Friday, March 31, 2017

A Chicago Lending Connection to Paul Manafort

 

Paul Manafort Received Loans From Another Former Trump Adviser's Bank

 

03/29/2017 | 05:45am EDT

By Michael Rothfeld 

Paul Manafort, the onetime campaign chairman for President Donald Trump who did lucrative consulting for Ukrainian tycoons, faced foreclosure on several real-estate investments but received a $16 million lifeline through another former Trump adviser, real estate and court records show.

Mr. Manafort was at risk of losing both his Brooklyn, N.Y., townhouse and his family's investments in California properties being developed by his son-in-law, the records show.

But in November and January, Mr. Manafort and his wife received as much as $16 million in loans from the Federal Savings Bank, a small bank in Chicago run by Steve Calk. The loans equaled almost 24% of the bank's reported $67 million of equity capital.

Mr. Calk was a member of Mr. Trump's Economic Advisory panel who overlapped with Mr. Manafort on the Trump campaign. Messrs. Manafort and Calk knew each other before the campaign, a person familiar with the relationship said.

A foreclosure proceeding on the Brooklyn house was withdrawn in January. Mr. Manafort also planned to put more money into the California investments to salvage them, bankruptcy-court filings show.

In an interview, Mr. Calk said the loans to Mr. Manafort were "absolutely not" related to his role in the campaign. He said the loans were "grossly overcollateralized," with multiple properties securing them.

The loans show how Mr. Manafort, who resigned under pressure from the Trump campaign in August over his activities in Ukraine, continued to tap connections from Mr. Trump's circle.

Mr. Manafort, a political consultant and investor, declined to be interviewed. In a statement, he said he had borrowed at 7.25% interest on the Brooklyn property, a higher-than-market rate, in what he called a "straightforward" transaction.

Mr. Manafort said those loans were based on the estimated value of the Brooklyn house after a renovation, work that stalled last year amid the financial problems. He said he hoped to complete the construction within a year.

The statement said the loans "all reflect arm's-length transactions."

Around the time Mr. Manafort was dealing with Mr. Calk's bank, he was telling associates of plans for potential private equity deals with Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a wealthy real-estate investor who backed Mr. Trump, The Wall Street Journal has reported. Mr. Barrack, a Trump adviser who was his inaugural committee chairman, has said through a spokesman he has no business relationship with Mr. Manafort and none planned.

In 2004, Mr. Barrack -- a longtime friend of Mr. Manafort who suggested he join the Trump campaign early last year -- gave Mr. Manafort's wife a $1.8 million private loan secured by real estate, according to mortgage records filed in Suffolk County, N.Y. The loan was settled two years later, the records show.

Since the mid-2000s, around the time Mr. Manafort started working as a political adviser to wealthy pro-Russia politicians in the Ukrainian Party of Regions, he and immediate family members bought at least six properties in New York, Florida and Virginia for more than $16 million, property records show.

Mr. Manafort's recent financial problems relate to loans taken out to support the development projects of his son-in-law, Jeffrey Yohai.

Mr. Yohai began borrowing two years ago from Genesis Capital, a California lender, to flip high-end properties in Los Angeles, according to promotional material for the properties, loan records and bankruptcy-court filings. Mr. Manafort, his wife and daughter put about $4.2 million into those projects, bankruptcy-court records show.

Genesis declined to comment. Mr. Yohai couldn't be reached. Mr. Manafort's spokesman said his wife and daughter declined to comment.

Early last year, Genesis lent $4.4 million secured by Mr. Manafort's Brooklyn townhouse, according to court records. Those proceeds supported Mr. Yohai's projects, according to Matthew Browndorf, a lawyer and investor working with Mr. Manafort.

The New York and California loans went into default last year as Mr. Yohai ran short of cash, said people familiar with the transactions.

Genesis started foreclosure proceedings in Brooklyn in September, New York state court records show. In California, Mr. Yohai filed for corporate bankruptcy in December as Genesis was moving to foreclose on those properties as well, court filings show.

As financial troubles mounted, Mr. Manafort turned to Mr. Calk's bank, Federal Savings. In late November, he and his wife borrowed $9.5 million from the bank, with two other homes they own and $630,000 in a bank account to be used as collateral, property records in Virginia and New York show.

On Jan. 17, the Chicago bank agreed to loan them up to $6.5 million more, which records show was secured by the Brooklyn property and $2.5 million in cash the couple agreed to deposit into an account. The next day, Jan. 18, Genesis agreed to withdraw the foreclosure action in Brooklyn, according to court records.

Mark Williams, a Boston University professor and former Federal Reserve bank examiner, said the request for the loan on the Brooklyn house should have raised red flags at Federal Savings Bank.

He said the default and foreclosure proceedings on the house demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to repay the loan. Lending almost 24% of the bank's reported equity capital to one borrower was risky for the institution, said Mr. Williams, who has publicly criticized Mr. Trump's economic policies.

Mr. Calk said the loans to Mr. Manafort were an insignificant part of his bank's lending business.

When debris at the Brooklyn site drew complaints recently, two lawyers living in Brooklyn, Julian Russo and Matthew Termine, dug into Mr. Manafort's real-estate transactions and discovered the loans from Mr. Calk's bank. They posted their findings on a website, 377union.com, named for the property's address.

--Jim Oberman and Peter Nicholas contributed to this article.

Above is fromhttp://www.4-traders.com/news/Paul-Manafort-Received-Loans-From-Another-Former-Trump-Adviser-s-Bank--24122618/

Alabama Governor appears to be resigning rather than face impeachment

 

Until this January Jeff Sessions(Trump Administration’s Attorney General)  was the Attorney General of Alabama and was handling part of this investigation.

Alabama representative says Gov. Robert Bentley will resign mid-April

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Posted on March 20, 2017 at 10:53 AM

By Leada Gore

lgore@al.com

In this Tuesday, March 22, 2011 photo, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley talks with students at the Alabama Capitol. At right, is Rebekah Mason, Bentley's former communications director and political advisor. In this Tuesday, March 22, 2011 photo, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley talks with students at the Alabama Capitol. At right, is Rebekah Mason, Bentley's former communications director and political advisor. ((AP Photo/Dave Martin, File))

The lawmaker who initiated the move to impeach Robert Bentley said he believes Alabama's governor will soon step down.

In an interview with WTVY, Rep. Ed Henry, R-Hartselle, said if the House moves on Articles of Impeachment, Bentley would be suspended pending the outcome of a Senate trial. To avoid impeachment, Henry added, Bentley would likely resign no later than next month.

"From what I'm hearing I would expect by mid-April that the governor either will have resigned or the impeachment committee will be moving at a very rapid pace," Henry said.

