Reports & analysis by award-winning investigative journalist Lucy Komisar “”

Archive for the Category ‘Politics’

New York Ethics: It takes a Fed

New York Ethics: It takes a Fed

100Reporters, March 19, 2012 – One could be forgiven for thinking that the New York State Legislature was a criminal enterprise. It had its mafioso style assemblyman, Democrat Tony Seminerio, telling a prospective “client” that he would “bury” him unless he paid off.

It had entrepreneurs like Democratic Senator Pedro Espada Jr., who set up a community health operation and, prosecutors say, looted it for millions.

It even had a comical nickel-and-dime guy, Democratic Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin, who sent one of his staffers driving on the New York Thruway with his E-ZPass so that McLaughlin could fake time in Albany and collect per diem payments.

New York State has rules against some of those practices, but rarely were they enforced against legislators who were collecting huge sums of cash from companies that wanted laws passed or state contracts awarded.

Palin’s campaign operations chief was VP of IDT, telecom investigated for bribery

Palin’s campaign operations chief was VP of IDT, telecom investigated for bribery

Sept 2, 2008 –

Michael Glassner, in charge of Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s campaign operations, was till April 18th a vice-president of IDT, the New Jersey-based telecom fined $1.3 million by the FCC in July for failing to file its Haiti contract.

The contract, effective in 2004, revealed payments to an offshore shell company in the Turks & Caicos which sent only part of the fees to Haiti’s phone company. The case is under investigation by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission. A former IDT insider, Michael Jewett, who managed the company’s Caribbean region, says the missing money represented kickbacks to former Haiti President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Off the Trail: IDT chief quits McCain campaign

Off the Trail: IDT chief quits McCain campaign

Condé Nast Portfolio, July 15, 2008

Jim Courter, one of Senator John McCain’s top fundraisers, has resigned from the McCain campaign just days after Lucy Komisar reported on portfolio.com that Courter’s company had been fined by regulators.

The Federal Communications Commission last week levied a fine of $1.3 million against IDT, a New Jersey telecommunications company headed by Courter, for failing to disclose its 2003-04 long-distance phone agreements with Haiti.

McCain ‘Trailblazer’ Burned

McCain ‘Trailblazer’ Burned

Condé Nast Portfolio, July 11, 2008

The FCC hits James Courter’s IDT with a $1.3M fine for a cloudy deal in Haiti.
James Courter, photo by Terry Ashe, Time-Life Pictures/Getty Images

IDT, the New Jersey telecommunications outfit run by one of John McCain’s top fundraisers, Jim Courter, was fined $1.3 million by the Federal Communications Commission for failing to file a contract for telephone service to Haiti in 2004.

Courter, a former New Jersey Republican congressman, is one of 20 McCain national finance co-chairs, and joined the campaign in February 2007. He’s a “Trailblazer” for McCain, meaning he raised at least $100,000. The IDT PAC has contributed $84,850 in 2008.

IDT’s work with Haiti has been put under scrutiny since a former employee, Michael Jewett, then IDT’s manager for the Caribbean, sued the company. His suit claims he was fired when he balked at negotiating a scheme that routed a portion of the company’s long distance revenue from Haiti calls to a shell company, Mount Salem in the Turks & Caicos, which he was told was owned by then-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

How Tax Cheats Are Using Your Money to Fund Politicians

How Tax Cheats Are Using Your Money to Fund Politicians

AlterNet – April 17, 2007

When it comes to tax cheats, the government has been vocal about catching the little guys but doesn’t spotlight the big-time frauds, like Swift Boat financier Sam WylySam Wyly (shown here), who happens to be a top-tier Republican contributor.

Wyly cheated the U.S. of at least $300 million in taxes. The money that paid for the “Swift Boat” campaign was your money!

But Wyly was not only the financier of the scam to discredit John Kerry during the 2004 presidential campaign. He and his brother were George W. Bush’s ninth greatest career contributors, “Bush Pioneers,” who collected $100,000 for the 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns. They also funded other leading Republicans. Sam Wyly, since 1997 has given Republicans more than $1 million and his brother Charles and wife have donated more than $1.3 million. That’s your money!

Wyly did his cheating through an offshore scheme that hid $1 billion in family profits via Isle of Man “shell companies” that existed only on paper, were registered under front men to hide the Wylys’ names, and were used to carry out transactions and launder money. And that’s only the hidden income that was found. The Dallas mogul, with a $1 billion admitted net worth, may be guilty of the biggest personal tax fraud in U.S. history.

US/Haiti: Govt Corruption Suit Stalls for Lack of Funds

US/Haiti: Govt Corruption Suit Stalls for Lack of Funds

Inter Press Service (IPS), Oct 26, 2006

The U.S. Justice Department is withholding agreement to share assets seized from Haitian drug traffickers to finance a lawsuit by the Haitian government charging former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide with taking bribes.

The suit is based on allegations by a former executive of the telecom company IDT that before Aristide left the country in 2004, he took hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks from IDT, which is connected to prominent U.S. Republicans.

Justice Dept. Criminal Division chief wrote “lawyer’s letter” clearing GOP ex-congressman’s firm

Justice Dept. Criminal Division chief wrote “lawyer’s letter” clearing GOP ex-congressman’s firm

Sept 18, 2006
Is top Justice official protecting a former client accused of bribery?

The Justice Department’s Criminal Division, headed by a Bush political appointee who gave legal advice to a company accused of bribing Haiti’s former president, is blocking an agreement to share seized Haitian drug money that would help Haiti pursue the bribery case in U.S. courts. The accused company is run by a former Republican congressman.

Alice Fisher

The Criminal Division chief, Alice Fisher, formerly a registered lobbyist for HCA, the healthcare company founded by the father of Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, is a recess appointee. Her approval was blocked by Senators concerned about her qualifications and about her participation in a government meeting on abusive interrogations at the U.S. military prison camp at Guantanamo.

Banking on Elections: Finance sector invests heavily in candidates

Banking on Elections: Finance sector invests heavily in candidates

Corpwatch, Oct 6, 2004

When Phil Gramm came out of the Tavern on the Green one recent August morning, his disposition turned edgy. The former Texas Senator the long-time banking committee chair is now a vice chairman of the Swiss financial corporation UBS. He’d just passed some pleasant hours hobnobbing with comrades in the money trade, all lured to New York by the chance to make profitable connections during the Republican Convention. But Gramm wasn’t keen on talking to waiting journalists, certainly not to the CorpWatch team.

Robert Rubin seemed quite at ease sitting next to Teresa Heinz Kerry at the Fleet Center in Boston, home to the Democratic Convention in July. The Clinton Treasury Secretary, former senior partner at the investment company Goldman Sachs, is now chairman of the executive committee of Citigroup. There was no chance of journalists bearding him in the candidate’s box – at least none who would ask uncomfortable questions.

Rich Dodge Taxes Says Bush – A Flash of Honesty or Another Slip of the Tongue?

Rich Dodge Taxes Says Bush – A Flash of Honesty or Another Slip of the Tongue?

Pacific News Service, Sept 9, 2004

When none other than President George W. Bush announces that the real rich dodge taxes, is that an inadvertent flash of honesty about the shady secrets of offshore shell companies and tax shelters? The administration is tying itself up in knots to dodge the significance of his statement.

The real rich dodge taxes and small business owners pay the burden. Does that sound like a radical-liberal denunciation of privilege by candidate John Kerry?

Guess again. It’s a pronouncement by President Bush.