Galveston County Commissioner in More Trouble – Galveston County Commissioner, Republican Ken Clark, who already is facing a state ethics commission investigation and is the target of a special prosecutor’s inquest, now faces a new allegation.
This time the complaint comes from a fellow Republican who claims Clark’s longtime assistant alleges the commissioner instructed her to conduct political activities on county computer and Internet systems and on county time.
Former Justice of the Peace Mark Foster, who is seeking the Precinct 1 county commissioner’s seat, filed a complaint with Galveston County District Attorney Jack Roady on Monday. Foster claims Clark’s former assistant Celia Mabry informed him that she had been told by Clark to conduct opposition research on Foster to benefit Ryan Dennard, Foster’s opponent in the July 31 Republican Party runoff.
Romney’s Murky World of Offshore Finance – For all Mitt Romney’s touting of his business record, when it comes to his own money the Republican nominee is remarkably shy about disclosing numbers and investments. Romney is into the murky world of offshore finance and loopholes that allow the very wealthy to skirt tax laws. A Vanity Fair article published this week revealed that Mitt Romney has heavily invested in foreign tax havens, raising questions about whether he’s ever avoided paying U.S. taxes. We already knew that he had a Swiss bank account until just last year, and that he still owns a mysterious corporation in Bermuda. The article notes that Romney’s finances are “deeply entangled” with Bain Capital, including investment funds in the Cayman Islands. We don’t know all the details because he won’t follow precedent by releasing his tax returns, raising a lot of questions about his finances that Americans deserve to know the answers to.
Some Republicans Just Won’t Listen – A worker in Florida got an earful from Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-FL) on Wednesday when he asked the congressman to support a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour.
“Jesse Jackson, Jr. is passing a bill around to increase the minimum wage to 10 bucks an hour,” the man tells Young in a video obtained by FLDemocracy. “Do you support that?”
“Probably not,” Young replies.
“Ten bucks, that would give us a living wage,” the constituent points out.
“How about getting a job?” Young snaps.
“I do have one, $8.50 an hour,” the man insists.
“Why do you want that benefit?” Young grumbles. “Get a job.”
“I do have a job, but it’s not enough to get by on,” the man explains as Young turns away.
In 2010, the Florida Republican voted for a cost-of-living pay increase for himself and other members of Congress. He currently makes the default yearly Congressional salary of $174,000.
Fukushima Nuclear Accident was “Manmade” and “Preventable” Says Japanese Report – A Japanese legislative inquiry on Thursday found that last year’s disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant was “manmade” and could have been prevented.
A 641-page report by the independent 10-member panel concluded that the facility might have been damaged by the first earthquake on March 11, 2011, even prior to being hit by a tsunami roughly 30 minutes later. The twin calamities led to meltdowns at three of the Daiichi facility’s six reactors.
“It was a profoundly man-made disaster that could and should have been foreseen and prevented,” said Kurokawa, an academic fellow at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo. “And its effects could have been mitigated by a more effective human response.”
“The Tepco Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and Tepco [the power company],” the document finds. “They effectively betrayed the nation’s right to be safe from nuclear accidents.”
And just to bring this Fukushima report a little closer to home, there are 23 of G.E.’s flawed Mark I reactors right here in the good old U.S. of A. Add to that the increasing incidence of earthquakes in unexpected places (caused by the injection of fracking waste fluid into the ground), and we’ve got a “no one could have known!” just waiting to happen here.
Louisiana Republicans Concoct Scheme to Cover Their Poor Administration of School Vouchers – Emails between Louisiana Education Superintendent John White, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s spokesman Kyle Plotkin and Jindal’s policy adviser Stafford Palmieri show White devising a scheme to “muddy up a narrative” and to “take some air out of the room” after a news report about the new voucher program that was published before his Senate confirmation hearing in May. In the email exchange, White proposes creating a news story about the “due diligence” process for school voucher approvals to counter the impact of a News-Star article that revealed the state Department of Education had not performed site visits or extensive review of voucher applications.
Texas Republican Leaders Value Political Ideology Over the Well Being of Citizens – Gov. Rick Perry and Texas Republican Lawmakers have shown little interest in participating to expand Medicaid coverage to as many as 2 million low-income Texans. The Supreme Court ruled that states could decide whether to participate in the Medicaid expansion without jeopardizing the money they receive for the traditional Medicaid program.
The traditional program in Texas covers 3.4 million children, pregnant women, disabled adults and poor elderly people; under the Affordable Care Act, it would be extended to everyone whose income falls below 133 percent of the federal poverty level.
“It’s ideology, ” said Bruce Buchanan, a political scientist at the University of Texas at Austin. “It’s stubbornness.”
Taking the money and expanding coverage would be the smart thing to do from a policy standpoint, Rice University political scientist Mark P. Jones said.
The Texas Hospital Association acknowledged political leaders’ concerns with the expansion, but association President and CEO Dr. Dan Stultz urged them to consider it.
“Without the Medicaid expansion, many will remain uninsured, shifting costs to the insured and increasing uncompensated care to health care providers,” he said.
Romney Invested in Medical-Waste Firm That Disposed of Aborted Fetuses, Government Documents Show – Earlier this year, Mitt Romney nearly landed in a politically perilous controversy when the Huffington Post reported that in 1999 the GOP presidential candidate had been part of an investment group that invested $75 million in Stericycle, a medical-waste disposal firm that has been attacked by anti-abortion groups for disposing aborted fetuses collected from family planning clinics. Coming during the heat of the GOP primaries, as Romney tried to sell South Carolina Republicans on his pro-life bona fides, the revelation had the potential to damage the candidate’s reputation among values voters already suspicious of his shifting position on abortion.
But Bain Capital, the private equity firm Romney founded, tamped down the controversy. The company said Romney left the firm in February 1999 to run the troubled 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and likely had nothing to with the deal. The matter never became a campaign issue. But documents filed by Bain and Stericycle with the Securities and Exchange Commission—and obtained by Mother Jones—list Romney as an active participant in the investment. And this deal helped Stericycle, a company with a poor safety record, grow, while yielding tens of millions of dollars in profits for Romney and his partners. The documents—one of which was signed by Romney—also contradict the official account of Romney’s exit from Bain.