ALABAMA CONSTITUTION: Read what happens if a Governor is impeached

If Bentley steps down, Henry added, he expects the Alabama Ethics Commission to pursue criminal charges against the governor for the alleged misuse of state property in connection to his relationship with former adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason.

Henry did not respond to AL.com's request for comment.

Bentley denies he misused state property and while he admitted making inappropriate comments to Mason, who is married, he denies a sexual affair. Last week, Bentley's office responded to rumors the governor would resign.

"Gov. Bentley takes very seriously his call to serve as Alabama's 53rd Governor, and considers it the greatest honor of his life. He has plans only to continue to serve the people of this state, and as he stated so clearly in his 2017 State of the State address, to "finish the race," spokesperson Yasamie August said in a statement to AL.com.

Bentley is believed to be the target of several investigations, including inquiries by the Attorney General's Office and the House Judiciary Committee and is the subject of several Ethics Complaints.

Earlier this month, the House Judiciary Committee met to address what is described a "procedural question" related to a possible Bentley impeachment. It was the first action by the committee since its work was placed on hold late last year when then-Attorney General, now U.S. Senator, Luther Strange, said his office was conducing "related work."

Committee Chairman Mike Jones said he expects the investigation to be concluded by late May.

Above is from:  http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2017/03/gov_robert_bentley_will_resign.html

 

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Robert Julian Bentley (born February 3, 1943) is an American politician and medical doctor who is the 53rd and current Governor of Alabama.[1][2] A member of the Republican Party, Bentley was elected Governor in 2010 and reelected in 2014, having been sworn in as Governor once again on January 19, 2015. His term is set to end by January 2019.

Born in Columbiana, Alabama, Bentley served in the United States Air Force as general medical officer at Pope Air Force Base in Fayetteville, North Carolina from 1969 to 1975, leaving with the rank of a Captain. He earned his M.D. from the University of Alabama School of Medicine before entering private practice and opening a series of dermatology clinics throughout the southern United States.

Bentley was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2002 and served a total of two four-year terms from 2003 to 2010. After term-limited Governor Bob Riley could not seek reelection, Bentley announced his intentions to run for the Republican nomination for Governor. Bentley won in a seven candidate primary and faced Democrat Ron Sparks, the outgoing Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture, in the general election.[3] Bentley received just over 58% of the statewide vote and won by a margin of over 230,000 votes—the largest margin recorded for a Republican in an open-seat race in Alabama history.[4] In 2014, Bentley won re-election, winning the largest percentage of the vote that any Republican gubernatorial candidate had received in modern Alabama history, 63.6%.

On April 5, 2016, Republican State Representative Ed Henry filed an impeachment resolution against Bentley in the State Legislature, in connection with allegations that Bentley engaged in an extramarital affair with a female political adviser.[5] Bentley has admitted to making inappropriate remarks toward the woman, but denied having a physical affair.[6] On July 7, 2016, the House Judiciary Committee named attorney Jackson Sharman of Lightfoot Franklin White LLC as special counsel to lead the investigation into the impeachment charges against the governor.[7]

 

Early life, education, and Air Force service

Bentley is a native of Columbiana, Alabama, in Shelby County. His parents, Mattie Boyd (née Vick) and David Harford Bentley, did not complete school past junior high. Bentley's father was a sawmill worker who voted with the Populist Republicans, a splinter branch of the Republican Party formed by refugees of the state's defunct populist movement.[8] At one point, Bentley lived in a house with no electricity or running water.[8]

Bentley grew up in Columbiana, where he was a member of Shelby County High School's 1961 state championship debate team, and he became student body president in his senior year of high school.[9]

After graduating from Shelby County High School at the top of his class, Bentley enrolled at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. While at Alabama, Bentley majored in Chemistry and Biology and graduated with his Bachelor of Science degree in three years.[9]

From an early age, Robert Bentley wanted to become a physician. After graduating from UA, he began his studies at The University of Alabama School of Medicine. During his first year of medical school, he met Martha Dianne Jones of Montgomery. They were married on July 24, 1965. He graduated with his M.D. in 1968 and began his one-year internship at Carraway Methodist Hospital in Birmingham.[10]

Bentley joined the United States Air Force in 1969 as a captain. He served as a general medical officer at Pope Air Force Base in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He served as an interim hospital commander for 90 days near the end of his tenure.

Dermatologist career

Following his military service, Bentley began a three-year residency at the University of Alabama in dermatology. He then opened his dermatology practice in Tuscaloosa. He founded a number of small businesses, the most successful of which is Alabama Dermatology Associates. As President of Alabama Dermatology Associates, Bentley managed the practice’s growth into one of the largest dermatology practices in the Southeastern United States.[10] Bentley is a board certified dermatologist, and he served two terms as President of the Alabama Dermatology Society. He has also been named to "Best Doctors in America," selected by his peers.[9] Bentley is a member of the American Academy of Dermatology and the Medical Association of Alabama.

Alabama House of Representatives

Elections

In 1998, Bentley ran for the Alabama State Senate as a Republican against incumbent Democrat Phil Poole, losing by fifty-eight votes.[11]

In 2002 Bentley was elected to the Alabama State House of Representatives from Tuscaloosa County with almost 65% of the vote.[10] In 2006 Bentley ran unopposed for re-election to the State House.

Tenure

In the Alabama House of Representatives, Bentley made it a priority to train primary care health care providers and to increase organ donation. He is responsible for two major revisions of Alabama’s organ donor laws: one specific to corneas and the other reinforcing the rights of organ donors by making it difficult to challenge their decisions.[10]

Bentley helped establish the Alabama Medical Educational Consortium. His efforts included work on legislation to expand scholarships for medical training. Questions were raised by Sparks camp during the gubernatorial campaign as to whether Bentley's son, while in medical school, benefited from his father's involvement with the consortium.[12]

Bentley is opposed to increasing taxes. He has signed the No New Taxes Pledge by the Americans for Tax Reform.[13]

In April 2010, Bentley's self-drafted Reemployment Act of 2010 won unanimous approval in both houses of the Alabama State Legislature, and was signed by Governor Bob Riley on April 22.[14]

In 2008, Bentley was elected as a Republican Presidential Delegate for Mike Huckabee. At the Republican National Convention he represented Alabama on the Republican Platform Committee.[9][10] For the United States presidential election in 2016 Bentley endorsed fellow Republican John Kasich.[15]

Committee assignments

During his time in Montgomery he served on the Education Appropriations Committee, the Boards and Commissions Committee, the Agriculture and Forestry Committee, and was a member of the Tuscaloosa County Legislative Delegation. He also served as the Vice-Chairman of the Internal Affairs Committee.[16]

