Rep. Raul M. Grijalva quietly arranged a “severance package” in 2015 for one of his top staffers who threatened a lawsuit claiming the Arizona Democrat was frequently drunk and created a hostile workplace environment, revealing yet another way that lawmakers can use taxpayer dollars to hide their misbehavior on Capitol Hill.
While the Office of Compliance has been the focus of outrage on Capitol Hill for hush-money payouts in sexual harassment cases, the Grijalva payout points to another office that lawmakers can use to sweep accusations under the rug with taxpayer-funded settlements negotiated by the House Employment Counsel, which acts as the attorney for all House offices. –Washington Times
PALMER: I don’t think that the culture has — we haven’t seen major shift, right? And I would also just point out, members policing themselves, a very bad track record of it, whether it’s about these kind of scandals, whether it’s about how they use their finances. There is — nobody is saying that they’re going to change the whole process by which this is done, that they’re going to throw out members if they actually have sexual harassment cases. This is a big problem for them.
ROBERTS: The fact that people are willing to be public can change things. I mean, we all talked about for years.
RADDATZ: A little bit at a time.
ROBERTS: Don’t get in the elevator with him, you know, and the whole every female in the press corps knew that, right, don’t get in elevator with him. Now people are saying it out loud. And I think that does make a difference.
Comment: She apparently did not recognize that her admission is as damning to the cozy DC press as it is to Conyers.
She was casually reporting that, even after the Weinstein scandal, no one in the Washington Press corps was willing to expose what all insiders knew.
Btw, I didn’t see other news outlets picking up Roberts’ admission and broadcasting it widely.
Media bias involves omission, as well as commission.
Comment #2:If Conyers’ conduct was habitual and well-known, then Nancy Pelosi’s defense of him is even more noxious.
Comment #3: Please note that I have written extensively on Roy Moore’s predatory behavior. This post about Conyers is not a partisan one.
Lawmakers in both parties say members of Congress shouldn’t be allowed to use taxpayer money to settle harassment claims without being named.
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) proposed legislation Wednesday that would mandate public disclosure of sexual harassment settlements — and ban Congress from footing the bill for such deals in the future. Within a few hours of introducing his bill, DeSantis had been contacted by several Republican and Democratic lawmakers asking to sign on.
“It’s taxpayer dollars at issue; taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being spent,” DeSantis said in an interview.
Comments:This is public money, and the public has a right to know how it is spent.
Given the public outrage, I suspect legislators from both parties will rush to have their names listed as co-sponsors.
I don’t see how some version of this proposal doesn’t pass. The only way to kill it would be in back rooms, and I think the pressure is too great to do it. In fact, that’s part of what the public is angry about: background deals to protect themselves.
The bill should deal with non-disclosure clauses, as well.
The problem is not limited to the legislative broach. We need to know whether such payments have been made in the Executive Branch and the Judiciary.
I suspect we will see similar initiatives in state legislatures–for the same reasons.
Finally, we need to have a debate about whether public money should even be used for these purposes. The victims need to be compensated, but why should taxpayers, rather than the victimizers, pay?
Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple
◆ There are three stories today about Russia’s involvement in US politics, and all three are bad for the Democrats
How big the stories become–how serious the resulting scandals–depends on additional investigation and investigative reporting.
◆ Story #1: That scandalous, largely-discredited “Russian Dossier,” which led to the federal investigations of the Trump Campaign, was financed by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary’s Campaign
The Washington Post broke the story (link here) They report that the Clinton campaign, using a Washington lawyer as a cutout, retained Fusion GPS to do the dirty work. Fusion GPS has fought strenuously to prevent any disclosure of who paid them and invoked their 5th amendment privilege against self-incrimination to avoid testifying before Congress.
The Clinton campaign, like others, used a lawyer to hire these contractors so their communications would be protected by attorney-client privilege.
The Clinton people have never acknowledged a connection to Fusion GPS or the dossier.
◆ Story #2: Mueller’s Russia Probe turns toward key Democratic insiders
Paul Manafort is also a major target but, according to reports, this top Republican operative worked closely with the Podesta Group, closely aligned with the Clintons.
A thus-far-reliable source who used to be involved with Clinton allies John and Tony Podesta told Tucker Carlson that press reports appearing to implicate President Trump in Russian collusion are exaggerated.
The source, who Carlson said he would not yet name, said he worked for the brothers’ Podesta Group and was privy to some information from Robert Mueller’s special investigation.
While media reports describe former “Black, Manafort & Stone” principal Paul Manafort as Trump’s main tie to the investigation, the source said it is Manafort’s role as a liaison between Russia and the Podesta Group that is drawing the scrutiny.
The “vehicle” Manafort worked for was what Carlson called a “sham” company with a headquarters listed in Belgium but whose contact information was linked to Kiev, the Ukrainian capital. –Fox News
Comment: National news media have not reported this news.
