Monday, April 27, 2015

Wisconsin’s Shame: Rogue DA Breaks His Silence; Threatens Critics with Prosecution

National Review ^ | 4/26/15 | David French 

If a prosecutor wants to assure the public he’s not out of control, perhaps he shouldn’t suggest that critics could be prosecuted. On Saturday, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker commented on Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm’s use of armed, pre-dawned raids against conservative targets of his extraordinarily expansive “John Doe” investigations:

“I said even if you’re a liberal Democrat, you should look at (the raids) and be frightened to think that if the government can do that against people of one political persuasion, they can do it against anybody, and more often than not we need protection against the government itself,” Walker told the radio station.

“As [National Review] pointed out, there were real questions about the constitutionality of much of what they did, but it was really about people trying to intimidate people…” Walker said.

“They were looking for just about anything. As I pointed out at the time, it was largely a political witch hunt.”

As public criticism goes, this statement is mild — especially when the criticized conduct included officers swarming into homes, taunting, yelling, denying access to lawyers, barging into sleeping kids’ rooms, threatening to batter down doors, and then demanding silence from the victims. And keep in mind that not one of the women who came forward to describe these raids has ever been charged with any crimes (#WarOnWomen?) In fact, Walker’s critique is milder even than Heather Digby Parton’s at the very left Salon. She called the raids “intimidation, pure and simple.”

But Walker’s comment was apparently too much for Chisholm, who broke his own (official) silence about the John Doe investigations with this remarkable statement:

“As to defamatory remarks, I strongly suspect the Iowa criminal code, like Wisconsin’s, has provisions for intentionally making false statements intended to harm the reputation of others,” Chisholm said in a statement Saturday responding to Walker’s comments.

Francis Schmitz — a “self-described” Republican who acted as a special prosecutor in the second John Doe investigation said this:

“His description of the investigation as a ‘political witch hunt’ is offensive when he knows that the investigation was authorized by a bipartisan group of judges and is directed by a Republican special prosecutor appointed at the request of a bipartisan group of district attorneys,” Schmitz’s statement said.

He called Walker’s comments inaccurate but didn’t detail why.

“I invite the governor to join me in seeking judicial approval to lawfully release information now under seal which would be responsive to the allegations that have been made,” his statement said. “Such information, when lawfully released, will show that these recent allegations are patently false.” (Emphasis added.)

Considering it was the prosecution that launched years-long secret investigations and then placed gag orders — on pain of criminal punishment — on the targets, Schmitz’s call to “release information” is almost comical. Chisholm’s response, however, is especially revealing. The excesses of the John Doe investigations raise concerns that Wisconsin prosecutors are trying to criminalize political speech, and in response the lead prosecutor . . . threatens to criminalize political speech. As my friend Ken White at Popehat tweeted:

Exactly so. Yet if Chisholm thinks threats can deter future comment or further investigation of his actions and motivations, he’s sadly mistaken.

Clinton Foundation Put On Charity ‘Watch List’ Along With Al Sharpton’s Shady Nonprofit