Governor of Alabama

2010 gubernatorial election

See also: Alabama gubernatorial election, 2010

In the June 1, 2010 primary race, Bentley surprised political analysts by finishing second ahead of Tim James to reach a runoff election with Bradley Byrne.[17] One of James' supporters, former U.S. Representative Sonny Callahan, endorsed Bentley in the runoff.[18]

In the July 13 run-off election, Bentley defeated Byrne by a 56%-44% margin to claim the Republican nomination for Governor.[19]

Bentley has stated he does not approve of gambling in the State of Alabama, but supports a referendum for its citizens to vote on whether to approve its legality.[20]

2014 gubernatorial election

See also: Alabama gubernatorial election, 2014

In the general election held on November 4, 2014, Bentley won re-election easily against Democratic candidate Parker Griffith, gathering almost twice the votes of his rival at 63% to 36%. In 2014, Bentley won the largest percentage of the vote that any Republican gubernatorial candidate had received in modern Alabama history.[21]

Tenure

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This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (February 2015)

An analysis of Republican governors by Nate Silver of the New York Times in April 2013 ranked Bentley as the 16th most conservative governor in the country.[22]

Job creation

Bentley promised the people of Alabama that he would not accept a salary until the state unemployment level reached 5.2%. As of January 2015, Bentley has not accepted a gubernatorial salary.[23][24]

In a June 2013 analysis by The Business Journal looking at 45 of the country's 50 governors by their job creation record, Bentley was ranked at number 36 (tied). The five governors omitted from the analysis all assumed office in 2013. The ranking was based on a comparison of the annual private sector growth rate in all 50 states using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.[25] According to his official website, in Bentley's first three years in office, Alabama gained nearly 60,000 jobs, and in addition, Governor Bentley had recruited over 55,000 new, future jobs.[24]

Illegal immigration

See also: Alabama HB 56

In June 2011, Bentley signed into law Alabama HB 56, an anti-illegal immigration law which was considered to be the toughest of such in the United States.[26][27]

On July 22, 2014, Bentley, along with several other Republican governors, sent a letter to President Barack Obama, expressing their concern about the handling of the 2014 border crisis.[28]

Allegations of ethics violations

On March 22, 2016, Bentley fired Alabama Law Enforcement Agency secretary Spencer Collier, citing misuse of state funds under Collier.[29] An independent state audit found no issues with the agency.[30] Following his firing, Collier alleged that Bentley had engaged in an extramarital affair with his senior political adviser, Rebekah Caldwell Mason. Collier stated in a press conference the following day that he had seen sexually-charged texts between Bentley and Mason and heard audio recordings of conversations between the two.[31] On March 23, AL.com released an audio recording purportedly created by the Bentley family in order to determine whether Gov. Bentley was engaged in an inappropriate relationship. In the recording, Bentley stated to a woman he called "Rebekah" that he "worr[ied] about loving you so much" and that "[w]hen I stand behind you, and I put my arms around you, and I put my hands on your breasts [...] and just pull you real close. I love that, too." At a press conference that day, Bentley apologized for the comments but denied having an affair and stated that his relationship with Mason had not been sexual.[32] Bentley admitted that he had made a mistake by saying "inappropriate things" to Mason, and apologized to Mason and her family and to the people of Alabama.[6]

Jim Zeigler, the State Auditor of Alabama, filed an ethics complaint against Bentley for allegedly using state property in the course of his relationship with Mason.[33] State Representative David Standridge and Alabama Republican Party committee member Terry L. Dunn have called on Bentley to resign.[34][35]

On March 30, Mason resigned, stating she would no longer serve as the governor's senior political adviser, and would no longer be paid by his campaign fund.[36] The same day, State Representative Ed Henry said that he would file a resolution calling for Bentley's impeachment.[37][38] On April 5, 2016, Henry announced that he had filed an impeachment resolution against Bentley.[5] At the time of Henry's announcement, it was reported that the resolution would be referred to the legislature's House Rules Committee for review and further action.[5]

At the time the impeachment resolution was filed against Bentley, the Alabama Constitution authorized impeachment proceedings against the governor, but the state legislature had no impeachment procedures in place. On April 26, 2016, the state House of Representatives adopted a rule setting up impeachment procedures; the rule requires the signatures of at least 21 legislators to start impeachment proceedings in the legislature's House Judiciary Committee.[39] While Rep. Ed Henry originally had 10 co-sponsors for his impeachment resolution, on April 28 he announced that he had obtained a total of 23 signatures on his impeachment resolution, which was sufficient to file impeachment articles under the new procedures.[40] As of January 2017, the House Judiciary Committee have yet to start impeachment hearings.[41] On March 20th, 2017, Rep. Ed Henry announced that the resignation of Bentley is likely to happen by mid-April. "From what I'm hearing I would expect by mid-April that the governor either will have resigned or the impeachment committee will be moving at a very rapid pace," Henry said. Henry also suggested that the Ethics Commission may pursue criminal charges if Bentley does in fact resign or is impeached. [42]

Personal life

Bentley and his former wife Dianne have four sons and six granddaughters (Anna Claire, Mary Boyd, Katie, Taylor, Caroline, and Avery Blair) and one grandson named Hayden. He was an active member of First Baptist Church Tuscaloosa where he served as a deacon and a Sunday School teacher. At FBC Tuscaloosa, he has been the chairman of the board of deacons four times and a member of the Youth for Christ advisory board as well as the Family Counseling advisory board. As governor, he serves on the board of trustees for the colleges and universities of Alabama. He is also on the board of trustees of the Alabama Medical Education Consortium, which he helped to found.[10] Bentley was the 2009 recipient of the Christian Coalition of Alabama’s Statesmanship Award.[43]

In August 2015, Dianne Bentley filed to divorce Gov. Bentley, saying there had been an "irretrievable breakdown" in their marriage and that further attempts at reconciliation were impossible.[44] Records of the divorce case were sealed, per a ruling on August 31, 2015, by County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Hamner.[45] Governor Bentley appointed Tuscaloosa County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Hamner, to the bench and her current position in 2011.[46] The divorce was finalized on September 29, 2015.[47]

Above is from:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_J._Bentley

Thursday, March 30, 2017

EPA Head faces disbarment for lying during confirmation hearing

 

 

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By Randy Krehbiel Tulsa World TulsaWorld.com | 0 comments

An environmental organization and a University of Oklahoma law professor have filed a complaint with the Oklahoma Bar Association against U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.

The complaint alleges Pruitt violated bar association rules by lying to the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee during his January confirmation hearing. Pruitt was Oklahoma attorney general at the time.

The Center for Biological Diversity and OU Professor Kristen van de Biezenbos say emails obtained by another organization through the Oklahoma Open Records Act show that Pruitt used a private email address to conduct business while Oklahoma attorney general.

Pruitt denied doing so while testifying to Congress. He could not be reached late Thursday for comment.

