NY authorizes prosecution of crooks pardoned by Trump


Shows Pence how to pardon himself [Trump] after impeachment

❝ Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced he signed legislation…to close New York’s double jeopardy legal loophole that protects individuals who are pardoned by a President from being prosecuted at the state level for the same offense. This key reform, which was an Attorney General’s program bill, gives New York prosecutors discretion to pursue prosecution of criminal acts where they have jurisdiction.

❝ “No one is above the law and New York will not turn a blind eye to criminality, no matter who seeks to protect them,” Governor Cuomo said. “The closure of this egregious loophole gives prosecutors the ability to stand up against any abuse of power, and helps ensure that no politically motivated, self-serving action is sanctioned under law. I thank the Attorney General Letitia James for her work to advance this much-needed reform and by signing it into law we are taking another step toward a stronger, fairer and more just Empire State for all.”

❝ The statutory change takes effect immediately and applies to future and past offenses, provided the person has not already been tried or entered a plea.

Trump has done everything but publicly pledge to use his pardon power to allow friends and associates off the hook. Now, the Double Jeopardy jailbreak is closed in New York.

Trump Foundation gets to dissolve and giveaway leftover$ to legit charities


Fake president must give up favorite personal piggy bank

❝ President Donald Trump’s charitable foundation reached a deal Tuesday to go out of business, even as Trump continues to fight allegations he misused its assets to resolve business disputes and boost his run for the White House.

New York’s attorney general and lawyers for the Trump Foundation agreed on a court-supervised process for shutting down the charity and distributing about $1.7 million in remaining funds to other nonprofit groups…

This leaves his presidentship campaign, transition, inauguration and real estate empire continuing under investigation.

❝ NY State AG Barbara Underwood cited “a shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation — including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing, and much more.”

The foundation operated as “little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests,” she said.

Who says Republicans don’t understand perpetual motion? As long as it involves pocketing other peoples’ money – they never stop.

“Frankly, it’s not surprising that the citizenry of this state have absolutely lost faith in their government.”


NY Gov. Cuomo’s top advisor sentenced to six yearsPickett/NYTimes

❝ Joseph Percoco, a former top adviser and confidant to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, was sentenced to six years in prison on Thursday in a case that cast a long and unflattering shadow over the Cuomo administration.

Mr. Percoco, 49, was convicted in March of soliciting and accepting more than $300,000 in bribes from executives of two companies with state business in return for taking official actions on the firms’ behalf.

❝ “I hope that this sentence will be heard in Albany,” Judge Valerie E. Caproni, of Federal District Court in Manhattan, said before sentencing.

She said the case had reached to the highest level of the executive branch. “Frankly, it’s not surprising that the citizenry of this state have absolutely lost faith in their government.”

My question, of course, is…Anyone surprised?

Trump – and the American people – get to see a possible preview of Mueller’s indictment

❝ For a…prophetic vision of the future, you should read the complaint against Trump, his children and his foundation by New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood…

Why prophetic? Because it’s likely a preface to the report or complaint that special counsel Robert Mueller will bring. The alleged crimes described by Underwood are not similar to those being investigated by Mueller. But the behavior is.

❝ U.S. history simply doesn’t offer a lot of reference points for a major-party political candidate who so casually subverts the law and sells out the nation’s highest values. How many Richard Nixons are there?

To believe the accusations that Trump colluded with Russia, laundered vast amounts of money and/or put American foreign policy on the auction block in return for the enrichment of his family requires an awkward leap of faith. You have to believe this leader is both profoundly corrupt — far more so than Nixon — and staggeringly sloppy — again more so than Nixon.

Of course.

Political family values in New York state — father and son charged in bribery plot


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.

U.S. Attorney nails NY State “3 men in a room” culture – with an indictment


Two of the “3 men in a room” — NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, State Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver

One day after charging one of New York’s leading lawmakers with exploiting his office to obtain millions of dollars in kickbacks and bribes, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York delivered a stinging condemnation of the culture of corruption in Albany and said the system was set up to breed misdeeds.

The prosecutor, Preet Bharara, speaking at the New York Law School on Friday, castigated how deal-making has long been done in Albany — by “three men in a room” (the governor, the State Assembly speaker and the State Senate majority leader), who work in secret and without accountability to decide most vital issues.

For decades, state government has essentially been controlled by the three leaders. When they emerge from their private meetings, issues are usually settled, with no cause for public debate.

Mr. Bharara said this structure could lead to the kind of corruption outlined in the criminal complaint unveiled on Thursday against Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat who has been the Assembly speaker for two decades.

If the charges are proved true, he said, then “at least one of the proverbial three men in a room is compromised.”

If that is the case, he said, “then how can we trust that anything that gets decided in Albany is on the level?”

By concentrating power in the hands of so few, he said, good people are discouraged from running for office because they know they will have little influence on important matters…

…Mr. Bharara compared the culture in Albany to Wall Street, where he has aggressively pursued insider trading prosecutions.

Rather than trying to work for a greater good, he said, many people focused on where the line is between legal and illegal, and then steered as close as possible to that border without crossing over.

Such a mentality, he said, is a recipe for trouble…

He urged voters to get angry, to demand change. “My hope is that in bringing the case,” he said, “there will be reform.”

“That almost happened with the Moreland Commission,” Mr. Bharara said, referring to the anticorruption panel established by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo that was looking at lawmakers’ behavior when the governor shut it down…

And that governor, Andrew Cuomo was one of those “3 men in a room”. Which just may have provided his reason for shutting down the commission investigating New York State corruption.

