republican corruption

Burr remains the primary focus of insider trading probe

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You three can leave, not so fast Dick:

The Justice Department has closed investigations into stock trading by Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California, Kelly Loeffler of Georgia and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, according to people familiar with notifications sent to the senators. The senators came under scrutiny for transactions made in the weeks before the coronavirus sent markets downhill.

The developments indicate that federal law enforcement officials are narrowing their focus in the stock investigation to Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C, the former Senate Intelligence Committee chairman. Agents showed up at his Washington-area home about two weeks ago with a warrant to search his cellphone.

I have a theory about what is going on, backed up more by intuition than hard facts, so it's grain of salt time: Burr's last act as Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee was to turn over the report on Russian interference in the 2016 election to the intel community itself, so they could decide which parts need to be classified for national security purposes. The fact the DOJ is still holding onto Burr over the insider trading tells me they don't know what's in the report he turned over. Barr's move to exonerate Michael Flynn proves he doesn't give a rodent's posterior about actual crimes, and that he believes the DOJ's major function is to protect Trump. When the de-classified version of Burr's report comes out, he will either remain under investigation or that investigation will be dropped, depending on how bad the report makes Trump (or his pal Putin) look. Film at eleven.

Notes from the Kakistocracy: Louis DeJoy is the new Postmaster General

Money makes the Trump world go 'round:

The Postal Service’s board of governors confirmed late Wednesday that Louis DeJoy, a North Carolina businessman who is currently in charge of fundraising for the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, will serve as the new postmaster general.

The action will install a stalwart Trump ally to lead the Postal Service, which he has railed against for years, and probably move him closer than ever before to forcing the service to renegotiate its terms with companies and its own union workforce.

If DeJoy was genuinely interested in supporting and improving the Postal Service, the very first thing he would do is lobby the Senate to amend the stupid law that requires them to fully fund decades-worth of retirement benefits. The main reason that was enacted is so Republicans could wail and gnash their teeth about the post office's financial woes (which they caused). It's the classic GOP "Break it and then complain about it being broken" approach to governing, which we see all the time here in NC. We will see if he is prepared to do the job right, or help Trump attack Jeff Bezos:

Tom Fetzer needs to be removed from UNC BOG

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His personal ambition has clouded what little judgment he ever had:

Fetzer, a member of the UNC Board of Governors, inserted himself into yet another leadership decision about the school last week, during a university governance committee meeting. This time it was the question of Van Isley’s appointment to the ECU Board of Trustees. Fetzer sought to delay a vote, arguing the board should vet Isley more thoroughly than the average trustee candidate.

In interviews with Policy Watch this week, three members of the UNC Board of Governors and two members of the ECU Board of Trustees said they no longer believe Fetzer can be objective about leadership decisions at ECU, and he should recuse himself from issues related to the school.

Fetzer is like the proverbial bad penny: he just keeps turning up. He was an empty suit as Raleigh Mayor (forgot about that, did you?), a shit-stirrer as NC GOP Chairman, and a back-room deal-maker as a lobbyist. Of course he believes he has "earned" the position as Chancellor for East Carolina, and that belief will drive him to continue to meddle in the school's affairs until he gets it. He already thinks he's the Decider of the Board of Governors:

Richard Burr sold townhome to lobbyist for $900,000

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And said lobbyist had business before Burr's Committee:

Burr sold the small townhouse, in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, for what, by some estimates, was an above market price — $900,000 — to a team led by lobbyist John Green. That is tens of thousands of dollars above some estimates of the property’s value by tax assessors, a real estate website and a local real estate agent. The sale was done off-market, without the home being listed for sale publicly.

Green is a longtime donor to Burr’s political campaigns and has co-hosted at least one fundraiser for him. In 2017, the year of the sale, Green lobbied on behalf of a stream of clients with business before Burr’s committees.

If there was ever a poster-child for term limits, Burr is it. He's been in Washington for a quarter of a century. Went from a former lawn-mower salesman to a multi-millionaire, all while supposedly being a public servant. How does one do that, you might ask? By doing favors for lobbyists:

Criminal or incompetent? Try all of the above

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Hat-tip to Thomas Mills for cutting through the chatter:

For those of you wondering whether you’re going to heaven or hell, you’re in hell. In the midst of the worst pandemic in a century, we’re being led by a family of incompetent grifters. While tens of thousands of Americans are about to die, they’re trying to figure out how to make a buck off the crisis.

If you had told me twenty years ago that we’d elect a shady real estate mogul turned reality star President of the United States, I might have laughed but I wouldn’t have believed it would happen. Today, not only is he president, he’s brought his whole family to the White House. It’s like the cast of Arrested Development is running the country but nobody’s playing the role of Michael.

