All Articles Tagged "Black politicians"

Voters, Elected Officials Push for Thomas to Resign

July 27th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Washington Examiner) — A rising tide of D.C. voters and elected officials is calling on Councilman Harry Thomas Jr. to resign after he agreed to pay the city back $300,000 he was accused of stealing.  Petitions are circulating through Thomas’ Ward 5 to initiate a recall vote, and two D.C. Council members have called for him to resign. Other council members, including council Chairman Kwame Brown, have pushed Thomas to strongly consider his actions and the dark cloud they’ve cast on the city’s legislative body. Meanwhile, Thomas’ attorney, Fred Cooke, is creating a legal defense fund, The Washington Examiner has confirmed. The cash will help Thomas cover the costs of defending himself against an ongoing criminal investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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Harry Thomas Jr. to Repay D.C. $300K

July 25th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Washington Post) — D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. agreed Friday to repay the District $300,000 to settle a city lawsuit that alleged he diverted public funds from youth programs and used some of the money to pay for luxury cars and expensive trips.  In a settlement that will avert a civil trial but does not shield the Ward 5 Democrat from possible criminal prosecution, he also agreed not to head up any charitable organizations for at least five years.  Although Thomas did not admit wrongdoing, the settlement underscores the growing legal and political pressures facing several high-profile District leaders accused of ethical misconduct. The case also stands as a significant early accomplishment for the city’s new attorney general, Irvin B. Nathan, who has stressed that he will aggressively pursue allegations of mismanagement or corruption at city hall.

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House Seeks Help on Maxine Waters Investigation

July 21st, 2011 - By TheEditor
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By Charlotte Young

The House Ethics Committee may have been trying to investigate Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, but now it seems they will be requiring additional investigations.

As pressure rises from allegations of probe irregularities, the Committee is forced to hire an additional attorney. The Washington Post reports that Billy Martin, a prominent DC attorney, will be brought in as outside counsel as the investigation continues.

This news came shortly after the watchdog groups Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington voiced their concerns with the committee’s conduct to House Speaker John A. Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The watchdog groups expressed their desire to see the case be handed over to an independent counsel on Monday.

Previously the Washington Post reported that the Committee’s investigation was deeply disrupted and undermined by infighting. Accusations declared that former attorneys on the committee may have compromised the investigation by “improperly communicating with Republican committee members.” Former chairman of the panel, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, “suspended the two lead lawyers in the investigation, former federal prosecutors Morgan Kim and Stacy Sovereign, over a dispute with the committee’s top attorney, Blake Chisam.” The current chairman, Rep. Jo Bonner, then accused Lofgren of attempting to dismiss Kim and Sovereign without cause. Since the dispute, Chisam has also left the Committee.

Maxine Waters has been facing investigation since 2009 when she was accused of arranging federal assistance for OneUnited, a minority-owned bank in which her husband holds a large financial investment.

Her trial was scheduled to take place last November but was postponed after the Committee revealed it had uncovered new evidence in the investigation.

Due to the irregularities, Water’s attorney had been pushing for a dismissal of the entire case. A press statement by Waters says that the addition of outside council is, “a recognition by the committee, that its investigation of me was misguided.” The statement continues that Waters is now confident that the counsel’s review of the committee’s misconduct will find that her rights were indeed violated and there will be no need for further investigation.

Fury Follows Allen West’s Email About Democratic Chair

July 21st, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Politico) — Several House Democratic women on Wednesday called on Rep. Allen West to apologize to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz for his e-mail that called her “vile,” “despicable” and “not a Lady.”  The lawmakers said they were sending a letter to House GOP leadership, asking them to condemn the e-mail from the freshman Florida Republican. The group of five House Democrats said West’s e-mail was indicative of a larger problem – both inside Congress and out – of gender discrimination in the workplace.  “For his own good, they ought to take him into the woodshed and say, ‘if you want to survive in this work environment, you’ve got to keep your word, you’ve got to be cordial and congenial and civil even when you’re disagreeing,” said Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) “It makes for a very hard career otherwise.”

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Reed Builds Big Campaign Fund

July 20th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(AJC) — Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed raised more than $630,000 for his re-election campaign over the past six months, putting him on pace to exceed his massive 2009 totals, while sending the first shot at anyone who might want to challenge him in 2013.  Reed released his fundraising totals on July 8 to the state ethics commission in a 69-page report. He collected about $100,000 more than Republican Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal over roughly the same time frame, though in fairness Deal doesn’t face re-election till 2014.

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Gray Cash Donations Exceeded Legal Limit

July 19th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Washington Post) — D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s campaign accepted cash contributions above the city’s legal limit and in some cases recorded donations from people who say they didn’t contribute to his mayoral bid, according to a Washington Post review of District records and interviews.  The Post found several instances of cash donations that exceeded the city’s $25 limit. Gray campaign workers then improperly exchanged that cash for money orders, which carry a higher donation limit. The campaign officially reported the money-order donations and not the cash, The Post found.  Money-order donations totaled more than $56,000 — primarily from the city’s taxi industry — and are part of the $2.7 million war chest the Gray campaign amassed in last year’s defeat of incumbent Adrian M. Fenty, who spent nearly $5 million on his reelection bid.

