republican corruption

Pay to play politics: Tillis hearts Big Pharma

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The GOP's culture of corruption is all-encompassing:

Senator Thom Tillis accepted more than $20,000 in campaign contributions from political action committees tied to pharmaceutical companies within two weeks of sponsoring a bill related to drug prices in late 2019. Tillis was an original co-sponsor on the Lower Costs, More Cures act, which was introduced on December 19, 2019.

It was similar to a competing bill that had been introduced earlier in the year by Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, except that it omitted a key provision opposed by the pharmaceutical industry that would cap drug prices at inflation.

Get that? Tillis took thousands of dollars to make sure that you and I would pay more for prescription drugs than originally intended. He SOLD US OUT, and didn't even have the decency to flinch while doing it.

Dan Forest won't turn over communications with Greg Lindberg

I'm sure they will "discover" those records on November 4th:

Forest’s latest campaign finance report shows that he has received $6.9 million in donations from individuals and PACs. But the donations from Lindberg mostly went to separate groups. One of them, the Republican Council of State Committee, funded a recent campaign ad featuring Forest and the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, Mark Robinson.

The News & Observer requested Forest’s schedule and emails during the period of Lindberg’s political donations, under the state public records law, to find out how frequently they communicated. Sixteen months later, the N&O has not received the records.

Bolding mine, because social media has been littered with right-wing whining and angst about Mandy Cohen not turning over reams of pandemic data so those plague rats can misquote it, but we're just now finding out that Dandy has been concealing potential campaign finance shenanigans for 16 months? We're talking millions of dollars he received from a convicted felon, who not only tried to bribe government officials but also likely defrauded insurance customers and fellow investors. And Dan Forest appears to have been involved in the bribery scheme, too:

The Green Wave? Dems rake in the cash in Legislative races

Online fundraising is breaking records in 2020:

Officials with the digital fundraising service say that even with less than three months before Election Day, ActBlue contributions to Democratic state legislative candidates have already set a record, totalling more than $76 million.

That’s a greater than 20% increase from the $63 million in ActBlue donations to the party’s state legislative candidates in the entire 2018 election cycle — and more than three times state House and Senate candidates raised during the 2016 election.

My initial take on this was that people are frustrated with quarantine life and are anxious to do something before the election clock runs out. But there's also a lot of economic uncertainty, and people will generally hold onto their money when that happens. So in my mind, that crosses off "pandemic" as a reason, leaving only the fervent desire for political change. And NC needs that badly:

Notes from the Kakistocracy: DeJoy goes postal, pads his portfolio

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Better give your crime boss Trump a cut of the profits:

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy continues to hold a multimillion-dollar stake in his former company XPO Logistics, a United States Postal Service contractor, likely creating a major conflict of interest, according to newly obtained financial disclosures and ethics experts. Outside experts who spoke to CNN were shocked that ethics officials at the postal service approved this arrangement, which allows DeJoy to keep at least $30 million in XPO holdings.

Raising further alarms, on the same day in June that DeJoy divested large amounts of Amazon shares, he purchased stock options giving him the right to buy new shares of Amazon at a price much lower than their current market price, according to the disclosures.

I wouldn't even dream of trying to speculate what DeJoy's investment goals are, but XPO and Amazon had a painful divorce last year:

Coronavirus vaccine may be only 50% effective

Masks and social distancing will be with us for a while:

Scientists are hoping for a coronavirus vaccine that is at least 75% effective, but 50% or 60% effective would be acceptable, too, Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a Q&A with the Brown University School of Public Health. “The chances of it being 98% effective is not great, which means you must never abandon the public health approach.”

Dr. Stephen Hahn, the FDA’s commissioner, said last month that the vaccine or vaccines that end up getting authorized will prove to be more than 50% effective, but it’s possible the U.S. could end up with a vaccine that, on average, reduces a person’s risk of a Covid-19 infection by just 50%. “We really felt strongly that that had to be the floor,” Hahn said on July 30, adding that it’s “been batted around among medical groups.”

I know it's depressing as hell to see this on a Monday, but the sooner we get this through our heads the better. That 50% is about the same as influenza vaccines:

Manhattan DA mentions the "F" word in Trump investigation

We're talking about Fraud, and the noose is tightening:

The Manhattan district attorney’s office suggested on Monday that it has been investigating President Trump and his company for possible bank and insurance fraud, a significantly broader inquiry than the prosecutors have acknowledged in the past.

The reports, including investigations into the president’s wealth and an article on the congressional testimony of his former lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, said that the president may have illegally inflated his net worth and the value of his properties to lenders and insurers. Lawyers for Mr. Trump have said he did nothing wrong.

"May" have? Dude lies in his sleep, of course he misled investors. With all the evil he's done, these charges might not seem very sexy. But remember how they finally brought down Al Capone. No doubt he will try to delay this investigation until after the Election (if not forever), but he can't stop us from talking about it.

Notes from the Kakistocracy: Trump's vaccine czar won't disclose investments

Billions of taxpayer dollars and thousands of lives are at stake:

The scientist leading the Trump administration’s coronavirus vaccine program will be allowed to remain a government contractor, a decision that permits him to avoid ethics disclosures required of federal employees and maintain his investments in pharmaceutical companies.

Two prominent watchdog groups as well as some Democrats in Congress had called for the Department of Health and Human Services to require that the scientist, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, a venture capitalist and a former executive at the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, fall under the same ethics rules as federal employees.

And why are only Democrats in Congress worried about this? Rhetorical question, we all know why. The GOP has hitched its horse to a corrupt President, and it will go wherever he tells it to. This situation is ripe for conflicts of interest, but aside from the corrupt aspects, the end goal of securing and producing a vaccine is put in jeopardy by those conflicts:

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:

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