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Virginia gets F grade in 2012 State Integrity Investigation
Why Virginia ranked 47th of 50 states
By Laura LaFayauthor-byline-rss.png 12:01 am, March 19, 2012 Updated: 5:10 pm, November 2, 2015

A garden pavilion at Thomas Jefferson's estate, Monticello, in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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Virginia lawmakers introduce thousands of bills each year and spend hours debating the finer points of how to punish students for not reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, whether motorcyclists should wear helmets and who should get the death penalty.

But when it comes to making and enforcing rules for themselves, the legislators are shrinking violets.

The Old Dominion is one of nine states with no statewide ethics commission, one of four states with no campaign finance limits and one of only two states (South Carolina is the other) where the part-time legislators handpick the judges before whom many of them practice law.

With 8.1 million residents, Virginia is the 12th most populous state in the union. But its part-time lawmakers have one of the shortest meeting schedules in the country — 30 days in odd-numbered years and 60 days in even-numbered years. At that speed, lobbyists of necessity have been elevated from influence peddlers to trusted advisors and authors of laws, according to some veteran observers of the legislative process.

ProgressVA, a liberal advocacy group, reported in January 2012 for example that an industry-funded group wrote more than 50 bills introduced in the Virginia legislature in recent years. The American Legislative Exchange Council, which is funded by Exxon Mobil, Wal-Mart Stores, Koch Industries, and other wealthy corporations, writes model legislation of interest to its funders that sympathetic lawmakers have introduced in many states. In Virginia, dozens of lawmakers are members of the group or have attended its legislative conferences at a cost to the state of more than $200,000 since 2001. Its drafts provided the basis for Virginia’s legal challenge to the Obama administration’s health care reforms, a bill requiring voters to show identification at the polls, and a bill prohibiting the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the ProgressVA report, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R.) has supported the introduction of at least three pieces of ALEC-written legislation. House Speaker William Howell was ALEC’s national chairman in 2009 and remains on ALEC’s “national leadership team.”

Virginia has long prided itself on ethical government, but the state’s lax oversight rules, weak consumer representation protections, dwindling capitol press corps and coziness between political and economic elites, have all combined to undermine the validity of that self-image. Meanwhile, the few ethics and disclosure requirements that do exist tend to be flawed, limited or fraught with exemptions and qualifications, according to state ethics experts.

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And so Virginia ranks a low 47th out of 50 states, with a grade of F and a numerical score of 55 percent from the State Integrity Investigation, a collaborative project of the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity, and Public Radio International. Virginia scored above the median on its civil service management and state purchasing, but scored near the bottom on public access to information and on its ethics enforcement mechanisms.

As an example of its shortcomings, lawmakers have exempted a key institution, the State Corporation Commission — which regulates businesses, utilities, financial institutions, insurance, railroads — from Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act. The state’s 31,000 prison inmates also are forbidden to make requests under the Act.

When the Associated Press tested the effectiveness of the law in 2006 by sending reporters to each county to ask for public records, only 43 percent had success. The rest were told, variously, that the records would not be released or would cost thousands of dollars in fees.

Virginia also has a General Assembly Conflict of Interests Act, but only one legislator has ever been prosecuted for violating it — in 1986.

A positive self-image

Last summer, House Speaker Bill Howell was boastful about the state’s record when Phil Hamilton, a state delegate from Newport News and 21-year veteran of the General Assembly, was convicted of bribery and extortion in federal court. Hamilton was sentenced to nine years in prison for procuring funding for a teacher education center at Old Dominion University in exchange for a job as the center’s director.

“Neither ethical lapses nor public corruption are commonplace, let alone tolerated in Virginia,” Howell said, adding that the state has a longstanding “reputation for good government.”

Governor Bob McDonnell agreed. “Virginia has long been a state marked by honest, transparent and ethical governing by both parties. Today's judgment is a reminder that no one is above the law.”

But was it?

According to Virginia Division of Legislative Services lawyer Mary Spain, Hamilton was the only Virginia legislator in modern history to be charged with a federal crime in connection with his legislative duties. At Hamilton’s trial, prosecutors disclosed e-mails he sent to the university saying he needed at least $37,000 annually. “Of course,” Hamilton wrote in one message, “more is always appreciated.”

Three other lawmakers embroiled in earlier ethics investigations quit the legislature before their cases could be fully probed by one of two panels of legislators that are the state government’s sole entity policing the General Assembly’s conflict of interests law, passed in 1987.

John McGlennon, a professor of government at the College of William & Mary, says he knows what would have happened to Hamilton if federal authorities hadn’t indicted him. “The same thing that happened to everyone else: Nothing.”

“How they can take the case of the one guy who got caught and say it proves that no one does anything wrong is beyond me,” says McGlennon. ”Part of the reason we identify those states like Illinois and New Jersey as more corrupt is because they have more rules identifying corrupt behavior,” he says. “Here, instead of rules, we have this concept that suggests that people who hold political power …have a right to make a comfortable living even if part of that living is coming from their public office.”

No limits on campaign donations

While Virginia requires that all campaign donations over $100 be disclosed, it does not cap them. As a result, donors injected hundreds of thousands of dollars into last year’s state House and Senate races. By the time the dust cleared, 15 state senate campaigns had each spent more than $1 million, according to the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP), a non-partisan watchdog of money in politics. The biggest contributions came from coal companies, organized labor and beverage distributors.

VPAP’s data further show that of the $133 million in itemized contributions given to all candidates for state office and to state party and leadership committees between 2009 and 2011, 78 percent came from those who gave $1,000 or more. Thirty-nine percent came from those who gave $10,000 or more.

The state’s record of monitoring compliance with its disclosure requirements is not strong.

In 2004, for example, the State Board of Elections discovered through an internal audit that former Governor L. Douglas Wilder had not filed final disclosure reports for his 1989 gubernatorial election campaign and that about $169,000 had disappeared from his campaign account. Two Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorneys and one special prosecutor spent three years investigating the matter before Wilder’s son and one-time campaign treasurer, L. Douglas Wilder, Jr. pleaded guilty to two election law misdemeanors in 2007 – 18 years after his father’s election.

Wilder, Jr. was fined $1,000 and given a suspended one-year sentence. The fate of the money remains unknown.

Lobbyists in Virginia are required to register with the Secretary of the Commonwealth and to disclose the identities of their employers, how much money they make, how much time they spend lobbying and how much they spend to entertain lawmakers in excess of $50. But the forms are not audited, and the state gives lobbyists little substantive guidance when it comes to filling them out. As a result, there are marked differences in the quality and amount of information they supply.

In addition, experts point out, the definition of lobbying only covers direct contact with legislators or with the governor about the issue being lobbied. Contact with other lobbyists, with those who employ lobbyists, and with those at lobbying firms who conduct research, draft laws, or develop political strategies often goes unreported. Social events with legislators, other lobbyists and persons of influence can also go unreported.

“Changes to regulations [as opposed to laws]…are regularly the subject of lobbying efforts, but nobody reports those because the forms don’t ask about them,” said a lobbyist with decades of experience, who asked not to be named. “They just ask, ‘What did you lobby?’ So a lot of people just write, “Everything of interest to my client.’” For the same reason, he says, lobbyists do not use uniform ways of reporting what they are paid.

In a growing state with a part-time, short-staffed legislature and brief, increasingly frantic legislative sessions, observers say, lawmakers rely increasingly on lobbyists for information about the issues and for bill-writing services. And of course, they are representing the interests of private clients with enough wealth to hire them, not the public’s interest.

“Lobbyists play a big role here, and that’s a dilemma,” said Bob Holsworth, a political scientist and former dean at Virginia Commonwealth University who has served on many state advisory committees. “On one hand, lobbyists bring a lot of expertise. On the other hand, there are clearly some risks” because there are few regulations and laws governing their activities.

Even the smallest reforms come slowly in Virginia. Until recently, for example, legislators kept many of their key votes secret, choosing to either advance or indefinitely table bills in subcommittee meetings without keeping any public record of their positions. But in 2006, Democrats rebelled and tried to pass bills requiring the recording of subcommittee votes. They have yet to succeed. In 2009, however, after some Republicans finally broke ranks on the issue, the Speaker of the House relented, and now at least some subcommittee votes are recorded.

So far, says McGlennon, “It’s been very difficult to convince legislators of the value of transparency. Just convincing them of the importance of recording subcommittee votes has been difficult…. So don’t hold your breath” for further reform.

Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect that constitutional officers are subject to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

 

 

COKAINES USED CAR SALESMAN ACT AT THE DEBATE WAS APPALLING,COKAINE WAS ON SOMETHING.

 

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Virginia gets F grade in 2012 State Integrity Investigation
Why Virginia ranked 47th of 50 states
By Laura LaFayauthor-byline-rss.png 12:01 am, March 19, 2012 Updated: 5:10 pm, November 2, 2015

A garden pavilion at Thomas Jefferson's estate, Monticello, in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Shutterstock

 

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Find your state's grade

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Virginia lawmakers introduce thousands of bills each year and spend hours debating the finer points of how to punish students for not reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, whether motorcyclists should wear helmets and who should get the death penalty.

But when it comes to making and enforcing rules for themselves, the legislators are shrinking violets.

The Old Dominion is one of nine states with no statewide ethics commission, one of four states with no campaign finance limits and one of only two states (South Carolina is the other) where the part-time legislators handpick the judges before whom many of them practice law.

With 8.1 million residents, Virginia is the 12th most populous state in the union. But its part-time lawmakers have one of the shortest meeting schedules in the country — 30 days in odd-numbered years and 60 days in even-numbered years. At that speed, lobbyists of necessity have been elevated from influence peddlers to trusted advisors and authors of laws, according to some veteran observers of the legislative process.

ProgressVA, a liberal advocacy group, reported in January 2012 for example that an industry-funded group wrote more than 50 bills introduced in the Virginia legislature in recent years. The American Legislative Exchange Council, which is funded by Exxon Mobil, Wal-Mart Stores, Koch Industries, and other wealthy corporations, writes model legislation of interest to its funders that sympathetic lawmakers have introduced in many states. In Virginia, dozens of lawmakers are members of the group or have attended its legislative conferences at a cost to the state of more than $200,000 since 2001. Its drafts provided the basis for Virginia’s legal challenge to the Obama administration’s health care reforms, a bill requiring voters to show identification at the polls, and a bill prohibiting the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the ProgressVA report, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R.) has supported the introduction of at least three pieces of ALEC-written legislation. House Speaker William Howell was ALEC’s national chairman in 2009 and remains on ALEC’s “national leadership team.”

Virginia has long prided itself on ethical government, but the state’s lax oversight rules, weak consumer representation protections, dwindling capitol press corps and coziness between political and economic elites, have all combined to undermine the validity of that self-image. Meanwhile, the few ethics and disclosure requirements that do exist tend to be flawed, limited or fraught with exemptions and qualifications, according to state ethics experts.

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Sign up for the Center for Public Integrity's Watchdog email and get the news you want from the Center when you want it.

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State Integrity 2012
A data-driven analysis of transparency and accountability in all 50 state governments.
Stories in this series

And so Virginia ranks a low 47th out of 50 states, with a grade of F and a numerical score of 55 percent from the State Integrity Investigation, a collaborative project of the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity, and Public Radio International. Virginia scored above the median on its civil service management and state purchasing, but scored near the bottom on public access to information and on its ethics enforcement mechanisms.

As an example of its shortcomings, lawmakers have exempted a key institution, the State Corporation Commission — which regulates businesses, utilities, financial institutions, insurance, railroads — from Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act. The state’s 31,000 prison inmates also are forbidden to make requests under the Act.

When the Associated Press tested the effectiveness of the law in 2006 by sending reporters to each county to ask for public records, only 43 percent had success. The rest were told, variously, that the records would not be released or would cost thousands of dollars in fees.

Virginia also has a General Assembly Conflict of Interests Act, but only one legislator has ever been prosecuted for violating it — in 1986.

A positive self-image

Last summer, House Speaker Bill Howell was boastful about the state’s record when Phil Hamilton, a state delegate from Newport News and 21-year veteran of the General Assembly, was convicted of bribery and extortion in federal court. Hamilton was sentenced to nine years in prison for procuring funding for a teacher education center at Old Dominion University in exchange for a job as the center’s director.

“Neither ethical lapses nor public corruption are commonplace, let alone tolerated in Virginia,” Howell said, adding that the state has a longstanding “reputation for good government.”

Governor Bob McDonnell agreed. “Virginia has long been a state marked by honest, transparent and ethical governing by both parties. Today's judgment is a reminder that no one is above the law.”

But was it?

According to Virginia Division of Legislative Services lawyer Mary Spain, Hamilton was the only Virginia legislator in modern history to be charged with a federal crime in connection with his legislative duties. At Hamilton’s trial, prosecutors disclosed e-mails he sent to the university saying he needed at least $37,000 annually. “Of course,” Hamilton wrote in one message, “more is always appreciated.”

Three other lawmakers embroiled in earlier ethics investigations quit the legislature before their cases could be fully probed by one of two panels of legislators that are the state government’s sole entity policing the General Assembly’s conflict of interests law, passed in 1987.

John McGlennon, a professor of government at the College of William & Mary, says he knows what would have happened to Hamilton if federal authorities hadn’t indicted him. “The same thing that happened to everyone else: Nothing.”

“How they can take the case of the one guy who got caught and say it proves that no one does anything wrong is beyond me,” says McGlennon. ”Part of the reason we identify those states like Illinois and New Jersey as more corrupt is because they have more rules identifying corrupt behavior,” he says. “Here, instead of rules, we have this concept that suggests that people who hold political power …have a right to make a comfortable living even if part of that living is coming from their public office.”

No limits on campaign donations

While Virginia requires that all campaign donations over $100 be disclosed, it does not cap them. As a result, donors injected hundreds of thousands of dollars into last year’s state House and Senate races. By the time the dust cleared, 15 state senate campaigns had each spent more than $1 million, according to the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP), a non-partisan watchdog of money in politics. The biggest contributions came from coal companies, organized labor and beverage distributors.

VPAP’s data further show that of the $133 million in itemized contributions given to all candidates for state office and to state party and leadership committees between 2009 and 2011, 78 percent came from those who gave $1,000 or more. Thirty-nine percent came from those who gave $10,000 or more.

The state’s record of monitoring compliance with its disclosure requirements is not strong.

