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Archive for the ‘PACs’ Category

Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany apparently moved back to Louisiana for crawfish and now does his best to ignore a new book with a spectacular claim that he was somehow tied to prostitutes murdered in Jefferson Davis Parish (he is suing the author and publisher over that story).

Republican U.S. Rep. John Fleming is running TV ads proudly tying his agenda to that of Donald Trump (though Fleming may now wish to put distance between him and the GOP presidential nominee in light of the release of a recording of Trump’s recent conversation about women).

Democrat Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell is opting for his “straight talk” TV ads, lashing out at fellow Democrat Caroline Fayard as never having held office and that she “wants to start at the top.”

Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy would “rather drink weed killer.”

Independent former state Alcohol and Tobacco Control Director Troy Hebert just wants to sue somebody.

Absent in all the white noise are any real solutions to problems the nation faces—such as rotting infrastructure, jobs, education, climate change, and closing the racial and economic gaps that continue to divide the country.

And then there is that mysterious ESAFund.com TV ad that attacks both Boustany and Fleming.

The ad blasts Fleming for living in a “million-dollar mansion” in the Washington area and Boustany for getting rich while in Congress and for voting for a pay raise for himself.

Well, as it happens, both Boustany and Fleming are physicians so they probably are rich and likely can afford to live where they choose.

As for Boustany’s “vote” to raise his pay, that claim is downright misleading—and inaccurate.

The fact is, in 1989 Congress passed an obscure bill designed to allow them to avoid the stigma of voting for pay raises. The way it works is if there is no vote specifically not to raise congressional salaries, the pay raise kicks in automatically. Cute.

Accordingly, members of Congress do not vote for pay raises—because they don’t have to—and any claim to the contrary is simply untrue. http://www.politifact.com/florida/article/2011/nov/23/truth-about-congressional-pay-raises/

So, just who is this ESAFund that is behind this attack ad?

Well, it is, of course, a super Pac and it has already spent $5.5 million on the 2016 federal elections, including the ad currently being run in Louisiana. https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/detail.php?cmte=C00489856

Officially known as Ending Spending Action Fund, it claims to be “an independent organization that proudly supports candidates regardless of party affiliation who favor enhancing free enterprise, reducing the size of government, and balancing our nation’s budget.” http://esafund.com/

All of which sounds awfully close to the Tea Party’s platform except ESAFund and the Tea Party often find themselves supporting opposing candidates as in Kansas’ First Congressional District. http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/house-races/289027-conservative-allies-on-opposite-sides-in-gop-primary-fight

Perhaps the biggest irony of ESAFund is that it is a super PAC that is campaigning to end Citizens United, the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision that opened the floodgates for super PAC spending in political campaigns. http://endcitizensunited.org/ending-spending-action-fund/

And while the current ad blitz goes out of its way to slam Boustany and Fleming, who, coincidentally, are near the top in most polls, it is careful not to attach its own candidate’s name to the ad. That’s because super PACs are limited as to their direct involvement in the campaigns of individual candidates.

A quick glance at recent history, however, reveals an undeniable link to Kennedy’s campaign. In fact, when former Kennedy top aide Jason Redmond shut down his own Super Pac, Make Louisiana Proud, in July of this year, about $120,000 of its cash and in-kind funds were transferred to ESAFund and ESAFund reciprocated by officially endorsing Kennedy.

https://lapolitics.com/2016/07/super-pac-bows-out-of-senate-race/

All of which makes sense. Kennedy, who once seemed to have an insurmountable lead, has seen his support slipping. That should come as no surprise, given the political heavyweights who are also seeking the Senate seat being vacated by David Vitter.

With other candidates hitting the airwaves with their ads, it was inevitable that Kennedy would see some of his support being drained away, especially given his original decision not to advertise until after the general election. That obviously has changed and Kennedy has begun his own TV ad campaign.

A super PAC is freed from restrictions imposed upon traditional campaign committees so long as it:

Neither gives money directly to a candidate or other political committees that give directly to candidates, and

It does not coordinate how it spends its money with a federal candidate.

https://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2012/01/31/nine-things-you-need-know-about-super-pacs/

Here is a list of  http://esafund.com/candidates/ endorsed by ESA.

