The Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General published a new report Monday that confirms former U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke leaked a document intended to smear Operation Fast and Furious scandal whistleblower John Dodson.
The DOJ IG said it found “Burke’s conduct in disclosing the Dodson memorandum to be inappropriate for a Department employee and wholly unbefitting a U.S. Attorney.”
“We are referring to OPR our finding that Burke violated Department policy in disclosing the Dodson memorandum to a member of the media for a determination of whether Burke’s conduct violated the Rules of Professional Conduct for the state bars in which Burke is a member,” the IG wrote.
Burke resigned from his post as U.S. Attorney over the incident in August 2011, the first major Department of Justice official to leave his or her post in the Fast and Furious scandal. He said after the fact, in interviews with congressional investigators, that he now views leaking the document as a “mistake.” MORE
Obama’s Morehouse Speech Leaves Guests Out in Cold
Guests Not Allowed to Leave, No Umbrellas Allowed in Rain Shower
Fox 5 Atlanta reports on President Obama’s commencement speech at Morehouse College on Sunday which left attendees in the rain for several hours.
For security purposes, attendees were not allowed to bring in umbrellas on the cold, rainy day for the President’s address outdoors.
Many decided to leave early and skip the President’s speech, while others were forced to sit in the bad weather for hours.
“We are being grateful to hear the President give the address, but we’d rather not get sick.”
“Everybody has the nice clothes and nice shoes, so several wanted to leave after it started storming. You know, you feel icky. Unfortunately we weren’t able to leave.”
In his address, President Obama warned the graduating class that in this economy, it’s not going to be easy to find a job
“If you think you can just get over in this economy just because you have a Morehouse degree, you are in for a rude awakening.”
Injured soldier outraged suspected shooter receives salary while his family financially struggles in recovery
The Department of Defense confirms to NBC 5 Investigates that accused Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Hasan has now been paid more than $278,000 since the Nov. 5, 2009 shooting that left 13 dead 32 injured. The Army said under the Military Code of Justice, Hasan’s salary cannot be suspended unless he is proven guilty.
If Hasan had been a civilian defense department employee, NBC 5 Investigates has learned, the Army could have suspended his pay after just seven days.
Personnel rules for most civilian government workers allow for “indefinite suspensions” in cases “when the agency has reasonable cause to believe that the employee has committed a crime for which a sentence of imprisonment may be imposed.”
Meanwhile, more than three years later soldiers wounded in the mass shooting are fighting to receive the same pay and medical benefits given to those wounded in combat.
Retired Army Spc. Logan Burnett, a reservist who, in 2009, was soon to be deployed to Iraq, was shot three times when a gunman opened fire inside the Army Deployment Center.
“I honestly thought I was going to die in that building,” said Burnett. “Just blood everywhere and then the thought of — that’s my blood everywhere.” MORE
Mary J. Blige ‘hit with $3.4 million tax bill’
Mary J. Blige’s financial troubles have gotten a whole lot worse. The singer has reportedly been hit with a $3.4 million bill on top of the $900K she already owes the state of New Jersey.
TMZ reports that the IRS has filed a tax lien against the Grammy winner claiming that she’s avoided her income taxes for 2009 ($574,907.30), 2010 ($2,203,743.53) and 2011 ($647,604.60), putting her total owed to the government at a staggering $3,426,255.43.
The Post reported that the R&B singer was socked with a $901,769.65 tax lien in New Jersey back in February. Additionally, Bank of America sued her on Feb. 7 in Manhattan for defaulting on a $500,000 loan she took out in 2005 and stopped paying in 2012, according to records.
Blige — who owns an 18,000-square-foot manse in Saddle River, NJ, and another $2.5 million house in the Palisades overlooking Manhattan — was also hit with a $4,301 judgment for money she owed her Garden State landscaper, court papers showed.
The singer’s Saddle River home, which she bought for $12.5 million in 2008, — with property taxes on the swank spread of nearly $100,000 — has been on the market since 2011, with the asking price dropping from $14 million to $12.5 million. MORE
The state treasurer of Arkansas was accused Monday with taking thousands of dollars in cash payments sometimes hidden in a pie box from a broker who became the manager of a large share of the state’s stock portfolio.
Martha Shoffner, a Democrat, accepted at least $36,000 according to federal prosecutors, the Associated Press reports:
Federal prosecutors allege Shoffner accepted $12,000 a year from a broker who would sometimes deliver cash in a pie box, pie included. The broker is cooperating with investigators. [...]
An affidavit filed in Little Rock federal court said a broker — unidentified in court documents — would roll up money in $6,000 increments and have it delivered to Shoffner’s office in a pie box. The document, by FBI Special Agent Richard McLain, said the broker has been granted immunity in exchange for his or her cooperation.
