Archive for the ‘Corruption’ Category

Monica Conyers Sentenced to 37 Months in Prison

March 11, 2010

Well, yesterday the city of Detroit finally received some well-deserved justice.  Former Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers (wife of the Congressman John Conyers), was sentenced to serve 37 months in a federal prison after she plead guilty to accepting bribes.

Her plea was for taking bribes to support a contract with Synagro, a sludge processing company; however, the trial of her former aide, Sam Riddle, also exposed a series of other payoffs.  Because of that,  U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn was going to increase Conyers’ sentence.  He had originally planned on 3 years, then wanted to move up to 4-5 years, but Conyers protested and claimed she was a victim of an overzealous media out to get her.  She wanted to take back her guilty plea, but the judge wouldn’t allow it.  Instead, he backed down on the sentencing and went back to 3 years (37 months).

Here is a video, courtesy of FOX 2 Detroit:

And when reporters went to talk to Conyers, again courtesy of FOX 2 Detroit:

Conyers absolutely deserved this (in fact, she probably deserved the full 5 years).  She plead guilty to the charge, and then when she saw that she as going to get a REAL punishment, she tried to back out of it.  If she wasn’t guilty, she never should have plead guilty the first time.  Detroit deserved some justice yesterday, and I am happy to see Monica Conyers going to jail.  Her crooked ways and the ways of those like her (Kwame Kilpatrick, for one) are purely disgusting, and not what Detroit needs.  Hopefully, this, along with the sentencing of Kwame Kilpatrick, mark the road to recovery for Detroit politics and an end to corruption in Detroit.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Illinois House Votes to Impeach Governor Rod Blagojevich

January 9, 2009

The Illinois House of Representatives, just in the past hour, voted to impeach Governor Rod Blagojevich (D), 114-1.  The only representative voting against impeachment was Milton Patterson (D-South Chicago).  Representative Elga Jefferies (D-Chicago) voted “present.”  Typical Cook County politics, if you ask me.  I commend the other 114 representatives who voted in the affirmative to impeach Governor Blagojevich.  This will no go to the Senate, who will decide whether or not to remove Blagojevich from office.

Let’s get some quotes:

  • House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago), chair of the House panel that held the impeachment hearings, said, “Due to his conduct, the governor has failed to uphold the oath of office.  He is no longer capable of defending our liberties.  He should be impeached.”
  • Representative Jack Franks (D-Woodstock) characterized the situation as a “plague” on the state.  He later said, “Our duty is to clean up the mess and stop the freak show that has become our government.”
  • Representative John Fritchey (D-Chicago) said, “My Illinois is not the Illinois of George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich. Our Illinois is the Illinois of Abraham Lincoln and Paul Simon and Barack Obama.”

This vote comes after the House investigation committee voted on Thursday, 21-0 to proceed with impeachment for Blagojevich’s abuse of power.  The committee issued a report, saying, “The citizens of this state must have confidence that their governor will faithfully serve the people and put their interests before his own.  It is with profound regret that the committee finds that our current governor has not done so.”

Blagojevich has remained mostly silent for the day, but is expected to release a statement at 2:00 P.M. (I’m assuming that will be in Central time).  Personally, I think for the sake of his dignity (or what’s left of it), and for the sake of Illinois, Blagojevich should resign.  He still maintains his innocence, but I don’t see how he can avoid embarrassment if he goes through with it.  I think Blagojevich will step down this afternoon (or at least announce his resignation – who knows when it’ll go into effect).

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Detroit’s Bond Rating Now Matches the City: Junk Status!

January 8, 2009

Well, here’s more bad news for the city of Detroit: Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services downgraded the city’s bond ratings to junk status.  The ratings on approximately $2.4 billion of unlimited and limited tax debt were cut to BB.  They had formerly been BBB and BBB-, respectively.  S&P analyst Jane Hudson Ridley told reporters that the new rating “reflects a downward trend in some revenue sources that has made balancing operations difficult and the continued difficulty in assessing the city’s financial position, given its chronically late audits and its historical tendency to end the fiscal year with results that compare unfavorably with initial projections.”