So, while the ESAFund ad attempts to sound principled, and with no attempt here to defend Boustany or Fleming, it still is an attack ad and nothing more.

Before accepting any ad, especially those employing actors posing as concerned Louisiana citizens who almost certainly are not residents of this state (who knows where they actually reside and vote?), remember the number one rule:

Follow the money.

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He’s a walkin’ contradiction, partly truth, partly fiction
Takin’ ev’ry wrong direction on his lonely way back home

(The Pilgrim—Kris Kristofferson)

It was the noon hour in Walk On’s on Poydras Street in New Orleans and a noisy lunch crowd was packed in as one of the flat screen televisions was demanding my attention with a re-play of the Boston Red Sox players celebrating their American League East Championship after two straight years of finishing dead last in the division.

I watched because the Red Sox have been my favorite team since Ted Williams won an American League batting championship with a .388 average in 1957 at age 38. I was 14 at the time. He retired in 1960, hitting a home run in his last at-bat. (My second favorite team is the Chicago Cubs: Dare I hope for a dream World Series between the two? Hey, it could happen.)

He walked into the Restaurant a few minutes late (after I had called to say I would be two hours late). Seeing him looking around for someone he’d never met, I signaled to him to let him know I was his lunch appointment. “Sorry I’m late. I made some money today,” he said as he slid into the booth.

Danil Ezekiel Faust is a candidate for Congress from Louisiana’s 1st Congressional District and he doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell because he has no money and he’s running against an incumbent (Steve Scalise) who has millions.

And that is precisely why he’s running.

The money he made was as an online trader

A Puerto Rican Irish Jew, Faust, a Democrat, is what Kris Kristofferson calls a walking contradiction: He is a former manager of an Arizona hedge fund who continues to play the market but who at the same time despises Wall Street and everything it stands for.

His hero also happens to be is favorite American President: Andrew Jackson. “They can take down those statues of Confederate soldiers, but not Andrew Jackson. The man took a bullet in the chest defending his wife’s honor. He was opposed to a National Bank…and he was right. He is a real American hero,” overlooking the fact that Jackson also signed into law the Indian Removal Act that stained America’s history with the Trail of Tears.

And like so many others, he insists there is entirely too much money in politics.

He also is a strong proponent of wind energy, a sure way to gin up substantial opposition (read: campaign contributions for his opponent) from the fossil fuel industry. He is pro-choice and an unabashed supporter of gay rights and equal pay for women.

And he keeps right on a-changin’ for the better or the worse
Searchin’ for a shrine he’s never found
Never knowin’ if believin’ is a blessin’ or a curse
Or if the goin’ up was worth the comin’ down

 “If I had the money to play on a level playing field, there’s no doubt I could win,” he said between bites of his heart-attack inducing bacon cheeseburger.

But he has no official organization. His campaign headquarters are in his former residence upstairs over the Three-Legged Dog at 400 Burgundy in the French Quarter. His business cards are from a computer program.

Most of all, though, he has no financial backing. Scalise, on the other hand, earlier tied by blogger Lamar White to a Ku Klux Klan event at which David Duke was the main speaker, has the Koch brothers and their Americans for Prosperity (AFP) pouring money into his re-election campaign through various Super PACs which, unfortunately drowns out the message of any underfunded opponent.

“AFP, I believe, held a big social event on the same night at Acme Oyster House right next door to Scalise’s headquarters,” he said.

No one can be heard over the roar of cash being poured into the campaign of an entrenched—and bought—incumbent. And there is no greater concentration of bought politicians than in the U.S. Congress.

Never mind that Scalise voted against federal funding to assist Super Storm Sandy victims in New Jersey but now is demanding federal funds for Louisiana’s flood victims. http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-louisiana-floods-20160822-snap-story.html

Faust, a native of Puerto Rico (take note, birthers: he can never be President), stopped temporarily in New Orleans en route to his intended destination—New York, where he planned to take a job with another hedge fund. But while in New Orleans, he fell in love. With New Orleans and its diverse culture “and its laid-back way of life.”

He took a job as a doorman at a French Quarter strip club. It was while working at that job that he began watching and listening. He learned some unforgettable lessons about the realities of life and the local power structure. In short, he knows where a lot of political skeletons are buried. “It was nothing for politicians and powerful businessmen to come into the club and drop $10,000,” he said.

