Hector Balderas at Navajo Nation Police Headquarters
New Mexico’s Democratic attorney general on Friday charged Republican secretary of state Dianna Duran with embezzlement, fraud, money laundering and campaign finance violations, further widening a rift between the two over enforcement of the state’s laws governing campaigns.
Attorney general Hector Balderas’ office filed the 64-count complaint…in state district court in Santa Fe…
The attorney general’s investigation stemmed from a confidential tip received in July 2014. Duran was accused of funneling contributions intended for her campaign into personal accounts for her own use.
According to the complaint, the investigation centred on deposits of large amounts of cash as well as campaign contributions into both personal and campaign accounts controlled by the secretary of state. The movement of money often culminated with cash expenditures at casinos throughout the state, the complaint states.
Investigators obtained subpoenas for multiple casinos where Duran withdrew cash. Records show those electronic debits totaled more than $282,000 in 2014 alone. Another $147,641 was withdrawn in 2013.
The complaint also cites a series of detailed bank transactions as well as donations from supporters, calling into question Duran’s campaign finance reports.
I have no knowledge whatsoever where the tip came from. BUT – I almost wager dollars to donuts it involves the good old Bank Secrecy Act. Among other requirements, banks must report suspicious transactions to law enforcement.
In addition to the numerous felony and misdemeanour embezzlement and money laundering charges, Duran also faces counts of tampering with public records, conspiracy and violating the state’s Governmental Conduct Act…
Republican governor Susana Martinez said she has talked with Balderas about the charges against the secretary of state.
“These allegations are deeply troubling and concerning, and all relevant state agencies have and will continue to assist the attorney general throughout the process,” Martinez said in a statement…
State law requires that candidates’ reports list donations and expenditures. The public documents are also supposed to list the donations’ sources.
Balderas said his office had received only one criminal referral from the secretary of state for a violation of the reporting law.
A review by the Daily Times newspaper in Farmington also showed that Duran’s office collected only 4% of roughly 2,000 fines imposed on candidates during the 2012 and 2014 primary and general elections…
Duran, a former Otero County clerk and state lawmaker, is serving her second term as the state’s top elections official. She was the first Republican to be elected to the office in eight decades, inheriting an agency that had been plagued by scandal.
A stellar example of the inbuilt failings of our 2-party farce.
New Mexico voters – including many independents and progressives like me – voted for Duran as the only choice offered as an alternative to a Democrat Secretary of State notorious for her own corruption. The only reason she stayed in office was a Democrat AG – from one of our political royal families – who deliberately stalled out her indictments and trial until she could claim lack of timely due process and charges finally has to be dropped.
So, the Republicans offered up an alternative in Duran – when we would have voted for a prairie dog as an alternative to what Democrats offered.
What did we get? The same old, same old. More corruption, money laundering, embezzling payoffs. What do we need? An open primary system like those in many Western democracies, like the system used in California. We haven’t any independents or Greens capable of building a grassroots base for a 3rd or 4th party. At least let us have a primary system where the occasional Bernie Sanders-style independent might be allowed to run and win.
The corruption, liaison between thieves and reactionaries representing every interest but workers and working class families, has given us 2-party indoctrination for so many decades in American politics, young people must think real democratic participation is a foreign invention. To be feared, not embraced.
I’d love to be able to think of Election Day as an opportunity – not a half-hearted defense against the evil of two lessers.
Former Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), the Staten Islander best known for threatening on-camera to “break” a reporter “in half—like a boy,” has been sentenced by a federal judge to eight months in prison for tax evasion.
The sentencing, by US District Judge Pamela Chen, comes seven months after Grimm pleaded guilty to his role in filing a false tax return. Grimm had been indicted in April 2014 on 20 counts related to accounting practices at Healthalicious, a Manhattan restaurant he owned before his time in Congress. The restaurant’s co-owner, Bennett Orfaly, has previously been accused of having ties to a convicted Gambino family mobster.
Despite his indictment, last year, Grimm ran for reelection to his third term in Congress—and won. It was not until December 30—seven days after entering his guilty plea—that he announced his intentions to resign his seat.
Before Grimm was the target of an investigation by the FBI, he served for two decades as one of its agents. It was during this time that Grimm reportedly pulled a gun in a Queens nightclub, and, after a bouncer ejected him, stormed the nightclub with another FBI agent and members of the NYPD. “I’m a fucking F.B.I. agent,” Grimm reportedly said. “Ain’t nobody gonna threaten me.”
Sad commentary on the more criminal side of today’s Republican constituency. Just as the loony, creationist side of Christianity slanders well-meaning religious folk – just as Confederate flag-toting racists with teabags dangling from their AR-15s slander anyone who used to join the NRA to support their classes in hunting safety – conservatism as a political class is now deeply defined as the last bastion of fear and hatred. Better Dead Than Red is back and voting for more of the same.
You’ll probably be hearing a lot about death panels these next few days.
That’s because Medicare, the federal insurance program for elderly Americans, wants to start reimbursing doctors for having conversations with their elderly patients about death. Those talks might cover things like how much medical treatment a person is willing to endure in exchange for the chance of a few more months on the planet, and the circumstances under which a person would prefer to let go.