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Conspiracy Theories Surrounding Michael Scott’s Apparent Suicide

July 15th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Chicago Magazine) — Davis and others who don’t buy into the official line believe that Scott was the victim of a political murder made to look like suicide, carried out by shadowy forces loyal to Mayor Daley’s administration.  There are variations of this rubout theory, depending on whom you talk to, but the common thread is that Scott—the backroom fixer, the mayor’s trusted go-to guy—was killed because he knew too much about the supposed illicit dealings inside City Hall. “Folks think he had enough information to cause some people some problems,” says Cliff Kelley, a radio host and former South Side alderman.

Others suggest that Scott might have been killed for financial reasons. At the time of his death, they note, Scott was involved with a string of high-stakes development deals, some linked to the city’s 2016 Olympics bid, as well as a number of smaller-stakes projects in and around his home turf on the West Side. He also had an interest in a fast-food franchise that was bleeding money. A few people once close to Scott have said he may have had far murkier business dealings, including some with figures connected to the Russian Mafia who were trying to develop properties on the West Side. Suspicious minds wonder: Could his death have been connected to a disgruntled business partner? A deal of some sort gone bad? (Probate records reveal that various lenders have been seeking to collect more than $1.5 million from his estate.) “It could’ve come from a number of different angles,” says Davis. “Once you start seeing the puzzle—look out!”

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National Push for Voter ID Disenfranchises Voters

July 13th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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"charing ball"By Charing Ball

I guess the old adage is true: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

At least that appears to be the case in what could only be described as organized efforts around the country to push through legislation requiring all voters to show a valid, unexpired photo ID to prove citizenship.

Voter fraud occurs when individuals cast ballots despite knowing that they are ineligible to vote, in an attempt to defraud the election system.  The Supreme Court has already determined that states requiring photo ID for voting is constitutional, despite its racist past in denying folks of color the right to participate in the electoral process.

Quietly, and with little fanfare, Republican governors and state legislatures – as well as some Democrats – are leading the charge to manipulate the vote across America.  Sometimes they fail miserably, as in the case of California, in which several voter ID propositions have made their way onto the ballot only to lose.  And recently, North Carolina Governor Perdue exercised her veto power to stop a bipartisan effort to establish a picture voter ID card for the state.  However, not every state has been so lucky. In Wisconsin and Rhode Island, voters will begin showing ID come this fall.

In Rhode Island the legislation was backed by a coalition of Democrats and Republicans, including prominent minority lawmakers: African-American legislators House Speaker Gordon D. Fox and Sen. Harold M. Metts, as well as  Sen. Juan M. Pichardo, the first Latino elected to a Rhode Island Senate seat and the first Dominican-American elected to a state senate seat in the country.  Those minority lawmakers contend that the bill was necessary to stem the tide of voter fraud, however some believe that the black and Latino leaders supported the bill in hopes of regaining prominent seats in demographically changing districts.

Allegations of election-related fraud make for tantalizing press and fear-driven legislation, especially in 2000 where the outcome of the presidential election hung – quite literally – in the balance.  However, since 2002, the Justice Department’s Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative have found just 38 cases of voter fraud nationally, and of those, 14 ended in dismissals or acquittals, 11 in guilty pleas, and 13 in convictions.  Most surprising is that in most of those cases the targets were Democrats, and the common fraud reported were errors in filling out forms or confusion over eligibility.

What this all suggests to me is that despite the rhetoric, most elections are not lost by voter fraud. And by throwing all sorts of election anomalies under the “voter fraud” umbrella, Republican and Democrats alike exaggerate the need for more restrictions while turning a blind eye to urgency to correct what is truly wrong with the process.  In fact, I’m willing to bet that that the main causes of electoral transgression stems from faulty machinery, clerical errors and things like hanging chads.  And let us not forget laws which prohibited ex-felons from exercising their voting rights.  Generally speaking, they want you to vote, just as long as the constituency doesn’t pose any threat to the political and economic supremacy of their party and their candidate.

In 2007, Royal Masset, former Texas Republican Party political director, said in an interview that while he believed the vote-fraud hysteria was overblown, an ultimately unsuccessful Texas photo-ID law “could cause enough of a drop-off in legitimate Democratic voting to add 3 percent to the Republican vote.”  So there you have it folks, the truth in black and white.  It should also be noted that outside of voter ID proposals, there are several other laws, which have passed or are being introduced, just to add another barrier to voting.  In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott’s administration imposed a waiting period of at least five years for ex-felons to be able to vote, and in Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage recently signed a bill banning same-day registration.

If that’s not some Jim Crow stuff, I don’t know what is.

Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.

Kwame Brown’s 08′ Campaign Being ‘Reviewed’ by Feds

July 8th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Washington Examiner) — D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown’s 2008 council campaign is being investigated by federal prosecutors after an audit earlier this year found that he failed to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions and expenditures.  On Thursday, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics officially referred Brown’s 2008 campaign to the U.S. Attorney’s office, choosing to forgo a discussion about fines for the campaign and wait for the firepower of the FBI to determine if any laws were broken.

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Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed Enters National League

July 7th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Roll Call) — Kasim Reed probably isn’t a name you know — yet.  The 42-year-old mayor of Atlanta has been pegged as a rising Democratic star and even wins plaudits from Republicans for his pro-business bona fides.  His early successes as mayor have landed him on “Meet the Press” twice this year and were the subject of a glowing Thomas Friedman column in the New York Times in December.  Reed’s national profile is set to grow in the coming months as the public face of Democrats in the Peach State — where all of the statewide officials are Republicans and where President Barack Obama’s campaign expects to compete in 2012.  It would have been nearly impossible to envision Reed in that position today when he took the oath of office in January 2010, after winning a runoff by only 715 votes.

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