John Williams, executive director of the Oklahoma Bar Association, said the complaint would be treated the same as any other, and seemed miffed by a Center for Biological Diversity news release announcing an “investigation” of the complaint.

“We don’t make a decision to investigate (complaints),” Williams said. “We’re required to investigate.”

Van de Biezenbos said she did not consider the complaint controversial.

“It’s really just an inquiry,” she said.

But van de Biezenbos also said she thinks it’s likely that Pruitt was less than truthful in his Senate testimony, and because of that accepted the Center for Biological Diversity’s invitation to join in the bar association complaint.

“I imagine some will interpret this as a political move,” she said. “I can’t speak for the center, but … as a law professor, I’m invested in the legal profession. I don’t want my students to see someone who is a member of the Oklahoma Bar Association violate its ethics rules and no one do anything about it.”

Van de Biezenbos is not an OBA member but formerly practiced law in Louisiana and taught at Texas Tech University. She teaches oil and gas law at OU and said her academic focus is the “nexus of oil and gas and environmental law.”

The Center for Biological Diversity, based in Tucson, Arizona, is primarily interested in protecting endangered and imperiled species. It annually presents a “Rubber Dodo award” to “those who have done the most to destroy wild places, species and biological diversity.”

The organization’s 2012 Rubber Dodo went to Oklahoma U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe.

Randy Krehbiel

Above is from:  http://www.tulsaworld.com/homepagelatest/epa-chief-scott-pruitt-target-of-oklahoma-bar-association-complaint/article_bdbdf74e-4c48-57de-961e-aeda548c4b40.html

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

With Trump Struggling, Wealthy Backers Rush in to Shore Him Up

 

 

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Bloomberg logoBloomberg

Bloomberg

With Trump Struggling, Wealthy Backers Rush in to Shore Him Up

Joshua Green

 

President Donald Trump listens in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, March 29, 2017.© AP Photo/Evan Vucci President Donald Trump listens in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, March 29, 2017.

(Bloomberg) -- With President Donald Trump trying to find his footing after his failed effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a group of wealthy backers is launching a 10-state media blitz to pressure Democratic senators to support him -- or at least think twice about piling on.

Making America Great, a nonprofit run by Rebekah Mercer, one of Trump’s most influential donors, will begin airing $1 million in television ads on Wednesday, coupled with a $300,000 digital advertising campaign. The TV ads will run in the District of Columbia, along with ten states Trump carried in the presidential election where a Democratic senator is up for re-election in 2018: West Virginia, Wisconsin, Missouri, Michigan, North Dakota, Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Montana and Pennsylvania. The digital campaign also will focus on voters in those states.

“Our group will be a conduit to highlight President Trump’s achievement to the rest of the country,” says Emily Cornell, who is moving from the Mercer-funded data firm Cambridge Analytica to run Making America Great’s day-to-day operations. “We are here to promote successes and hold accountable broken promises -- not just to those who voted for Trump, but to all Americans.”

Trump can use the PR boost. On March 27, Gallup reported his job approval rating fell to a new low of 36 percent, two points lower than his predecessor, Barack Obama, ever reached during his eight-year tenure in the White House.

The president could soon face added difficulties from House Republicans in passing legislation to keep the government running. Current funding runs out later this month. He’ll also have to contend with Democratic opposition to his Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. Trump donors, including Mercer, were upset that the Trump-backed Republican health care bill did not receive more outside support to counter its critics.

“Over the last couple weeks, we’ve aggressively tried to launch Making America Great,” says David Bossie, the group’s chief strategist. “We have the full support of the White House, and our effort is proud to be stepping up to help President Trump move his agenda forward.”

The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

Making America Great’s first television ad emphasizes Trump’s early accomplishments: the 298,000 jobs created during his first month in office, his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and his approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline. The ad does not mention the health-care bill.

In addition to Mercer, a daughter of hedge fund manager Robert Mercer, who was one of Trump’s most important backers during the presidential campaign, the new group’s donors include Bernie Marcus, the co-founder of Home Depot Inc., and W.E. Bosarge, the chief executive officer of Houston-based Capital Technologies Inc.

Bosarge did not immediately return a call for comment. A spokesman for Marcus would neither confirm nor deny his involvement with the group.

The new advertising campaign marks the belated public entry of outside groups formed after the election to provide support for Trump and his agenda. In December, Mercer registered Making America Great as a nonprofit. At around the same time, a group of Trump campaign aides led by digital director Brad Parscale formed a different nonprofit, America First Policies.

On March 23, one of those aides, Rick Gates, left the group over concerns about his relationship with Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, who has offered to speak with the House Intelligence Committee about his ties to Russia. Bossie, too, was among the former Trump aides who started America First Policies. Bossie has now defected to Mercer’s group.

“We’re hopeful that everybody can work together,” Bossie said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joshua Green in Washington at jgreen120@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Wes Kosova at wkosova@bloomberg.net, Michael Shepard, Michael B. Marois

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

Above is from:  http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/with-trump-struggling-wealthy-backers-rush-in-to-shore-him-up/ar-BBz00DY?li=AA5a8k&ocid=spartanntp

Federal judge in Hawaii extends court order blocking Trump travel ban

Federal judge in Hawaii extends court order blocking Trump travel ban

Reuters 55 minutes ago

ONOLULU (Reuters) - A federal judge in Hawaii indefinitely extended on Wednesday an order blocking enforcement of President Donald Trump's revised ban on travel to the United States from six predominantly Muslim countries.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson turned an earlier temporary restraining order into a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit brought by the state of Hawaii challenging Trump's travel directive as unconstitutional religious discrimination.

Trump signed the new ban on March 6 in a bid to overcome legal problems with a January executive order that caused chaos at airports and sparked mass protests before a Washington judge stopped its enforcement in February. Trump has said the travel ban is needed for national security.

Hawaii and other opponents of the ban claim that the motivation behind it is based on religion and Trump's election campaign promise of "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."

(Reporting by Hunter Haskins in Honolulu; Additional reporting and writing by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Paul Tait)

Above is from:  https://www.yahoo.com/news/federal-judge-hawaii-extends-court-order-blocking-trump-030812911.html

Ken McBee’s views on the Belvidere Township Highway Department

 

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It’s more than snowplowing and filling potholes…

By Ken McBee

As I campaign, one of the remarks that I often get is “can you plow snow and fill potholes?”    This is a benchmark question of most residents. The answer is Yes I want to point out how this job is much more than plowing snow, mowing grass or filling potholes. Though these are very important aspects of the department, the Township Highway department has a very qualified staff of employees that I will work with and beside to get the job done.  It is very important to lead by example.   I will foster an atmosphere of pride and productivity among the employees in the work we do for our township. I will bring needed skills to this office and be ready to serve you on day one. I also will have the benefit of a well-trained and able road crew.

