Last Friday at the California Republican Party’s spring convention in Burlingame, CA, Republic Report caught up with Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), who has been leading the investigation into the massive Countrywide bribery scandal.
A leak to the media that identified three Republicans who are being investigated by the House Ethics Committee has lawmakers and staffers wondering who the source is, and his or her motive.
There are many theories on who, over a four-day period, forked over the names of GOP Reps. Pete Sessions (Texas), Buck McKeon (Calif.) and Elton Gallegly (Calif.) to media outlets in reference to an ongoing investigation into VIP loans given to lawmakers by Countrywide.
The leaks stunned the three legislators, who have all denied accepting special rates on the loans in exchange for political favors.
Some are pointing the finger at House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) for releasing the publicly sensitive information, though his office is pushing back at that notion.
Four years after Countrywide Financial became a symbol of the mortgage meltdown, the company and its questionable dealings have become a potent political issue in the Santa Clarita congressional district held by Republican Howard “Buck” McKeon.
Congressional investigators allege that McKeon and Rep. Elton Gallegly, a Republican colleague whose neighboring district includes much of Ventura County, got cut-rate home loans under a Countrywide VIP program known as “Friends of Angelo,” named for the now-defunct Calabasas lender’s former chief executive, Angelo Mozilo.
McKeon received a $315,000 mortgage refinance in 1998 as his family-owned business, Howard & Phil’s Western Wear, was going through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, according to documents reviewed by The Times. McKeon was no longer involved in the daily operation of the business after his 1992 election to Congress, but he had retained a stake in it. He saw his income plummet in the years before refinancing his Stevenson Ranch home, financial disclosures and bankruptcy filings show.
In spite of that, McKeon received a favorable rate and wasn’t required to produce documentation proving he could repay the mortgage — terms ordered by Mozilo himself, according to documents subpoenaed for a House inquiry.
The McKeons bought the Stevenson Ranch property, a foreclosed home, in August 1997 for $261,000, putting down 10% and getting a loan of $234,900, property records show. In January 1998, they took out a home equity loan of $31,500 through Valencia National Bank, where McKeon had previously sat on the board.
That October, Countrywide approved the $315,000 refinance loan. The loan paid off McKeon’s original mortgage loan and the home equity loan and gave him $46,894 in cash.
Five months later, the couple took out another home equity loan through Valencia, in the amount of $30,000.
Clearly, there was an attempt by Countrywide Financial to influence Rep Buck McKeon and the others. But, why is Rep. Issa refusing to call it a bribe?
Why, because, silly, they are Republicans and they were caught with their hand in the cookie jar.
These are my links for February 29th through March 1st:
National GOP: Romney 40%, Santorum 24%, Gingrich 16%, Paul 12% – Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, coming off his primary wins in Arizona and Michigan, has jumped to a 16-point lead over Rick Santorum in the battle for the Republican presidential nomination. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Republican Primary Voters shows Romney with 40% support to 24% for the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania. This is Romney’s biggest lead to date and the highest level of support any GOP candidate has earned in regular surveying of the race. Two weeks ago, it was Santorum 39%, Romney 27%.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich earns 16% support, closely followed by Texas Congressman Ron Paul at 12%. Two percent (2%) prefer some other candidate, and six percent (6%) are undecided. The new findings mark virtually no change in national support for Gingrich and Paul.
Bob Kerrey running for Senate in Nebraska – Climbing down from the fence, Democrat Bob Kerrey said Wednesday that he will run for his old Senate seat from Nebraska, soon to be vacated by retiring Sen. Ben Nelson and a major target for Republicans who hope to win control of the chamber in November.
The decision comes on the heels of Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe’s surprise announcement Tuesday to not seek re-election in Maine. And the twin events breathe new life into Democratic hopes of holding onto the Senate.
Santorum Leads Big in Tennessee – A new Middle Tennessee State University poll shows Rick Santorum way ahead in next week’s Tennessee GOP primary with 40%, followed by Mitt Romney at 19%, Newt Gingrich at 13% and Ron Paul at 11%.
Odds of a Brokered Convention Are Increasing – We’re finally close enough to Super Tuesday to get a sense of how the overall delegate count might work out in the GOP primary. The end result: Assuming that none of the four candidates drops out of the race, it looks increasingly as if no one will be able to claim a majority of the delegates. The candidate with the best chance is Mitt Romney, but he probably wouldn’t be able to wrap up the nomination until May or even June. The other candidates will probably have to hope for a brokered convention.
US Stocks: Stocks Add to Losses Amid Bernanke Speech – Bernanke said the job market is still “far from normal” and may require the Fed to launch more stimulus measures, in his semi-annual monetary policy report to Congress. (CNBC.com is streaming this event live.)
Bernanke also added rising gasoline prices will likely push up inflation temporarily, while reducing consumers’ purchasing power.
Chu: DOE working to wean U.S. off oil, not lower prices – The Energy Department isn’t working to lower gasoline prices directly, Secretary Steven Chu said Tuesday after a Republican lawmaker scolded him for his now-infamous 2008 comment that gas prices in the U.S. should be as high as in Europe.