He said the much-ballyhooed Operation Trick or Treat conducted a year ago by the Louisiana State Police (LSP) and the Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) was a sham. The clubs that played ball and made the right political contributions were never investigated, he said.

He also said the LSP and ATC sweep in Operation Trick or Treat and a campaign to limit the number of strip clubs in the French Quarter was the idea of established strip clubs friendly with ATC’s then-director Troy Hebert “to keep down competition.”

So what made Danil Faust run?

“I kept hearing that David Duke was going to run,” he said. “But in the end, he got in the U.S. Senate race instead. I even heard Troy Hebert was running.”

Hebert, who also opted to join the crowded (24 candidates) Senate race, does not reside in the First Congressional District but in Louisiana, residency is not a requirement. (The First Congressional District, by the way, was used by Bobby Jindal as a springboard to the governor’s office.)

“Other than Scalise, no one is running for the office,” he said. Actually, there are seven candidates on the ballot, but like Faust, none of the other five challengers is given a chance in this election.

But that’s what happens when big money like the Kochs, George Soros, Donald Sussman, Michael Bloomberg, Warren Stephens, Hank Greenburg, and the Devos family, to name but a few, overpowers and corrupts the electoral process. https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/superpac-donors-2016/

And no matter if his passion is Andrew Jackson, or if he works as a hedge fund manager, an advocate of wind power, a strip club doorman or a political candidate, Danil Ezekiel Faust remains his own man.

But if this world keeps right on turnin’ for the better or the worse
And all he ever gets is older and around
From the rockin’ of the cradle to the rollin’ of the hearse
The goin’ up was worth the comin’ down

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You may have seen one or more of a series of http://www.vote-4-energy.org/ television ads by the American Petroleum Institute (API) that have been running on a more regular basis than lawyer commercials recently.

Intended to give us a warm fuzzy feeling about Big Oil, it’s no coincidence they’re airing in an election year.

The primary trade association of the oil and gas industry, API boasts nearly 400 members. http://www.polluterwatch.com/american-petroleum-institute

Though it spent only about $200,000 on the 2012 election, it literally pours money into other programs—$33 million on lobbying between 2008 and 2012—and was instrumental in funding a $27 million anti-science “scientific” study to refute research linking benzene to cancer.

API was also not above embellishing job creation claims, touting 20,000 new jobs as opposed to the 6,000 estimated by the U.S. State Department and Cornell University.

API also donated money to the National Science Teachers Association for distributing a short film promoting the petroleum industry. http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/American_Petroleum_Institute#Concerns_about_API-funded_research

If there remains any doubt to the underlying intent of the recent glut of ads, a leaked memo written by API CEO Jack Gerard in August 2009 revealed that a number of trade groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, coordinated “Energy Citizens’ rallies in key Congressional districts in an effort to ramp up political opposition to climate and energy legislation.

Directly funded and organized by API and member companies, the “rallies” were coordinated by oil lobbyists and API member Chevron even bused it employees to events.

API also contributed $25,000 to Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party organization founded and chaired by billionaire oilman David Koch. http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2012/03/energy-industry-trade-groups/

Which brings up Koch Industries, headed by David and brother Charles, both major players in the American political arena.

In just one state for example, Texas, the Kochs are proving our repeated position that money has supplanted the importance of voters in influencing election outcomes by dumping money into the campaigns of 66 candidates—15 for the U.S. House of Representatives, three for the Texas Supreme Court, 31 for the Texas House of Representatives, 16 for the State Senate and one for the State Railroad Commission (the Texas equivalent to the Louisiana Public Service Commission).

Here is a complete state-by-state listing of Koch-supported candidates (Note: only legally-required reported contributions are listed but Koch, in addition to monetary contributions has been known to exert pressure on its employees as to which candidates they should support.

And it’s not as if the Kochs are alone, nor is this an effort to say that only Republicans are beneficiaries of the avalanche of campaign funds that has occurred since the 2010 Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court opened the spigot of campaign cash.

Politics has become a game played by any billionaire with an agenda—to the overall detriment of the average citizen, whose numbers comprise 99.9 percent of the nation’s population. https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/superpac-donors-2016/

So just how much Super PAC money, so-called outside spending (which does not include individual contributions to thousands of candidates in federal, state and local elections), was lavished on behalf of or in opposition to candidates in the 2012 elections?