In 2004, for example, the State Board of Elections discovered through an internal audit that former Governor L. Douglas Wilder had not filed final disclosure reports for his 1989 gubernatorial election campaign and that about $169,000 had disappeared from his campaign account. Two Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorneys and one special prosecutor spent three years investigating the matter before Wilder’s son and one-time campaign treasurer, L. Douglas Wilder, Jr. pleaded guilty to two election law misdemeanors in 2007 – 18 years after his father’s election.

Wilder, Jr. was fined $1,000 and given a suspended one-year sentence. The fate of the money remains unknown.

Lobbyists in Virginia are required to register with the Secretary of the Commonwealth and to disclose the identities of their employers, how much money they make, how much time they spend lobbying and how much they spend to entertain lawmakers in excess of $50. But the forms are not audited, and the state gives lobbyists little substantive guidance when it comes to filling them out. As a result, there are marked differences in the quality and amount of information they supply.

In addition, experts point out, the definition of lobbying only covers direct contact with legislators or with the governor about the issue being lobbied. Contact with other lobbyists, with those who employ lobbyists, and with those at lobbying firms who conduct research, draft laws, or develop political strategies often goes unreported. Social events with legislators, other lobbyists and persons of influence can also go unreported.

“Changes to regulations [as opposed to laws]…are regularly the subject of lobbying efforts, but nobody reports those because the forms don’t ask about them,” said a lobbyist with decades of experience, who asked not to be named. “They just ask, ‘What did you lobby?’ So a lot of people just write, “Everything of interest to my client.’” For the same reason, he says, lobbyists do not use uniform ways of reporting what they are paid.

In a growing state with a part-time, short-staffed legislature and brief, increasingly frantic legislative sessions, observers say, lawmakers rely increasingly on lobbyists for information about the issues and for bill-writing services. And of course, they are representing the interests of private clients with enough wealth to hire them, not the public’s interest.

“Lobbyists play a big role here, and that’s a dilemma,” said Bob Holsworth, a political scientist and former dean at Virginia Commonwealth University who has served on many state advisory committees. “On one hand, lobbyists bring a lot of expertise. On the other hand, there are clearly some risks” because there are few regulations and laws governing their activities.

Even the smallest reforms come slowly in Virginia. Until recently, for example, legislators kept many of their key votes secret, choosing to either advance or indefinitely table bills in subcommittee meetings without keeping any public record of their positions. But in 2006, Democrats rebelled and tried to pass bills requiring the recording of subcommittee votes. They have yet to succeed. In 2009, however, after some Republicans finally broke ranks on the issue, the Speaker of the House relented, and now at least some subcommittee votes are recorded.

So far, says McGlennon, “It’s been very difficult to convince legislators of the value of transparency. Just convincing them of the importance of recording subcommittee votes has been difficult…. So don’t hold your breath” for further reform.

Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect that constitutional officers are subject to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

 

 

COKAINES USED CAR SALESMAN ACT AT THE DEBATE WAS APPALLING,COKAINE WAS ON SOMETHING.

 

 

Donald Trump’s history of corruption: a comprehensive review

Updated by Andrew Prokop Sep 28, 2016, 9:00a

 

In the big-picture conversation around the 2016 presidential election, the major negative narratives about Donald Trump have tended to focus on his racism, his temperament, or his tendency to tell lies.

 

Yet there’s another important Trump trait that’s gotten some attention but really needs to get much more — he’s corrupt, and in a consistent way.

 

Whenever Trump has been in positions of power or authority, he has demonstrated a pattern of trying to enrich himself by abusing the trust others have placed in him — whether it’s creditors, contractors, charitable givers, Trump University students, regulators, or campaign donors.

 

Over the past several months — and, indeed, the past few decades — reporters have unearthed many alarming stories that show this They’ve reported on Trump’s many shady business practices. His shady charity. His shady fake university scam. His shady campaign spending. His many shady associates. And, last but by no means least, there is Trump’s refusal to release tax returns or other financial information that would shed further light on his business practices, associates, and philanthropic undertakings.

 

Now, sometimes Trump’s abuses of trust entail breaking the law, and sometimes they’re within the bounds of the law. And sometimes the legality of Trump’s actions isn’t yet clear — as in the case of Trump University, which will face a fraud trial shortly after the election, and with some of the controversies around the Trump Foundation.

 

But the common thread is that Trump screws people over to benefit himself. And despite the plethora of excellent reporting on this topic, many voters seem to be unaware of his troubling history here, and may view him primarily as a successful businessman who says some offensive things. A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, for instance, found that Trump had a 10-point advantage over Clinton on “being honest and straightforward.”

 

Indeed, he is betting his campaign on his hopes that he can frame himself as an independent outsider free of special interest influence, to contrast with Hillary Clinton, whom he has dubbed “crooked.”

 

But Trump’s record makes it crystal clear that he’s more interested in rapaciously extracting what money he can and doing what he wants, with little regard to laws, rules, or people who aren’t Donald Trump. Furthermore, he’s repeatedly proven willing to violate norms about what sort of behavior is acceptable and ethical.

 

And most importantly of all, if elected president, Trump would wield incredible power. Yet if you look at what he’s done with power in the past, suddenly this theme in his biography — his corruption — becomes among the most troubling of his many troubling qualities. There are many, many reasons to be concerned about a Trump administration’s ethics and potential to abuse power. Here are just a few.

Trump has a history of shady business practices

 

First off, the way Trump has run his businesses for the past few decades should raise grave doubts about how he’d run the federal government — he’s allegedly been willing to break rules, break promises, and discriminate against nonwhite people.

 

There are the hundreds of accusations that Trump refused to pay contractors and workers what they were owed, which the Wall Street Journal and USA Today compiled this year. “The actions in total paint a portrait of Trump’s sprawling organization frequently failing to pay small businesses and individuals, then sometimes tying them up in court and other negotiations for years,” USA Today’s Steve Reilly wrote. “In some cases, the Trump teams financially overpower and outlast much smaller opponents, draining their resources.” (Trump told Reilly that if he ever didn’t pay, it must have been because he was unhappy with the work.)

 

And recently, Republican consultant Brian James Walsh further corroborated these accusations with his own personal story:

 

Next, there’s the housing discrimination case against him from the 1970s. The Department of Justice alleged that Trump and his father discriminated against black applicants for apartments in Trump-owned buildings. One superintendent said he had been instructed to write “C” (for “colored”) on every application from a prospective black tenant, and others described similar racial “codes,” as the Daily Beast’s Gideon Resnick has written.

 

The government argued that black applicants would repeatedly be told there were no vacancies in Trump-owned buildings, but white applicants would then inquire and get offers. The Trumps denied the claims and fought back in court, but eventually settled — “with no admission of guilt,” Trump pointed out during Monday’s debate, which is not exactly saying he was innocent.

 

Then there was Trump’s illegal financial maneuver back in 1986. That year, he tried to take over two rival casino companies by buying up their stock. But the law required him to disclose his large purchases to the Federal Trade Commission in advance, and he failed to do so. The matter ended up in court, and he was eventually forced to pay a $750,000 penalty as a result.

 

And there’s the matter of Trump’s alleged contacts with the mob. Now, to be fair to the GOP nominee, the Mafia’s influence was pervasive in the New York City construction industry at the time. Still, when reputed mobster Robert LiButti was a high-dollar gambler at the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, the Trump Plaza worked very hard indeed to keep him happy, as Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News reported:

 

When LiButti demanded that women or black card dealers not be allowed on his games, the Trump Plaza kept them away from him — and it was later fined $200,000 for violating state nondiscrimination laws.

The Trump Plaza also gave LiButti nine luxury cars as gifts, all of which he quickly exchanged for a total of $1.65 million in cash. But cash gifts from casinos to high rollers were then illegal in the state, so the Trump Plaza was slapped with another fine — this one for $450,000.

LiButti was wiretapped bragging that he was “very close with” Trump and that he rode in Trump’s helicopter.

 

And Trump’s reputed mob contacts didn’t stop there. “I’ve covered Donald Trump off and on for 27 years, and in that time I’ve encountered multiple threads linking Trump to organized crime,” reporter David Cay Johnston wrote in Politico Magazine in May. “No other candidate for the White House this year has anything close to Trump’s record of repeated social and business dealings with mobsters, swindlers, and other crooks.”

Trump has used other people’s donations to his charity to benefit himself

 

Donald Trump has a charitable family foundation to which, in recent years, he has given hardly any money, instead raising the vast majority of its funds from others. That’s rather dishonest of him, since he constantly claims that the foundation’s donations are from his own pocketbook. But the more serious problem is that he’s then used several hundred thousand dollars of that foundation money in deeply questionable ways that may well have run afoul of laws against “self-dealing” with charity money.

 

For instance, last week, the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold — the reporter who’s absolutely owned the Trump Foundation beat — reported that Trump used $258,000 of the foundation’s money to settle legal problems involving his for-profit businesses.

 

First, in 2007, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club was fined $120,000 by the town of Palm Beach, Florida, because the height of its flagpole violated town rules. An eventual settlement entailed the town waiving the fines and Trump committing to donate $100,000 to a veterans charity. But Trump used his foundation, not any of his businesses, to make the donation.

Second, in 2010, a guy named Martin Greenberg sued Trump’s golf course, claiming he was cheated out of a promised million-dollar prize for getting a hole in one during a charity tournament. The golf course agreed to settlement in which it would donate to Greenberg’s charitable foundation — but the $158,000 sent over was instead from the Trump Foundation, not any of Trump’s businesses.

 

Again, what Trump seems to have done here is used other people’s charity donations to get his own businesses off the hook for lawsuits. Which seems ... pretty corrupt. (The Trump campaign sent out a statement Tuesday night that attacked Fahrenthold but did not dispute any facts in his story.)

 

And this week, Farenthold found another bombshell. Businessman Richard Ebers bought almost $1.9 million worth of goods and services from Trump or his businesses, but he was told to pay Trump’s tax-exempt foundation instead, according to Fahrenthold’s sources. But according to the law, Trump should have paid taxes on that money as income — and his campaign refuses to say whether he did so.

 

And those are just the latest Trump Foundation controversies. Fahrenthold has also reported on an illegal $25,000 donation the foundation made to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s political group around the time she was weighing whether to investigate Trump University, for which the foundation was hit with an IRS penalty. (The Trump campaign claims this was a mistake.) There was also that time Trump spent $12,000 of the foundation’s money to buy a football helmet autographed by Tim Tebow, plus a jersey, at a charity auction. And much more.

Trump University is facing a fraud trial

 

Repeatedly during the campaign, Trump has admitted that he has been “greedy” in business — but he’s argued that as president, he would channel that trait to benefit the American people. “I want to grab all that money. I’m going to be greedy for the United States,” he’s said.

 

It’s a dubious claim, made even more dubious by his behavior in the matter of Trump University. This was the GOP nominee’s seminar business that purported to be able to teach its students secrets of real estate investing. Former students sued Trump, claiming they were bilked out of their money, and he’s set to face a trial for fraud in the matter shortly after the election. The New York attorney general’s office has also sued, claiming Trump University made deceptive claims.

 

"[The instructors] were unqualified people posing as Donald Trump's 'right-hand men,'" Jason Nicholas, a former employee, said in one deposition. "They were teaching methods that were unethical, and they had had little to no experience flipping properties or doing real estate deals. It was a façade, a total lie."

 

The business model was, apparently, to try to hook the gullible with a free seminar and pressure them into signing up for more and more expensive installments that promised to teach students how to invest in real estate.

 

But these “classes” were, apparently, worthless. "To my knowledge, not a single consumer who paid for a Trump University seminar program went on to successfully invest in real estate based upon the techniques that were taught," former employee Ronald Schnackenberg said in another deposition. Read Libby Nelson for more.

Trump won’t release his tax returns, which is unprecedented for a recent presidential candidate

 

Every major party nominee in the past three decades has released his or her tax returns. But Donald Trump is still refusing to do so, and is giving a nonsensical justification for it.

 

Trump says he won’t release his returns because he’s currently under an IRS audit. But as the IRS has confirmed, being audited doesn’t mean he has to keep his returns secret. Furthermore, Trump has many previous years of tax returns that are no longer being audited that he could release — but he refuses to.

 

So there has naturally been a lot of speculation on what Trump is trying to hide here. Do the returns show he’s not as rich as he says he is? That he’s given far less to charity than he claims? That he’d rarely even paid taxes? That he has a lot of money offshore?

 

“How much tax is Trump paying or sheltering domestically vs. in foreign jurisdictions? That needs to be known to ascertain which nations Trump has financial ties to and where he may be susceptible to pressure,” Richard Painter and Norm Eisen write at the Washington Post. Until Trump releases his returns, we won’t know.

Trump has spent millions of dollars of campaign funds on Trump businesses

 

As of August, the Trump campaign had allotted 7 percent of its total spending so far — more than $8.2 million — to companies owned by Trump or his children, according to an analysis by Politico’s Ken Vogel. Payments went to various Trump venues, an aviation company Trump owns, Trump Tower for office space, his corporate staff, and various other vendors.

 

Now, it’s not as if Trump should have donated his company’s stuff for free — indeed, that would have been a prohibited corporate contribution. And the Trump campaign tends to respond by emphasizing that Trump put $54 million of his own money into the campaign. Still, he has deliberately chosen to spend his campaign money (which includes millions raised from other people) on companies he or his children own rather than on independent vendors.

 

Meanwhile, taxpayers are chipping in too — the US Secret Service has paid $1.6 million to travel on a plane operated by one of Trump’s companies, according to another report by Vogel and Isaac Arnsdorf. Again, Secret Service reimbursement to a campaign for travel is common. But as the authors write, since Trump owns the aviation company, “the government is effectively paying him.”

 

And about that Trump Tower rent — shortly after the Trump campaign shifted from a largely self-funded model to one more reliant on donors, Trump nearly quintupled the rent that Trump Tower was charging the campaign for office space, according to the Huffington Post’s S.V. Dáte. This came at a time when the campaign didn’t expand its staff size, though Trump’s team later told CNN that they were paying for two new floors “in anticipation of more staff.”

Donald Trump has surrounded himself with shady people during this campaign

 

 

Throughout the campaign, Trump has claimed not only that he would be an excellent president but that he’d be excellent at hiring. “I’m going to surround myself only with the best and most serious people,” he said last year.

 

Instead, he has surrounded himself with people who’ve not only demonstrated a history of unethical behavior but also abused their past power, often to try to intimidate critics or opponents.