Voters definitely jumped the shark when they elected him, but that damn fish has been circling our sinking rowboat ever since. If this isn't enough to get your blood boiling, you need to read it twice:

Bank Run Burr is back, warning private donor group about COVID 19

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Three weeks ago Burr was speaking to a private (elite) group of NC donors called The Circle (more on them later), and his warning to this group was dire indeed. He told them this wasn't just another virus, it was more akin to the 1918 Flu pandemic, which killed some 50 million worldwide. A few days after that private meeting, he issued a press release which included this message to his not-elite constituents: "The U.S. is in a better position than any other nation to handle a public health emergency like the Coronavirus." There are Two Americas, and no doubt about which one Burr really cares for. Circling back to the Circle:

Grifter-In-Chief: Trump's efforts to gain control of COVID 19 vaccine

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Because blackmailing the rest of the world is apparently good business:

According to the German newspaper Die Welt am Sonntag, which first reported the story on Sunday, Mr. Trump offered CureVac roughly $1 billion in exchange for exclusive access to the vaccine. The newspaper quoted an unnamed German government source who said Mr. Trump wanted the resulting vaccine “only for the United States.”

White House officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment. But two senior American officials said that some of the German news accounts first reporting the story were overblown, particularly with regard to any effort by the United States to secure exclusive access to a vaccine.

In this day and age, when verifiable facts are described as "fake news" by the Trump administration, calling something "overblown" is a tacit admission of guilt. Trump simply has no ethical boundaries, and I don't doubt for one minute that he would use that exclusive control of a vaccine as a lever to get other things he wants. To put it bluntly, Germany is pissed off:

Mark Johnson is the subject of ethics probe over campaign texts

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When your moral compass hasn't worked for years:

Multiple complaints were filed earlier this month after Johnson sent hundreds of thousands of emails and text messages to public school families and employees trumpeting his opposition to Common Core.

The timing of the campaign raised eyebrows since Johnson had been almost silent on Common Core throughout his tenure as superintendent, choosing to launch his vocal opposition just as voting began in the primary for Lieutenant Governor–an office he is seeking.

I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for the Ethics Commission to actually do anything substantial over this. Made that mistake in the past, won't do it again. But if anybody has any doubt about the connection between this text barrage and Johnson's campaign, he made that clear a few weeks ago:

Mark Johnson's staff engaged in illegal wiretapping of former employee

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And there needs to be a formal investigation of this by NC DOJ:

Allegations surfaced during a recent Department of Information Technology hearing that when retiring K-3 Literacy Director Carolyn Guthrie turned in her DPI-issued MacBook laptop in 2017, she neglected to log the device out of her iCloud account. As with any such organization, the Department of Public Instruction has a policy that devices of departing employees must be wiped clean. DPI reportedly did not follow that protocol with Guthrie’s laptop, and her personal iPhone text messages continued to sync to the MacBook’s iMessage app for more than a year after her departure. According to deposition testimony referenced at the hearing, Guthrie noticed her phone pairing with another device but did not realize it was her old laptop until she learned that DPI was in possession of her personal communications.

If the allegations are true, that would mean someone at Johnson’s department actively monitored Guthrie’s personal iPhone text message communications using her old laptop. It would mean someone working under Johnson’s supervision made a decision to read through private communications between Ms. Guthrie and her family and friends until finding something that was useful.

Unwritten rule #14: If you stumble across information you weren't supposed to have access to, you cannot use it until you find another source for said information that isn't so radioactive. It ain't rocket surgery, but apparently Marky Mark and his Funky Bunch are not very clever...

Richard Burr: Witnesses won't change our minds, so why have them?

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Whatever credibility he once had is long gone:

“I personally feel that even if they invited witnesses and witnesses confirmed, yes, the president had a quid-pro-quo or something like this, if it doesn’t rise to the level of removal from office than why would we put the American people, the institution, through this process, when we know what the outcome is going to be at the end of the day,” Burr said.

It would take 67 votes to remove Trump from office. Republicans control 53 seats, so 20 of them would have to vote to remove Trump along with all 47 Democrats and independents.

In other words, even if he is guilty, we don't care. Understand, Richard Burr is Chairman of the Committee that has been investigating foreign interference in American elections for about two and a half years now. The President not only invited foreign interference, he demanded it, holding up military assistance that likely cost Ukrainian soldiers their lives in the process. It's no wonder Tillis has been such an embarrassment. Burr is senior, and arguably should be a mentor for the first-term (hopefully single-term) Senator. But apparently Do Nothing Burr has nothing to offer along those lines.

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