Shoffner was criticized in a legislative audit last year for bond sales that blocked the state from earning more than $400,000.
CHICAGO (STMW) – Five people have been killed and at least 18 others wounded — including a 12-year-old boy left in critical condition — in shootings across the city since Friday night.
The most recent fatal shooting happened around 2:10 a.m. Sunday in the 300 block of South Cicero in the West Side’s Austin neighborhood, police said. Edward Jordan, 53, of the 4900 block of West Lexington, was shot in the neck and later died at Mount Sinai Hospital, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.
Around 9:15 p.m. Saturday, shots were fired at a group of people at Ryan Harris Memorial Park in the 6800 block of South Lowe in the Englewood neighborhood. Shaneda Lawrence, 30, of the 9600 block of South Peoria, was shot in the head and pronounced dead at 12:46 a.m. at Stroger Hospital. A woman in her 20s was shot in the wrist, and a 24-year-old man was shot in the back. Both were taken to area hospitals.
Around 3:50 a.m. Saturday, Keith Johnson, 27, was shot in the head during an argument with a man on the sidewalk in the 4800 block of West Iowa on the West Side, authorities said.
Around 8:05 p.m. Friday, Ramar Bonner, 40, was found shot to death in the 200 block of North Mayfield in the Austin neighborhood. Bonner had been shot in the back of his head. Police said an unknown gunman fled on foot after the shooting.
Around 7:24 p.m. Friday, Clifton Barney, 17, was found with a gunshot wound in his chest in the 7700 block of South Langley in the Chatham neighborhood on the South Side. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
At least 18 others were wounded in weekend shootings:
Around 2:25 a.m. Monday, a 17-year-old boy and a 19-year-old woman were shot in the 4900 block of North Whipple Street in the Albany Park neighborhood. The two were sitting in a parked car when a gunman approached and opened fire, striking the teen boy in the head and shoulders and the woman in the right forearm, police said. The teen was taken in critical condition to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center. The woman was taken in “stable” condition to Swedish Covenant Hospital, but was later transported to Saint Francis Hospital in Evanston.
Around 1 a.m. Monday, a man walked with a gunshot wound to the leg walked into Roseland Community Hospital, where he was listed in “stable” condition, police said. The man, thought to be in his 20s, told police he was in the 400 block of West 122nd Street when he was shot. MORE
TULSA, Oklahoma (Reuters) – A huge tornado touched down on Monday near Oklahoma City, and the National Weather Service urged residents to immediately take cover as a massive storm system in the middle of the country threatened to pummel as many as 10 states.
“The tornado on the ground right now is huge and has hit through populated areas,” Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin said on CNN. She said it was too early to know the extent of the damage, but live television showed extensive destruction in the area.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or deaths from the tornado, which was near Moore, Oklahoma, in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area.
National Weather Service meteorologist Brynn Kerr said a tornado warning had been issued for two counties in central Oklahoma. A warning means that residents should immediately find shelter.
Two people were killed on Sunday from tornadoes in Oklahoma and at least 39 were injured.
The National Weather Service predicted a 10 percent chance of tornadoes in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Illinois. It said parts of four other states – Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and Iowa – have a 5 percent risk of tornadoes.
The area at greatest risk includes Joplin, Missouri, which on Wednesday will mark two years since a massive tornado killed 161 people.
The latest tornado in Oklahoma came as the state was still recovering from a strong storm on Sunday with fist-sized hail, blinding rain and tornadoes.
Two men in their 70s died in the storm, including one at a mobile home park on the edge of the community of Bethel Acres near Oklahoma City, said Keli Cain, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Office of Emergency Management. Thirty-nine people were injured around the state as storms toppled trees and tore up rooftops, she said.
Several hundred homes and buildings were thought to have been damaged or destroyed and approximately 7,000 customers were left without power in Oklahoma. “There is definitely quite a bit of damage,” Cain said.
Fallin declared 16 counties disaster areas, and she and other local and state officials were touring damaged areas on Monday morning.
More than two dozen tornadoes were spotted in Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas and Illinois, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and local news reports. Hail stones, some as large as baseballs, were reported from Georgia to Minnesota, NOAA said.
Wind gusts of 72 miles per hour (115 kilometers per hour) were reported near Gardner, Kansas, and 60 mph in Atchison, Kansas. The high winds toppled trees, downing power lines and smashing cars and rooftops in communities around the Midwest. MORE
News reports from the time indicate the now-chief counsel of the IRS, William Wilkins, helped a church connected to President Barack Obama’s friend Rev. Jeremiah Wright get out of an IRS probe in 2008 while working as a private attorney.