My first employment was operating heavy earth moving equipment in Byron.  I have learned how to properly supervise employees with respect, contract for services from vendors, and prepare and manage large budgets. I have successfully managed my own company for 27 years and will bring this experience and drive to the Belvidere Township Highway Department as well.  I do want to point out that the current office holder did not enter this office with “Commissioner experience” on day one. He learned it and made it work. While I disagree on several things he has done, he gets my respect for holding the office so long and leaving on his terms.

I look forward to an open communication of the township’s business with its residents to an extent that exceeds what has not been seen in the past. The Fix My Road App , email, an interactive website and text message alerts are some of the technological tools I will use to bring the department into the 21st century in its service to you.  I will be available to you, in person, by phone, email or text.  I will include extended office hours and be more visible in the community. 

I will not need to rely on other elected officials to do what this office requires of me.  The township highway commissioner must be mentally and physically involved in all aspects of the department.  This includes an accurate budget assembled by the road commissioner. History indicates you the taxpayer have been overtaxed for the services needed. Reserves and fund balances exceed those required and recommended by accounting professionals. To have adequate fund balances is good planning. To have substantially large fund balances is not explainable. A popular statement by a candidate is to say "I will reduce taxes". Never has such an opportunity existed to deliver on such a promise.

I will eagerly approach each day to improve your impression of the highway department, its employees and the value you receive for the taxes you pay.   

Your consideration of me for your vote on April 4th, is the first step in moving our highway department forward.

Wisconsin Shows Us What A Future With A Hobbled EPA Could Look Like

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This State Shows Us What A Future With A Hobbled EPA Could Look Like

Hint: Our water is almost certainly not going to get cleaner.

By Joseph Erbentraut

 

In rural Kewaunee County, Wisconsin, there are about five cows for every human resident. About half of those people rely on private wells for their drinking water.

Now it looks like the cows are polluting the water.

A 2015 analysis funded by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources found that more than one-third of the private drinking wells tested had levels of nitrates and coliform that exceeded health standards. Both of those contaminants are found in cow manure.

Environmentalists argue that the county’s wealth of dairy farms are largely to blame for its water woes. The state’s powerful dairy lobby has rejected that claim, pointing to septic tanks leaking human waste as another factor.

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Regardless, Kewaunee County residents are eager for a solution to a problem that has been many years in the making. The fact that they’re still waiting may serve as a warning about what’s to come if an already underfunded Environmental Protection Agency gets hit with budget cuts from a hostile president.

In 2011, farmer Lynn Utesch launched an advocacy group called Kewaunee CARES aimed at addressing water pollution. When its efforts failed to garner much of a response from local or state officials, the group partnered with a coalition of state and national environmental groups in 2014 to petition the EPA to intervene. 

In the two-and-a-half years since, Utesch said little has changed. While the EPA helped form a Groundwater Collaboration Workgroup and pledged further monitoring, the local water remains undrinkable, according to Utesch. He ran for the state assembly last fall in an attempt to elevate the county’s water concerns, but lost to the incumbent

“The citizens of Kewaunee County have not seen any real action,” Utesch said. “The EPA has not actually come into our county to help out. No state agency has provided clean drinking water. Our government is not looking out for our people here.”

The EPA participates in a Department of Natural Resources committee considering changes to Wisconsin’s manure spreading requirements and continues to review the situation, the agency told HuffPost. It is also coordinating with the state Department of Natural Resources to implement the working group’s recommendations, which include revamped enforcement procedures for non-compliant dairy farms.

But Utesch has little faith in future EPA action in Kewaunee, particularly given the drastic cuts the Trump administration has proposed for the agency.

“The way it looks right now, we might be waiting indefinitely for something to take place,” he said. “We may never see a response and that’s very disheartening to our population here. How long do we have to wait until we can have clean water for all our citizens?” 

Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Under Gov. Scott Walker’s leadership, Wisconsin’s water is dirtier than it has been in years.

Utesch appears to have even less confidence in the state Department of Natural Resources, which did not respond to a request for comment. 

“I have no faith in the state of Wisconsin to do what’s right, unfortunately,” he said. “It will take someone with the courage to stand up and say we need to fix this. I don’t see anyone at the state or federal level who can do that.”

There’s good reason for that lack of faith, environmental groups say. “Fast and furious” changes to the way Wisconsin approaches environmental issues began shortly after Republican Gov. Scott Walker took office in January 2011, according to Kerry Schumann, executive director at the state League of Conservation Voters. Almost immediately, Walker and the Republican-dominated state legislature pushed to roll back protections, including a rule aimed at limiting phosphorous runoff in state waterways, which Republicans called too costly for businesses. 

Under Walker’s leadership, Wisconsin has slashed Department of Natural Resources funding, eliminating scientist and environmental educator positions. There has also been a push to silence discussions of climate change at the agency, and all climate change language was quietly scrubbed from its website late last year. 

“At the DNR, there is a culture shift in how the work is done,” Schumann told HuffPost. “There’s been a huge exodus of experts and a change in the enforcement of laws. Even if we had the best laws in the world, it wouldn’t matter because they’re not being enforced.”

Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Office buildings line the Milwaukee River. Environmentalists fear that cuts at the EPA could further threaten the state’s water.

Schumann’s last comment refers to a state audit released last year that found the Department of Natural Resources was mostly ignoring its water pollution rules, issuing notices against polluters in only 33 of 558 cases reported over the last decade. The state Department of Justice has also drastically shrunk its environmental protection unit at a time when fines against polluters were already at a nearly unprecedented low

Meanwhile, the number of Wisconsin waterways that made the EPA’s “impaired” list doubled between 2004 and 2016. 

It’s no wonder that environmentalists in Wisconsin are anxious about what might happen if their federal backstop loses funding.

“Water issues are near a crisis level in Wisconsin,” said Amber Meyer Smith, director of programs and government relations at Clean Wisconsin. “It’s been a tough few years for the environment in Wisconsin, that’s for sure.” 

Looking at the federal picture, Meyer Smith described the proposal to zero out funding for the EPA’s Great Lakes restoration initiative — a cut that Walker has said he opposes and will fight — as “stunning.” 

But groups like hers will keep fighting for the environment, regardless of what comes from the Wisconsin capitol or the White House. And she is ready to take that battle to the courts, if need be.

“At the end of the day, we still have the Clean Water Act to be upheld and the Clean Air Act to be upheld,” Meyer Smith said. “Either that happens at the EPA or there’s going to be a lot of lawsuits.”

Above is from:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/wisconsin-environmental-protections-epa_us_58d989b9e4b00f68a5c9e773

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Where do you stand on the Public Safety Sales Tax Referendum?