Instead, DOE is working to promote alternatives such as biofuels and electric vehicles, Chu told House appropriators during a hearing on DOE’s budget.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy accused House Leader Linda Upmeyer of failing to properly inform legislators about planned debate today on the bills. The short notice hindered Democrats from offering amendments to improve the bills, McCarthy said.
But Upmeyer, R-Garner, shot back this morning that Democrats did have adequate warning, and suggested their flight from the Capitol was an attempt to make a political scene.
“Iowans didn’t send us down here just to do easy stuff,” she said. “The Second Amendment is a question that many Iowans would like placed before them. I don’t know why they’re afraid to have a debate on a subject just because they don’t like the subject. That seems ludicrous to me.”
One bill would alter the state constitution to specifically include gun rights. Another would rewrite the law on “reasonable force” so that a person may use force — including deadly force — against someone who they believe threatens to kill or cause serious injury or who is committing a violent felony.
In separate communications Feb. 23, ADA officials urged the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to table or vote against S. 1461, and the Association joined dental, other health, religious and social organizations expressing “our strong opposition” to the bill in a letter to the full Senate.
The 2009 ADA-supported Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act authorizes FDA regulation of the manufacture, marketing and distribution of tobacco products. The proposed S. 1461, the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2012, would prohibit the FDA from promulgating any regulations involving certain types of cigars.
“There is a strong association between cigar smoking and mortality from oral (mouth) and pharyngeal (throat) cancers,” the Association told the HELP Committee bipartisan leadership in a letter signed by Dr. William R. Calnon, president, and Dr. Kathleen T. O’Loughlin, executive director. “About 8 out of 10 people with mouth and throat cancers use tobacco. Smokers are many times more likely than non-smokers to develop these cancers and the risk increases with the amount smoked and the duration of the habit. On average, 40 percent of those with the disease will not survive more than five years after being diagnosed.
“Taxpayer dollars would be better spent discouraging the use of cancer-causing products, including traditional large and premium cigars,” the Association said. “It is vital that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration be allowed to retain its strong, effective authority to regulate these products.”
According to PPP, Walker’s two potential contenders, Tom Barrett and Kathleen Falk, hold narrow leads over the unpopular governor. The poll shows Barrett with a 49-46 advantage, while Falk has a slight 48-47 edge over Walker.
The poll also found that former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) would have a more commanding lead over Walker than either Barrett or Falk. PPP found that Feingold would hold a 52-45 advantage over the governor. Feingold, however, has said he will not run in the recall election.
Poll: Wisconsin’s Walker to survive union recall drive – So much for that recall effort. According to a new Rasmussen poll of likely Wisconsin voters, Gov. Scott Walker should survive an effort to throw out his 2010 election, a campaign driven by pro-union activists angered that he limited collective bargaining rights for public employees in a budget-cutting move.
It’s a huge and positive switch for Scott’s fortunes. Opponents made headlines when they easily collected 1 million signatures on a recall petition. Walker this week said he would not challenge the signatures-including names like “Donald Duck”-because there isn’t enough time before the May recall election.
Rasmussen’s poll is the latest done on the election and finds that 54 percent of likely Wisconsin voters at least somewhat approve of the governor’s job, while 46 percent somewhat disapprove. He does good with independents, as 58 percent approve of his performance. The telephone poll of 500 likely voters conducted Monday shows a pro-Walker move, coming days after a Public Policy Polling survey conducted February 22-26 that found the state divided 49 percent-49 percent on the recall.
Thousands of kids get free dental care under Medicaid in Texas. Texas taxpayers foot the bill, including putting crowns on the teeth of toddlers who don’t yet have their permanent teeth.
A News 8 investigation finds that some dentists want that Medicaid business so badly, they hire recruiters to bring in patients.
At a Texas Health and Human Services Office on Masters Road near Dallas, a man quietly stands in the parking lot, waiting for mothers who’ve just received food stamps to emerge from the waiting room.
He is a recruiter. He’s handing out cards for Happy Teeth Dental, just two doors down in the same complex.
At another HHS office across town, two women also wait for new food stamp recipients. They’re handing out cards for Lancaster Dental a few miles away.
And at another HHS office just up the road, Bear Creek Family Dentistry has a small kiosk set up to recruit new patients.
Medicaid parents are regularly solicited by dentists offering free stuff — such as iPods, zoo tickets, and electric toothbrushes — if they take their kids to certain dentists.
It is a little-seen side of Medicaid dentistry, a $1.5 billion business in Texas, where, statistics show, welfare and unregulated free enterprise come together like nowhere else in the United States.
Watch the video expose which is embedded below:
All I can say is wow!
There needs to be some action on the part of the Texas Dental Board to enforce the anti-solicitation law and from the Feds to cut off the spigot of taxpayer money flowing to these dentists.
I know the United States Senate is investigating dentistry medicaid across the country. But, the abuses are rampant and this is before new federal funds will be doled out under ObamaCare’s Affordable Care Act.