Somehow The Government Doesn’t Seem To Be Able To Get This Done

WITN Channel 7 posted an article on Thursday about the recovery funds for Hurricane Matthew. Yes, that’s Matthew–not Flo.

The article reports that because of administrative mistakes and inexperience, federal housing funds for victims of Hurricane Matthew have been delayed. As of July (two years after the hurricane) only 6% of the hurricane relief funds have been distributed.

Many organizations, such as Operation Blessing, Samaritan’s Purse, and other groups, have been working to help victims of Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Flo repair their homes, but are still a lot of people waiting for help.

In New Bern, it is currently very difficult to find a contractor to do repair work. Some less-than-ethical contractors came in from out of state, did part of a job, and left with the payment. The New Bern Convention Center is not expected to open until September.

It is a disgrace that two years after a natural disaster people are still waiting for federal aid. It is also discouraging that we have had a major disaster since Hurricane Matthew that we have not fully recovered from and that this year’s hurricane season is rapidly approaching.

 

 

Judicial Watch Investigates

Judicial Watch is one of my favorite organizations. The have turned the use of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests into an art form. They are a non-biased group that is simply demanding transparency in government–from both parties.

Yesterday One America News Network posted an article about the latest FOIA request from Judicial Watch.

The article reports:

Conservative watchdog group filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the FBI in an effort to pierce the veil of the resources used in the $25 million probe.

Specifically, the organization is looking to obtain all communications and payments made to the author of the anti-Trump dossier — Christopher Steele.

The former British intelligence officer was funded by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee in order to compile his 35 page document.

Judicial Watch is now trying to determine the FBI’s involvement.

It’s already known that the FBI made 11 payments to Steele, but the details behind those payments were heavily redacted.

Conservatives suspect rogue actors at the bureau were looking to reverse the results of the 2016 election, which is something Attorney General William Barr said he’s looking into.

I don’t think they were rogue actors–I think the operation began very high up in the FBI, but we will have to wait to see if that is where the trail leads.

Unequal Justice?

The U.K. Daily Mail posted an article today about Jussie Smollett, who recently claimed to have been attacked in Chicago by Trump supporters. (Trump supporters in Chicago?) Smollett was facing 48 years behind bars on 16 felony charges for allegedly lying about the attack. The Bond Proffer is included in the article and makes for very interesting reading.

Evidence points to the fact that the attack was staged and that two of Smollett’s fellow actors were paid (by check) to help stage the attack.

The article states:

The charges against Jussie Smollett have been sensationally dropped and a judge has sealed the case after the actor agreed to pay $10,000 in bond forfeiture. 

The Empire actor appeared in Chicago on Tuesday for an emergency hearing after his lawyers announced the news in a statement.  

Smollett, 36, was facing up to 48 years behind bars on 16 felony counts of filing a false police report.   

On Tuesday, the charges were dropped after Smollett agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bond. 

It remains unclear what prompted the decision but the Cook County’s State’s Attorney’s office said it was due in part to Smollett’s ‘volunteer service in the community.’  

I don’t mean to be cynical here, but this does not increase my faith in justice in Chicago.

I am not sure any purpose would have been served by sending Smollett to jail for 48 years. However, I wonder if Joe Sixpack would have gotten the same treatment. It is interesting to me that the judge has sealed the case after the $10,000 payment.

Campaign Finance Violations On Steroids

Yesterday The Washington Examiner posted an article about some campaign finance violations by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti. The violations listed are not minor violations, there are some major amounts of money involved here.

The article reports:

Two political action committees founded by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s top aide funneled over $1 million in political donations into two of his own private companies, according to a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission on Monday.

…The arrangement skirted reporting requirements and may have violated the $5,000 limit on contributions from federal PACs to candidates, according to the complaint filed by the National Legal and Policy Center, a government watchdog group.

Campaign finance attorneys described the arrangement as “really weird” and an indication “there’s something amiss.” They said there was no way of telling where the political donations went — meaning they could have been pocketed or used by the company to pay for off-the-books campaign operations.