The downgrade could mean higher interest rates for the city, but it also allows investors with which the city engaged in credit swap agreements to request a payout from the city.  That payout could total up to $400 million.

Meanwhile, Mayor Ken Cockrel Jr. told reporters, “We are resolved to ensure that Detroit is financially stable.”  Right.  I’m sure that means a lot to the citizens of the city who’s bond rating was just downgraded.  He later continued, saying, “Ultimately the only way to deal with the problem is to fix it.”  Yes, Mr. Mayor – the only way to fix a problem is to fix it.  Who elects these people?

Joseph Harris, the city’s chief financial officer told reporters that city officials are putting together a plan so that creditors won’t demand their money.  He said, “We won’t be able to come up with $400 million.  We don’t expect anyone to ask us for $400 million.  What we expect them to ask us for is some guarantees or some assurances.”

You mean guarantees like, “I didn’t cheat on my wife and cost the city millions of dollars in a whistle-blower lawsuit”?  Oh wait, those guarantees were false.

Irvin Corley Jr., the City Council’s fiscal analyst, told reporters, “I would think they would understand that the city is not in a position to come up with $400 million.”  So, wouldn’t that make them want their money ASAP even more?

The reason S&P downgraded the status, was that the city was turning in yearly audits late.  This comes after former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick had about S&P raising the city’s rating from negative to stable.  Cockrel shares a different sentiment, saying that S&P officials feel that they were deceived by the city.

Harris continued his chat with reporters, saying, “We’ve got to put together a budget whereby our revenues either equal or exceed our expenditures.”  HOLY CRAP!  A budget where you bring in more money than you spend?  IS THIS LEGAL???  The fact that the city’s CFO has to actually say that statement troubles me.  Isn’t it common knowledge that you’re expenditures should be lower than your revenues, otherwise you LOSE MONEY?  Seriously, where do these people come from?

Perhaps Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel will be able to enlighten us.  After telling reporters that this is “as serious as you can get,” she said that “We as a City Council, as a community and as a group of city leaders are going to have to address the fundamental restructuring of city government.”  That might have been the smartest thing any city official said on the issue.

But in all seriousness, this is just sad.  Sure, other cities (New Orleans, for example) are in the same situation, but that doesn’t excuse it.  The city of Detroit needs COMPLETE overhaul.  I still say Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson the Great should just annex Detroit and become Supreme Ruler of it so that he can clean it up a bit.  I don’t know, maybe I’m asking for too much.  Maybe a balanced budget just isn’t in the cards for Detroit.  Maybe Detroit’s fate dooms it to utter disaster.  But maybe, just maybe, this isn’t a problem of fate or stars or cards, but a problem with GOVERNMENT, a corrupt government to be exact.  If Detroit cleaned up it’s act, I guarantee that it could get a better bond rating.

But Detroit can’t do this when it’s citizens continue to vote scum like Kilpatrick into office.  Detroit, the blame, for now, rests on your own shoulders – it’s your dumb mistakes at the ballot box that cost you this time, and now, it’s up to you to fix it.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Bill Richardson Withdraws Nomination for Commerce Secretary Amidst Corruption Allegations

January 4, 2009

Well, apparently I came back from vacation to quite a busy news day – Governor Bill Richardson (D-NM) has withdrawn his nomination to be Obama’s Secretary of Commerce.  Richardson, meanwhile, will keep his position of governor while he’s facing a federal grand jury investigation.  That investigation involves allegations that he exchanged government contracts for contributions to three of his political committees.  Richardson denies that he did anything wrong, but the investigation won’t be finished before he has to go to a Senate confirmation hearing, and that could delay his confirmation.  Richardson put out the following statement:

For nearly three decades, I have been honored to serve my state and our nation in Congress, at the U.N., as Secretary of Energy and as governor. So when the President-elect asked me to serve as Secretary of Commerce, I felt a duty to answer the call. I felt that duty particularly because America is facing such extraordinary economic challenges. The Department of Commerce must play an important role in solving them by helping to grow the new jobs and businesses America so badly needs.