Daily Caller ^ | 4/26/15 | Chuck Ross 

The Clinton Foundation has joined Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network on a list of naughty nonprofits maintained by Charity Navigator, a prominent charity monitor.
The Clinton Foundation was put on Charity Navigator’s “watch list” last month, The New York Post reported on Sunday.
The foundation has come under intense scrutiny of late amid revelations it received millions of dollars in donations from foreign governments while Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state. Money also flowed to the foundation from companies and businessmen who benefited from their relationship to the Clintons.
Furthermore, analysis of the foundation’s tax forms showed it spends a relatively small percentage of its income on charitable activity.
Charity Navigator created a watch list last year to include any charity that does not “meet our criteria.” Organizations are placed on the list when Charity Navigator becomes “aware of conduct that may affect a donor’s decision to support that charity.”
Of the Clinton Foundation, Charity Navigator wrote: “We had previously evaluated this organization, but have since determined that this charity’s atypical business model can not be accurately captured in our current rating methodology,” while noting “our removal of The Clinton Foundation from our site is neither a condemnation nor an endorsement of this charity.”
Charity Navigator’s list includes 23 organizations in total. Besides the Clinton Foundation and Sharpton’s National Action Network, other high-profile organizations on the list include the Red Cross and the Sierra Club.
National Action Network’s listing is due to the organization’s failure to pay payroll taxes for its employees. The New York Times reported in November that Sharpton and his group have a total of $4.5 million in pending state and federal tax liens.
The Red Cross is included on the watch list based on reports that it spends too little of its revenue on programs to further its mission. The Sierra Club is on the list because it allegedly failed to get permission to publish the names of several businesses in North Carolina used in a report about Duke Energy.
In its justification for placing the Clinton Foundation on its watch list, Charity Navigator cited numerous recent articles concerning donations from foreign governments.
It cited a Feb. 19, Wall Street Journal report claiming “at least 60 companies that lobbied the State Department during [Hillary Clinton’s] tenure donated a total of more than $26 million to the Clinton Foundation.”
Charity Navigator also noted that on Feb. 26, Politico reported the Clinton Foundation failed to inform the State Department of a $500,000 donation it received from the Algerian government.
The foundation has received numerous donations from foreign governments, including many in the Middle East. The governments of Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have sent millions to the charity.
While Charity Navigator focused only on the Clinton Foundation’s donors, it could plausibly add the organization’s low payout rate to its watch list rationale.
Last month, the website The Federalist looked at the Clinton Foundation’s IRS filings for the period between 2008 and 2012. According to its analysis, only 15 percent of the $500 million raised during that span when towards grants for other organizations.
Nearly $110 million was paid out in the form of salaries and benefits while $25 million went towards travel expenses. Almost 60 percent of the organization’s disclosed revenue — or $290 million — was listed under the category of “other expenses.”
That pattern continued into 2013, The Post notes. Of the $140 million in money the Clinton Foundation received in 2013, only $9 million was given out as charity to other groups.
In general, groups that monitor charities’ activities say a good charity spends at least 75 percent of its income on causes related to its core mission.
The Clintons’ operation of their family charity has raised questions about transparency, potential conflicts of interest and of — as Mitt Romney characterized it earlier this week — possible bribery.
One government watchdog appeared to agree with the latter observation.
“It seems like the Clinton Foundation operates as a slush fund for the Clintons,” Bill Allison, a senior fellow at the government watchdog Sunlight Foundation, told The Post.
On Sunday, the Clinton Foundation released a statement admitting “we made mistakes.” The Foundation said earlier this week that it plans to refile several years of tax returns because it failed to disclose all of its donations.
According to Charity Navigator, it monitors groups for six months until it determines issues identified by the watch list are resolved.


Breitbart Big Government ^ | 26 Apr 2015 | Breitbart News 

The acting chief executive of the Clinton Foundation is acknowledging the global philanthropy made mistakes in how it disclosed its donors.
In a blog posting Sunday, Maura Pally defended the foundation’s work and reaffirmed its commitment to transparency. Pally’s statement comes amid growing scrutiny of the foundation as Hillary Rodham Clinton embarks on her presidential campaign.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Are Democratic Insiders Starting to Panic about Hillary?

National Review ^ | 4/26/15 | John Fund 

Washington, D.C. — The annual White House Correspondent’s Dinner is indeed — as President Obama put it last night — “where Washington celebrates itself.” Little real news is ever made, but Beltway media, politicians, and consultants attend in such large numbers that you can get a sense of the current conventional wisdom.

Cecily Strong, the Saturday Night Live comic who followed President Obama on the podium, was so blatantly in Hillary’s corner that it was jarring. But what was striking about last night’s dinner was that many people have come to the conclusion that Hillary Clinton’s campaign is in deep trouble and she is no longer as inevitable as people once thought. Working reporters who cover her and other Democratic politicians wouldn’t go on the record, but you heard the same thing from several of them:

“It’s not that she’s too old — she just can’t relate to younger generations.”

“A couple more scandals, and you’ll wonder if they will start to define her campaign.”

“Younger women know a female will become president in their lifetime; many of them don’t think it has to be or even should be Hillary.”

“How can she possibly distance herself from the Obama administration she served for four years, but whose policies increasingly alienate independent voters she needs?”

That last comment goes to the heart of her problem with Democratic insiders. Publicly, they praise Hillary as a candidate of exceptional experience in government and one who is likely to harvest bushels of votes from people eager to elect the first female president. Privately, they fret about a recent Quinnipiac poll in which 54 percent of Americans say Clinton is not honest or trustworthy. Among independents, that number hits 61 percent. “Candidates distrusted by that many people can win the White House, but it leaves no margin for error or another big scandal,” one Democratic former officeholder admitted to me.

54 percent of Americans say Clinton is not honest or trustworthy.

That’s why so many Democrats hope Hillary Clinton will be challenged by a more formidable rival than the former governors or senators who are currently lining up to oppose her: Martin O’Malley, Lincoln Chafee, and Jim Webb. Senator Elizabeth Warren, an economic populist to the left of Hillary, has steadfastly declined to run for president. But each new scandal or Hillary campaign stumble could fuel the pressure for her to enter the race. Most Democratic strategists believe that only a woman could seize the nomination from Mrs. Clinton, given Hillary’s name ID and campaign war chest. In 2008, Barack Obama would have had no hope against Hillary, despite his formidable campaign skills, if he hadn’t also had a history-making card to play as the first African-American man with a realistic chance of becoming president.