 

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22 hrs ·

Please Vote NO! April 4th on the 100% increase of the current Public Safety Sales Tax. In 1999-2000 we were sold a bill of goods if we ( the tax payers would agree to a .5% sales increase) we were told we would have a much needed state of the art public safety building. Is it fully staffed like we were promised? Is it in the black housing other prisoners from outside Boone County like we were promised?
Where did the $22 million of the levy go? Well $11,790.041 was been used so for principle and interest. Where is the other $11 million? Through a loophole, they (county board) have extended the first levy permanently. So in 2018 after the bonds are finally paid off, the county will still have us on the hook for between $1.1 million to $1.4 million a year. Now they want to increase that to $2.2 to 2.8 million every year, forever. In my opinion, without a doubt, the police, fire and the first responders should be the best staffed, the best trained and compensated. I think that should be very workable with $1.2 to $1.4 million a year. If not, then come back to the taxpayer.
I am tired of the county board trying to balance their budget on the taxpayers.
What the board really needs to focus on, in my opinion, is a truly balanced budget.
Yes, some of their buddies and pals may lose their jobs, but this is life in the real world outside of government.

Above is fromhttps://www.facebook.com/greg.kelm.7/posts/1462822097093482

Monday, March 27, 2017

Trump tweets Russia probe 'hoax,' rails against Clintons

 

ADAM KELSEY,Good Morning America 1 hour 35 minutes ago

Amid ongoing questions about the involvement of his associates with Russian officials during the campaign and about the impartiality of the Republican congressman leading one of the probes into the matter, Donald Trump went on a twitter rant Monday night, calling out an old foe -- the Clintons -- and blaming conservative Republicans for his health care defeat.

In a series of tweets, Trump questioned the actions of the House Intelligence Committee, asking why it isn't conducting a probe into the former Democratic presidential nominee and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

"Why isn't the House Intelligence Committee looking into the Bill & Hillary deal that allowed big Uranium to go to Russia, Russian speech money to Bill, the Hillary Russian "reset," praise of Russia by Hillary, or Podesta Russian Company. Trump Russia story is a hoax. #MAGA!" wrote Trump in two consecutive posts.

The tweets were not the first instance in which Trump sought to blame Hillary Clinton for a deal between Russia's nuclear power agency and a Canadian company. The non-partisan fact-checking organization Politifact has rated the claim "Mostly False," citing Hillary Clinton's "lack of power to approve or reject the deal."

Investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election are being conducted in both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. The FBI is also investigating any potential ties between Russian officials and Trump associates, a story line Trump has called "fake news."

House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes, R-Calif., who worked on Trump's transition team, is under fire for briefing the president on findings that left Trump feeling "somewhat" vindicated before mentioning that information to the committee. There were also calls for Nunes to step aside from the Russia investigation after it emerged that he met a source on the White House grounds a day before briefing Trump.

In a later tweet, Trump criticized the conservative House Freedom Caucus for its efforts preventing the passage of the American Health Care Act last week, his first major legislative test.

"The Republican House Freedom Caucus was able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. After so many bad years they were ready for a win!" wrote Trump, running counter to his declaration Friday that he would not "speak badly about anybody within the party" and his claim that he preferred for the Affordable Care Act to remain law so that it could "implode" and "explode."

He referred to that position again Monday in an additional tweet, saying, "The Democrats will make a deal with me on healthcare as soon as ObamaCare folds - not long. Do not worry, we are in very good shape!"

Above is from:  https://www.yahoo.com/gma/trump-tweets-russia-probe-hoax-rails-against-clintons-025217819--abc-news-topstories.html

     

  1. Donald J. Trump‏Verified account @realDonaldTrump 3h3 hours ago

    The Republican House Freedom Caucus was able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. After so many bad years they were ready for a win!

     

  2. Donald J. Trump‏Verified account @realDonaldTrump 3h3 hours ago

    ...money to Bill, the Hillary Russian "reset," praise of Russia by Hillary, or Podesta Russian Company. Trump Russia story is a hoax.

  3. Donald J. Trump‏Verified account @realDonaldTrump 3h3 hours ago

    Why isn't the House Intelligence Committee looking into the Bill & Hillary deal that allowed big Uranium to go to Russia, Russian speech....

  4. Donald J. Trump‏Verified account @realDonaldTrump Mar 26

    General Kelly is doing a great job at the border. Numbers are way down. Many are not even trying to come in anymore.

  5. Donald J. Trump‏Verified account @realDonaldTrump Mar 26

    Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Republican County Party Chairman wants no elections?

 

This recent “Letter to the Editor” seems to say that unless you get the nod from Republican party powers you must be a Democrat.

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The Boone County Journal also gave its opinion concerning the matter.

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Above is from:  http://www.boonecountyjournal.com/news/2017/Boone-County-News-03-24-17.pdf

 

Independent Candidates

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Republicans

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Toronto schools will no longer allow student trips to US

Toronto schools will no longer allow student trips to US

By Madison Park, CNN

(CNN)Canada's largest school system announced it will no longer allow student or staff trips to the US, citing uncertainty over the travel ban.

Toronto District School Board expressed concern over how the US immigration policy could affect students on school trips.

"We strongly believe that our students should not be placed into these situations of potentially being turned away at the border," the board's director of education, John Malloy, said in a statement.

    Under the travel ban, citizens from six different Muslim-majority countries may not be allowed in the US under certain circumstances. The ban affects people outside of those six countries as well, since citizens from those countries could be living elsewhere, like Canada.

    Trump's new travel ban: One thing to know

    Trump's new travel ban: One thing to know 01:25

    The US travel ban has not taken effect after rulings by two federal judges that temporarily blocked President Donald Trump's executive order. White House press secretary Sean Spicer has said the Trump administration plans to appeal.

    The ongoing predicament left the Toronto District School Board with what it called a "difficult choice."

    The board decided that the 24 pre-approved trips to the US would continue, but it will not permit new ones.

    "We feel it strikes a balance between our equity and inclusion commitments as a school board, while not canceling already approved trips for which a financial loss would be incurred," Malloy's statement said.

    The board serves 246,000 students in 584 schools throughout Toronto.

    Its decision is similar to one made earlier this month by the Girl Guides of Canada, which is a Canadian version of the Girl Scouts.

    The Girl Guides had announced it would no longer authorize trips to the United States and that it would avoid connecting flights through the country.

    The group had called it a "very difficult decision to make," in a notice that didn't specifically mention Trump's travel ban, but the message directly referred to the current immigration situation.

    "While the United States is a frequent destination for Guiding trips, the ability of all our members to equally enter this country is currently uncertain," its statement read.

    CNN's AJ Willingham contributed to this report.