 

Trump appointed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to head his transition, giving him a key role in recommending candidates for hundreds if not thousands of federal jobs. Yet two of Christie’s job appointees in New Jersey are currently facing trial for their involvement in the Bridgegate scandal — prosecutors say they conspired to cause a serious traffic jam in Fort Lee, New Jersey, to punish the town’s mayor for refusing to endorse Christie’s reelection campaign. Another aide, David Wildstein, has already pled guilty in the matter

 

Furthermore, prosecutors also asserted in court last week — and Wildstein testified this week — that Christie knew about both his aides’ actions and their motivations while the scheme was being carried out. (Christie has long denied this.) Wildstein tesitfied that he bragged to Christie about what he was doing when he saw him at an event, and that Christie laughed and responded with jokes.

 

Craziest of all, Donald Trump himself has long said that Christie “totally knew about” his aides’ actions in Bridgegate. Yet this suspicion that Christie was fine with his aides’ abuse of power in a petty revenge plot seems to have been no obstacle for Trump in his determination that Christie is the best-qualified person to help him staff the federal government.

 

Another current Trump adviser is Roger Ailes, who was pushed out of his job as CEO of Fox News just in July over allegations that he sexually harassed multiple women, which, if true, is clearly an abuse of power. (Ailes denied the allegations, but some of his harassing comments were caught on tape, according to New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman, and Fox settled with accuser Gretchen Carlson for the hefty sum of $20 million.)

 

Furthermore, while at Fox News, Ailes also used company money to try to orchestrate smear campaigns against journalists from other outlets who were reporting on him. Yet according to BuzzFeed News’s McKay Coppins, Ailes is “playing a much larger backstage role in handling Trump than most people realize.”

 

And then there is Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, who by some accounts has effectively been running the Trump campaign for a few months. Kushner is a real estate heir who took over his father’s company after his father was sent to prison for tax evasion, making illegal campaign contributions, and witness tampering. When Kushner’s holdings ran into some financial trouble in the wake of the economic crisis, he asked fellow mogul Richard Mack for a write-down on a loan Mack had extended him — but Mack refused.

 

Not long afterward, Kushner apparently wanted revenge on Mack, and he sought to get it by using the newspaper he owned — the New York Observer. Kushner had heard a rumor about Mack, and he wanted his reporters to publish a story about it. “There's a guy named Richard Mack, and we've got to get this guy,” Kushner told one reporter, according to Esquire’s Vicky Ward. Reporters were put on the case and failed to corroborate the rumor, but Kushner kept pushing to move the story forward anyway, as the Observer’s then-editor, Elizabeth Spiers, recounts. It never saw the light of day, but it’s deeply concerning about how Kushner operates.

 

What’s most troubling of all, though, is that Trump is surely aware of everything I’ve mentioned in this section but doesn’t seem to mind. He puts a man whose appointees are facing trial in charge of government appointments. He invites an alleged serial sexual harasser who tries to intimidate critical journalists to be a key adviser. This should set off alarm bells.

Trump’s corruption is a threat to our norms of governance

 

“Americans pride themselves on our politicians' respect for the rule of law, on the checks and balances that protect us from the powerful,” Ezra Klein wrote earlier this year. “But as often as not, our real protection is found not in laws but in norms.”

 

And that’s the deeper problem underlying all this — that Trump has repeatedly shown he has little respect for norms of ethical or acceptable behavior.

 

There’s been much discussion about how Trump has repeatedly violated political norms of acceptable behavior — with his proposed Muslim ban, his constant vicious attacks on critics, his attempts to discredit a judge because he happens to be Mexican-American, and countless other actions.

 

But his decades-long track record in the business sector and the nonprofit world, and his management of his current campaign, suggests he’s willing to violate ethical norms too. He treats rules or laws as inconveniences. He ignores conflicts of interest. He takes what he wants, regardless of who gets hurt. And all this is when he is simply a wealthy businessman.

 

Yet if Trump wins in November, he becomes the most powerful person in the world, with a nuclear arsenal, the US military, and thousands of government appointees who can carry out his wishes at his disposal.

 

No one can say for sure what will happen then. But we can’t say we weren’t warned.

Donald Trump hates lies, but can't tell the truth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Donald Trump’s history of corruption: a comprehensive review

Updated by Andrew Prokop Sep 28, 2016, 9:00a

 

In the big-picture conversation around the 2016 presidential election, the major negative narratives about Donald Trump have tended to focus on his racism, his temperament, or his tendency to tell lies.

 

Yet there’s another important Trump trait that’s gotten some attention but really needs to get much more — he’s corrupt, and in a consistent way.

 

Whenever Trump has been in positions of power or authority, he has demonstrated a pattern of trying to enrich himself by abusing the trust others have placed in him — whether it’s creditors, contractors, charitable givers, Trump University students, regulators, or campaign donors.

 

Over the past several months — and, indeed, the past few decades — reporters have unearthed many alarming stories that show this They’ve reported on Trump’s many shady business practices. His shady charity. His shady fake university scam. His shady campaign spending. His many shady associates. And, last but by no means least, there is Trump’s refusal to release tax returns or other financial information that would shed further light on his business practices, associates, and philanthropic undertakings.

 

Now, sometimes Trump’s abuses of trust entail breaking the law, and sometimes they’re within the bounds of the law. And sometimes the legality of Trump’s actions isn’t yet clear — as in the case of Trump University, which will face a fraud trial shortly after the election, and with some of the controversies around the Trump Foundation.

 

But the common thread is that Trump screws people over to benefit himself. And despite the plethora of excellent reporting on this topic, many voters seem to be unaware of his troubling history here, and may view him primarily as a successful businessman who says some offensive things. A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, for instance, found that Trump had a 10-point advantage over Clinton on “being honest and straightforward.”

 

Indeed, he is betting his campaign on his hopes that he can frame himself as an independent outsider free of special interest influence, to contrast with Hillary Clinton, whom he has dubbed “crooked.”

 

But Trump’s record makes it crystal clear that he’s more interested in rapaciously extracting what money he can and doing what he wants, with little regard to laws, rules, or people who aren’t Donald Trump. Furthermore, he’s repeatedly proven willing to violate norms about what sort of behavior is acceptable and ethical.

 

And most importantly of all, if elected president, Trump would wield incredible power. Yet if you look at what he’s done with power in the past, suddenly this theme in his biography — his corruption — becomes among the most troubling of his many troubling qualities. There are many, many reasons to be concerned about a Trump administration’s ethics and potential to abuse power. Here are just a few.

Trump has a history of shady business practices

 

First off, the way Trump has run his businesses for the past few decades should raise grave doubts about how he’d run the federal government — he’s allegedly been willing to break rules, break promises, and discriminate against nonwhite people.

 

There are the hundreds of accusations that Trump refused to pay contractors and workers what they were owed, which the Wall Street Journal and USA Today compiled this year. “The actions in total paint a portrait of Trump’s sprawling organization frequently failing to pay small businesses and individuals, then sometimes tying them up in court and other negotiations for years,” USA Today’s Steve Reilly wrote. “In some cases, the Trump teams financially overpower and outlast much smaller opponents, draining their resources.” (Trump told Reilly that if he ever didn’t pay, it must have been because he was unhappy with the work.)

 

And recently, Republican consultant Brian James Walsh further corroborated these accusations with his own personal story:

 

Next, there’s the housing discrimination case against him from the 1970s. The Department of Justice alleged that Trump and his father discriminated against black applicants for apartments in Trump-owned buildings. One superintendent said he had been instructed to write “C” (for “colored”) on every application from a prospective black tenant, and others described similar racial “codes,” as the Daily Beast’s Gideon Resnick has written.

 

The government argued that black applicants would repeatedly be told there were no vacancies in Trump-owned buildings, but white applicants would then inquire and get offers. The Trumps denied the claims and fought back in court, but eventually settled — “with no admission of guilt,” Trump pointed out during Monday’s debate, which is not exactly saying he was innocent.

 

Then there was Trump’s illegal financial maneuver back in 1986. That year, he tried to take over two rival casino companies by buying up their stock. But the law required him to disclose his large purchases to the Federal Trade Commission in advance, and he failed to do so. The matter ended up in court, and he was eventually forced to pay a $750,000 penalty as a result.

 

And there’s the matter of Trump’s alleged contacts with the mob. Now, to be fair to the GOP nominee, the Mafia’s influence was pervasive in the New York City construction industry at the time. Still, when reputed mobster Robert LiButti was a high-dollar gambler at the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, the Trump Plaza worked very hard indeed to keep him happy, as Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News reported:

 

When LiButti demanded that women or black card dealers not be allowed on his games, the Trump Plaza kept them away from him — and it was later fined $200,000 for violating state nondiscrimination laws.

The Trump Plaza also gave LiButti nine luxury cars as gifts, all of which he quickly exchanged for a total of $1.65 million in cash. But cash gifts from casinos to high rollers were then illegal in the state, so the Trump Plaza was slapped with another fine — this one for $450,000.

LiButti was wiretapped bragging that he was “very close with” Trump and that he rode in Trump’s helicopter.

 

And Trump’s reputed mob contacts didn’t stop there. “I’ve covered Donald Trump off and on for 27 years, and in that time I’ve encountered multiple threads linking Trump to organized crime,” reporter David Cay Johnston wrote in Politico Magazine in May. “No other candidate for the White House this year has anything close to Trump’s record of repeated social and business dealings with mobsters, swindlers, and other crooks.”

Trump has used other people’s donations to his charity to benefit himself

 

Donald Trump has a charitable family foundation to which, in recent years, he has given hardly any money, instead raising the vast majority of its funds from others. That’s rather dishonest of him, since he constantly claims that the foundation’s donations are from his own pocketbook. But the more serious problem is that he’s then used several hundred thousand dollars of that foundation money in deeply questionable ways that may well have run afoul of laws against “self-dealing” with charity money.

 

For instance, last week, the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold — the reporter who’s absolutely owned the Trump Foundation beat — reported that Trump used $258,000 of the foundation’s money to settle legal problems involving his for-profit businesses.

 

First, in 2007, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club was fined $120,000 by the town of Palm Beach, Florida, because the height of its flagpole violated town rules. An eventual settlement entailed the town waiving the fines and Trump committing to donate $100,000 to a veterans charity. But Trump used his foundation, not any of his businesses, to make the donation.

Second, in 2010, a guy named Martin Greenberg sued Trump’s golf course, claiming he was cheated out of a promised million-dollar prize for getting a hole in one during a charity tournament. The golf course agreed to settlement in which it would donate to Greenberg’s charitable foundation — but the $158,000 sent over was instead from the Trump Foundation, not any of Trump’s businesses.

 

Again, what Trump seems to have done here is used other people’s charity donations to get his own businesses off the hook for lawsuits. Which seems ... pretty corrupt. (The Trump campaign sent out a statement Tuesday night that attacked Fahrenthold but did not dispute any facts in his story.)

 

And this week, Farenthold found another bombshell. Businessman Richard Ebers bought almost $1.9 million worth of goods and services from Trump or his businesses, but he was told to pay Trump’s tax-exempt foundation instead, according to Fahrenthold’s sources. But according to the law, Trump should have paid taxes on that money as income — and his campaign refuses to say whether he did so.

 

And those are just the latest Trump Foundation controversies. Fahrenthold has also reported on an illegal $25,000 donation the foundation made to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s political group around the time she was weighing whether to investigate Trump University, for which the foundation was hit with an IRS penalty. (The Trump campaign claims this was a mistake.) There was also that time Trump spent $12,000 of the foundation’s money to buy a football helmet autographed by Tim Tebow, plus a jersey, at a charity auction. And much more.

Trump University is facing a fraud trial

 

Repeatedly during the campaign, Trump has admitted that he has been “greedy” in business — but he’s argued that as president, he would channel that trait to benefit the American people. “I want to grab all that money. I’m going to be greedy for the United States,” he’s said.

 

It’s a dubious claim, made even more dubious by his behavior in the matter of Trump University. This was the GOP nominee’s seminar business that purported to be able to teach its students secrets of real estate investing. Former students sued Trump, claiming they were bilked out of their money, and he’s set to face a trial for fraud in the matter shortly after the election. The New York attorney general’s office has also sued, claiming Trump University made deceptive claims.

 

"[The instructors] were unqualified people posing as Donald Trump's 'right-hand men,'" Jason Nicholas, a former employee, said in one deposition. "They were teaching methods that were unethical, and they had had little to no experience flipping properties or doing real estate deals. It was a façade, a total lie."

 

The business model was, apparently, to try to hook the gullible with a free seminar and pressure them into signing up for more and more expensive installments that promised to teach students how to invest in real estate.

 

But these “classes” were, apparently, worthless. "To my knowledge, not a single consumer who paid for a Trump University seminar program went on to successfully invest in real estate based upon the techniques that were taught," former employee Ronald Schnackenberg said in another deposition. Read Libby Nelson for more.

Trump won’t release his tax returns, which is unprecedented for a recent presidential candidate

 

Every major party nominee in the past three decades has released his or her tax returns. But Donald Trump is still refusing to do so, and is giving a nonsensical justification for it.

 

Trump says he won’t release his returns because he’s currently under an IRS audit. But as the IRS has confirmed, being audited doesn’t mean he has to keep his returns secret. Furthermore, Trump has many previous years of tax returns that are no longer being audited that he could release — but he refuses to.

 

So there has naturally been a lot of speculation on what Trump is trying to hide here. Do the returns show he’s not as rich as he says he is? That he’s given far less to charity than he claims? That he’d rarely even paid taxes? That he has a lot of money offshore?

 

“How much tax is Trump paying or sheltering domestically vs. in foreign jurisdictions? That needs to be known to ascertain which nations Trump has financial ties to and where he may be susceptible to pressure,” Richard Painter and Norm Eisen write at the Washington Post. Until Trump releases his returns, we won’t know.

Trump has spent millions of dollars of campaign funds on Trump businesses

 

As of August, the Trump campaign had allotted 7 percent of its total spending so far — more than $8.2 million — to companies owned by Trump or his children, according to an analysis by Politico’s Ken Vogel. Payments went to various Trump venues, an aviation company Trump owns, Trump Tower for office space, his corporate staff, and various other vendors.

 

Now, it’s not as if Trump should have donated his company’s stuff for free — indeed, that would have been a prohibited corporate contribution. And the Trump campaign tends to respond by emphasizing that Trump put $54 million of his own money into the campaign. Still, he has deliberately chosen to spend his campaign money (which includes millions raised from other people) on companies he or his children own rather than on independent vendors.

