Proven Obama Justice Dept Slush Fund

Ah, yes the newly elected left coast California Senator, Kamala Harris has a brother in law, Tony West.

Remember him? He was part of the Obama/Holder inner circle and in charge of billions of dollars located at the Holder/Lynch Justice Department slush fund.



Hat tip to the House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte for holding up the smoking gun.

He introduced legislation to stop the nefarious nonsense and it passed the House.

Tony by the way is the President of the PepisCo Foundation and he helped repeal DOMA, Defense of Marriage Act. You know those big cases where Justice sued Wall Street banks and won huge settlements? See this link here as a reminder.

Sidebar: There is also a victims fund which is also has very subjective payout activities. It is managed by the Department of Justice and is discretionary.

Sidebar: The real anger and the fraudulent part of the case is the 2 for 1 dollars if the corporations paid the money directly at the behest of the DoJ, meaning insurance and tax fraud and also means that it would not be subject to Congressional oversight. WHAT?

Okay now for the slush fund story at the Justice Department:

Forbes: Internal U.S. Department of Justice documents confirm the existence of a department “slush fund” under the Obama Administration and that DOJ officials “went out of their way” to exclude conservative groups, the head of the House Judiciary Committee told fellow lawmakers Tuesday.

House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-VA, made the claim just ahead of a vote by the U.S. House of Representatives on a bill that would prohibit government officials, most notably the DOJ, from entering into or enforcing a settlement agreement on behalf of the United States that provides for a payment or a loan to any person or entity other than the United States, with some exceptions.

The Stop Settlements Slush Funds Act of 2017, or H.R. 732, was introduced in January.

On Tuesday evening — after hours of discussion — the House voted mostly along party lines, 238-183 in favor of the bill. Of the “yes” votes, 231 were Republican and seven were Democrat. Democrats made up all 183 “no” votes. Eleven members did not vote.

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-GA, who introduced the Sunshine for Regulations and Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act of 2017, or H.R. 469, in January, said during debate Tuesday that it is simply unacceptable to “shortchange victims.”

Similarly to Goodlatte’s legislation, the sunshine bill inhibits the ability of federal agencies to participate in back-door sue-and-settle arrangements with special interest groups, which circumvent established regulatory processes.

“It’s a problem we’ve seen grow,” Collins said of the settlement agreements, adding that it’s a “scenario that should concern everyone.”

But U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-FL, told fellow lawmakers both bills were “deficient in process and substance.”

Hastings criticized Republicans for putting forth such “pointless and partisan” legislation, given that Barack Obama is no longer in office and that other, more important issues demand the attention of federal lawmakers.

He also argued that a House Judiciary Committee investigation “yielded no credible evidence.”

But Goodlatte, who introduced H.R. 732, said new internal DOJ documents “tell a different story.”

Goodlatte has said the need for the legislation arose after an extended judiciary committee investigation found that the DOJ had engaged in a pattern or practice of systematically subverting Congress’ budget authority by using settlements from financial institutions to funnel money to what he describes as “left-wing activist groups.”

The House Judiciary Committee held two hearings, in February 2015 and May 2015, to question DOJ officials regarding the settlement practices.

Both the House Judiciary and Financial Services committees also sent multiple oversight letters, including two to the DOJ, seeking documents and answers.

The probe by the two committees revealed that, in approximately the last two years, the DOJ used mandatory donations to direct nearly $1 billion to such groups.

In January, the judiciary panel also sent a letter to the DOJ requesting it preserve all documents related to the department’s settlement practices.

“It is not every day in Congressional investigations that we find a smoking gun,” Goodlatte told fellow lawmakers Tuesday, pointing to the documents. “Here, we have it.”

The internal documents show that a deputy for former Associate Attorney General Tony West — who now serves as executive vice president of government affairs, general counsel and corporate secretary for PepsiCo Inc. — asked colleagues about settlements in negotiation.

“Can you explain to Tony the best way to allocate some money to an organization of our choosing?” the deputy wrote in a November 2013 email.

West’s team also went out of its way to exclude conservative groups, the internal DOJ documents show.