The 1,310 super PACs raised $828.2 million for the 2012 election cycle, which was just two years after Citizens United, and spent $609.4 million. https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/summ.php?cycle=2012&chrt=V&type=S

This year, in the Presidential, and Congressional elections alone, spending has already surpassed $1.8 billion. Of that amount, more than $248 million has come from PACs. http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2016/03/daily-chart-1

Before all is said and done, it is expected that more than $5 billion will be spent on the Presidential election. That figure includes money to be spent by candidates, political parties and outside groups (PACs), and includes money spent on presidential primaries—more than double the cost of the 2012 campaign.

All of which raises a moral question: if political donors are so civic-minded (as most insist they are) as opposed to an eagerness to promote a personal agenda (as most will go to great lengths to deny), why don’t they put their money to use for an even greater good?

Has it ever crossed the minds of the Kochs or any of the other members of the mega-rich influence-purchasers what even a small portion of that kind of money would mean to St. Jude or other children’s hospitals?

Have they ever considered underwriting cancer research on such a scale? What about feeding the hungry or even helping restore the country’s crumbling infrastructure? After all, they use the same highways, rely on the same water and sewer services, depend on the same police and fire protection.

So much good could be accomplished with the billions of dollars that are wasted on the campaigns whose promises are as empty and meaningless as the hopes and dreams of the poorest of our poor?

Yes, the Kochs give millions to charities but then spearhead coalitions of businesses and industries that pour hundreds of millions into efforts to pass anti-environmental legislation or they endow chairs at schools like Florida State University on condition that they get the final say in the hiring of faculty members who will teach their political and economic philosophy.

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/10/spreading-the-free-market-gospel/413239/

But we as a nation have somehow seen a trend away from using our wealth to accomplish the greater good for all our citizens. Instead, we’re seeing the wealthiest using their monetary buying power to purchase influence so they can accumulate even more wealth.

And we wonder why there is an ever-widening disconnect from the American political process.

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Cameron, Vermilion, Plaquemines and Jefferson are attempting to accomplish what Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East could not: hold oil and gas companies responsible for the destruction of Louisiana’s coastline.

On July 28, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry expressed his “disappointment” that Vermilion Parish had the audacity to file a lawsuit over damages to the parish coastline Vermilion District Attorney Keith Stutes said was caused by drilling activities of several dozen oil and gas companies.

Gov. John Bel Edwards and Landry, in a rare display of political accord, intervened in the lawsuit with Edwards asking the oil and gas industry to settle the litigation and to assist the state in footing the cost of restoring the cost, which is expected to reach tens of millions of dollars over the next half-century. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/jul/28/vermilion-sues-oil-and-gas-companies-over-coastal-/

Calling lawsuits filed by Cameron and Jefferson parishes as well as Vermilion “counter-intuitive,” Landry said, “We cannot allow these differing and competing interests to push claims which collectively impact the public policy for our coast and our entire state.”

Two weeks later, on Aug. 10, Landry was practically effervescent as he all but took full credit when 24th District Judge Stephen Enright dismissed a similar lawsuit by Jefferson Parish. “I intervened in this lawsuit because I was concerned that the interest of the State of Louisiana may not have been fully represented or protected.

“I accept the court’s ruling because addressing the issues associated with permit violations through the administrative process is a cost-effective, efficient way to resolve any violations,” he said. “That was clearly the purpose of the Legislature creating this regulatory scheme.”

Funny how Landry would choose to use the word scheme.

Scheme, after all, would appear to be appropriate, considering how much money the industry has invested in campaign contributions to Louisiana politicians.

Copy of Campaign Contributions

And there’s certainly no mystery why Landry is so protective of the industry. In fact, he might be described as Jindal 2.0 because of his determination to protect the industry to the detriment of the citizens od Louisiana.

After all, of the $3.3 million Landry received in campaign CONTRIBUTIONS between July 1, 2014 through Dec. 31, 2015 (during his campaign for attorney general), more than $550,000 came from companies and individuals with strong ties to the oil and gas industry.

Moreover, more than $600,000 in campaign contributions to Landry came from out-of-state donors, with many of those, such as Koch Industries ($10,000), one of America’s biggest polluters, also affiliated with the oil and gas industry.