“Lawyers from Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr have won the dismissal of an IRS case against United Church of Christ, Sen. Barack Obama’s denomination,” The American Lawyer’s Zach Lowe wrote on May 22, 2008.
The IRS initiated an investigation early this year after a speech by Obama at a 50th anniversary celebration of the church last June. It was a reference by Obama to his presidential candidacy in a talk otherwise focused on faith that caught the agency’s attention. Tax laws prohibit non-profits–including churches–from engaging in political speech or promoting candidates. The IRS can withdraw an organization’s tax-free status if the organization is found to violate the rule.
Lowe noted that Obama had been a “member of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago–a UCC congregation–for more than 20 years. The church has been in the headlines for several months now as the congregation lead by the controversial Reverend Jeremiah Wright.”
William Wilkins, then a WilmerHale law firm partner, said, “We were so interested in the case we offered to do it pro bono.” …
Atlanta Dem Indicted For Mail, Wire, Tax Fraud
A federal grand jury has indicted Georgia state Rep. Tyrone Brooks on charges that he misappropriated almost $1 million in charitable funds.
According to authorities, Brooks misappropriated funds from Universal Humanities, a charity he founded in 1990, and the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials.
Prosecutors say Brooks funneled the money to personal accounts and used them to pay for expenses like home repair, dry cleaning and entertainment. MORE
Former Democratic Councilman Faces Fraud Sentencing
Ex-Indianapolis Democratic councilman Paul Bateman faces sentencing Monday for using a charitable foundation to defraud an investor out of $1.7 million, WTHR Indiana reports.
Bateman pleaded guilty to 13 counts of money laundering and fraud in January.
Partner Michael Russell pleaded guilty to fraud charges and was sentenced to more than four months in prison.
An indictment alleges the Democratic councilman and others used a charitable foundation to obtain money that was to be used for investments, but instead used it for vehicles, entertainment, jewelry and travel for themselves and others.
Prosecutors say Bateman used his public position to lend credibility to the foundation.
Bateman served as councilman for six years until his term ended in 2011
HARRISBURG, Pa. – The monks of St. Joseph Abbey in Covington, La., leave this world in the same simple way as they live in it.
And when public interest in their basic, handmade wooden caskets grew, the monks proved to have a shrewd business sense, too. They opened a woodworking shop in 2005 to produce caskets that they sell for about $2,000 each, far below the average price for a casket in the state.
But where the monks saw an opportunity, a state cartel of funeral home owners and funeral directors saw unwanted competition.
In 2007, the Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors – by the way, eight of their nine members are licensed funeral directors – voted to ban the abbey from selling their caskets, because under state law only licensed funeral directors are allowed to sell caskets, and they are only allowed to do so from state-licensed funeral homes.
Those two simple requirements buried the monks in a tangle of red tape.
To get a license, St. Joseph Abbey would have to build a funeral parlor with room for 30 people, a display room for at least six caskets, an arrangement room and an embalming room. They also would have had to hire a funeral director and pay him a full-time salary.
The monks launched a petition to the Louisiana Legislation to change the regulations. When that failed, they took the board to court.
In March, a panel of federal judges upheld a lower court ruling in the monks’ favor. In a scathing rebuke to the state board, the judges of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote that “funeral homes, not independent sellers, have been the problem for consumers with their bundling of product and markups of caskets.”
The Louisiana case is an example for how funeral directors across the nation have driven up the cost of dying, largely by capturing state regulatory bodies to create and enforce laws that keep less expensive options for funeral services out of the market.
The casket-selling laws in Louisiana are unique, but there are regulations on the books in almost every state designed to protect funeral homes from competition and lower prices.
Joshua Slocum is the executive director of the Funeral Consumers Alliance, a Vermont-based organization that favors a more open market for funeral providers and customers. He says the funeral industry is unlike most other businesses in two key ways.
“For one, there are no repeat customers,” Slocum says glibly. “I have but one life to give to my funeral director.”
No repeat customers mean little in way of competition for the best services. And since literally everyone has one life to give, there is no shortage of customers.
There is also little market pressure on the establishments because it is rare for anyone to “shop around” for a funeral home in the way they might seek the best deal for a cruise or any other once-in-a-lifetime purchase.
This is partially psychological — we have a natural aversion to thinking or talking about the inevitable end of our lives and so, cost in the front of mourning family members’ minds.
On behalf of Tea Party, Patriot groups, 9/12, liberty activists, and the American people, we are calling for anyone and everyone to protest the IRS’ complete abuse of power on Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at noon local time.
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