I doubt he counted on Preet Bharara getting a court order requiring everything from the Moreland Commission to be turned over to the US Attorney — much less carrying the investigation through to the indictment of the man who has been State Assembly speaker for more than 20 years, Sheldon Silver.

NY AG files lawsuit against sleazy loan companies

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against personal loan companies for charging annual interest rates as high as 355 percent.

The lawsuit was filed Monday against Western Sky Financial, CashCall, WS Funding, and CashCall owner J. Paul Reddam and Western Sky owner Martin Webb.

The companies charged annual interest rates of 89 percent to more than 355 percent, higher than the maximum rate of 16 percent allowed for lenders not licensed by New York state…

In 2010, the three firms issued loans worth more than $38 million to New Yorkers and were owed as much as $185 million in interest and fees, more than five times the original loan amounts.

The lawsuit seeks a ban on further illegal lending, the cancellation of all outstanding loans, restitution for New Yorkers who paid above the legal limit of 16 percent and disgorgement of profits. The lenders could also face a $5,000 penalty for each violation for deceptive acts and practices.

Overdue.

Mitt Romney’s wealth up front in tax probe of Bain Capital


NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman
Getty Images

The source of Mitt Romney’s personal wealth continues to generate awkward headlines after it emerged that regulators have subpoenaed Bain Capital, the private equity firm he once headed, during an investigation into its tax arrangements.

New York’s Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, is seeking internal documents that will establish whether Bain – along with 11 other firms – has been forgoing management fees in favour of investments in the funds which they manage. Investments are taxed at a far lower rate than ordinary income.

The practice falls into a legal grey area. Some lawyers consider it an aggressive but legitimate means of tax avoidance; others believe it strays beyond the bounds of legality. Bain Capital is believed to have used it to avoid paying around $220 million in taxes, according to The New York Times, which broke news of the subpoena at the weekend.

Mr Romney left Bain over a decade ago, but continues to profit handsomely from his ties to the firm, and in the past two years earned roughly $13 million from his share of its profits…

Consistency truly stalks these creeps – stuck into defending their avoidance of responsibility in America’s class-based economy.

Our nation long ago established a system of fair and progressive taxation and the means and methods arranged by tax lawyers, lobbyists and corrupt politicians to subvert that system stinks on ice.

NY senate leader “looted” $14 million


Pedro Espada
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

New York state Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada and his family looted more than $14 million from a Bronx not-for-profit organization over five years, the state attorney general said on Tuesday.

Cuomo said his office sued Espada and 19 current and former executives of the Comprehensive Community Development Corporation, called Soundview.

“The lawsuit alleges Espada diverted Soundview’s charitable assets and used the money for himself, his family, his friends and his political organization,” according to the attorney general’s statement…

Both Cuomo and Espada are Democrats

Cuomo, in his statement, said: “Siphoning money from a charity would be egregious under any circumstances, but the fact that this was orchestrated by the State Senate Majority Leader makes it especially reprehensible.”

Reprehensible, yes. Surprising? Uh, no.

Another election, another debacle for New York Republicans – UPDATED


Dede drops out – and the national Republican Party was no real help

While GOP nominee Dede Scozzafava’s abrupt withdrawal Saturday from the Nov. 3 House election in upstate New York came as a surprise, it shouldn’t have — over the past decade or so the New York Republican Party has emerged as the political gang that couldn’t shoot straight, an operation so inept that it’s sometimes hard to believe it exists in the nation’s third-largest state.

The collapse of Scozzafava’s campaign—and the quick rise of the national conservative revolt sparked by her nomination—is simply the latest calamity to befall the New York GOP and an illustration of the utter ruin into which the state party has fallen. In just a few short years, the party’s presence in state politics has dwindled to the point of extinction-or irrelevance.

Little more than a decade ago, Republicans controlled the governor’s mansion, the state Senate, one of two U.S. Senate seats, 13 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and the New York City mayor’s office.

Since then, though, the GOP has declined at a steady and accelerating pace. Today, the party has virtually no presence in the congressional delegation-it controls just two of the state’s 29 House seats at the moment. It lacks a single statewide elected officer and represents only a minority in both chambers of the state Legislature-the first time since the New Deal that New York has had a Democratic governor and legislature. In 2006, in an open governor’s race, the Republican nominee failed to win even 30 percent of the vote…

Former Rep. Sherry Boehlert, an upstate centrist who saw his seat flip to the Democratic column after he retired in 2006, sounded a bleak note earlier this week when asked about the special election.

It probably says to a lot of people who are registered Republicans, maybe I should reconsider my registration,” Boehlert said. “I think, from a Republican standpoint, it would provide further evidence for some that there doesn’t appear to be any room in the Republican Party for people who are moderate in their thinking.”

No surprise to me. New Mexican Republicans retained exactly NO seats in our Congressional delegation during the Obama election. The only moderate Republican trying to stay incumbent was beaten in a primary by a right-winger – who proceeded to lose to a Democrat.

The sole important seat acquired since has been mayor of Albuquerque a few weeks ago – with a moderate Republican candidate in an election with the turnout at 25% of registered voters – who got 44% of the vote in a 3-way race against an incumbent trying for a 4th term.

Republican candidates for the next governor’s race have included the former overseer of Guantanamo Bay prison.

UPDATE: Dede endorses the Democrat, Bill Owens, and Newt indulges his hindsight.