◆ Story #3: Russian bribery, money-laundering, speaker fees to Bill Clinton, and over $100 million to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary was Sec. of State and the Russians were federal approval to buy US uranium assets
Actually House Republicans announced two new investigations (link here):
In the first of two back-to-back announcements, the top Republicans on the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees said they would formally examine the Obama Justice Department’s investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s emails. Less than an hour later, Republicans from the Intelligence and Oversight Committees said they were opening a separate inquiry into the administration’s approval of a 2010 agreement that left a Russian-backed company in control of much of the United States’ uranium. –New York Times
Comment: The NYT story downplays the significance and suggests it is all simply partisan squabbling about a now-departed administration.
I think they underestimate the possible ramifications of both investigations.
The Uranium One deal is a particularly thorny issue for the Clintons and the Obama Administration because Obama’s FBI and DOJ knew of Russian bribery and other criminal activity before the deal was approved. Congress was not informed, as it should have been. Their objections might have blocked the deal. The public was kept completely in the dark. Mueller was head of the FBI at this time. One of the Russians reportedly involved in this illegal activity was given a US visa twice during this period by Hillary’s State Department. One major question is whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has recused himself from these Russia issues, will appoint a Special Counsel to investigate this and perhaps the Clinton emails, where then FBI-director Comey wrote a memo clearing Hillary long before key witnesses had been interviewed.
The most important implication: The FBI (under Mueller) looks to be deeply compromised.
◆Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) will not run for re-election. He and Sen. Bob Corker (D-TN), who is also retiring, lacerated Pres. Trump in speeches, interviews, and social media. Their rebukes are reported here(Reuters)
Flake’s attack was on Trump’s conduct and dishonesty. Flake’s actual voting record is very supportive of Trump legislation.
Flake, who has very high disapproval numbers in his home state, was likely to lose his primary contest.
All seven members of the Party’s Standing Committee were in their 60s. Rising stars in their 50s were not included.
Comment: The absence of an heir-apparent, Xi’s cult of personality, and his name’s inclusion in the party constitution all raise speculation he might eventually seek a third-term, which had been ruled out after Mao’s death.
“On many levels, mathematics itself operates as Whiteness. Who gets credit for doing and developing mathematics, who is capable in mathematics, and who is seen as part of the mathematical community is generally viewed as White,” [Prof. Rochelle] Gutiérrez argued [in a book aimed at K-12 math teachers].
Truly, you cannot make this up. Here’s what the professor writes:
If one is not viewed as mathematical, there will always be a sense of inferiority that can be summoned,” she says, adding that there are so many minorities who “have experienced microaggressions from participating in math classrooms… [where people are] judged by whether they can reason abstractly.”
To fight this, Gutiérrez encourages aspiring math teachers to develop a sense of “political conocimiento,” a Spanish phrase for “political knowledge for teaching.”
Comment #1: Please note, Prof. Gutiérrez thinks it is rank racism to judge people in a math class on whether they can reason abstractly. In fact, math is abstract reasoning.
Comment #2: Why, Professor, does all this whiteness and white privilege in math not seem to hold back Asians and Asian-Americans in US math classes? This is not a trivial issue or mere debating point. Note, too, that many of the Asian-American students come from lower-income families. Hmmmm.
Comment #3: Gutiérrez is a professor of education, where this kind of political blather, masquerading as scholarship, is commonplace. Poor scholarship and political propaganda are major problems in Ed Schools across the country. So is the soft curriculum, which leads to adverse selection (namely, compared to other students, those who major in education consistently have some of the lowest SATs and lowest GPAs outside their majors).
I remember all the justified complaints by feminists when a Barbie doll said, “Math is hard.” They said, rightly, that the comments were demeaning to women and sending the wrong message to girls. Sorry to see Prof. Gutiérrez sending the same message to minorities and dressing up in the costume of social justice.
At least 10 dead so far, 1500 buildings destroyed.
Comment: There are other fires in Southern California. Together, they challenge the state’s ability to respond.
◆Tennessee’s centrist Republican Senator, Bob Corker, doubles down on his accusations against Trump
The New York Times broke the news and did an in-depth interview with Corker, whose attacks on Trump are as personal as DJT’s angry tweets at Corker. The Times’ latest article is here.
Comment:Corker’s attacks are important for three reasons
First, according to NYT reporters, Corker’s criticisms are merely the public voice of what most Senate Republicans say. Steve Bannon has said the same thing: establishment Republicans hate Trump and want to sink his agenda.
Second, since the Democrats oppose every Trump legislative initiative, he only chance to pass legislation is to hold together a narrow Republican majority. Now, Corker and McCain seem determined to oppose Trump. Add Rand Paul, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski to that grouping and you fall well short of 50 votes. (And most legislation will require 60.)
Third, Corker, as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is privy to the highest-levels of US intel and diplomacy. He has recently said that Trump could be leading the US into World War III.