 

Meanwhile, taxpayers are chipping in too — the US Secret Service has paid $1.6 million to travel on a plane operated by one of Trump’s companies, according to another report by Vogel and Isaac Arnsdorf. Again, Secret Service reimbursement to a campaign for travel is common. But as the authors write, since Trump owns the aviation company, “the government is effectively paying him.”

 

And about that Trump Tower rent — shortly after the Trump campaign shifted from a largely self-funded model to one more reliant on donors, Trump nearly quintupled the rent that Trump Tower was charging the campaign for office space, according to the Huffington Post’s S.V. Dáte. This came at a time when the campaign didn’t expand its staff size, though Trump’s team later told CNN that they were paying for two new floors “in anticipation of more staff.”

Donald Trump has surrounded himself with shady people during this campaign

 

 

Throughout the campaign, Trump has claimed not only that he would be an excellent president but that he’d be excellent at hiring. “I’m going to surround myself only with the best and most serious people,” he said last year.

 

Instead, he has surrounded himself with people who’ve not only demonstrated a history of unethical behavior but also abused their past power, often to try to intimidate critics or opponents.

 

Trump appointed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to head his transition, giving him a key role in recommending candidates for hundreds if not thousands of federal jobs. Yet two of Christie’s job appointees in New Jersey are currently facing trial for their involvement in the Bridgegate scandal — prosecutors say they conspired to cause a serious traffic jam in Fort Lee, New Jersey, to punish the town’s mayor for refusing to endorse Christie’s reelection campaign. Another aide, David Wildstein, has already pled guilty in the matter

 

Furthermore, prosecutors also asserted in court last week — and Wildstein testified this week — that Christie knew about both his aides’ actions and their motivations while the scheme was being carried out. (Christie has long denied this.) Wildstein tesitfied that he bragged to Christie about what he was doing when he saw him at an event, and that Christie laughed and responded with jokes.

 

Craziest of all, Donald Trump himself has long said that Christie “totally knew about” his aides’ actions in Bridgegate. Yet this suspicion that Christie was fine with his aides’ abuse of power in a petty revenge plot seems to have been no obstacle for Trump in his determination that Christie is the best-qualified person to help him staff the federal government.

 

Another current Trump adviser is Roger Ailes, who was pushed out of his job as CEO of Fox News just in July over allegations that he sexually harassed multiple women, which, if true, is clearly an abuse of power. (Ailes denied the allegations, but some of his harassing comments were caught on tape, according to New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman, and Fox settled with accuser Gretchen Carlson for the hefty sum of $20 million.)

 

Furthermore, while at Fox News, Ailes also used company money to try to orchestrate smear campaigns against journalists from other outlets who were reporting on him. Yet according to BuzzFeed News’s McKay Coppins, Ailes is “playing a much larger backstage role in handling Trump than most people realize.”

 

And then there is Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, who by some accounts has effectively been running the Trump campaign for a few months. Kushner is a real estate heir who took over his father’s company after his father was sent to prison for tax evasion, making illegal campaign contributions, and witness tampering. When Kushner’s holdings ran into some financial trouble in the wake of the economic crisis, he asked fellow mogul Richard Mack for a write-down on a loan Mack had extended him — but Mack refused.

 

Not long afterward, Kushner apparently wanted revenge on Mack, and he sought to get it by using the newspaper he owned — the New York Observer. Kushner had heard a rumor about Mack, and he wanted his reporters to publish a story about it. “There's a guy named Richard Mack, and we've got to get this guy,” Kushner told one reporter, according to Esquire’s Vicky Ward. Reporters were put on the case and failed to corroborate the rumor, but Kushner kept pushing to move the story forward anyway, as the Observer’s then-editor, Elizabeth Spiers, recounts. It never saw the light of day, but it’s deeply concerning about how Kushner operates.

 

What’s most troubling of all, though, is that Trump is surely aware of everything I’ve mentioned in this section but doesn’t seem to mind. He puts a man whose appointees are facing trial in charge of government appointments. He invites an alleged serial sexual harasser who tries to intimidate critical journalists to be a key adviser. This should set off alarm bells.

Trump’s corruption is a threat to our norms of governance

 

“Americans pride themselves on our politicians' respect for the rule of law, on the checks and balances that protect us from the powerful,” Ezra Klein wrote earlier this year. “But as often as not, our real protection is found not in laws but in norms.”

 

And that’s the deeper problem underlying all this — that Trump has repeatedly shown he has little respect for norms of ethical or acceptable behavior.

 

There’s been much discussion about how Trump has repeatedly violated political norms of acceptable behavior — with his proposed Muslim ban, his constant vicious attacks on critics, his attempts to discredit a judge because he happens to be Mexican-American, and countless other actions.

 

But his decades-long track record in the business sector and the nonprofit world, and his management of his current campaign, suggests he’s willing to violate ethical norms too. He treats rules or laws as inconveniences. He ignores conflicts of interest. He takes what he wants, regardless of who gets hurt. And all this is when he is simply a wealthy businessman.

 

Yet if Trump wins in November, he becomes the most powerful person in the world, with a nuclear arsenal, the US military, and thousands of government appointees who can carry out his wishes at his disposal.

 

No one can say for sure what will happen then. But we can’t say we weren’t warned.

Donald Trump hates lies, but can't tell the truth

 

 

 

 

Virginia gets F grade in 2012 State Integrity Investigation
Why Virginia ranked 47th of 50 states
By Laura LaFayauthor-byline-rss.png 12:01 am, March 19, 2012 Updated: 5:10 pm, November 2, 2015

A garden pavilion at Thomas Jefferson's estate, Monticello, in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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Virginia lawmakers introduce thousands of bills each year and spend hours debating the finer points of how to punish students for not reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, whether motorcyclists should wear helmets and who should get the death penalty.

But when it comes to making and enforcing rules for themselves, the legislators are shrinking violets.

The Old Dominion is one of nine states with no statewide ethics commission, one of four states with no campaign finance limits and one of only two states (South Carolina is the other) where the part-time legislators handpick the judges before whom many of them practice law.

With 8.1 million residents, Virginia is the 12th most populous state in the union. But its part-time lawmakers have one of the shortest meeting schedules in the country — 30 days in odd-numbered years and 60 days in even-numbered years. At that speed, lobbyists of necessity have been elevated from influence peddlers to trusted advisors and authors of laws, according to some veteran observers of the legislative process.

ProgressVA, a liberal advocacy group, reported in January 2012 for example that an industry-funded group wrote more than 50 bills introduced in the Virginia legislature in recent years. The American Legislative Exchange Council, which is funded by Exxon Mobil, Wal-Mart Stores, Koch Industries, and other wealthy corporations, writes model legislation of interest to its funders that sympathetic lawmakers have introduced in many states. In Virginia, dozens of lawmakers are members of the group or have attended its legislative conferences at a cost to the state of more than $200,000 since 2001. Its drafts provided the basis for Virginia’s legal challenge to the Obama administration’s health care reforms, a bill requiring voters to show identification at the polls, and a bill prohibiting the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the ProgressVA report, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R.) has supported the introduction of at least three pieces of ALEC-written legislation. House Speaker William Howell was ALEC’s national chairman in 2009 and remains on ALEC’s “national leadership team.”

Virginia has long prided itself on ethical government, but the state’s lax oversight rules, weak consumer representation protections, dwindling capitol press corps and coziness between political and economic elites, have all combined to undermine the validity of that self-image. Meanwhile, the few ethics and disclosure requirements that do exist tend to be flawed, limited or fraught with exemptions and qualifications, according to state ethics experts.

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And so Virginia ranks a low 47th out of 50 states, with a grade of F and a numerical score of 55 percent from the State Integrity Investigation, a collaborative project of the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity, and Public Radio International. Virginia scored above the median on its civil service management and state purchasing, but scored near the bottom on public access to information and on its ethics enforcement mechanisms.

As an example of its shortcomings, lawmakers have exempted a key institution, the State Corporation Commission — which regulates businesses, utilities, financial institutions, insurance, railroads — from Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act. The state’s 31,000 prison inmates also are forbidden to make requests under the Act.

When the Associated Press tested the effectiveness of the law in 2006 by sending reporters to each county to ask for public records, only 43 percent had success. The rest were told, variously, that the records would not be released or would cost thousands of dollars in fees.

Virginia also has a General Assembly Conflict of Interests Act, but only one legislator has ever been prosecuted for violating it — in 1986.

A positive self-image

Last summer, House Speaker Bill Howell was boastful about the state’s record when Phil Hamilton, a state delegate from Newport News and 21-year veteran of the General Assembly, was convicted of bribery and extortion in federal court. Hamilton was sentenced to nine years in prison for procuring funding for a teacher education center at Old Dominion University in exchange for a job as the center’s director.

“Neither ethical lapses nor public corruption are commonplace, let alone tolerated in Virginia,” Howell said, adding that the state has a longstanding “reputation for good government.”

Governor Bob McDonnell agreed. “Virginia has long been a state marked by honest, transparent and ethical governing by both parties. Today's judgment is a reminder that no one is above the law.”

But was it?

According to Virginia Division of Legislative Services lawyer Mary Spain, Hamilton was the only Virginia legislator in modern history to be charged with a federal crime in connection with his legislative duties. At Hamilton’s trial, prosecutors disclosed e-mails he sent to the university saying he needed at least $37,000 annually. “Of course,” Hamilton wrote in one message, “more is always appreciated.”

Three other lawmakers embroiled in earlier ethics investigations quit the legislature before their cases could be fully probed by one of two panels of legislators that are the state government’s sole entity policing the General Assembly’s conflict of interests law, passed in 1987.

John McGlennon, a professor of government at the College of William & Mary, says he knows what would have happened to Hamilton if federal authorities hadn’t indicted him. “The same thing that happened to everyone else: Nothing.”

“How they can take the case of the one guy who got caught and say it proves that no one does anything wrong is beyond me,” says McGlennon. ”Part of the reason we identify those states like Illinois and New Jersey as more corrupt is because they have more rules identifying corrupt behavior,” he says. “Here, instead of rules, we have this concept that suggests that people who hold political power …have a right to make a comfortable living even if part of that living is coming from their public office.”

No limits on campaign donations

While Virginia requires that all campaign donations over $100 be disclosed, it does not cap them. As a result, donors injected hundreds of thousands of dollars into last year’s state House and Senate races. By the time the dust cleared, 15 state senate campaigns had each spent more than $1 million, according to the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP), a non-partisan watchdog of money in politics. The biggest contributions came from coal companies, organized labor and beverage distributors.

VPAP’s data further show that of the $133 million in itemized contributions given to all candidates for state office and to state party and leadership committees between 2009 and 2011, 78 percent came from those who gave $1,000 or more. Thirty-nine percent came from those who gave $10,000 or more.

The state’s record of monitoring compliance with its disclosure requirements is not strong.

In 2004, for example, the State Board of Elections discovered through an internal audit that former Governor L. Douglas Wilder had not filed final disclosure reports for his 1989 gubernatorial election campaign and that about $169,000 had disappeared from his campaign account. Two Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorneys and one special prosecutor spent three years investigating the matter before Wilder’s son and one-time campaign treasurer, L. Douglas Wilder, Jr. pleaded guilty to two election law misdemeanors in 2007 – 18 years after his father’s election.

Wilder, Jr. was fined $1,000 and given a suspended one-year sentence. The fate of the money remains unknown.

Lobbyists in Virginia are required to register with the Secretary of the Commonwealth and to disclose the identities of their employers, how much money they make, how much time they spend lobbying and how much they spend to entertain lawmakers in excess of $50. But the forms are not audited, and the state gives lobbyists little substantive guidance when it comes to filling them out. As a result, there are marked differences in the quality and amount of information they supply.

In addition, experts point out, the definition of lobbying only covers direct contact with legislators or with the governor about the issue being lobbied. Contact with other lobbyists, with those who employ lobbyists, and with those at lobbying firms who conduct research, draft laws, or develop political strategies often goes unreported. Social events with legislators, other lobbyists and persons of influence can also go unreported.

“Changes to regulations [as opposed to laws]…are regularly the subject of lobbying efforts, but nobody reports those because the forms don’t ask about them,” said a lobbyist with decades of experience, who asked not to be named. “They just ask, ‘What did you lobby?’ So a lot of people just write, “Everything of interest to my client.’” For the same reason, he says, lobbyists do not use uniform ways of reporting what they are paid.

In a growing state with a part-time, short-staffed legislature and brief, increasingly frantic legislative sessions, observers say, lawmakers rely increasingly on lobbyists for information about the issues and for bill-writing services. And of course, they are representing the interests of private clients with enough wealth to hire them, not the public’s interest.

“Lobbyists play a big role here, and that’s a dilemma,” said Bob Holsworth, a political scientist and former dean at Virginia Commonwealth University who has served on many state advisory committees. “On one hand, lobbyists bring a lot of expertise. On the other hand, there are clearly some risks” because there are few regulations and laws governing their activities.

Even the smallest reforms come slowly in Virginia. Until recently, for example, legislators kept many of their key votes secret, choosing to either advance or indefinitely table bills in subcommittee meetings without keeping any public record of their positions. But in 2006, Democrats rebelled and tried to pass bills requiring the recording of subcommittee votes. They have yet to succeed. In 2009, however, after some Republicans finally broke ranks on the issue, the Speaker of the House relented, and now at least some subcommittee votes are recorded.

So far, says McGlennon, “It’s been very difficult to convince legislators of the value of transparency. Just convincing them of the importance of recording subcommittee votes has been difficult…. So don’t hold your breath” for further reform.

Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect that constitutional officers are subject to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

 

 

COKAINES USED CAR SALESMAN ACT AT THE DEBATE WAS APPALLING,COKAINE WAS ON SOMETHING.

 

 

Donald Trump’s history of corruption: a comprehensive review

Updated by Andrew Prokop Sep 28, 2016, 9:00a

 

In the big-picture conversation around the 2016 presidential election, the major negative narratives about Donald Trump have tended to focus on his racism, his temperament, or his tendency to tell lies.

 

Yet there’s another important Trump trait that’s gotten some attention but really needs to get much more — he’s corrupt, and in a consistent way.

 

Whenever Trump has been in positions of power or authority, he has demonstrated a pattern of trying to enrich himself by abusing the trust others have placed in him — whether it’s creditors, contractors, charitable givers, Trump University students, regulators, or campaign donors.