    Above is from:  http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/24/politics/toronto-school-us-travel-ban/index.html

    Tuesday, March 21, 2017

    Trump is free to say anything he wants

     

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    Donald Trump keeps getting things wrong. And there’s not much we can do about it.

    By Chris Cillizza By Chris Cillizza

    The Fix

    Analysis

    Analysis is interpretation of the news based on evidence, including data, as well as anticipating how events might unfold based on past events

    March 21 at 2:35 PM

    Comey: No information to support Trump's wiretapping tweets
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    Play Video1:03

    FBI Director James B. Comey said at a House Intelligence Committee hearing that he has no information that Trump Tower was wiretapped by former president Barack Obama. (Reuters)

    FBI Director James B. Comey said at a House Intelligence Committee hearing that he has no information that Trump Tower was wiretapped by former president Barack Obama. FBI Director James B. Comey says he has no information that Trump Tower was wiretapped by former president Barack Obama. (Photo: Matt McClain/The Washington Post/Reuters)

    Here are the first two lines of a terrific piece written Monday by Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker:

    On the 60th day of his presidency came the hardest truth for Donald Trump.

    He was wrong.

    Which is right. Trump spent the last month insisting that President Barack Obama had ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower despite offering zero evidence to back up that claim. And, on Monday, FBI Director James B. Comey made very clear — in a public congressional hearing no less! — that neither the FBI nor the broader Justice Department had found any support for that claim.

    Comey joins former director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. and Obama in insisting that no evidence exists to back up Trump’s claim. Trump and his senior aides continue to make vague assurances that other information might be out there, but have yet to offer any proof for those claims.

    Put simply: It’s now fairly obvious that the current president of the United States made a baseless and serious accusation about the man he succeeded in the White House. He claimed, falsely, that he had been wiretapped and insinuated it was part of a broader effort led by the sitting administration to keep him from winning.

    That seems like a very big deal, right?

    And it is! But, the truth of the matter is that the consequences for Trump for this sort of behavior are, well, very amorphous.

    !

    Democrats — and even some Republicans — are calling on Trump to apologize to Obama. But, beyond that? Nothing. And, even an apology from Trump, which — guess what? — isn't coming, seems like a very small price to pay for the allegation.

    The simple fact is that short of impeachment, which is used extremely sparingly and rightly so, there is a relative pittance of punitive measures for a president like Trump who is willing to say things that just aren’t true. Shame has long been the tool of choice in politics. As in: A president says something that fact-checkers rule is totally false. The president, concerned — even if he won’t acknowledge it — about how he is perceived by the political class, either apologizes for the remark or just stops saying it. Like the political class or hate them, that shaming was a way of regulating political rhetoric.

    Trump is not interested in the opinions of the political class. In fact, he likes the idea of sticking it to those people and believes it is fundamental to his political brand. Which it is! The issue, in this context, is that without any sort of way to regulate or punish Trump short of impeachment, it means that the president has very few limitations on what he says or does.

    No modern president has taken advantage of that fact in ways that Trump has. He simply creates his own reality — often through tweets to his 26.8 million followers — and then ignores any attempts to hold him accountable to the facts. Because shame doesn’t work on him, there’s almost nothing to be done to change his behavior.

    Trump is a president unlike any we have ever seen before. His willingness to stretch the bounds of truth — and then be unapologetic about doing so — is something we’ve not seen on a regular basis in the White House before now. (Yes, Republicans, Bill Clinton lied about his affair with a White House intern. And he was impeached — by the House — for it.) Trump understands that the punitive consequences for continuing to insist that he was wiretapped are relatively minimal. And so he will keep doing

    Above is from:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/03/21/donald-trump-keeps-getting-things-wrong-and-theres-not-much-we-can-do-about-it/?hpid=hp_hp-cards_hp-card-politics%3Ahomepage%2Fcard&utm_term=.c7e7d26b02a4

    Labor nominee Acosta may face many questions concerning the Epstein Case

     

     

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    Labor nominee Acosta cut deal with billionaire in sex abuse case involving 40 underage girls

    Alexander Acosta, President Trump’s second nominee for labor secretary, speaks in Miami in 2008. Acosta is expected to face questions at his Senate confirmation hearing about an unusual plea deal he oversaw for a billionaire sex offender while U.S. attorney in Miami.© Alan Diaz/Associated Press Alexander Acosta, President Trump’s second nominee for labor secretary, speaks in Miami in 2008. Acosta is expected to face questions at his Senate confirmation hearing about an unusual plea deal he oversaw for a…

    There was once a time — before the investigations, before the sexual abuse conviction — when rich and famous men loved to hang around with Jeffrey Epstein, a billionaire money manager who loved to party.

    They visited his mansion in Palm Beach, Fla. They flew on his jet to join him at his private estate on the Caribbean island of Little Saint James. They even joked about his taste in younger women.

    President Trump called Epstein a “terrific guy” back in 2002, saying that “he’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”

    Now, Trump is on the witness list in a Florida court battle over how federal prosecutors handled allegations that Epstein, 64, sexually abused more than 40 minor girls, most of them between the ages of 13 and 17. The lawsuit questions why Trump’s nominee for labor secretary, former Miami U.S. attorney Alexander Acosta, whose confirmation hearing is scheduled to begin Wednesday, cut a non-prosecution deal with Epstein a decade ago rather than pursuing a federal indictment that Acosta’s staff had advocated.

    Although Epstein’s friends and visitors once included past and future presidents, rock stars, and some of the country’s richest men, he is no longer a social magnet. Epstein pleaded guilty to a Florida state charge of felony solicitation of underage girls in 2008 and served a 13-month jail sentence. Politicians who had accepted his donations, including former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson and former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, have scurried to give them back. (Harvard University kept a $6.5 million gift, saying it was “funding important research” in mathematics.)

    But Epstein’s unusually light punishment — he was facing up to a life sentence had he been convicted on federal charges — has raised questions about how Acosta handled the case.

    Former Palm Beach police chief Michael Reiter, whose department conducted the initial investigation into Epstein’s behavior, said in a civil lawsuit deposition that Epstein got off easy.

    “That wasn’t an appropriate resolution of this matter,” Reiter said, arguing that the charges leveled against Epstein were “very minor” compared with what the facts called for. In a letter to parents of Epstein’s victims, Reiter said justice had not been served.

    Prosecutors in Acosta’s Miami office who had joined the FBI in the investigation concluded, according to documents produced by the U.S. attorney’s office, that Epstein, working through several female assistants, “would recruit underage females to travel to his home in Palm Beach to engage in lewd conduct in exchange for money. . . . Some went there as much as 100 times or more. Some of the women’s conduct was limited to performing a topless or nude massage while Mr. Epstein masturbated himself. For other women, the conduct escalated to full sexual intercourse.”

