Category Archives: Government Ethics

Blagojevich Gets the Boot

Fox News Reports:

Illinois senators stripped Gov. Rod Blagojevich of power Thursday in the final act of a political drama that handed the reins of state government to his estranged lieutenant governor, Pat Quinn, and likely will end Blagojevich’s career in politics.

Senators voted unanimously to convict Blagojevich and bar him from holding political office in the state again. Shortly after the vote, Quinn was sworn in as Illinois’ new governor.

The outcome was never in doubt. In fact, Quinn went to the state Capitol earlier in the day to prepare to be sworn in.

I haven’t been following this story as closely as others but the fact that only one person in either house of the Illinois Legislature voted in support of the Governor tells me that they really had the goods on the guy. It’s not often that legislators agree on anything particularly in matters of impeachment which are usually decided along party lines.

Render Unto Caesar Whatever The Hell He Wants

Commit a crime? No? Have a reason to carry a lot of cash? Yes? Don’t expect to hang onto it:

Over at the poker forum Two Plus Two, pro poker player David Peat writes that he was essentially mugged by DEA agents at an airport in Toledo, Ohio.

According to Peat, he and his girlfriend had originally planned to fly back to Las Vegas together after visiting her family. But after purchasing their tickets, Peat decided to fly to L.A. to play in a poker game. He bought a last minute, first-class ticket, and paid in cash. That apparently was enough to set off red flags.

Peat says he was accosted by several DEA agents, who asked him questions about who he was and where he was going. He told them he was a poker player, and had $15,000 in cash in his pocket. They first let him go, but then chased him down, and told him he’d need to come with them for questioning. Peat says the agents then confiscated all of his money, as well as his $50,000 Rolex watch. He says they gave him a receipt, and told him to expect more information in the mail.

There’s no corroboration of the story as of yet, but I see no reason why he would make it up… Further, it doesn’t seem entirely out of character for the Federalis.

Now, I’ll admit that someone traveling with $15K in cash is a bit suspicious. That doesn’t make him a drug dealer, though. It seems to me that he had a pretty simple explanation for carrying so much cash — in his job as a high-stakes poker player, he needs it. And the link Radley Balko found suggests that he could support his story rather easily. Notwithstanding whether the IRS might have an issue with him, the DEA has no reason to. Yet all that didn’t matter. His cash is now in their hands, and he’s likely going to have to prove — beyond a reasonable doubt — that it’s not drug related. Considering that his poker opponents probably didn’t give him receipts for their losses, that might not be easy to do.

For David Peat, I wish him luck recovering his assets from the DEA. For the agents, I wish upon them a punishment far worse than living in Toledo. Something about losing an extremity in a freak x-ray machine accident sounds about right.

Treasury Bars Lobbyists From TARP II

Not sure how they intend to accomplish this, and the WaPo story suggests they’re not sure either:

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner issued new guidelines yesterday aimed at eliminating the influence of lobbyists on the $700 billion financial bailout program by restricting their contact with officials who are reviewing applications for money and deciding how to disburse it.

Treasury officials also will seek to limit political influence over the funds, saying they will use similar restrictions that forbid such influence in tax matters as a model. The department’s Office of Financial Stability will be required to certify to Congress that each government investment is based solely on objective criteria. As part of that effort, only banks recommended by their primary regulator will be eligible for capital investments.

Great, so lobbyists won’t have any more influence over TARP II than they will over our tax code. I feel better.

UPDATE 1/28 2 PM PST: Geithner follows this up by announcing an ex-Goldman Sachs lobbyist as his chief of staff. Hat Tip – Cafe Hayek.

County Governments Across the Country to Target Citizens…

…with their own tax dollars.

It seems the “taxpayer-funded National Association of Counties (NACO) is currently seeking an applicant among whose duties will be to ‘combating anti-government/anti-tax efforts.'”

That would be sort of like stealing money from a friend in order to use that money to seduce his wife. Except I don’t know too many people who consider any level of government their friend.

Here’s the text of their craigslist advertisement:

http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/doc/npo/1002884345.html
Public Affairs Special Projects Coordinator (Washington, DC)
Reply to: resumes@naco.org [?]
Date: 2009-01-22, 9:53AM EST

A national association representing county governments is seeking a Public Affairs Special Projects Coordinator to work on two projects. One project seeks to reestablish a partnership between the federal government and America’s counties. The second will focus on developing a national strategy for combating anti-government/anti-tax efforts. The ideal candidate should have knowledge of county, state and federal governmental structure and interrelationships; experience at the federal or congressional level; experience running issue or public service campaigns; and excellent oral and written communication skills.
Send cover letter, resume and salary history to resumes@naco.org.
PostingID: 1002884345

Grover Norquist’s commentary regarding the latest incident of government power grabbers getting caught with their pants down:

“County-level elected officials who agree with taxpayers that it is wrong to use taxpayer money to fight against taxpayers should insist that NACO end this effort … Those county officials who do not want to be associated with using tax dollars this way should withdraw from NACO and have their dues refunded to taxpayers.”

Back to the premise I’ve been maintaining for years: the true political battle line is government vs. the people.

H/T to my old drinkin’ bud Robert Stacy McCain

Change Libertarians Can Believe In?

There’s no secret that most of the Obama Administration agenda is at odds with the Lockean rights of life, liberty, and property at almost every turn. Obama’s views on freedom are more along the lines of FDR’s so-called “Four Freedoms”. As disturbing as this agenda is, I thought it would be important to identify policies which actually do promote liberty based on the more traditional Lockean model.

These agenda items are the only ones I can at this point say I am comfortable with. There are probably more items I could support but without knowing the details of many of Obama’s policies, I’m hesitant to do so (mostly due to his reliance on doublespeak, i.e. redefining welfare as tax cuts). The two most promising policies I have found so far are in the areas of civil rights and ethics.

Civil Rights:

Eliminate Sentencing Disparities Between Crack and Powder-Based Cocaine

Expand the use of drug courts for first-time non-violent drug offenders

Equal Rights for LGBT couples

Repeal the Defense of Marriage Act

Repeal “Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell”

Ethics:

A More Open and Transparent Federal Government (complete with searchable internet databases)

“Sunlight Before Signing” – Five days for the general public to review “non-emergency”* legislation before bills are signed into law.

The Transparency and Integrity in Earmarks Act – A law which would name names of legislators and the earmarks they request, require written justification for the earmark, and require 72 hours for the full senate to review and approve the earmark.

Make all White House Regulatory Communications Public and Release Presidential Records

Protect Whistleblowers

Eliminate Inefficient Government Programs and Slash Earmarks**

Libertarians, myself included, may be disappointed that these libertarian friendly policies do not go nearly far enough. Having said that, I do believe we should encourage these changes even if they are mere baby steps in the right direction.
» Read more

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