In a July 2014 email, a senior official explained that the DOJ reworded a draft mandatory donation provision to achieve the aim of “not allowing Citi to pick a statewide intermediary like the Pacific Legal Foundation [PLF],” which the official explained “does conservative property-rights free legal services.”

The documents also show outside groups lobbied the DOJ directly to obtain such incentives.

In particular, activist leaders met with a senior official from West’s office in March 2014 to “make the case” that, in settling mortgage-lending cases, the DOJ should make donations “mandatory in all future settlements.”

This follows a letter requesting that the DOJ offer banks “enhanced credit” for making donations.

A few months later, the department announced major bank settlements requiring mandatory donations to community groups and offering enhanced credit for these donations.

In an August 2014 email, recipient organizations then discuss how they can “thank” West for the money.

One organization, in the correspondence released, suggested a resolution and a formal plaque — and even threw out the idea of having a statue of West built so they could “bow down to this statue each day after we get our $200,000+.”

The documents are contrary to the DOJ’s sworn testimony.

Geoffrey Graber, former deputy associate attorney general and director of the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities, or RMBS, Working Group at the DOJ, had told Congress in February 2015 that the department “did not want to be in the business of picking and choosing which organization may or may not receive any funding under the agreement.”

Graber now serves as a partner at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC and is a member of the firm’s consumer protection practice group.

“This legislation, however, remains necessary because history shows that we cannot rely on the current DOJ policy remaining in place,” Goodlatte said.

His bill provides exceptions to allow payments or loans that: (1) remedy actual harm (including to the environment) caused by the party making the payment or loan, or (2) constitute a payment for services rendered in connection with the case or a payment that a court may order for restitution to victims in certain criminal cases or other persons in plea agreements.

Under H.R. 732, government officials or agents who violate this prohibition may be removed from office or required to forfeit to the government any money they hold for such purposes “to which they may otherwise be entitled.”

Also under the bill, federal agencies must report annually for seven years to the Congressional Budget Office about the parties, funding sources and distribution of funds for their settlement agreements permitted by the exceptions in this bill.

In addition, agency inspectors general must report annually to Congress about any of their agency’s settlement agreements that violate this bill.

The legislation previously passed the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 17-8.

An identical bill — the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act, or H.R. 5063 — passed the House in the last Congress by a vote of 241-174, but then stalled.

In June, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo to all DOJ components and 94 U.S. Attorney’s Offices prohibiting them from entering into any third party settlements.

“When the federal government settles a case against a corporate wrongdoer, any settlement funds should go first to the victims and then to the American people — not to bankroll third-party special interest groups or the political friends of whoever is in power,” Sessions said. “Unfortunately, in recent years the Department of Justice has sometimes required or encouraged defendants to make these payments to third parties as a condition of settlement.

“With this directive, we are ending this practice and ensuring that settlement funds are only used to compensate victims, redress harm, and punish and deter unlawful conduct.”

Goodlatte praised Sessions for his decision.

“The practice is wrong no matter which party is in power,” he said at the time. “Attorney General Session’s integrity stands in stark contrast to the behavior of Obama Administration officials who used their position to funnel billions of settlement dollars to their political allies.”

He echoed that statement following his bill’s passage Tuesday.

“Regardless of which party is in the White House, subverting Congress to funnel money to outside organizations is unacceptable and unconstitutional,” Goodlatte said.

“I applaud the passage of this bipartisan bill that bans settlement payments to non-victim third parties permanently for future administrations. There should be no excuse or justification for this banned behavior, and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to defend Congress’s constitutional interests and support H.R. 732.”

Americans for Limited Government, a Fairfax, VA-based conservative nonprofit, commended Goodlatte for his release of the internal DOJ documents.

“The Justice Department emails released by Goodlatte show that only approved left-wing groups were eligible for the banks to make payouts to as part of their settlements, overtly excluding deemed to be too conservative,” President Rick Manning said in a statement. “What’s worse, is that the settlements often gave the banks double credit if they gave money to the left-wing groups rather than paying the government. Meaning, every $10 million to left-wing groups was counted the same as $20 million to the government.