It is also because of that sense of urgency about the work of the Commerce Department that I have asked the President-elect not to move forward with my nomination at this time. I do so with great sorrow. But a pending investigation of a company that has done business with New Mexico state government promises to extend for several weeks or, perhaps, even months.

Let me say unequivocally that I and my Administration have acted properly in all matters and that this investigation will bear out that fact. But I have concluded that the ongoing investigation also would have forced an untenable delay in the confirmation process. Given the gravity of the economic situation the nation is facing, I could not in good conscience ask the President-elect and his Administration to delay for one day the important work that needs to be done.

So, for now, I will remain in the job I love, Governor of New Mexico, and will continue to work every day, with Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish, to make a positive difference in the lives of New Mexicans. I believe she will be a terrific governor in the future. I appreciate the confidence President-elect Obama has shown in me, and value our friendship and working partnership. I told him that I am eager to serve in the future in any way he deems useful. And like all Americans, I pray for his success and the success of our beloved country.

And the following is President-Elect Obama’s statement:

It is with deep regret that I accept Governor Bill Richardson’s decision to withdraw his name for nomination as the next Secretary of Commerce. Governor Richardson is an outstanding public servant and would have brought to the job of Commerce Secretary and our economic team great insights accumulated through an extraordinary career in federal and state office. It is a measure of his willingness to put the nation first that he has removed himself as a candidate for the Cabinet in order to avoid any delay in filling this important economic post at this critical time. Although we must move quickly to fill the void left by Governor Richardson’s decision, I look forward to his future service to our country and in my administration.

So, there you go – the New Mexicans get stuck with an allegedly corrupt Governor, Obama is without a Commerce Secretary, and he is stuck in the middle of yet another pay-and-play scandal.  He really has not had much good luck since getting elected.

I’ll continue to follow this story (as well as the Blagojevich story).  I think that we’ll probably have news on the Blagojevich story sooner though, since it looks like this investigation could take a while.

Honestly, I’m kinda getting tired of hearing about all these corrupt politicians.  Why can’t Americans just have some good civil servants for a while?  Holding office should be about helping your country, not about lining your pockets.

I wonder, if he is cleared of any wrongdoing, and Obama is reelected, if Obama will put him in his 2012 cabinet.  Only time will tell (but I hope Obama isn’t reelected – 4 years of Obama will be too much anyway).

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich Arrested on Corruption Charges Regarding Obama’s Senate Replacement Selection

December 9, 2008

This is currently a developing story–this morning, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) was arrested and charged with corruption.  His chief of staff, John Harris, was also indicted this morning.  This is the result of a 5 year investigation of corruption allegations.

A copy of the affidavit, from the United States Attorney’s office in the Northern District of Illinois can be found here.  Parts of it are actually pretty funny, if it wasn’t so sad that this is a government official we’re talking about.

Here are the two counts that Blagojevich has been charged with:

Count One

From in or about 2002 to the present, in Cook County, in the Northern District of Illinois, defendants did, conspire with each other and with others to devise and participate in a scheme to defraud the State of Illinois and the people of the State of Illinois of the honest services of ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH and JOHN HARRIS, in furtherance of which the mails and interstate wire communications would be used, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1341,1343, and 1346; all in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 1349.

Count Two

Beginning no later than November 2008 to the present, in Cook County, in the Northern District of Illinois, defendants ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH and JOHN HARRIS, being agents of the State of Illinois, a State government which during a one-year period, beginning January 1, 2008 and continuing to the present, received federal benefits in excess of $10,000, corruptly solicited and demanded a thing of value, namely, the firing of certain Chicago Tribune editorial members responsible for widely-circulated editorials critical of ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH, intending to be influenced and rewarded in connection with business and transactions of the State of Illinois involving a thing of value of $5,000 or more, namely, the provision of millions of dollars in financial assistance by the State of Illinois, including through the Illinois Finance Authority, an agency of the State of Illinois, to the Tribune Company involving the Wrigley Field baseball stadium; in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 666(a)(1)(B) and 2.

He has been accused of saying, “I want to make money” as a result of his Senate appointment to replace President-Elect Barack Obama.  The job of replacing the former Senator falls soley on the Governor’s shoulders, under Illinois law.

Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said that Blagojevich (it gets easier to type after you’ve done it a few times) “put a for sale sign on the naming of a United States Senator.”

The affidavit even cites a recording where Blagojevich said, “I’m going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain.  You hear what I’m saying.  And if I don’t get what I want and I’m not satisfied with it, then I’ll just take the Senate seat myself.”

According to the affidavit, there are 5 candidates in the running.  The affidavit makes  it sound like Obama (who is referred to as “President-elect”) wants “Candidate 1” to get the seat.  The affidavit shows conversations between Blagojevich and Harris and others where Blagojevich wants to make a deal with the President-elect, but there are no accusations (or evidence) that Obama knew about any of this.  All the affidavit indicates is that Obama had indicated who he wanted to replace him, and that’s a perfectly legal and normal thing.

So far, the Obama transition team has not returned any phone calls to the press.

I’m going to give you some quotes from the affidavit (warning: the following does contain some harsh language) (the page numbers are the pages of the actual affidavit, not the PDF, which contains 2 introduction pages which are not numbered):

  • On November 3, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with Deputy Governor A. … “if . . . they’re not going to offer anything of any value, then I might just take it.” (p. 58)
  • Later on November 3, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with Advisor A. By this time, media reports indicated that Senate Candidate 1, an advisor to the Presidentelect, was interested in the Senate seat if it became vacant, and was likely to be supported by the President-elect. During the call, ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated, “unless I get something
    real good for [Senate Candidate 1], shit, I’ll just send myself, you know what I’m saying.” … “I’m going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain. You hear what I’m saying. And if I don’t get what I want and I’m not satisfied with it, then I’ll just take the Senate seat myself.” … “[the Senate seat] is a fucking valuable thing, you just don’t give it away for nothing.” (56)
  • ROD BLAGOJEVICH analogized his situation to that of a sports agent shopping a potential free agent to various teams, stating “how much are you offering, [President-elect]? What are you offering, [Senate Candidate 2]? . . . Can always go to. . . [Senate Candidate 3].” Later ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he will make a decision on the Senate seat “in good faith . . . but it is not coming for free. . . .It’s got to be good stuff for the people of Illinois and good for me.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH states “[President-elect], you want it? Fine. But, its got to be good or I could always take [the Senate seat].” (57)
  • On November 5, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with Advisor A about the Senate seat. … In regards to the Senate seat, ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated “I’ve got this thing and it’s fucking golden, and, uh, uh, I’m just not giving it up for fuckin’ nothing. I’m not gonna do it. And, and I can always use it. I can parachute me there.” (59)
  • HARRIS suggested a “three-way deal,” and explained that a three-way deal like the one discussed would give the President-elect a “buffer so there is no obvious quid pro quo for [Senate Candidate 1].” (61)
  • ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that the consultants (Advisor B and another consultant are believed to be on the call at that time) are telling him that he has to “suck it up” for two years and do nothing and give this “motherfucker [the President-elect] his senator. Fuck him. For nothing? Fuck him.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH states that he will put “[Senate Candidate 4]” in the Senate “before I just give fucking [Senate Candidate 1] a fucking Senate seat and I don’t get anything.” (Senate Candidate 4 is a Deputy Governor of the State of Illinois). ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he needs to find a way to take the “financial stress” off of his family and that his wife is as qualified or more qualified than another specifically named individual to sit on corporate boards. According to ROD BLAGOJEVICH, “the immediate challenge [is] how do we take some of the financial pressure off of our family.” (63-64)
  • ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that if he appoints Senate Candidate 4 to the Senate seat and, thereafter, it appears that ROD BLAGOJEVICH might get impeached, he could “count on [Senate Candidate 4], if things got hot, to give [the Senate seat] up and let me parachute over there.” HARRIS said, “you can count on [Senate Candidate 4] to do that.” Later in the conversation, ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he knows that the President-elect wants Senate Candidate 1 for the Senate seat but “they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. Fuck them.” (66)

So, as of now, it’s really unclear who all is ivolved in this, but it does appear that some of the potential Senate appointees were involved.  I’ll keep updating this as we find out more abut who all was involved.

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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