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/inside-the-koch-brothers-toxic-empire-20140924

http://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherhelman/2013/06/10/americas-20-worst-corporate-air-polluters/#10b98e794c70

http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/global-warming/climate-deniers/koch-industries/koch-industries-pollution/

(Koch Industries, by the way, with ties dating back to the right-wing extremist group, The John Birch Society—Fred Koch, Charles and David Koch’s father, was a charter member—has run afoul of federal law on numerous occasions, including fraud charges in connection with oil purchases from Indian reservations.) http://www.corp-research.org/koch_industries

One $5,000 donor, Cox Oil & Gas, was from St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, according to Landry’s campaign finance records. That contribution date was May 20, 2014 but Cox Oil Offshore, LLC, Cox Oil, LLC, and Cox Operating, LLC, all of Dallas, contributed $5,000 each three weeks earlier, on April 28, 2014, those same records show.

Besides the Cox companies, Landry received more than $300,000 from firms and individuals from Texas, many of those from Houston and the surrounding area.

Landry, like Jindal and the bulk of legislators, has sold his soul to an industry that has ravaged our coastline, polluted our land and waterways, and failed to restore property to its original state when operations have concluded, all while reaping record profits and enriching stockholders.

LouisianaVoice has long adhered to the idea that there is far too much money in politics and that most of it comes from special interests. The reality is that citizens have long been removed from the political process.

If you don’t believe that, drop in on a House or Senate committee hearing on some controversial issue. Invariably, the issue will have already been decided by a quiet influx of special interest money and intense lobbying. As you sit and watch and listen to testimony of citizens, pay close attention because you will be the only one besides those testifying who will be doing so.

Watch the committee members. They will be checking emails or texts on their phones, talking and joking among themselves or just milling around, exiting the rear door of the committee room to get coffee—anything but listening to citizens’ concerns. Only on the rarest of occasions could a committee member give you a summation of the testimony.

The only time many legislators really take their jobs seriously is when they are discussing a bill with a lobbyist and that is unfortunate.

Once you’ve heard committee testimony go upstairs to the House or Senate chamber and take a seat in the front row of the spectator gallery. Observe how few of the senators or representatives is actually paying attention to the proceedings. The scene below you will underscore the adage that there are three things one should never see being made: love, sausage, and laws.

And while you’re at it, watch the lobbyists working the room. As you observe the absence of interaction between legislators and average citizens, do the math and deduce the way lawmakers are influenced. You won’t get far before you encounter the old familiar $.

Like him or not (and in Louisiana, it’s fairly accurate to say most don’t though they can’t give you a really sound reason why), President Obama pretty much nailed it when he was running for re-election in 2012.

Jane Mayer, in her excellent book Dark Money, quoted Obama from his speech in Osawatomie, Kansas (the same town where Theodore Roosevelt demanded in 1910 that the government be “freed from the sinister influence or control of special interests”), about the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision of 2010 and the ensuing glut of Super PAC money into the political arena:

  • “Inequality distorts our democracy. It gives an outsized voice to the few who can afford high-priced lobbyists and unlimited campaign contributions, and it runs the risk of selling out our democracy to the highest bidder.”

Meanwhile, Landry ramps up his war of words and political ideology with Gov. Edwards (perhaps in an effort to deflect attention away from his own flawed agenda). The most recent salvo was fired last week over the administration’s hiring of former Sen. Larry Bankston, a one-time convicted felon as legal counsel for the State Board of Contractors—never mind the fact that Landry also hired an employee formerly convicted of fraud for the attorney general’s fraud section. http://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/article_fe56114c-6ad7-11e6-8e7e-6f06140ad60e.html

It would appear that in Louisiana, the state has long since been sold out to the highest bidder as witnessed by the combined efforts of Jindal, Landry, legislators, and the courts to protect big oil at all costs.

As further evidence of this, consider the words of Gifford Briggs, Vice-President of and lobbyist for the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association (LOGA) in the run-up to the 2015 statewide elections immediately after Landry had indicated he might oppose then incumbent Attorney General Buddy Caldwell.