Manning said Goodlatte was right to seek to defund such third-party settlements, calling them “nothing more than political payola” to radical, left-wing groups.

“Goodlatte’s disclosures show once again that there wasn’t single area of government that Obama did not corrupt into being a part of a left-wing funding machine,” he said. “Obama’s Justice Department effectively appropriated federal funds to these third-party groups without Congressional approval, violating Article I of the Constitution as this was a revenue stream to the government that was then illegally diverted to political ends.

“The actors who signed off on those political allocations should be subjected to the full weight of the law, including loss of pension and at the very least significant fines.”

Trump’s EO Halting Insurance Subsidies Comes from Boehner


CNBC: The Trump administration will immediately stop making critically important payments to insurers who sell Obamacare health plans, a bombshell move that is expected to spike premium prices and potentially lead many insurers to exit the marketplace.

The decision to end the billions of dollars worth of so-called cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments came after months of threats by President Donald Trump to do just that. The news came only hours after Trump signed an executive order that Obamacare advocates said could badly harm the individual insurance marketplaces.

Advocates, along with insurers, health-care provider groups, patient groups and officials in many states, have expressed concerns for months that the cost-sharing reimbursements would be cut off by Trump.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., sharply criticized Trump in a series of Twitter posts late Thursday.

Two months ago, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that individual health plan premiums would be 20 percent higher than originally projected if the payments ceased. It also projected that premiums would be 25 percent higher than they otherwise would be by 2020, and that the federal deficit would be increased by almost $200 billion if the subsidies ended.

The payments, worth $7 billion or so to insurers this year and up to $10 billion or more next year, reimburse insurers for discounts in out-of-pocket health costs they give to low-income Obamacare customers. The discounts must be offered by law.

However, congressional Republicans successfully challenged in a lawsuit the Obama administration’s decision to make the reimbursement payments to insurers without getting the express budgetary authorization from Congress.

Now, both California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said they would file lawsuits seeking to prevent Trump from ending the subsidies.

The two were part of a group of 18 state attorneys general who were given permission this year to intervene in the pending appeal of the federal court decision that had ruled the payments were illegal given their lack of congressional authorization.

*** While the democrats are crying sabotage, they refuse to tell you that there is a legal ruling that says this funding is illegal. The Obama administration via the Treasury Department essentially stole money from various government agencies to subsidize insurance providers since Congress did not appropriate the funds.

In part it played out this way:

When House Republicans first came up with the idea to take the president to court nearly two years ago, they planned to sue the administration over a completely different part of Obamacare. Then-Speaker John Boehner was, as usual, facing pressure from conservatives who were frustrated at Obama’s liberal use of executive authority and their inability to derail the hated health-care law. So he and his leadership team hatched a plan to file a lawsuit accusing the president and his administration of exceeding their authority by unilaterally delaying the implementation of the employer mandate in Obamacare. The requirement that businesses with more than 50 employees provide insurance to their workers had long been a big target for Republicans and one of the more contentious policies in the law. It was the middle of the mid-term congressional campaigns, and Republicans suspected the administration was delaying the mandate to put off the political pain of compliance until after the election.

“The president changed the health-care law without a vote of Congress, effectively creating his own law by literally waiving the employer mandate and the penalties for failing to comply with it,” Boehner said in a statement at the time. “That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work. No president should have the power to make laws on his or her own.” The irony was that House Republicans had repeatedly assailed the employer mandate as a jobs killer, and yet here they were suing to force the administration to implement it faster. Read more here.

Citizenship for Sale in U.S and EU, the Golden Ticket

In the United States, with a starting number such as $500,000, you can buy a passport and with just a little more you can advance to citizenship under the EB-5 visa program. Swell huh? It has been going on for years and even Senator Dianne Feinstein has an issue with it. So, where is President Trump on the matter? Crickets…..

In February of this year, Senator Grassley and Feinstein introduced legislation to stop the EB-5 abuse.