 

Over the past several months — and, indeed, the past few decades — reporters have unearthed many alarming stories that show this They’ve reported on Trump’s many shady business practices. His shady charity. His shady fake university scam. His shady campaign spending. His many shady associates. And, last but by no means least, there is Trump’s refusal to release tax returns or other financial information that would shed further light on his business practices, associates, and philanthropic undertakings.

 

Now, sometimes Trump’s abuses of trust entail breaking the law, and sometimes they’re within the bounds of the law. And sometimes the legality of Trump’s actions isn’t yet clear — as in the case of Trump University, which will face a fraud trial shortly after the election, and with some of the controversies around the Trump Foundation.

 

But the common thread is that Trump screws people over to benefit himself. And despite the plethora of excellent reporting on this topic, many voters seem to be unaware of his troubling history here, and may view him primarily as a successful businessman who says some offensive things. A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, for instance, found that Trump had a 10-point advantage over Clinton on “being honest and straightforward.”

 

Indeed, he is betting his campaign on his hopes that he can frame himself as an independent outsider free of special interest influence, to contrast with Hillary Clinton, whom he has dubbed “crooked.”

 

But Trump’s record makes it crystal clear that he’s more interested in rapaciously extracting what money he can and doing what he wants, with little regard to laws, rules, or people who aren’t Donald Trump. Furthermore, he’s repeatedly proven willing to violate norms about what sort of behavior is acceptable and ethical.

 

And most importantly of all, if elected president, Trump would wield incredible power. Yet if you look at what he’s done with power in the past, suddenly this theme in his biography — his corruption — becomes among the most troubling of his many troubling qualities. There are many, many reasons to be concerned about a Trump administration’s ethics and potential to abuse power. Here are just a few.

Trump has a history of shady business practices

 

First off, the way Trump has run his businesses for the past few decades should raise grave doubts about how he’d run the federal government — he’s allegedly been willing to break rules, break promises, and discriminate against nonwhite people.

 

There are the hundreds of accusations that Trump refused to pay contractors and workers what they were owed, which the Wall Street Journal and USA Today compiled this year. “The actions in total paint a portrait of Trump’s sprawling organization frequently failing to pay small businesses and individuals, then sometimes tying them up in court and other negotiations for years,” USA Today’s Steve Reilly wrote. “In some cases, the Trump teams financially overpower and outlast much smaller opponents, draining their resources.” (Trump told Reilly that if he ever didn’t pay, it must have been because he was unhappy with the work.)

 

And recently, Republican consultant Brian James Walsh further corroborated these accusations with his own personal story:

 

Next, there’s the housing discrimination case against him from the 1970s. The Department of Justice alleged that Trump and his father discriminated against black applicants for apartments in Trump-owned buildings. One superintendent said he had been instructed to write “C” (for “colored”) on every application from a prospective black tenant, and others described similar racial “codes,” as the Daily Beast’s Gideon Resnick has written.

 

The government argued that black applicants would repeatedly be told there were no vacancies in Trump-owned buildings, but white applicants would then inquire and get offers. The Trumps denied the claims and fought back in court, but eventually settled — “with no admission of guilt,” Trump pointed out during Monday’s debate, which is not exactly saying he was innocent.

 

Then there was Trump’s illegal financial maneuver back in 1986. That year, he tried to take over two rival casino companies by buying up their stock. But the law required him to disclose his large purchases to the Federal Trade Commission in advance, and he failed to do so. The matter ended up in court, and he was eventually forced to pay a $750,000 penalty as a result.

 

And there’s the matter of Trump’s alleged contacts with the mob. Now, to be fair to the GOP nominee, the Mafia’s influence was pervasive in the New York City construction industry at the time. Still, when reputed mobster Robert LiButti was a high-dollar gambler at the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, the Trump Plaza worked very hard indeed to keep him happy, as Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News reported:

 

When LiButti demanded that women or black card dealers not be allowed on his games, the Trump Plaza kept them away from him — and it was later fined $200,000 for violating state nondiscrimination laws.

The Trump Plaza also gave LiButti nine luxury cars as gifts, all of which he quickly exchanged for a total of $1.65 million in cash. But cash gifts from casinos to high rollers were then illegal in the state, so the Trump Plaza was slapped with another fine — this one for $450,000.

LiButti was wiretapped bragging that he was “very close with” Trump and that he rode in Trump’s helicopter.

 

And Trump’s reputed mob contacts didn’t stop there. “I’ve covered Donald Trump off and on for 27 years, and in that time I’ve encountered multiple threads linking Trump to organized crime,” reporter David Cay Johnston wrote in Politico Magazine in May. “No other candidate for the White House this year has anything close to Trump’s record of repeated social and business dealings with mobsters, swindlers, and other crooks.”

Trump has used other people’s donations to his charity to benefit himself

 

Donald Trump has a charitable family foundation to which, in recent years, he has given hardly any money, instead raising the vast majority of its funds from others. That’s rather dishonest of him, since he constantly claims that the foundation’s donations are from his own pocketbook. But the more serious problem is that he’s then used several hundred thousand dollars of that foundation money in deeply questionable ways that may well have run afoul of laws against “self-dealing” with charity money.

 

For instance, last week, the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold — the reporter who’s absolutely owned the Trump Foundation beat — reported that Trump used $258,000 of the foundation’s money to settle legal problems involving his for-profit businesses.

 

First, in 2007, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club was fined $120,000 by the town of Palm Beach, Florida, because the height of its flagpole violated town rules. An eventual settlement entailed the town waiving the fines and Trump committing to donate $100,000 to a veterans charity. But Trump used his foundation, not any of his businesses, to make the donation.

Second, in 2010, a guy named Martin Greenberg sued Trump’s golf course, claiming he was cheated out of a promised million-dollar prize for getting a hole in one during a charity tournament. The golf course agreed to settlement in which it would donate to Greenberg’s charitable foundation — but the $158,000 sent over was instead from the Trump Foundation, not any of Trump’s businesses.

 

Again, what Trump seems to have done here is used other people’s charity donations to get his own businesses off the hook for lawsuits. Which seems ... pretty corrupt. (The Trump campaign sent out a statement Tuesday night that attacked Fahrenthold but did not dispute any facts in his story.)

 

And this week, Farenthold found another bombshell. Businessman Richard Ebers bought almost $1.9 million worth of goods and services from Trump or his businesses, but he was told to pay Trump’s tax-exempt foundation instead, according to Fahrenthold’s sources. But according to the law, Trump should have paid taxes on that money as income — and his campaign refuses to say whether he did so.

 

And those are just the latest Trump Foundation controversies. Fahrenthold has also reported on an illegal $25,000 donation the foundation made to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s political group around the time she was weighing whether to investigate Trump University, for which the foundation was hit with an IRS penalty. (The Trump campaign claims this was a mistake.) There was also that time Trump spent $12,000 of the foundation’s money to buy a football helmet autographed by Tim Tebow, plus a jersey, at a charity auction. And much more.

Trump University is facing a fraud trial

 

Repeatedly during the campaign, Trump has admitted that he has been “greedy” in business — but he’s argued that as president, he would channel that trait to benefit the American people. “I want to grab all that money. I’m going to be greedy for the United States,” he’s said.

 

It’s a dubious claim, made even more dubious by his behavior in the matter of Trump University. This was the GOP nominee’s seminar business that purported to be able to teach its students secrets of real estate investing. Former students sued Trump, claiming they were bilked out of their money, and he’s set to face a trial for fraud in the matter shortly after the election. The New York attorney general’s office has also sued, claiming Trump University made deceptive claims.

 

"[The instructors] were unqualified people posing as Donald Trump's 'right-hand men,'" Jason Nicholas, a former employee, said in one deposition. "They were teaching methods that were unethical, and they had had little to no experience flipping properties or doing real estate deals. It was a façade, a total lie."

 

The business model was, apparently, to try to hook the gullible with a free seminar and pressure them into signing up for more and more expensive installments that promised to teach students how to invest in real estate.

 

But these “classes” were, apparently, worthless. "To my knowledge, not a single consumer who paid for a Trump University seminar program went on to successfully invest in real estate based upon the techniques that were taught," former employee Ronald Schnackenberg said in another deposition. Read Libby Nelson for more.

Trump won’t release his tax returns, which is unprecedented for a recent presidential candidate

 

Every major party nominee in the past three decades has released his or her tax returns. But Donald Trump is still refusing to do so, and is giving a nonsensical justification for it.

 

Trump says he won’t release his returns because he’s currently under an IRS audit. But as the IRS has confirmed, being audited doesn’t mean he has to keep his returns secret. Furthermore, Trump has many previous years of tax returns that are no longer being audited that he could release — but he refuses to.

 

So there has naturally been a lot of speculation on what Trump is trying to hide here. Do the returns show he’s not as rich as he says he is? That he’s given far less to charity than he claims? That he’d rarely even paid taxes? That he has a lot of money offshore?

 

“How much tax is Trump paying or sheltering domestically vs. in foreign jurisdictions? That needs to be known to ascertain which nations Trump has financial ties to and where he may be susceptible to pressure,” Richard Painter and Norm Eisen write at the Washington Post. Until Trump releases his returns, we won’t know.

Trump has spent millions of dollars of campaign funds on Trump businesses

 

As of August, the Trump campaign had allotted 7 percent of its total spending so far — more than $8.2 million — to companies owned by Trump or his children, according to an analysis by Politico’s Ken Vogel. Payments went to various Trump venues, an aviation company Trump owns, Trump Tower for office space, his corporate staff, and various other vendors.

 

Now, it’s not as if Trump should have donated his company’s stuff for free — indeed, that would have been a prohibited corporate contribution. And the Trump campaign tends to respond by emphasizing that Trump put $54 million of his own money into the campaign. Still, he has deliberately chosen to spend his campaign money (which includes millions raised from other people) on companies he or his children own rather than on independent vendors.

 

Meanwhile, taxpayers are chipping in too — the US Secret Service has paid $1.6 million to travel on a plane operated by one of Trump’s companies, according to another report by Vogel and Isaac Arnsdorf. Again, Secret Service reimbursement to a campaign for travel is common. But as the authors write, since Trump owns the aviation company, “the government is effectively paying him.”

 

And about that Trump Tower rent — shortly after the Trump campaign shifted from a largely self-funded model to one more reliant on donors, Trump nearly quintupled the rent that Trump Tower was charging the campaign for office space, according to the Huffington Post’s S.V. Dáte. This came at a time when the campaign didn’t expand its staff size, though Trump’s team later told CNN that they were paying for two new floors “in anticipation of more staff.”

Donald Trump has surrounded himself with shady people during this campaign

 

 

Throughout the campaign, Trump has claimed not only that he would be an excellent president but that he’d be excellent at hiring. “I’m going to surround myself only with the best and most serious people,” he said last year.

 

Instead, he has surrounded himself with people who’ve not only demonstrated a history of unethical behavior but also abused their past power, often to try to intimidate critics or opponents.

 

Trump appointed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to head his transition, giving him a key role in recommending candidates for hundreds if not thousands of federal jobs. Yet two of Christie’s job appointees in New Jersey are currently facing trial for their involvement in the Bridgegate scandal — prosecutors say they conspired to cause a serious traffic jam in Fort Lee, New Jersey, to punish the town’s mayor for refusing to endorse Christie’s reelection campaign. Another aide, David Wildstein, has already pled guilty in the matter

 

Furthermore, prosecutors also asserted in court last week — and Wildstein testified this week — that Christie knew about both his aides’ actions and their motivations while the scheme was being carried out. (Christie has long denied this.) Wildstein tesitfied that he bragged to Christie about what he was doing when he saw him at an event, and that Christie laughed and responded with jokes.

 

Craziest of all, Donald Trump himself has long said that Christie “totally knew about” his aides’ actions in Bridgegate. Yet this suspicion that Christie was fine with his aides’ abuse of power in a petty revenge plot seems to have been no obstacle for Trump in his determination that Christie is the best-qualified person to help him staff the federal government.

 

Another current Trump adviser is Roger Ailes, who was pushed out of his job as CEO of Fox News just in July over allegations that he sexually harassed multiple women, which, if true, is clearly an abuse of power. (Ailes denied the allegations, but some of his harassing comments were caught on tape, according to New York magazine’s Gabriel Sherman, and Fox settled with accuser Gretchen Carlson for the hefty sum of $20 million.)

 

Furthermore, while at Fox News, Ailes also used company money to try to orchestrate smear campaigns against journalists from other outlets who were reporting on him. Yet according to BuzzFeed News’s McKay Coppins, Ailes is “playing a much larger backstage role in handling Trump than most people realize.”

 

And then there is Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, who by some accounts has effectively been running the Trump campaign for a few months. Kushner is a real estate heir who took over his father’s company after his father was sent to prison for tax evasion, making illegal campaign contributions, and witness tampering. When Kushner’s holdings ran into some financial trouble in the wake of the economic crisis, he asked fellow mogul Richard Mack for a write-down on a loan Mack had extended him — but Mack refused.

 

Not long afterward, Kushner apparently wanted revenge on Mack, and he sought to get it by using the newspaper he owned — the New York Observer. Kushner had heard a rumor about Mack, and he wanted his reporters to publish a story about it. “There's a guy named Richard Mack, and we've got to get this guy,” Kushner told one reporter, according to Esquire’s Vicky Ward. Reporters were put on the case and failed to corroborate the rumor, but Kushner kept pushing to move the story forward anyway, as the Observer’s then-editor, Elizabeth Spiers, recounts. It never saw the light of day, but it’s deeply concerning about how Kushner operates.

 

What’s most troubling of all, though, is that Trump is surely aware of everything I’ve mentioned in this section but doesn’t seem to mind. He puts a man whose appointees are facing trial in charge of government appointments. He invites an alleged serial sexual harasser who tries to intimidate critical journalists to be a key adviser. This should set off alarm bells.

Trump’s corruption is a threat to our norms of governance

 

“Americans pride themselves on our politicians' respect for the rule of law, on the checks and balances that protect us from the powerful,” Ezra Klein wrote earlier this year. “But as often as not, our real protection is found not in laws but in norms.”

 

And that’s the deeper problem underlying all this — that Trump has repeatedly shown he has little respect for norms of ethical or acceptable behavior.

 

There’s been much discussion about how Trump has repeatedly violated political norms of acceptable behavior — with his proposed Muslim ban, his constant vicious attacks on critics, his attempts to discredit a judge because he happens to be Mexican-American, and countless other actions.