Similar ideas were stripped out of the the Affordable Care Act after that great medical intellect Sarah Palin started using the provocative term “death panels” to describe them. It was picked up by Obama-haters everywhere and the end-of-life counseling notion was soon declared DOA. A lot of [opportunist] media outlets used the language to describe Medicare’s announcement…
You can pretty much count on the death-panel trolls crawling back—some of them might even be running for president. Times have changed, and we’ve probably gotten smarter on this, but you can count on some of the old death-panel trolls to come crawling back—and some of them might even be running for president. We’ll see. In any case, they will be profoundly and tragically wrong. The proposed conversations will not only save the healthcare system a bundle, they will improve the quality and duration of people’s final days. Even tea partiers will benefit from the policy, which, if it survives its critics, will almost certainly be adopted by private insurers. (Some are already doing it.)
Michael Mechanic supplements the article with an earlier interview of author, surgeon, and New Yorker staff writer Atul Gawande, whose best-seller “Being Mortal” covers this topic. A worthwhile read. Click the link up top to RTFA.
I visit this topic from time-to-time. As a cranky old geek, questions of mortality are closer to my own life than most. As I said in January, “We had our first Death Panel get-together with my wife’s doctor a few weeks back. I have nothing but contempt for the conservative idjits who coined that term – so, of course, I deliberately use it as a joke. My wife’s doctor didn’t smile.”
Donald Trump’s big presidential announcement Tuesday was made a little bigger with help from paid actors — at $50 a pop…New York-based Extra Mile Casting sent an email last Friday to its client list of background actors, seeking extras to beef up attendance at Trump’s event…
The pay was listed as $50 for less than three hours of work. According to the email, Extra Mile was reaching out to potential extras in partnership with Gotham Government Relations and Communications, a New York-Based political consulting group that has worked with Trump in the past…
Today’s Republican Party will never run out of opportunist creeps.
One of his regular appearances on Fox News
A former Republican political operative was sentenced Friday to two years in prison and another two years of probation in the first criminal case of illegal coordination between a campaign and a purportedly independent political ally.
The reason for “former”, of course, is that he got caught.
Tyler Harber, convicted in February, told the court he knew he was guilty when he created and helped arrange for the super Pac National Republican Victory Fund to buy $325,000 in ads to help Republican Chris Perkins’ 2012 House campaign. He received $9,100 for setting up the deal. He had pleaded guilty to one count of coordinated federal election contributions and one count of making false statements to the FBI…
Prosecutors said he used an alias and other means to deflect inquiries by a political party official. He also admitted that he told multiple lies when interviewed by the FBI.
Federal prosecutor said Harber’s guilty plea and sentencing was “an important step forward in the criminal enforcement of federal campaign finance laws.”
It’s also the only conviction for a crime as common as white bread. The laws were re-written by rightwing flunkies on the Supreme Court. Existing standards for the Federal Election Commission are so wimpy as to hardly exist.
Getting rid of the Citizens United decision is one of the many tasks Congressional conservatives consider unimportant. Not that they work very hard at anything an American citizen might consider dutiful.
The response from leading Republicans like, say, Jeb Bush, is a call to set aside that portion of the law that calls for separation from anonymous donors and candidates for elected office.
Tyler Harber’s PAC? The National Republican Party Victory PAC.
I don’t expect real-world economics ever to get through the thick skulls of Flat-Earth Republicans. We can only hope the voters in states like Kansas understand the lies they believed – are hopeless. And they will throw bums like Brownback out into the world of the unemployed.
J. Dennis Hastert, the longest serving Republican speaker in the U.S. House, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that he violated banking laws in a bid to pay $3.5 million because of “past misconduct” against an unnamed individual from their hometown west of Chicago.
Hastert, 73, who has been a high-paid lobbyist in Washington since his 2007 retirement, schemed to mask more than $950,000 in withdrawals from various accounts that violated federal banking laws that require disclosure of large cash transactions, according to a seven-page indictment delivered by a grand jury in Chicago.
The indictment did not spell out the exact nature of the “prior misconduct” by Hastert against the individual from his hometown, Yorkville, but noted that before entering politics in 1981, Hastert spent more than a decade as a teacher and wrestling coach at the local high school. The unnamed individual has known Hastert for most of that person’s life, the indictment states…
Oops! Sounds like Republican family values strikes again.
The indictment, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern Division of the Northern District of Illinois, also alleges that Hastert lied to FBI agents last December when asked about the withdrawals.
Prosecutors said that in 2010, when the unnamed individual confronted Hastert about the allegations of misconduct, the former speaker agreed to pay out $3.5 million “to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct against” this person.
Over the next five years Hastert withdrew about $1.7 million in cash from his various bank accounts, at one point last year delivering $100,000 at a time to the person, the indictment alleges.
Beginning in 2013, the FBI and Internal Revenue Service began investigating “possible structuring of currency transactions to avoid the reporting requirements.” Hastert had made more than a dozen withdrawals of $50,000 in cash, which was provided to the unnamed individual every six weeks, the indictment said.