The EB-5 program is inherently flawed,” Feinstein said in a joint statement with Grassley on Friday. “It says that U.S. citizenship is for sale. It is wrong to have a special pathway to citizenship for the wealthy while millions wait in line for visas.”

Roughly 10,000 EB-5 visas are awarded each year, with more than 85 percent going to Chinese investors in 2014, according to a study by Savills Studley, a real estate services firm. The program, begun in 1990 to stimulate the economy, has turned into a convenient way for wealthy Chinese citizens to become permanent U.S. residents and later bring over their family members. More here.

The Chinese, the Ukrainians and the Russians, all oligarchs are the largest exploiters of the program and most of these oligarchs are corrupt, paying for speedy processes with dirty money.

We know there are multiple investigations going on inside the DC Beltway regarding Russian interference and rightly so. Both Democrats and Republicans have some complicity in foreign collaboration.

In March of this year, this site published an extensive summary of Russian relations with people in the Trump camp as well as with Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer. Few take a look at Secretary Wilbur Ross and his Cyprus connections. Cyprus is a location where abuse and corruption is as normal as breathing. One interesting person is Dmitry Rybolovlev, who happens to know Donald Trump as well as Wilbur Ross.

Beyond paying for a speedy process to obtain a passport or citizenship, there is also yet another method and that is money laundering illicit funds through U.S. real estate purchases where the buyer’s name is not listed if cash is paid. You dont say…..yup. This site published a summary of such activities in July of 2014.

So, while we have examined the issue in the United States and in Cyprus, it is the same for the European Union.

Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs suspected of corruption are among hundreds who have acquired EU passports under the “golden visa” program – a bourgeois shortcut to European citizenship in exchange for cash investments, the Guardian reported Sunday.

A list of recipients seen by The Guardian includes “prominent businesspeople and individuals with considerable political influence.”

The paper claims that Cyprus alone has made over $US 4 billion selling passports to international oligarchs, “granting them the right to live and work throughout Europe,” completely legally.

However, Cyprus is not alone. “The Golden Visa program for Spain, Portugal, Malta, Greece and Cyprus are the most prominent. Bulgaria and Hungary offer residency and citizenship by investment in Europe through government bonds,” the Golden Visa website states.

The BBC reported about this kind of purchasable citizenship three years ago.

“Just like you diversify an investment portfolio, you want to diversity your passport portfolio,” investment expert Christian Kalin, told the BBC.

The list of individuals who have received Cypriot citizenship includes Bashar al-Asad’s cousin, who was previously placed under American sanctions because of allegations he benefited from corruption. It also includes a former member of the Russian parliament and the founder of Ukraine’s largest bank.

According to Global Witness, an international NGO dedicated to exposing global corruption, global visas have the potential to give applicants fleeing persecution a “get out of jail for free card.”

Portuguese MEP, Ana Gomes, said golden visas are an immoral way to grant citizenship.

“I’m not against individual member states granting citizenship or residence to someone who would make a very special contribution to the country, be it in arts or science, or even in investment. But granting, not selling,” said Gomes.

Gomes also questioned the secrecy of obtaining golden visas. If they’re legal, why is it so hard to see who has them, asked Gomes.

The European Parliament will be debating the legality of golden visas in light of the leak, The Guardian reported.

So, for the leaders of respective countries, the definition of citizenship and the spirit of that loyalty means nothing when it comes to money, dirty money.

Perhaps we should be pushing harder for the Grassley/Feinstein legislation at a minimum….what say you?


Abuse of the Civil Asset Forfeiture Law

Related reading: The Myth of Judicial Activism

The Supreme Court struck down less than 1% of the federal laws passed over a 50-year period.

*** Questions must be asked why is the Justice Department re-applying this program and to what end?

Criminal forfeiture is an action brought as a part of the criminal prosecution of a defendant. It is an in personam (against the person) action and requires that the government indict (charge) the property used or derived from the crime along with the defendant. If the jury finds the property forfeitable, the court issues an order of forfeiture.

For forfeitures pursuant to the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO), as well as money laundering and obscenity statutes, there is an ancillary hearing for third parties to assert their interest in the property. Once the interests of third parties are addressed, the court issues a final forfeiture order.