PACs are required to disclose how and when funds are spent, including for expenditures such as advertisements, fundraising emails, donations to candidates, and payments for events and to vendors.

The private companies to which Chakrabarti transferred the money from the PACs are not subject to these requirements.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article for the details.

This is interesting for a number of reasons. Was it a rookie mistake or was it planned corruption? Is this coming out now because AOC has become a problem for the Democrats–she is so far left that she may cost them votes in 2020?

The article concludes:

Bradley A. Smith, a former chairman of the FEC, said he has never seen such an arrangement. “It’s a really weird situation,” he said. “I see almost no way that you can do that without it being at least a reporting violation, quite likely a violation of the contribution limits. You might say from a campaign finance angle that the LLC was essentially operating as an unregistered committee.”

Chakrabarti declined to comment on the FEC complaint or provide details about his companies’ financial activities. Corbin Trent, a spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez, declined to comment.

Zeynab Day, communications director for the Brand New Congress PAC, said Chakrabarti was not currently affiliated with the group and that it recently went through a “transition period.” She referred questions about the LLC to Chakrabarti. “I’m unable to answer any questions about the LLC … I am not informed about them. We are not an affiliated group,” she said.

A spokesperson for Justice Democrats said he did not know why the PAC paid so much money to Chakrabarti’s LLCs. When asked what the Justice Democrats PAC does on a daily basis, he said, “It’s very clear what we do,” but declined to elaborate.

Chakrabarti founded Brand New Congress PAC, in April 2016. According to a statement released by Justice Democrats PAC last May, Chakrabarti “was the only controlling member” of the company Brand New Congress LLC and “took no salary.” The statement added: “Saikat is lucky to have a small side business that generates him enough income that he is able to do all of this work as a volunteer.”

If this story is accurately reported, it is bound to get more interesting!

The Internal Revenue Service And Tax Fraud

On Tuesday, Byron York posted an article at the Washington Examiner website about widespread fraud in the Earned Income Tax Credit program.

The article reports:

“The Internal Revenue Service continues to make little progress in reducing improper payments of Earned Income Tax Credits,” a press release from Treasury’s inspector general for Tax Administration says. “The IRS estimates that 22 to 26 percent of EITC payments were issued improperly in Fiscal Year 2013. The dollar value of these improper payments was estimated to be between $13.3 billion and $15.6 billion.”

That’s not pocket change. Remember that these are the people who will administer the revenue part of ObamaCare.

The article explains that the IRS is not making any serious effort to end this fraud:

The new report found that the IRS is simply ignoring the requirements of a law called the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act, signed by President Obama in 2010, which requires the IRS to set fraud-control targets and keep improper payments below ten percent of all Earned Income Tax Credit payouts. “The IRS continues to not provide all required IPERA information to the Department of the Treasury,” the new report says. “… For the third consecutive year, the IRS did not publish annual reduction targets or report an improper payment rate of less than 10 percent for the EITC.”

Let’s eliminate all bonuses paid to IRS employees until this fraud is at least under control. That might cause the IRS to develop some interest in solving the problem.

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Improper Unemployment Payments

Yesterday CNS News posted a story about $5,159,629,434 in improper unemployment insurance payments for all 50 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia for the period July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012.

The data is included in a chart on the Department of Labor (DOL) website.

The article reports:

The DOL outlines its “core strategies to reduce improper payments” and other actions it is taking to improve performance at the state level, including providing funding to the states.  (See TOP Document.pdf )

“On Sept. 27, 2012 the Department announced the award of approximately $169 million in supplemental budget requests (SBRs) to 33 states for projects related to program integrity and performance to address their root causes most likely to quickly reduce improper payments.”

I don’t think fraud is the biggest problem with unemployment insurance. Now that unemployment benefits can be collected for more than a year, how much incentive do people have to look for work during that year? The fraud in the payments needs to be addressed, but so does the length of time benefits can be collected. I understand that the economy is not creating jobs, but does extending the amount of time people can collect money for being unemployed actually help the economy,  the unemployment rate, or those people looking for jobs.

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