able to wrap my mind around the fact that this miserable, moronic, corrupt, tasteless, bastard is president.

Bonfire of the Vanities: The Corporate Free-For-All

Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., right, walks to meet with Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, after the Senate voted to not allow witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. (AP Photo/ Jacquelyn Martin)

Today’s press conference was even more useless than usual.  Trump has decided to launch some kind of drug war in the middle of the Coronavirus crisis.  I sat and looked into the eyes of the men behind him, men who were uniformly congratulating him, complimenting him, carrying out his will.  Every one of them is dangerous and every one of them needs to be in jail.

And, the press conference was no different from the past ones in that it reinforced the notion that:

-government is there to conduct a prolonged ad for big corporations;

-government has no role in helping people during a crisis;

-science is a hoax;

-the role of the government is to propagandize people into doing things against their self-interest.

Additional Notes from Today:

  1. Lt. Gen. Honore maintained in an interview this week that we have models, models which show from Day 1 what to do in this type of crisis.  I don’t, he said, know why we are not using them.
  2. The EPA is rolling back emissions standards put in place during the Obama Administration.  The federal government, in the middle of a pandemic has time to do the bidding of corporations and lobbyists to make it possible for them to poison us and make more money.
  3. Honore was cautioning in the interview he did with Craig Melvin of MSNBC, that we needed to keep our minds on the inevitable corruption that is going to come along with this crisis.  He noted that pollution affects people of color and poor people more than others.
  4. Reuters (3/31/20) is reporting that this change in efficiency standards will “save automakers upwards of $100 billion in compliance costs.”
  5. This Coronavirus crisis is a Bonfire of the Vanities for corporate interests.
  6. It will be a disaster for the rest of us if we don’t stand up and make them stop.

But, as Sen. Cassidy (and the rest of the Repubican Party) maintain: Capitalism will handle it.