The indicted husband-and-wife team of former IT aides to Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz sat directly across from each other at the defendants’ table in federal court Friday in Washington, D.C., but refused to look at each other.
Even as they are co-defendants in a U.S. case, Imran Awan’s own wife, Hina Alvi, has become the latest person to accuse him of fraud, filing papers against him in Pakistani court, according to Pakistani news channel ARY.
Awan, his wife and two brothers — all previously on the payroll of House Democrats — became subjects of a Capitol Police investigation last year after investigators concluded they were submitting falsified invoices for equipment and had transferred “massive” data off a House server. After he was banned from the House network, Awan left a laptop with the username RepDWS in a Capitol Hill phone booth.
Although The Washington Post has reported that investigators found that Awan and his relatives made unauthorized access to a congressional server 5,400 times, Wasserman Schultz has said concern about the matter was the stuff of the “right-wing media circus fringe.” –Daily Caller
Comment: Whenever the defendants turn on each other, the prosecution benefits.
What do we need to know?
Were the Democrats’ confidential information shared with outsiders, including foreign actors?
Why did Debbie Wasserman Schultz stick by her accused aide for so long? Did he have anything on her?
How deep and wide does this scandal go?
Comment #2: Mainstream media has shown zero interest in this massive scandal.
Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple
◆ Leaks that Pres. Trump plans to “decertify” the Iran nuclear deal
That action doesn’t kill the multilateral deal, but it does begin a process that could.
When Trump makes his formal decision about Iran’s behavior, as he is required to do periodically by law, the Congress will then have to decide whether to reimpose sanctions.
Comment: The issue is complicated because (1) the agreement is multilateral and most other signatories want to stay in, (2) Obama front-loaded nearly all the benefits for Iran, among the most incompetent negotiating moves ever, and (3) the agreement does not limit Iran’s deadly, malevolent action in other areas, including missile tests (another major shortcoming).
Obama, Susan Rice, and John Kerry thought that Iran’s financial windfall would make them a more responsible actor.
That magical thinking is best captured by a Yiddish phrase:
Comment: The Mississippi Gulf Coast has no protection, but New Orleans has wetlands to the south, which ought to afford some protection. Unfortunately, those wetlands–and the protection they afford–have shrunk dramatically over the past few decades, thanks to canals cut for pipelines and ships. The water moving through those cuts has changed the local ecology and harmed the wetlands.
◆Harvey Weinstein, film mogul and, according to interviews in the NYT, perpetrator of serial sexual harassment against actresses and employees
The New York Times broke the story as an exclusive, with vivid details and on-the-record accusations (link here).
Now, all the other news outlets are on the case.
BuzzFeed reports that Weinstein, a major player in national Democratic politics, is relying on key Clinton and Obama aides to cope with the fallout. (link here)
Normally, Gloria Allred appears as a plaintiff’s lawyer in the harassment cases, beginning with a huge press conference.
But that doesn’t happen when the allegations are against a major Democrat. Actually, Gloria’s daughter, Lisa Bloom, is involved–working for Weinstein and, she says, trying to educate him that “times have changed.”
Allred offered a half-hearted comment, saying she “would have declined” because she never represents people accused of harassment, only alleged victims. She offered no criticism of Mr. Weinstein.
Comment: Expect gloating and finger pointing from Republicans, who are happy to gain a moment’s relief from their own scandal, an anti-abortion Congressman who is resigning after texts surfaced, urging his mistress to terminate her pregnancy.
Comment: Because passing a law would take time, many are urging the ATF to change its regulatory interpretation. That’s passing the buck–and evading what should be a Congressional and Presidential responsibility. We’ve gotten so used to passing everything by Presidential decree or bureaucratic regulations, even Republican congressmen want to avoid the normal, constitutional process for changing our laws.
Even when Democrats were in the majority, he accomplished almost nothing, they say.
Comment: His prospective Republicans opponents were shocked, shock, and appalled. “Indiana needs….”
Literature: Kuzuo Ishiguro, author of “Remains of the Day”
Chemistry: 3 scientists who improved images of molecules
Physics: 3 scientists who detected gravitational waves, confirming a prediction of Einstein’s
Medicine: 3 scientists who discovered the genes regulating the body’s biological clock
One of the winners in Medicine, Jeffrey Hall (emeritus, Brandeis) said that he collaborated with a Brandeis colleague, Michael Roshbash, because they shared common interests in “sports, rock and roll, beautiful substances and stuff.” He quit science ten years ago, he said at the time, because his grant funding ran out, the grant-review process was corrupt and biased, and he was fed up with academia. (story here)
Comment: Looks like he was proven right about the bias.
The Peace Prize will be given Friday. If they can find an innocent child or a do-gooder organization, fine. Otherwise, they should remember that they gave one to Arafat. They might want to think about what’s happening in Myanmar, either, since the country is headed by another Peace Prize winner and is now driving Rohingya Muslims out of the country.