Posts Tagged ‘scandals’

The IRS targeting scandal: merely “thoughtless” and “careless”?

The Washington Post has published my letter to the editor responding to an editorial that had depicted the Internal Revenue Service targeting episode as merely the “thoughtless” result of “carelessness” and “incompetence.” Yet the scandal wasn’t just the flagging of right-of-center (c)(4) groups for challenge not faced by their left-of-center counterparts, but the outrageous information demands placed on many of those groups, including copies of all literature distributed, transcripts of speeches and radio guest appearances, printouts of all social media output, names of both donors and family members, and more.

Earlier coverage here.

NYPD gun-permit bribery scandal

Under New York City’s stiff gun control laws, it can be famously hard to obtain a carry permit from the NYPD’s license division — at least, famously hard if you’re an ordinary resident without cash or connections to spare. Now, scandal [DNAInfo, New York Daily News]:

A Brooklyn businessman has been charged by the feds with obtaining gun permits for friends and other businessmen by paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to NYPD officers in its License Division, authorities said on Monday….

In all, Lichtenstein boasted that he obtained 150 weapons for his friends and associates, charging them about $18,000 each time, and giving $6,000 of the payout to his police connections. If true, that means corrupt officers raked in as much as $900,000.

It’s yet another reminder, Ira Stoll points out, of the general rule that draconian regulation begets corruption — and a caution to those who propose to inflict NYC-style regulation on other parts of the country.

March 30 roundup

Free speech roundup

  • Unbowed by terror: interview with heroic Danish editor Flemming Rose [Simon Cottee/The Atlantic]
  • “If The Left Had Its Way On Citizens United, ‘Funny Or Die’ Would Not Be Allowed To Ridicule Trump” [Luke Wachob, Independent Journal]
  • Justice Department considers push for law criminalizing support of domestic terror groups [Reuters] Per federally funded police-support center, possible indicators of “extremist and disaffected individuals” include display of “Don’t Tread on Me” flag [Jesse Walker, Reason]
  • U.S. BigLaw firm Squire Patton Boggs represents Venezuela as it tries to shut down U.S.-published DolarToday for publishing data about inflation [Jim Wyss/Miami Herald, Cyrus Farivar/Ars Technica, earlier here, etc.]
  • When scandal broke about IRS targeting of opposing groups, even President Obama talked about accountability. After press attention waned came refusal to press charges, whitewash, denial [Glenn Reynolds, USA Today]
  • Bad, bad bar: behind recent rise in blasphemy prosecutions in Pakistan is a lawyers’ group [Reuters]

Jury convicts Sheldon Silver on all charges in corruption trial

New York Post:

Former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was convicted on all seven criminal counts Monday in a corruption scheme that traded taxpayer cash and political favors for nearly $4 million in payoffs….The conviction of Silver — for decades one of the three most powerful politicians in the state — was a huge victory for anti-corruption crusading Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara.

Appeal is expected. The scheme was one in which Silver helped direct state research funds to a Columbia University physician specializing in asbestos-related disease in exchange for the doctor’s referral of patients to the Silver law firm, which resulted in large legal fees to Silver for cases in which he did no work. Earlier on the charges against Silver here, here, here (and related).

I’ve been writing about Silver for more than twenty years, both here (tag or text search), at Point of Law, and elsewhere.

While machine politicians are common enough in New York, Silver (in Wayne Barrett’s words) “for two decades presented himself as the personally devout, politically principled leader of the most progressive slice of New York political life.” Whatever his relations with other Democratic interest groups, Silver always put trial lawyers first.

Claim: scandal author should pay for hurting value of U. of Louisville degrees

“A University of Louisville student has filed a lawsuit against Katina Powell and her publisher, claiming Powell’s book, ‘Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,’ has damaged the value of a degree from the school…. The suit is seeking class action status on behalf of the student body at UofL.” [WDRB]

The structuring law that tripped up Denny Hastert

I’ve written often on the surreal world of “structuring” law, in which keeping bank deposits or withdrawals below a reporting threshold is a federal crime whether or not you are aware of the structuring law and whether or not the underlying money flow is for or from any illegal activity or intended to evade any law. Of particular interest, I’ve written about who can get away with structuring (Eliot Spitzer) and who can’t (you). The law, along with a separate charge of lying to federal investigators, appears to have tripped up former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Dennis (“Denny”) Hastert in what a federal indictment suggests were hush money payments over misconduct before he arrived in Congress. I’m quoted in Francine Kiefer’s coverage for the Christian Science Monitor. More commentary: Ken White, Popehat.