What Democrats really worry about is that no one will beat the Clinton Machine for the Democratic nomination — it will survive and go on to become an inviting target for Republicans in the general-election battle.

Focus groups and polls show that voters are most interested in finding candidates they judge as authentic — leaders who don’t play the normal political games. For Hillary Clinton, that represents a challenge. Her campaign is emphasizing her desire to help “everyday” people, while at the same time the press is starting to reveal the Clinton Foundation as a lucrative slush fund for the Clintons and their friends. In some years, the foundation spends $500 million, but overhead, salaries, travel, and undisclosed “other” expenses eat up a huge chunk of that, leaving perhaps 15 percent for actual charitable work.

Investigative journalist Peter Schweizer, whose book Clinton Cash is due for release on May 5, as well as Pulitzer Prize–winning Jo Becker and and Mike McIntire of the New York Times, have raised new questions. Their research points to a disturbing pattern of foreign contributions and enormous speaking fees for Bill Clinton that appear to be timed to coincide with preferential actions the State Department took while Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state.

Hillary Clinton has dismissed the reporting as “distractions and attacks.” But she did find time last week to suddenly call for a truce in what she sees as an increasingly hostile political climate. “I am tired of the mean-spiritedness in politics,” she told voters in Claremont, N.H. “Enough with the attacks and the anger, let’s find answers together and figure out what we’re going to do.”

Hillary Clinton could, of course, put all the concerns about her family foundation and its seedy dealings to rest if she were to release all the e-mails concerning the foundation that were in her private e-mail account — the one she used, in violation of explicit government rules, to conduct government business. But she has already announced that the e-mails she viewed as “private” have been deleted and her server scrubbed. She has yet to answer questions about whether e-mails that concerned the Clinton Foundation during her tenure at the State Department were “private,” in her estimation. Because they are now gone, we will probably never know.

Democrats privately believe that the Clintons can recover from the e-mail and foundation scandals because it’s unlikely reporters will ever find a “smoking gun” that explicitly links foreign donations with public actions. But Democrats also know that other scandals may soon be unearthed. And if they do, not only will Hillary Clinton prove unable to establish herself as an “authentic” candidate, she also will establish herself as a pro at conducting an “authentic” cover-up.

George W. Bush Opens Up About 2016 Race [Finally Criticizes Obama]

NY Times ^ | 4/26/15 

...President George W. Bush offered rare, and broad-ranging, remarks Saturday night about current national security threats and the 2016 presidential campaign to a large audience of Jewish donors, suggesting that sanctions on Iran should not be lifted...
...He said he was skeptical about lifting sanctions against Iran at a time when its government seemed to be caving in, attendees said, and regretted the leverage the United States would lose as a result of lifting the sanctions. He questioned whether the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, under whom the current framework for a deal has been discussed, represents a new policy or a “new spokesman” for the old regime...
...Several attendees sensed a tacit critique of Mr. Obama and his failure to follow through on his threats to use force when Mr. Bush said “you gotta mean it” when talking tough, and that America’s allies and enemies needed to know where an American leader stood. He also discussed his own approach in Iraq, saying he changed course when it was warranted.
“You call in the military and say, ‘Here’s my goal. What’s your plan to help me achieve that goal?'” attendees quoted him as saying. He added that when asked what had to be done with terrorists bent on America’s destruction, the answer was “well, you kill ‘em,” several attendees recalled.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Ted Cruz gets specific on 'abolishing the IRS'

The Washington Examiner ^ | April 27, 2015 | David M. Drucker 

Sen. Ted Cruz has been gunning to abolish the Internal Revenue Service since coming to Washington two years ago.
To critics, it sounds like bluster. The fiery rhetoric garners hearty applause from conservative audiences, particularly since revelations in 2013 that the IRS targeted Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny. But some federal agency is going to have to collect taxes, so Cruz's vow to shutter the IRS smacks of a politically motivated campaign promise rather than serious policy — at least to some.
In an interview with the Washington Examiner on Friday, the 2016 presidential candidate began to put some meat on the bones. Cruz, 44, explained how "abolishing the IRS" fits into his proposal, still being crafted by his team of economic advisors, for wholesale tax reform. This proposal, which Cruz plans to unveil later this year, is a key plank in his domestic agenda for economic growth that he would pursue as president.
In its purest form, a "flat tax" treats all taxpayers equally. Income is taxed at the same rate regardless of earnings or wealth, while allowing for no tax deductions or exemptions.
"We will roll it out with precise details in the coming weeks or months," he said. "There are trade-offs to be had and we're right now internally having those debates. But Cruz said his flat tax proposal might allow some deductions, possibly for charitable donations and mortgage interest charged on a primary residence.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...



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