 

But his decades-long track record in the business sector and the nonprofit world, and his management of his current campaign, suggests he’s willing to violate ethical norms too. He treats rules or laws as inconveniences. He ignores conflicts of interest. He takes what he wants, regardless of who gets hurt. And all this is when he is simply a wealthy businessman.

 

Yet if Trump wins in November, he becomes the most powerful person in the world, with a nuclear arsenal, the US military, and thousands of government appointees who can carry out his wishes at his disposal.

 

No one can say for sure what will happen then. But we can’t say we weren’t warned.

Donald Trump hates lies, but can't tell the truth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Virginia gets F grade in 2012 State Integrity Investigation
Why Virginia ranked 47th of 50 states
By Laura LaFayauthor-byline-rss.png 12:01 am, March 19, 2012 Updated: 5:10 pm, November 2, 2015

A garden pavilion at Thomas Jefferson's estate, Monticello, in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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Virginia lawmakers introduce thousands of bills each year and spend hours debating the finer points of how to punish students for not reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, whether motorcyclists should wear helmets and who should get the death penalty.

But when it comes to making and enforcing rules for themselves, the legislators are shrinking violets.

The Old Dominion is one of nine states with no statewide ethics commission, one of four states with no campaign finance limits and one of only two states (South Carolina is the other) where the part-time legislators handpick the judges before whom many of them practice law.

With 8.1 million residents, Virginia is the 12th most populous state in the union. But its part-time lawmakers have one of the shortest meeting schedules in the country — 30 days in odd-numbered years and 60 days in even-numbered years. At that speed, lobbyists of necessity have been elevated from influence peddlers to trusted advisors and authors of laws, according to some veteran observers of the legislative process.

ProgressVA, a liberal advocacy group, reported in January 2012 for example that an industry-funded group wrote more than 50 bills introduced in the Virginia legislature in recent years. The American Legislative Exchange Council, which is funded by Exxon Mobil, Wal-Mart Stores, Koch Industries, and other wealthy corporations, writes model legislation of interest to its funders that sympathetic lawmakers have introduced in many states. In Virginia, dozens of lawmakers are members of the group or have attended its legislative conferences at a cost to the state of more than $200,000 since 2001. Its drafts provided the basis for Virginia’s legal challenge to the Obama administration’s health care reforms, a bill requiring voters to show identification at the polls, and a bill prohibiting the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the ProgressVA report, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R.) has supported the introduction of at least three pieces of ALEC-written legislation. House Speaker William Howell was ALEC’s national chairman in 2009 and remains on ALEC’s “national leadership team.”

Virginia has long prided itself on ethical government, but the state’s lax oversight rules, weak consumer representation protections, dwindling capitol press corps and coziness between political and economic elites, have all combined to undermine the validity of that self-image. Meanwhile, the few ethics and disclosure requirements that do exist tend to be flawed, limited or fraught with exemptions and qualifications, according to state ethics experts.

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And so Virginia ranks a low 47th out of 50 states, with a grade of F and a numerical score of 55 percent from the State Integrity Investigation, a collaborative project of the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity, and Public Radio International. Virginia scored above the median on its civil service management and state purchasing, but scored near the bottom on public access to information and on its ethics enforcement mechanisms.

As an example of its shortcomings, lawmakers have exempted a key institution, the State Corporation Commission — which regulates businesses, utilities, financial institutions, insurance, railroads — from Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act. The state’s 31,000 prison inmates also are forbidden to make requests under the Act.

When the Associated Press tested the effectiveness of the law in 2006 by sending reporters to each county to ask for public records, only 43 percent had success. The rest were told, variously, that the records would not be released or would cost thousands of dollars in fees.

Virginia also has a General Assembly Conflict of Interests Act, but only one legislator has ever been prosecuted for violating it — in 1986.

A positive self-image

Last summer, House Speaker Bill Howell was boastful about the state’s record when Phil Hamilton, a state delegate from Newport News and 21-year veteran of the General Assembly, was convicted of bribery and extortion in federal court. Hamilton was sentenced to nine years in prison for procuring funding for a teacher education center at Old Dominion University in exchange for a job as the center’s director.

“Neither ethical lapses nor public corruption are commonplace, let alone tolerated in Virginia,” Howell said, adding that the state has a longstanding “reputation for good government.”

Governor Bob McDonnell agreed. “Virginia has long been a state marked by honest, transparent and ethical governing by both parties. Today's judgment is a reminder that no one is above the law.”

But was it?

According to Virginia Division of Legislative Services lawyer Mary Spain, Hamilton was the only Virginia legislator in modern history to be charged with a federal crime in connection with his legislative duties. At Hamilton’s trial, prosecutors disclosed e-mails he sent to the university saying he needed at least $37,000 annually. “Of course,” Hamilton wrote in one message, “more is always appreciated.”

Three other lawmakers embroiled in earlier ethics investigations quit the legislature before their cases could be fully probed by one of two panels of legislators that are the state government’s sole entity policing the General Assembly’s conflict of interests law, passed in 1987.

John McGlennon, a professor of government at the College of William & Mary, says he knows what would have happened to Hamilton if federal authorities hadn’t indicted him. “The same thing that happened to everyone else: Nothing.”

“How they can take the case of the one guy who got caught and say it proves that no one does anything wrong is beyond me,” says McGlennon. ”Part of the reason we identify those states like Illinois and New Jersey as more corrupt is because they have more rules identifying corrupt behavior,” he says. “Here, instead of rules, we have this concept that suggests that people who hold political power …have a right to make a comfortable living even if part of that living is coming from their public office.”

No limits on campaign donations

While Virginia requires that all campaign donations over $100 be disclosed, it does not cap them. As a result, donors injected hundreds of thousands of dollars into last year’s state House and Senate races. By the time the dust cleared, 15 state senate campaigns had each spent more than $1 million, according to the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP), a non-partisan watchdog of money in politics. The biggest contributions came from coal companies, organized labor and beverage distributors.

VPAP’s data further show that of the $133 million in itemized contributions given to all candidates for state office and to state party and leadership committees between 2009 and 2011, 78 percent came from those who gave $1,000 or more. Thirty-nine percent came from those who gave $10,000 or more.

The state’s record of monitoring compliance with its disclosure requirements is not strong.

In 2004, for example, the State Board of Elections discovered through an internal audit that former Governor L. Douglas Wilder had not filed final disclosure reports for his 1989 gubernatorial election campaign and that about $169,000 had disappeared from his campaign account. Two Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorneys and one special prosecutor spent three years investigating the matter before Wilder’s son and one-time campaign treasurer, L. Douglas Wilder, Jr. pleaded guilty to two election law misdemeanors in 2007 – 18 years after his father’s election.

Wilder, Jr. was fined $1,000 and given a suspended one-year sentence. The fate of the money remains unknown.

Lobbyists in Virginia are required to register with the Secretary of the Commonwealth and to disclose the identities of their employers, how much money they make, how much time they spend lobbying and how much they spend to entertain lawmakers in excess of $50. But the forms are not audited, and the state gives lobbyists little substantive guidance when it comes to filling them out. As a result, there are marked differences in the quality and amount of information they supply.

In addition, experts point out, the definition of lobbying only covers direct contact with legislators or with the governor about the issue being lobbied. Contact with other lobbyists, with those who employ lobbyists, and with those at lobbying firms who conduct research, draft laws, or develop political strategies often goes unreported. Social events with legislators, other lobbyists and persons of influence can also go unreported.

“Changes to regulations [as opposed to laws]…are regularly the subject of lobbying efforts, but nobody reports those because the forms don’t ask about them,” said a lobbyist with decades of experience, who asked not to be named. “They just ask, ‘What did you lobby?’ So a lot of people just write, “Everything of interest to my client.’” For the same reason, he says, lobbyists do not use uniform ways of reporting what they are paid.

In a growing state with a part-time, short-staffed legislature and brief, increasingly frantic legislative sessions, observers say, lawmakers rely increasingly on lobbyists for information about the issues and for bill-writing services. And of course, they are representing the interests of private clients with enough wealth to hire them, not the public’s interest.

“Lobbyists play a big role here, and that’s a dilemma,” said Bob Holsworth, a political scientist and former dean at Virginia Commonwealth University who has served on many state advisory committees. “On one hand, lobbyists bring a lot of expertise. On the other hand, there are clearly some risks” because there are few regulations and laws governing their activities.

Even the smallest reforms come slowly in Virginia. Until recently, for example, legislators kept many of their key votes secret, choosing to either advance or indefinitely table bills in subcommittee meetings without keeping any public record of their positions. But in 2006, Democrats rebelled and tried to pass bills requiring the recording of subcommittee votes. They have yet to succeed. In 2009, however, after some Republicans finally broke ranks on the issue, the Speaker of the House relented, and now at least some subcommittee votes are recorded.

So far, says McGlennon, “It’s been very difficult to convince legislators of the value of transparency. Just convincing them of the importance of recording subcommittee votes has been difficult…. So don’t hold your breath” for further reform.

Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect that constitutional officers are subject to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

 

 

COKAINES USED CAR SALESMAN ACT AT THE DEBATE WAS APPALLING,COKAINE WAS ON SOMETHING.

 

 

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Virginia gets F grade in 2012 State Integrity Investigation
Why Virginia ranked 47th of 50 states
By Laura LaFayauthor-byline-rss.png 12:01 am, March 19, 2012 Updated: 5:10 pm, November 2, 2015

A garden pavilion at Thomas Jefferson's estate, Monticello, in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Shutterstock

 

3
likes
2
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Find your state's grade

What grade did my state get? Find it in the drop-down menu below.

Virginia lawmakers introduce thousands of bills each year and spend hours debating the finer points of how to punish students for not reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, whether motorcyclists should wear helmets and who should get the death penalty.

But when it comes to making and enforcing rules for themselves, the legislators are shrinking violets.

The Old Dominion is one of nine states with no statewide ethics commission, one of four states with no campaign finance limits and one of only two states (South Carolina is the other) where the part-time legislators handpick the judges before whom many of them practice law.

With 8.1 million residents, Virginia is the 12th most populous state in the union. But its part-time lawmakers have one of the shortest meeting schedules in the country — 30 days in odd-numbered years and 60 days in even-numbered years. At that speed, lobbyists of necessity have been elevated from influence peddlers to trusted advisors and authors of laws, according to some veteran observers of the legislative process.

ProgressVA, a liberal advocacy group, reported in January 2012 for example that an industry-funded group wrote more than 50 bills introduced in the Virginia legislature in recent years. The American Legislative Exchange Council, which is funded by Exxon Mobil, Wal-Mart Stores, Koch Industries, and other wealthy corporations, writes model legislation of interest to its funders that sympathetic lawmakers have introduced in many states. In Virginia, dozens of lawmakers are members of the group or have attended its legislative conferences at a cost to the state of more than $200,000 since 2001. Its drafts provided the basis for Virginia’s legal challenge to the Obama administration’s health care reforms, a bill requiring voters to show identification at the polls, and a bill prohibiting the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the ProgressVA report, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R.) has supported the introduction of at least three pieces of ALEC-written legislation. House Speaker William Howell was ALEC’s national chairman in 2009 and remains on ALEC’s “national leadership team.”

Virginia has long prided itself on ethical government, but the state’s lax oversight rules, weak consumer representation protections, dwindling capitol press corps and coziness between political and economic elites, have all combined to undermine the validity of that self-image. Meanwhile, the few ethics and disclosure requirements that do exist tend to be flawed, limited or fraught with exemptions and qualifications, according to state ethics experts.

Don't miss another investigation

Sign up for the Center for Public Integrity's Watchdog email and get the news you want from the Center when you want it.

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State Integrity 2012
A data-driven analysis of transparency and accountability in all 50 state governments.
Stories in this series

And so Virginia ranks a low 47th out of 50 states, with a grade of F and a numerical score of 55 percent from the State Integrity Investigation, a collaborative project of the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity, and Public Radio International. Virginia scored above the median on its civil service management and state purchasing, but scored near the bottom on public access to information and on its ethics enforcement mechanisms.

As an example of its shortcomings, lawmakers have exempted a key institution, the State Corporation Commission — which regulates businesses, utilities, financial institutions, insurance, railroads — from Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act. The state’s 31,000 prison inmates also are forbidden to make requests under the Act.

When the Associated Press tested the effectiveness of the law in 2006 by sending reporters to each county to ask for public records, only 43 percent had success. The rest were told, variously, that the records would not be released or would cost thousands of dollars in fees.

Virginia also has a General Assembly Conflict of Interests Act, but only one legislator has ever been prosecuted for violating it — in 1986.

A positive self-image

Last summer, House Speaker Bill Howell was boastful about the state’s record when Phil Hamilton, a state delegate from Newport News and 21-year veteran of the General Assembly, was convicted of bribery and extortion in federal court. Hamilton was sentenced to nine years in prison for procuring funding for a teacher education center at Old Dominion University in exchange for a job as the center’s director.

“Neither ethical lapses nor public corruption are commonplace, let alone tolerated in Virginia,” Howell said, adding that the state has a longstanding “reputation for good government.”

Governor Bob McDonnell agreed. “Virginia has long been a state marked by honest, transparent and ethical governing by both parties. Today's judgment is a reminder that no one is above the law.”

But was it?

According to Virginia Division of Legislative Services lawyer Mary Spain, Hamilton was the only Virginia legislator in modern history to be charged with a federal crime in connection with his legislative duties. At Hamilton’s trial, prosecutors disclosed e-mails he sent to the university saying he needed at least $37,000 annually. “Of course,” Hamilton wrote in one message, “more is always appreciated.”

Three other lawmakers embroiled in earlier ethics investigations quit the legislature before their cases could be fully probed by one of two panels of legislators that are the state government’s sole entity policing the General Assembly’s conflict of interests law, passed in 1987.

John McGlennon, a professor of government at the College of William & Mary, says he knows what would have happened to Hamilton if federal authorities hadn’t indicted him. “The same thing that happened to everyone else: Nothing.”

“How they can take the case of the one guy who got caught and say it proves that no one does anything wrong is beyond me,” says McGlennon. ”Part of the reason we identify those states like Illinois and New Jersey as more corrupt is because they have more rules identifying corrupt behavior,” he says. “Here, instead of rules, we have this concept that suggests that people who hold political power …have a right to make a comfortable living even if part of that living is coming from their public office.”