After bank representatives questioned him about the withdrawals, he began taking out less than $10,000 at a time, providing it to the unnamed person at set locations and times, prosecutors say. When Hastert was asked about the withdrawals, the indictment states that he told agents: “I kept the cash.”
However, the indictment states that this is a lie, and Hastert was trying to keep his agreement to pay the unnamed person “secret so as to cover up his past misconduct.”
I’ll never excuse Democrats or Independents for committing the same crimes a number of Republicans have been found guilty of. The crusher is that Republicans present themselves, time after time, as the holy standard for honesty and upright behavior. And that’s just pure hypocrite hogwash.
One again, part of the holier-than-thou crowd, one of the whiners who is paid to campaign against change and progress, gets caught breaking the law.
Republican Colorado state Rep. Gordon James Klingenschmitt accused the U.S. government of cooperating with demonic spirits this week after the Supreme Court refused to overturn a ban on so-called “cures” for homosexuality…
On his Monday Pray in Jesus Name broadcast, Klingenschmitt argued that Christian psychotherapists had been stripped of their “free speech rights” because they could no longer use reparative therapy…to heal the homosexual of the sinful addiction,” Klingenschmitt explained. “And yet, there is a demonic spirit inside of the addict that is controlling their voluntary choices or, at least, has contracted with them and is manifesting through them in this sinful addiction.”
“What the lower court judges are doing is they are cooperating with the demonic spirit inside of the homosexual addict, and those judges are now reinforcing the sin,” he insisted. “That’s what these bad judges have done.”
Reflect for a moment on the number of Looney Tunes-voters who showed up to elect a nutball like this. Even in the sort of low turnout elections today’s make-believe Republicans plan for and plot to control – no different from Boss Tweed or Mayor Daley in their own corrupt histories..
A Family that preys together…
Within days of taking over as New York Senate majority leader in January, prosecutors say, Dean Skelos was basking in his newfound power, announcing to his son Adam: “I’m going to control everything.”
“I’m going to control who gets on what committees, what legislation goes to the floor, what legislation comes through committees, the budget, everything,” Skelos allegedly said on a phone call with Adam, not knowing the Federal Bureau of Investigation was listening.
Father and son, both of Rockville Centre in New York’s Long Island, were arrested Monday and charged with running a scheme dating back to 2010 in which Skelos, 67, used his position first as a co-leader of the Senate and then as majority leader to obtain more than $200,000 in payments for his 32-year-old son in exchange for favorable treatment in the Legislature.
Real estate developers and an environmental technology company are among those who were expected to pay Adam Skelos, prosecutors said in announcing their case, which was built using phone taps, e-mails and two cooperating witnesses who recorded conversations for federal investigators.
While undeterred by the January arrest of New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on corruption charges, Skelos, a Republican, and his son did take steps to conceal their actions, using code words and disposable “burner” phones to pursue their plans, prosecutors said in a six-count criminal complaint against the two…
The arrest of Dean Skelos, just months after Silver, a Democrat, was forced to resign his post, promises to further roil the state Senate, where Republicans hold a slim majority.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has been outspoken in his criticism of the political culture in Albany, where the leaders of the two legislative chambers exert enormous control over budgets, contracts and regulations.
The lengthy complaint against Skelos describes a lawmaker who threw his support behind projects based “not on what was good for his constituents or good for New York, but rather on what was good for his son’s bank account,” Bharara said at a press conference…
RTFA for all the sleazy details. I know you’re probably not shocked or amazed; but, it’s worthy to express your outrage everywhere you get to speak your mind. Sooner or later, we will succeed in shoving scum out of public office.
Maybe not all of them at any one time; but, we keep on keepin’ on.
A conservative North Dakota lawmaker has come out of the closet after lewd texts he sent on a gay dating site were made public this week.
The randy red-state Republican, Rep. Randy Boehning, was outed Monday, more than a month after the Roughrider State legislator sent an unsolicited picture of his penis and several other messages to 21-year-old Bismarck resident Dustin Smith back on March 12 on the gay dating site Grindr…
Boehning, a 12-year veteran of North Dakota’s state assembly who has routinely voted against gay rights legislation, charged that the leaked messages were sent to media outlets in retaliation for his vote against Senate Bill 2279, which would have added sexual orientation to the state’s anti-discrimination law. For the third time since 2009, the bill was voted down by conservative North Dakota lawmakers, including Boehning.
But Smith, who first leaked the Grindr messages to The Forum, claims he simply wanted to reveal Boehning’s hypocrisy.
“How can you discriminate against the person you’re trying to pick up?” Smith told the local Bismark-area newspaper…
Boehning, 52 and unmarried, has been an active member of the site and conducted his affairs under the profile name “Top Man!,” Smith said.
“Seems I haven’t found mister right yet, so need to keep looking for and having fun on the way! Hit me up boys,” Boehning’s Grindr bio reads.
Another conservative who’s never going to make it into a Republican rewrite of Profiles in Courage. I wonder if he’ll have the ingterity – now – to change the way he votes on civil rights for LGBT folks.