Civil judicial forfeiture is an in rem (against the property) action brought in court against the property. The property is the defendant and no criminal charge against the owner is necessary.

Administrative forfeiture is an in rem action that permits the federal seizing agency to forfeit the property without judicial involvement. The authority for a seizing agency to start an administrative forfeiture action is found in the Tariff Act of 1930, 19 U.S.C. § 1607. Property that can be administratively forfeited is: merchandise the importation of which is prohibited; a conveyance used to import, transport, or store a controlled substance; a monetary instrument; or other property that does not exceed $500,000 in value.

Source: A Guide to Equitable Sharing of Federally Forfeited Property for State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies, U.S. Department of Justice, March 1994.

Participants And Roles

The Justice Asset Forfeiture Program includes activity by DOJ components and several components outside the Department. Each component plays an important role in the Program.

Department of Justice Components

Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS) of the Criminal Division holds the responsibility of coordination, direction, and general oversight of the Program. AFMLS handles civil and criminal litigation, provides legal support to the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, establishes policy and procedure, coordinates multi-district asset seizures, administers equitable sharing of assets, acts on petitions for remission, coordinates international forfeiture and sharing and develops training seminars for all levels of government.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) enforces the federal laws and regulations relating to alcohol, tobacco, firearms, explosives and arson by working directly and in cooperation with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. ATF has the authority to seize and forfeit firearms, ammunition, explosives, alcohol, tobacco, currency, conveyances and certain real property involved in violation of law.

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) implements major investigative strategies against drug networks and cartels. Enforcement operations have resulted in significant seizure and forfeiture activity. A significant portion of DEA cases are adopted from state and local law enforcement agencies.

Federal Bureau of Investigation The FBI investigates a broad range of criminal violations, integrating the use of asset forfeiture into its overall strategy to eliminate targeted criminal enterprises. The FBI has successfully used asset forfeiture in White Collar Crime, Organized Crime, Drug, Violent Crime and Terrorism investigations. See the FBI Investigative Programs Asset Forfeiture Home Page for more information.

United States Marshals Service as the primary custodian of seized property for the Program. USMS manages and disposes of the majority of the property seized for forfeiture. See their Seized Asset Information page and their National Sellers List for more information.

United States Attorneys’ Offices (USAOs) are responsible for the prosecution of both criminal and civil actions against property used or acquired during illegal activity.

Asset Forfeiture Management Staff (AFMS): Has responsibility for management of the Assets Forfeiture Fund, the Consolidated Asset Tracking System (CATS), program-wide contracts, oversight of program internal controls and property management, interpretation of the Assets Forfeiture Fund statute, approval of unusual Fund uses, and legislative liaison on matters affecting the financial integrity of the Program.

Components Outside the Department of Justice

There are several organizations outside the Department of Justice who participate in the DOJ Asset Forfeiture Program. This list may change as additional agencies and offices become part of the DOJ program. These agencies participate in Judicial forfeitures only.

United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) makes seizures under their authority to discourage profit-motivated crimes such as mail fraud, money laundering and drug trafficking using the mail.

Food and Drug Administration FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations has made seizures involving health care fraud schemes, counterfeit pharmaceuticals, illegal distribution of adulterated foods, and product tampering.

United States Department of Agriculture, Office of the Inspector General USDA’s Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) mission is to promote effectiveness and integrity in the delivery of USDA agricultural programs. Forfeiture is integrated as an important law enforcement tool in combating criminal activity affecting USDA programs.

Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security The Bureau of Diplomatic Security investigates passport and visa fraud and integrates asset forfeiture into our strategy to target the profits made by vendors who provide fraudulent documentation or others who utilize fraudulent visas and/or passports to further their criminal enterprises.

Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) is the criminal investigative arm of the Inspector General of the Department of Defense. The mission of DCIS is to protect America’s War fighters by conducting investigations and forfeitures in support of crucial National Defense priorities that include homeland security/terrorism, product substitution, contract fraud, public corruption, computer crimes, and illegal technology transfers. ”

The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 established the Department of Justice Assets Forfeiture Fund to receive the proceeds of forfeiture and to pay the costs associated with such forfeitures, including the costs of managing and disposing of property, satisfying valid liens, mortgages, and other innocent owner claims, and costs associated with accomplishing the legal forfeiture of the property.