No limits on campaign donations

While Virginia requires that all campaign donations over $100 be disclosed, it does not cap them. As a result, donors injected hundreds of thousands of dollars into last year’s state House and Senate races. By the time the dust cleared, 15 state senate campaigns had each spent more than $1 million, according to the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP), a non-partisan watchdog of money in politics. The biggest contributions came from coal companies, organized labor and beverage distributors.

VPAP’s data further show that of the $133 million in itemized contributions given to all candidates for state office and to state party and leadership committees between 2009 and 2011, 78 percent came from those who gave $1,000 or more. Thirty-nine percent came from those who gave $10,000 or more.

The state’s record of monitoring compliance with its disclosure requirements is not strong.

In 2004, for example, the State Board of Elections discovered through an internal audit that former Governor L. Douglas Wilder had not filed final disclosure reports for his 1989 gubernatorial election campaign and that about $169,000 had disappeared from his campaign account. Two Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorneys and one special prosecutor spent three years investigating the matter before Wilder’s son and one-time campaign treasurer, L. Douglas Wilder, Jr. pleaded guilty to two election law misdemeanors in 2007 – 18 years after his father’s election.

Wilder, Jr. was fined $1,000 and given a suspended one-year sentence. The fate of the money remains unknown.

Lobbyists in Virginia are required to register with the Secretary of the Commonwealth and to disclose the identities of their employers, how much money they make, how much time they spend lobbying and how much they spend to entertain lawmakers in excess of $50. But the forms are not audited, and the state gives lobbyists little substantive guidance when it comes to filling them out. As a result, there are marked differences in the quality and amount of information they supply.

In addition, experts point out, the definition of lobbying only covers direct contact with legislators or with the governor about the issue being lobbied. Contact with other lobbyists, with those who employ lobbyists, and with those at lobbying firms who conduct research, draft laws, or develop political strategies often goes unreported. Social events with legislators, other lobbyists and persons of influence can also go unreported.

“Changes to regulations [as opposed to laws]…are regularly the subject of lobbying efforts, but nobody reports those because the forms don’t ask about them,” said a lobbyist with decades of experience, who asked not to be named. “They just ask, ‘What did you lobby?’ So a lot of people just write, “Everything of interest to my client.’” For the same reason, he says, lobbyists do not use uniform ways of reporting what they are paid.

In a growing state with a part-time, short-staffed legislature and brief, increasingly frantic legislative sessions, observers say, lawmakers rely increasingly on lobbyists for information about the issues and for bill-writing services. And of course, they are representing the interests of private clients with enough wealth to hire them, not the public’s interest.

“Lobbyists play a big role here, and that’s a dilemma,” said Bob Holsworth, a political scientist and former dean at Virginia Commonwealth University who has served on many state advisory committees. “On one hand, lobbyists bring a lot of expertise. On the other hand, there are clearly some risks” because there are few regulations and laws governing their activities.

Even the smallest reforms come slowly in Virginia. Until recently, for example, legislators kept many of their key votes secret, choosing to either advance or indefinitely table bills in subcommittee meetings without keeping any public record of their positions. But in 2006, Democrats rebelled and tried to pass bills requiring the recording of subcommittee votes. They have yet to succeed. In 2009, however, after some Republicans finally broke ranks on the issue, the Speaker of the House relented, and now at least some subcommittee votes are recorded.

So far, says McGlennon, “It’s been very difficult to convince legislators of the value of transparency. Just convincing them of the importance of recording subcommittee votes has been difficult…. So don’t hold your breath” for further reform.

Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect that constitutional officers are subject to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

 

 

COKAINES USED CAR SALESMAN ACT AT THE DEBATE WAS APPALLING,COKAINE WAS ON SOMETHING.

 

 

 

tim-Kaine.jpg

 

JUST CREEPY.........YUK....CREEP

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Virginia gets F grade in 2012 State Integrity Investigation
Why Virginia ranked 47th of 50 states
By Laura LaFayauthor-byline-rss.png 12:01 am, March 19, 2012 Updated: 5:10 pm, November 2, 2015

A garden pavilion at Thomas Jefferson's estate, Monticello, in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Shutterstock

 

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Find your state's grade

What grade did my state get? Find it in the drop-down menu below.

Virginia lawmakers introduce thousands of bills each year and spend hours debating the finer points of how to punish students for not reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, whether motorcyclists should wear helmets and who should get the death penalty.

But when it comes to making and enforcing rules for themselves, the legislators are shrinking violets.

The Old Dominion is one of nine states with no statewide ethics commission, one of four states with no campaign finance limits and one of only two states (South Carolina is the other) where the part-time legislators handpick the judges before whom many of them practice law.

With 8.1 million residents, Virginia is the 12th most populous state in the union. But its part-time lawmakers have one of the shortest meeting schedules in the country — 30 days in odd-numbered years and 60 days in even-numbered years. At that speed, lobbyists of necessity have been elevated from influence peddlers to trusted advisors and authors of laws, according to some veteran observers of the legislative process.

ProgressVA, a liberal advocacy group, reported in January 2012 for example that an industry-funded group wrote more than 50 bills introduced in the Virginia legislature in recent years. The American Legislative Exchange Council, which is funded by Exxon Mobil, Wal-Mart Stores, Koch Industries, and other wealthy corporations, writes model legislation of interest to its funders that sympathetic lawmakers have introduced in many states. In Virginia, dozens of lawmakers are members of the group or have attended its legislative conferences at a cost to the state of more than $200,000 since 2001. Its drafts provided the basis for Virginia’s legal challenge to the Obama administration’s health care reforms, a bill requiring voters to show identification at the polls, and a bill prohibiting the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the ProgressVA report, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R.) has supported the introduction of at least three pieces of ALEC-written legislation. House Speaker William Howell was ALEC’s national chairman in 2009 and remains on ALEC’s “national leadership team.”

Virginia has long prided itself on ethical government, but the state’s lax oversight rules, weak consumer representation protections, dwindling capitol press corps and coziness between political and economic elites, have all combined to undermine the validity of that self-image. Meanwhile, the few ethics and disclosure requirements that do exist tend to be flawed, limited or fraught with exemptions and qualifications, according to state ethics experts.

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A data-driven analysis of transparency and accountability in all 50 state governments.
Stories in this series

And so Virginia ranks a low 47th out of 50 states, with a grade of F and a numerical score of 55 percent from the State Integrity Investigation, a collaborative project of the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity, and Public Radio International. Virginia scored above the median on its civil service management and state purchasing, but scored near the bottom on public access to information and on its ethics enforcement mechanisms.

As an example of its shortcomings, lawmakers have exempted a key institution, the State Corporation Commission — which regulates businesses, utilities, financial institutions, insurance, railroads — from Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act. The state’s 31,000 prison inmates also are forbidden to make requests under the Act.

When the Associated Press tested the effectiveness of the law in 2006 by sending reporters to each county to ask for public records, only 43 percent had success. The rest were told, variously, that the records would not be released or would cost thousands of dollars in fees.

Virginia also has a General Assembly Conflict of Interests Act, but only one legislator has ever been prosecuted for violating it — in 1986.

A positive self-image

Last summer, House Speaker Bill Howell was boastful about the state’s record when Phil Hamilton, a state delegate from Newport News and 21-year veteran of the General Assembly, was convicted of bribery and extortion in federal court. Hamilton was sentenced to nine years in prison for procuring funding for a teacher education center at Old Dominion University in exchange for a job as the center’s director.

“Neither ethical lapses nor public corruption are commonplace, let alone tolerated in Virginia,” Howell said, adding that the state has a longstanding “reputation for good government.”

Governor Bob McDonnell agreed. “Virginia has long been a state marked by honest, transparent and ethical governing by both parties. Today's judgment is a reminder that no one is above the law.”

But was it?

According to Virginia Division of Legislative Services lawyer Mary Spain, Hamilton was the only Virginia legislator in modern history to be charged with a federal crime in connection with his legislative duties. At Hamilton’s trial, prosecutors disclosed e-mails he sent to the university saying he needed at least $37,000 annually. “Of course,” Hamilton wrote in one message, “more is always appreciated.”

Three other lawmakers embroiled in earlier ethics investigations quit the legislature before their cases could be fully probed by one of two panels of legislators that are the state government’s sole entity policing the General Assembly’s conflict of interests law, passed in 1987.

John McGlennon, a professor of government at the College of William & Mary, says he knows what would have happened to Hamilton if federal authorities hadn’t indicted him. “The same thing that happened to everyone else: Nothing.”

“How they can take the case of the one guy who got caught and say it proves that no one does anything wrong is beyond me,” says McGlennon. ”Part of the reason we identify those states like Illinois and New Jersey as more corrupt is because they have more rules identifying corrupt behavior,” he says. “Here, instead of rules, we have this concept that suggests that people who hold political power …have a right to make a comfortable living even if part of that living is coming from their public office.”

No limits on campaign donations

While Virginia requires that all campaign donations over $100 be disclosed, it does not cap them. As a result, donors injected hundreds of thousands of dollars into last year’s state House and Senate races. By the time the dust cleared, 15 state senate campaigns had each spent more than $1 million, according to the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP), a non-partisan watchdog of money in politics. The biggest contributions came from coal companies, organized labor and beverage distributors.

VPAP’s data further show that of the $133 million in itemized contributions given to all candidates for state office and to state party and leadership committees between 2009 and 2011, 78 percent came from those who gave $1,000 or more. Thirty-nine percent came from those who gave $10,000 or more.

The state’s record of monitoring compliance with its disclosure requirements is not strong.

In 2004, for example, the State Board of Elections discovered through an internal audit that former Governor L. Douglas Wilder had not filed final disclosure reports for his 1989 gubernatorial election campaign and that about $169,000 had disappeared from his campaign account. Two Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorneys and one special prosecutor spent three years investigating the matter before Wilder’s son and one-time campaign treasurer, L. Douglas Wilder, Jr. pleaded guilty to two election law misdemeanors in 2007 – 18 years after his father’s election.

Wilder, Jr. was fined $1,000 and given a suspended one-year sentence. The fate of the money remains unknown.

Lobbyists in Virginia are required to register with the Secretary of the Commonwealth and to disclose the identities of their employers, how much money they make, how much time they spend lobbying and how much they spend to entertain lawmakers in excess of $50. But the forms are not audited, and the state gives lobbyists little substantive guidance when it comes to filling them out. As a result, there are marked differences in the quality and amount of information they supply.

In addition, experts point out, the definition of lobbying only covers direct contact with legislators or with the governor about the issue being lobbied. Contact with other lobbyists, with those who employ lobbyists, and with those at lobbying firms who conduct research, draft laws, or develop political strategies often goes unreported. Social events with legislators, other lobbyists and persons of influence can also go unreported.

“Changes to regulations [as opposed to laws]…are regularly the subject of lobbying efforts, but nobody reports those because the forms don’t ask about them,” said a lobbyist with decades of experience, who asked not to be named. “They just ask, ‘What did you lobby?’ So a lot of people just write, “Everything of interest to my client.’” For the same reason, he says, lobbyists do not use uniform ways of reporting what they are paid.

In a growing state with a part-time, short-staffed legislature and brief, increasingly frantic legislative sessions, observers say, lawmakers rely increasingly on lobbyists for information about the issues and for bill-writing services. And of course, they are representing the interests of private clients with enough wealth to hire them, not the public’s interest.

“Lobbyists play a big role here, and that’s a dilemma,” said Bob Holsworth, a political scientist and former dean at Virginia Commonwealth University who has served on many state advisory committees. “On one hand, lobbyists bring a lot of expertise. On the other hand, there are clearly some risks” because there are few regulations and laws governing their activities.

Even the smallest reforms come slowly in Virginia. Until recently, for example, legislators kept many of their key votes secret, choosing to either advance or indefinitely table bills in subcommittee meetings without keeping any public record of their positions. But in 2006, Democrats rebelled and tried to pass bills requiring the recording of subcommittee votes. They have yet to succeed. In 2009, however, after some Republicans finally broke ranks on the issue, the Speaker of the House relented, and now at least some subcommittee votes are recorded.

So far, says McGlennon, “It’s been very difficult to convince legislators of the value of transparency. Just convincing them of the importance of recording subcommittee votes has been difficult…. So don’t hold your breath” for further reform.

Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect that constitutional officers are subject to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

 

 

COKAINES USED CAR SALESMAN ACT AT THE DEBATE WAS APPALLING,COKAINE WAS ON SOMETHING.

 

 

 

Clinton_Crime_zpseap2x1m7.jpg

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But thanks largely to these moral missteps and hard work by good-government groups and legislators, New Jersey now has some of the toughest ethics and anti-corruption laws in the nation. The Garden State ranks first in the integrity probe for ethics enforcement, first for executive branch accountability and fourth for procurement practices.

 

Thanks for the link 123... NJ is a great place to live.

Smartest thing you've ever done on this forum and it was by accident. Lol

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Virginia gets F grade in 2012 State Integrity Investigation
Why Virginia ranked 47th of 50 states
By Laura LaFayauthor-byline-rss.png 12:01 am, March 19, 2012 Updated: 5:10 pm, November 2, 2015

A garden pavilion at Thomas Jefferson's estate, Monticello, in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Shutterstock

 

3
likes
2
tweets
Find your state's grade

What grade did my state get? Find it in the drop-down menu below.

Virginia lawmakers introduce thousands of bills each year and spend hours debating the finer points of how to punish students for not reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, whether motorcyclists should wear helmets and who should get the death penalty.

But when it comes to making and enforcing rules for themselves, the legislators are shrinking violets.

The Old Dominion is one of nine states with no statewide ethics commission, one of four states with no campaign finance limits and one of only two states (South Carolina is the other) where the part-time legislators handpick the judges before whom many of them practice law.

With 8.1 million residents, Virginia is the 12th most populous state in the union. But its part-time lawmakers have one of the shortest meeting schedules in the country — 30 days in odd-numbered years and 60 days in even-numbered years. At that speed, lobbyists of necessity have been elevated from influence peddlers to trusted advisors and authors of laws, according to some veteran observers of the legislative process.

ProgressVA, a liberal advocacy group, reported in January 2012 for example that an industry-funded group wrote more than 50 bills introduced in the Virginia legislature in recent years. The American Legislative Exchange Council, which is funded by Exxon Mobil, Wal-Mart Stores, Koch Industries, and other wealthy corporations, writes model legislation of interest to its funders that sympathetic lawmakers have introduced in many states. In Virginia, dozens of lawmakers are members of the group or have attended its legislative conferences at a cost to the state of more than $200,000 since 2001. Its drafts provided the basis for Virginia’s legal challenge to the Obama administration’s health care reforms, a bill requiring voters to show identification at the polls, and a bill prohibiting the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the ProgressVA report, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R.) has supported the introduction of at least three pieces of ALEC-written legislation. House Speaker William Howell was ALEC’s national chairman in 2009 and remains on ALEC’s “national leadership team.”