    Epstein has a near-legendary reputation in New York financial circles as a money manager who made many millions for his clients. Although he never graduated from college, he taught advanced math at the Dalton School, one of the city’s top private schools, and went on to be a successful trader at Bear Stearns before starting his own firm, J. Epstein & Co., which managed the finances of clients who had a minimum of $1 billion in assets.

    Federal prosecutors detailed their findings in an 82-page prosecution memo and a 53-page indictment, but Epstein was never indicted. In 2007, Acosta signed a non-prosecution deal in which he agreed not to pursue federal charges against Epstein or four women who the government said procured girls for him. In exchange, Epstein agreed to plead guilty to a solicitation charge in state court, accept a 13-month sentence, register as a sex offender and pay restitution to the victims identified in the federal investigation.

    “This agreement will not be made part of any public record,” the deal between Epstein and Acosta says. The document was unsealed by a federal judge in a civil lawsuit in 2015.

    Reiter said in the 2009 deposition that federal prosecutors in Miami told him “that typically these kinds of cases with one victim would end up in a ten-year sentence.” Reiter said he was surprised not only by the decision to pull back from prosecuting the case, but also by the light sentence and liberal privileges granted to Epstein during his jail term.

    Acosta did not return a call seeking comment. He explained his decision in a “To whom it may concern” letter that he released to news organizations three years after the decision: “The bottom line is this: Mr. Jeffrey Epstein, a billionaire, served time in jail and is now a registered sex offender. He has been required to pay his victims restitution, though restitution clearly cannot compensate for the crime.” Acosta wrote that the case against Epstein grew stronger over the years because more victims spoke out after Epstein was convicted.

    Acosta is Trump’s second nominee to be secretary of labor; the first, Andrew Puzder, withdrew last month after Senate Republicans questioned his past employment of an undocumented housekeeper. Support for Acosta seems strong, as some Democrats and union leaders have joined with Senate Republicans in praising the nominee, who has been confirmed for federal positions three times in the past.

    In the 2011 letter explaining his decision in the Epstein case, Acosta said he backed off from pressing charges following “a year-long assault on the prosecution and the prosecutors” by “an army of legal superstars” who represented Epstein, including Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz; Kenneth Starr, who as independent counsel led the investigation that brought about President Bill Clinton’s impeachment; and some of the nation’s most prominent defense attorneys, such as Roy Black, Gerald Lefcourt and Jay Lefkowitz.

    The defense strategy was not limited to legal issues,” Acosta wrote. “Defense counsel investigated individual prosecutors and their families, looking for personal peccadilloes that may provide a basis for disqualification.”

    Dershowitz said in an interview that no such effort to rattle the prosecutors ever took place. “That’s just dead wrong,” he said. “I would never participate in anything of that kind. Of course we investigated the witnesses, but not Acosta’s deputies. That’s absurd.”

    Acosta’s “intention was to indict, and he fought hard and tried to get the best deal he could,” Dershowitz said. “We outlawyered him.” Epstein did not return a call seeking comment.

    Conchita Sarnoff, the author of “TrafficKing,” a book on the Epstein case, said in an interview that Acosta told her a few years after his decision not to prosecute that “he felt incapable of going up against those eight powerful attorneys. He felt his career was at stake.”

    In his letter about the decision, Acosta, who has been dean of the law school at Florida International University since 2009, acknowledged that “some prosecutors felt that we should just go to trial, and at times I felt that frustration myself.” He also complained that Epstein “received highly unusual treatment while in jail,” including being allowed to serve much of his sentence in the county jail rather than a state prison, and being permitted to leave the jail six days a week to work at home before returning to jail to sleep.

    “The treatment that he received while in state custody undermined the purpose of a jail sentence,” Acosta said.

    Dershowitz said Acosta “was very anxious to prosecute” Epstein, but “we persuaded them that they didn’t have enough evidence of interstate transportation” of the underage girls to warrant federal charges.

    But Reiter, the former police chief, said the FBI had evidence “from flight logs or something” that an underage victim “was transported on an aircraft of Mr. Epstein.”

    “Some may feel that the prosecution should have been tougher,” Acosta wrote. “Evidence that has come to light since 2007 may encourage that view.” But the prosecutor argued that his office’s investigation allowed state prosecutors to strengthen their charges against Epstein. And Acosta said that those who disagree with his decision “are not the ones who at the time reviewed the evidence available for trial and assessed the likelihood of success.”

    The deal Acosta made with Epstein precluded any new federal prosecution based on offenses he may have committed between 2001 and 2007, but in Florida, Trump is on the witness list in a civil case in which two attorneys accuse federal prosecutors of having deceived Epstein’s victims by failing to inform them that they would not charge Epstein.

    Lawyers for the women argue that they had a right under the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act to know about Acosta’s deal with Epstein. They say Acosta sought to keep the deal under wraps to avoid “the intense public criticism that would have resulted from allowing a politically-connected billionaire” to escape from federal prosecution.

    Although Trump and Bill Clinton flew on Epstein’s plane and visited his homes, neither president has been accused of taking part in the sexual misdeeds. But lawyers for Epstein’s victims say Trump nonetheless may have useful information. Trump banned Epstein from his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach “because Epstein sexually assaulted an underage girl at the club,” Bradley Edwards, an attorney who represents three of the young women, said in court documents.

    Lawyers involved with the various Epstein cases said there is virtually no chance that the president will be required to testify in a matter in which both sides agree his involvement was tangential.

    Trump and Clinton are both among the dozens of names that appeared in a “black book” of Epstein’s phone contacts that his houseman, Alfredo Rodriguez, obtained. Rodriguez, who died in 2015, was convicted of obstruction of justice in 2010 after he tried to sell the book for $50,000 to lawyers representing Epstein’s victims. In the book, Rodriguez circled the names of contacts he said were involved in sexual misbehavior at Epstein’s properties. There were no circles around the names of Trump, Clinton or other boldfaced names such as former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, former British prime minister Tony Blair, and celebrities Mick Jagger, Michael Jackson, David Frost and Jimmy Buffett.

    Rodriguez spent 18 months in prison, five months longer than Epstein served in jail.

    Epstein has continued to move among his homes in New York City, where he owns one of the largest private residences in Manhattan, Palm Beach and the Caribbean.

    Above is from:  http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/labor-nominee-acosta-cut-deal-with-billionaire-in-sex-abuse-case-involving-40-underage-girls/ar-BByzemn?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartandhp

    Does this raise some other questions with you?

     

    What is the purpose for this emblem?  Is this emblem a pass for special treatment? Is it illegal to display this emblem if you are not a F.O.P. member?

     

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    Above is from:  http://www.rrstar.com/opinion/20170315/letter-car-dealerships-should-remove-emblems-when-reselling-cars