The Attorney General is authorized to use the Assets Forfeiture Fund to pay any necessary expenses associated with forfeiture operations such as property seizure, detention, management, forfeiture, and disposal. The Fund may also be used to finance certain general investigative expenses. These authorized uses are enumerated in 28 U.S.C. §524(c). Read more here.

Proposed Legislation on Citizen Feedback on Govt Services

So, do you think your voice regarding the federal government goes unheard? Actually it is heard and it is scored. At issue is whether any substantial corrections are made. This proposed legislation may help and it is a step at least in the right direction.

Most of us don’t bother to even voice or register complaints. Perhaps we should rethink that. Who even knew in the first place there was a tally operation on public comments and it is referred to as ‘customer service’? Hah…

Problem is there is not an agency does not have issues….okay then, let the games begin…read on.

Primer: OMB belongs to the White House:

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) serves the President of the United States in overseeing the implementation of his vision across the Executive Branch. Specifically, OMB’s mission is to assist the President in meeting his policy, budget, management and regulatory objectives and to fulfill the agency’s statutory responsibilities.

OMB carries out its mission through five critical processes that are essential to the President’s ability to plan and implement his priorities across the Executive Branch:

  1. Budget development and execution.
  2. Management, including oversight of agency performance, human capital, Federal procurement, financial management, and information technology.
  3. Regulatory policy, including coordination and review of all significant Federal regulations by executive agencies.
  4. Legislative clearance and coordination.
  5. Executive Orders and Presidential Memoranda.

*** Image result for omb

Congress could be poised to take on the federal government’s customer service problems.

Sens. James Lankford, R-Okla., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Wednesday introduced the Federal Agency Customer Experience Act, bipartisan legislation that would simplify the process agencies go through to gather public feedback about their customer service.

The bill would roll back requirements that force agencies to go through lengthy approval processes to gather voluntary feedback from citizens and customers, and further creates both legislative and executive oversight mechanisms to oversee how agencies deliver services.

“The bill also directs agencies to post the results to their websites and requires them to use the feedback they receive to improve government services,” Lankford said in a statement. “We must do more to increase federal customer service and remove unnecessary requirements that make basic services tedious and overly bureaucratic.”

The legislation mandates agency heads—or designated officials—collect voluntary feedback from customers “with respect to services of or transactions” made by the agency.

Feedback would be gathered across all channels based on both standardized questions created in tandem by the leaders of the Office of Management and Budget director and the General Services Administration, and agency-specific questions developed by senior officials. Those questions would revolve around customer satisfaction, such as the professionalism and timeliness of federal action and potentially other metrics.

Agencies would be required to submit customer service reports based on the feedback they collect to OMB and to post it on their websites. In addition, the legislation would create a centralized website that links to all agencies’ customer service reports.

“Most people think interacting with the federal government is unpleasant—but at the same time we’re making it difficult for agencies to ask the public how they can improve—it makes no sense,” McCaskill said. “This law will allow the federal government to better identify specific customer service issues and start to implement changes to make the government work better for the American people.”

Congress, too, would get regular updates on how agencies perform with regards to customer service.

The bill would require the U.S. comptroller general to deliver scorecard reports “assessing the quality of services provided to the public” of agencies to the Senate.

Fixing the government’s customer services woes—the government routinely ranks below industry—could unite Republicans and Democrats in much the same way the government’s IT issues have. The Obama administration elevated customer service as a major issue, yet agency progress was minimal.

Max Stier, CEO of the government-focused nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, said the Federal Agency Customer Experience Act will help agencies improve their service delivery.

“The important legislation introduced today by Sens. Lankford and McCaskill will allow agencies to continue to improve by helping them better understand the concerns of the public, continue to improve in the delivery of services and increase citizen satisfaction,” he said in a statement.