Virginia has long prided itself on ethical government, but the state’s lax oversight rules, weak consumer representation protections, dwindling capitol press corps and coziness between political and economic elites, have all combined to undermine the validity of that self-image. Meanwhile, the few ethics and disclosure requirements that do exist tend to be flawed, limited or fraught with exemptions and qualifications, according to state ethics experts.

Don't miss another investigation

Sign up for the Center for Public Integrity's Watchdog email and get the news you want from the Center when you want it.

Email address
State Integrity 2012
A data-driven analysis of transparency and accountability in all 50 state governments.
Stories in this series

And so Virginia ranks a low 47th out of 50 states, with a grade of F and a numerical score of 55 percent from the State Integrity Investigation, a collaborative project of the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity, and Public Radio International. Virginia scored above the median on its civil service management and state purchasing, but scored near the bottom on public access to information and on its ethics enforcement mechanisms.

As an example of its shortcomings, lawmakers have exempted a key institution, the State Corporation Commission — which regulates businesses, utilities, financial institutions, insurance, railroads — from Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act. The state’s 31,000 prison inmates also are forbidden to make requests under the Act.

When the Associated Press tested the effectiveness of the law in 2006 by sending reporters to each county to ask for public records, only 43 percent had success. The rest were told, variously, that the records would not be released or would cost thousands of dollars in fees.

Virginia also has a General Assembly Conflict of Interests Act, but only one legislator has ever been prosecuted for violating it — in 1986.

A positive self-image

Last summer, House Speaker Bill Howell was boastful about the state’s record when Phil Hamilton, a state delegate from Newport News and 21-year veteran of the General Assembly, was convicted of bribery and extortion in federal court. Hamilton was sentenced to nine years in prison for procuring funding for a teacher education center at Old Dominion University in exchange for a job as the center’s director.

“Neither ethical lapses nor public corruption are commonplace, let alone tolerated in Virginia,” Howell said, adding that the state has a longstanding “reputation for good government.”

Governor Bob McDonnell agreed. “Virginia has long been a state marked by honest, transparent and ethical governing by both parties. Today's judgment is a reminder that no one is above the law.”

But was it?

According to Virginia Division of Legislative Services lawyer Mary Spain, Hamilton was the only Virginia legislator in modern history to be charged with a federal crime in connection with his legislative duties. At Hamilton’s trial, prosecutors disclosed e-mails he sent to the university saying he needed at least $37,000 annually. “Of course,” Hamilton wrote in one message, “more is always appreciated.”

Three other lawmakers embroiled in earlier ethics investigations quit the legislature before their cases could be fully probed by one of two panels of legislators that are the state government’s sole entity policing the General Assembly’s conflict of interests law, passed in 1987.

John McGlennon, a professor of government at the College of William & Mary, says he knows what would have happened to Hamilton if federal authorities hadn’t indicted him. “The same thing that happened to everyone else: Nothing.”

“How they can take the case of the one guy who got caught and say it proves that no one does anything wrong is beyond me,” says McGlennon. ”Part of the reason we identify those states like Illinois and New Jersey as more corrupt is because they have more rules identifying corrupt behavior,” he says. “Here, instead of rules, we have this concept that suggests that people who hold political power …have a right to make a comfortable living even if part of that living is coming from their public office.”

No limits on campaign donations

While Virginia requires that all campaign donations over $100 be disclosed, it does not cap them. As a result, donors injected hundreds of thousands of dollars into last year’s state House and Senate races. By the time the dust cleared, 15 state senate campaigns had each spent more than $1 million, according to the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP), a non-partisan watchdog of money in politics. The biggest contributions came from coal companies, organized labor and beverage distributors.

VPAP’s data further show that of the $133 million in itemized contributions given to all candidates for state office and to state party and leadership committees between 2009 and 2011, 78 percent came from those who gave $1,000 or more. Thirty-nine percent came from those who gave $10,000 or more.

The state’s record of monitoring compliance with its disclosure requirements is not strong.

In 2004, for example, the State Board of Elections discovered through an internal audit that former Governor L. Douglas Wilder had not filed final disclosure reports for his 1989 gubernatorial election campaign and that about $169,000 had disappeared from his campaign account. Two Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorneys and one special prosecutor spent three years investigating the matter before Wilder’s son and one-time campaign treasurer, L. Douglas Wilder, Jr. pleaded guilty to two election law misdemeanors in 2007 – 18 years after his father’s election.

Wilder, Jr. was fined $1,000 and given a suspended one-year sentence. The fate of the money remains unknown.

Lobbyists in Virginia are required to register with the Secretary of the Commonwealth and to disclose the identities of their employers, how much money they make, how much time they spend lobbying and how much they spend to entertain lawmakers in excess of $50. But the forms are not audited, and the state gives lobbyists little substantive guidance when it comes to filling them out. As a result, there are marked differences in the quality and amount of information they supply.

In addition, experts point out, the definition of lobbying only covers direct contact with legislators or with the governor about the issue being lobbied. Contact with other lobbyists, with those who employ lobbyists, and with those at lobbying firms who conduct research, draft laws, or develop political strategies often goes unreported. Social events with legislators, other lobbyists and persons of influence can also go unreported.

“Changes to regulations [as opposed to laws]…are regularly the subject of lobbying efforts, but nobody reports those because the forms don’t ask about them,” said a lobbyist with decades of experience, who asked not to be named. “They just ask, ‘What did you lobby?’ So a lot of people just write, “Everything of interest to my client.’” For the same reason, he says, lobbyists do not use uniform ways of reporting what they are paid.

In a growing state with a part-time, short-staffed legislature and brief, increasingly frantic legislative sessions, observers say, lawmakers rely increasingly on lobbyists for information about the issues and for bill-writing services. And of course, they are representing the interests of private clients with enough wealth to hire them, not the public’s interest.

“Lobbyists play a big role here, and that’s a dilemma,” said Bob Holsworth, a political scientist and former dean at Virginia Commonwealth University who has served on many state advisory committees. “On one hand, lobbyists bring a lot of expertise. On the other hand, there are clearly some risks” because there are few regulations and laws governing their activities.

Even the smallest reforms come slowly in Virginia. Until recently, for example, legislators kept many of their key votes secret, choosing to either advance or indefinitely table bills in subcommittee meetings without keeping any public record of their positions. But in 2006, Democrats rebelled and tried to pass bills requiring the recording of subcommittee votes. They have yet to succeed. In 2009, however, after some Republicans finally broke ranks on the issue, the Speaker of the House relented, and now at least some subcommittee votes are recorded.

So far, says McGlennon, “It’s been very difficult to convince legislators of the value of transparency. Just convincing them of the importance of recording subcommittee votes has been difficult…. So don’t hold your breath” for further reform.

Correction: This story has been corrected to reflect that constitutional officers are subject to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

 

 

COKAINES USED CAR SALESMAN ACT AT THE DEBATE WAS APPALLING,COKAINE WAS ON SOMETHING.

 

 

THE ENLIGHTENED ,GOOD AND DECENT AMERICANS CAN CLEARLY SEE HOW CORRUPT THE CLINTONS AND OBAMA ADMINISTRATION IS. WE ARE NOT STUPID, WE DO NOT LET THE WOOL BE PULLED OVER OUR EYES AS DO THE COMPLETE AND IGNORANT LIBERAL VOTERS AND ESPECIALLY THE IGNORANT IMBECILES ON THIS FORUM.

 

THE FOOLISH IN HERE ARE CLUELESS TO THE DAMAGE THE PEOPLE THEY SUPPORT ARE DOING TO THEM AND TO US.

 

LIBERAL FOOLS AND TOOLS,THIS IS SERIOUS BUSINESS AND IT MEANS EVERYTHING TO THE YOUNG OF OUR NATION.

 

WHO AMONG US WANTS TO SEE OUR YOUNG GROW UP IN A DESTROYED NATION AND WORSE OFF THAN WE WERE?

 

WELL , SADLY IT IS THE LIBERAL MORONS BECAUSE THEY REFUSE TO EDUCATE THEMSELVES TO ANY DEGREE OF COMPETENCE.

 

THE AUTHOR OF THE LETTER BELOW UNDERSTANDS WHAT IT MEANS TO ALLOW THIS LAWLESS ADMINISTRATION TO CONTINUE ON WITH ITS CRIMES,HE UNDERSTANDS WHAT HAPPENS TO A CIVIL SOCIETY WHEN THE CRIMINALS ARE RUNNING THE SHOW.....

 

LIBERALS HAVE NO SHAME .....OR BRAINS...IT IS SICKENING.

 

I HOPE YOU LIBERALS ARE NOT TO STUPID TO UNDERSTAND WHAT THIS MAN IS SAYING, I WISH YOU WOULD UNDERSTAND,IT IS NOT A DEMOCRAT OR REPUBLICAN THING.IT IS A MORAL OR IMMORAL THING....I HAVE DOUBT YOU LIBERALS ARE SMART ENOUGH TO EVEN READ IT.

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 25, 2016

A Retired FBI Agent Addresses James Comey on the Hillary Clinton Investigation

Mr. James Comey, Director

Federal Bureau of Investigation

J. Edgar Hoover Building

935 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W

Washington, D.C. 20535-0001

Sir,

I am writing regarding your public statement in July, 2016 informing the American people that the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton was being closed without referring it to a Federal Grand Jury or the Attorney General of the U. S. for a decision whether or not to indict her. Strangely, you eloquently laid out enough of the evidence deduced from the investigation to strongly indicate there was abundant evidence uncovered during the investigation and interview of her to not only indict but to convict her in Federal Court.­­­­­­­ ­­­­­­However, you personally re-worded and soft-pedaled the actions she took as Secretary of State describing her actions as "extremely careless” in using a personal email and un-secured server for her communications while Secretary of State. You rewrote the statute, which is not your job.

As a retired Special Agent of the FBI, I have standing to write this letter. My thirty years in law enforcement, including 22 years as a Special Agent with the FBI have given me the knowledge, expertise and experience to question and confront you for your perplexing actions, which (as you well know) were outside the normal standard operating procedure of the FBI and Federal judicial procedures. Some of the finest people in the world proudly carry the credentials of FBI Agent and you have soiled them and not allowed them to speak. But I will not be silent.

Sorry, but NO SIR, MS Clinton was not merely careless or extremely careless. She was not even negligent or grossly negligent (as the statute requires). Hillary Clinton was knowingly purposeful in her decisions and actions to set up a server under her exclusive control and possession in order to control what information was available to the American public and Congress regarding her actions as Secretary of State. Furthermore, she took those government owned communications into her personal possession after leaving her position and knowingly and willingly attempted to destroy them so her nefarious actions could never be known or used as evidence of her corrupt moral character against her.

Sir, what possessed you? Did you cave in to political pressure to unilaterally come to this decision? I fear that is the case, and Rule of Law be damned. I am embarrassed for and ashamed of you. You have set a precedent that can never be rectified… and certainly not justified. Shame on you, Sir. You ought to resign right now in disgrace for what you have done to tarnish the reputation of the finest Law Enforcement Agency in the world… for entirely political reasons.

Normally, an investigation will be assigned to an agent, or team of agents with one being the Case agent, or the lead investigator. When the investigation is complete, an investigative report will be presented to the U.S. Attorney for the Federal District involved. It would be the U.S. Attorney who decides whether to decline prosecution for that investigation... NOT the FBI agent. But in the Clinton investigation, YOU (unilaterally) decided not to forward the investigation to the U.S. Attorney or the Attorney General of the U.S., but instead personally made the decision not to prosecute her or even provide the information to a Federal Grand Jury. You were wrong to take this upon yourself.

Sir, in order to indict a subject, only a preponderance of evidence, or 51% is needed for probable cause to exist. You did not think even that level of probability existed? Who do you think you are fooling? What judicial proceeding did you think you were following?

Throughout my years with the FBI, I (along with my fellow agents) took great pride in conducting each investigation in an unbiased manner regardless of the subject’s position or standing in the community.

All were treated equally under the law. But you, Sir, decided to allow this corrupt, evil and nasty human being to go free and unchallenged for her treasonous actions (yes, treasonous, in my opinion) which threatened the security of this nation. Furthermore, you stopped short of investigating the Clinton Foundation as a RICO case (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization. This is a RICO case if

there ever were one. Even an untrained person can tell from the communications which were recovered that Hillary Clinton spent more time working for the Clinton Foundation while Secretary of State than on State Business. It may be argued that Hillary did not do any State business UNLESS the Clinton Foundation benefitted. You decided to just let this uncomfortable truth alone without addressing it.

I will conclude with this: Following my retirement from the FBI, I volunteered for a 12 month tour of duty in Afghanistan as a Law Enforcement Professional, embedded with U.S. forces as a subject matter expert in counter-terrorism investigations. For most of that year I operated “outside the wire” patrolling with the troops, interviewing witnesses to IED incidents and gathering evidence on the bad guys. The results of my work would then be reported through secure channels to the Commanding Officer. All reports and communications were required to be transmitted via secure and encrypted devices. Occasionally my remote location in the mountains of Afghanistan made transmission impossible and I would have to fly back to Bagram Air Base in order to securely report to the Commander of the battle space. It would have been convenient if I could have just called the Commander on my personal cell phone or written him an email on my personal laptop. But, had I done so I would have been reporting classified information via an unsecured device and it could have been compromised. These were, relative to Secretary of State communications, low level classifications of Secret. Had I ever sent even one in such a manner I would have been prosecuted and sent to Federal Prison for 20 years or so. That is how serious this violation is considered.

Now, because of you, Hillary Clinton is allowed to continue her RICO activities and is running for President of the United States, the most powerful position in the world. You have trampled on the Rule of Law and destroyed the trust of the American people in the FBI and in unbiased enforcement of the law. How do you sleep at night? It is time for you to go and work for the Clinton Foundation.

Sincerely,

Hugh W. Galyean

(FBI Agent, Retired)

THIS IS WHAT THE CLINTONS AND OBAMA ADMINISTRATION HAS RUINED,TRUST FROM THE AMERICAN PEOPLE.......JUST SO SAD.

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