Happy New Year!
From Judicial Watch:
Dishonorable Mentions for 2011 include:
- Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL)
- Former Senator John Ensign (R-NV)
- Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
- Attorney General Eric Holder
- Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL)
- President Barack Obama
- Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA)
- Rep. David Rivera (R-FL)
- Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)
- Rep. Don Young (R-AK)
Spencer Bachus (R-AL): He has become the face of a congressional “insider trading” scandal that has rocked the Washington establishment as 2011 draws to a close. Rep. Spencer Bachus, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, was one of the principal targets of a 60 Minutes investigative report on the scandal, which aired on CBS in September 2011.
- Former Senator John Edwards (D-NC)
- Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA)
- Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA)
- Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano
- Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
- Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY)
- Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY)
- Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius
The report was based, at least in part, on the book Throw Them All Out by author Peter Schweizer, which outed a slew of members of Congress who allegedly profited in the financial markets by trading on insider information. Bachus was not the only congressman cited by 60 Minutes – others included Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi – but the Alabama Republican stood out for his remarkable “good fortune” in shorting the stock market.
According to the allegations made by Schweizer and 60 Minutes, Congressman Bachus, at the time the ranking Republican on the Financial Services Committee, traded short-term stock options in 2008 after receiving a private briefing for congressional leaders by Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The subject of the briefing: the pending meltdown in the global economy. Those privileged to attend the meeting reportedly sat around a table in Pelosi’s office, having left their cell phones outside the room to avoid leaks.
Congressman Bachus’s aggressive trading practices, in which he was able to benefit by betting on falling stock prices, reportedly earned him substantial profits from some of the 40 trades placed during the months of July through November 2008, many of the trades occurring after the September meeting.
In the wake of the congressional insider trading scandal, legislation banning insider trading is under consideration in Congress. The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee advanced a bill banning insider trading on December 14, 2011. Similar legislation (pushed by Rep. Bachus himself, obviously to deflect criticism) has stalled in the House. Critics have suggested, and so has the House Ethics Committee, that the law already prohibits insider trading by members of Congress.
Former Senator John Ensign (R-NV): John Ensign, former U.S. Senator from Nevada and former Chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, was forced to resign from office in May 2011 as the result of an investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee. In a scandal that first broke in 2009, Senator Ensign publicly admitted to an affair with the wife of long-time staffer Douglas Hampton. Ensign then allegedly tried to cover up the affair by bribing the couple with lucrative gifts and political favors.
According to The New York Times, after Hampton discovered the affair involving his wife Cynthia, the senator bought his silence by giving him “a strong boost into a lobbying career.” Ensign asked political backers to find Hampton a job. “Payments of $96,000 to the Hamptons also were made by Senator Ensign’s parents, who insist this was a gift, not hush money. Once a lobbying job was secured, Senator Ensign and his chief of staff continued to help Mr. Hampton, advocating his clients’ cases directly with federal agencies.”
These lobbying activities seemingly violated the law related to the Senate’s “cooling off” period for lobbyists. According to Senate rules, former Senate aides “may not lobby the Member for whom he worked or that Member’s staff for a period of one year after leaving [their] position.” Hampton began to lobby Ensign’s office immediately upon leaving his job on Capitol Hill.
In November 2010, the Federal Election Commission dismissed a complaint that Ensign had violated campaign-finance laws, and in December, the Obama Department of Justice announced that it would file no criminal charges against the senator. Ensign, however, was unable to avoid the ongoing investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee. In May 2011, the Senate Ethics Committee issued a devastating report that summarized the evidence against Ensign and made the extraordinary recommendation that the Justice Department reopen a criminal investigation.
Attorney General Eric Holder: Attorney General Eric Holder now operates the most politicized and ideological Department of Justice (DOJ) in recent history. And revelations from the Operation Fast and Furious scandal suggest that programs approved by the Holder DOJ may have resulted in the needless deaths of many, including a federal law enforcement officer.
Fast and Furious was a DOJ/Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) “gun-running” operation in which guns were sold to Mexican drug cartels and others, apparently in hopes that the guns would end up at crime scenes. This reckless insanity seems to have resulted in, among other crimes, the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who was killed in a shootout with Mexican criminals in December 2010. Fast and Furious guns were found at the scene of his death.
The Fast and Furious operation by itself should have resulted in Holder’s resignation, but it is the cover-up that has prompted serious calls for Holder’s ouster.
On May 3, 2011, in a House Judiciary Committee hearing chaired by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Holder testified: “I’m not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.” Newly released documents show he was receiving weekly briefings on Fast and Furious as far back as July 5, 2010. It appears Holder lied to Congress. (Judicial Watch sued the DOJ and the ATF to obtain Fast and Furious records. The Judicial Watch investigation continues.)
Unfortunately, when it comes to Holder corruption and abuse of office, Fast and Furious is just the tip of the iceberg.
On February 23, 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that DOJ lawyers would no longer defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), as applied to homosexual couples. DOMA had passed Congress by a vote of 85–14 in the Senate and a vote of 342–67 in the House. President Clinton signed the act into law on September 21, 1996.
Judicial Watch filed two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits against the DOJ (including one on behalf of the Family Research Council) for records related to this pro-homosexual marriage decision. This failure to defend this federal law is unprecedented and raises serious questions as to whether President Obama and Eric Holder are upholding their oaths of office and following the Constitution’s command to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”...MUCH MORE