Asked if LOGA would support Landry, Briggs, the son of LOGA President Donald Briggs, said, “We can’t officially endorse any candidate. Our PAC can, but not us. Having said that, Jeff Landry is looking like a very good candidate for Attorney General.”

 

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A couple of weeks ago, LouisianaVoice revealed that convicted Ponzi scheme operator Steven Hoffenberg had established a super PAC for the benefit of Donald Trump and had pledged $50 million of his own money to the effort to raise $1 billion on behalf of the presumed Republican nominee. https://louisianavoice.com/2016/06/21/operator-of-1990s-ponzi-scheme-outed-by-ruston-newspaper-re-surfaces-quarter-century-later-as-major-trump-fund-raiser/

Many north Louisiana residents were victimized by his scam before John Hays and his Morning Paper in Ruston outed Hoffenberg for what he was—a snake oil salesman. Now he’s out of jail and his story just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser as we plunge deeper into that rabbit hole.

Hoffenberg, who bilked investors out of about $475 million, the largest Ponzi scheme on record at the time B.B.M. (before Bernie Madoff), appears to have made a strong rebound and the cast of players also has expanded to include his former high-rolling business partner, child trafficking, a “Christian” credit card scheme, movie stars, a prince, and Bill Clinton.

LouisianaVoice has since learned that though he was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment and ordered to make restitution, he has repaid only about $200 million to investors whose savings he wiped out. He even claimed in 1996 that he was too destitute to post $100,000 bail.

So how is it that after serving 18 years of that sentence, he (a) now has $50 million to toss at Trump and (b) why haven’t authorities ordered that money to go into a pool to repay investors?

As with most questions of a rhetorical nature, there are no clear-cut answers. There is no black or white, only varying shades of gray. Facts, accusations and outright lies become so intertwined that it becomes virtually impossible to separate one from another in trying to make sense of it all.

If you listen to Hoffenberg today, you get the idea he is doing his dead-level best to make his investors whole, a seemingly benevolent gesture to be sure. Incredibly, he still heads Towers Investors, the company through which he ran his Ponzi scheme from the late 1970s until 1993. The corporation’s Web page includes this MESSAGE:

Today, that same Web site attempts to shift the blame for the bilking of 200,000 individuals of their savings to fellow wealthy Wall Street prodigy Jeffrey Epstein who Hoffenberg now says is the one who ran the pyramid scheme through his Towers Investors company.

Typically, Hoffenberg says on his Web page that “authorities figured out what was happening” with his gigantic scam. It seems he still cannot bring himself to admit that a small town newspaper publisher was the one who “figured out” what was going on and ultimately was the one who brought the scheme crashing down, sending Hoffenberg to a federal lockup for 18 years in the process. Hays, as we pointed out in our story last month, won awards for his work on the story and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting.

So who is Jeffrey Epstein and how does he figure in the Hoffenberg-Trump-Clinton saga? A former school teacher, he worked for six years at the Wall Street banking firm Bear Stearns before launching his own financial investing firm in 1982.

The London Daily Mail on May 29, published an exclusive story that detailed the complicated partnership between Epstein and Hoffenberg, Hoffenberg’s $1 billion lawsuit that accuses Epstein of running the Ponzi scheme through Hoffenberg’s company, Towers Financial Corporation.

When Hoffenberg was first charged, prosecutors tried to offer him a reduced sentence in exchange for information about Epstein and his part in the scam but Hoffenberg refused at the time to cooperate.

Epstein, meanwhile, continued to live large. He owns a luxury townhouse in Manhattan, an $11 million mansion in Pam Beach, Florida, and a private island in the Virgin Islands. He current resides in the Virgin Islands, according to the Florida sex offenders’ registry.

Sex registry? Just when you think this story couldn’t get any more salacious, it does.

In unrelated legal action, two unidentified women are claiming they were sexually abused by Epstein in the early 2000s when they were teens. They said he made them into sex slaves and passed them on to his friends. http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/broward/article5342709.html

In 2008, Epstein was accused of sending staff members to recruit underage high school girls in West Pam Beach to travel to his mansion to provide massages and sex. His legal defense team included Alan Derchowitz, Roy Black and Kenneth Starr. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/03/25/jeffrey-epstein-how-the-billionaire-pedophile-got-off-easy.html

Starr became a household name with his report that led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky affair. Starr would then go on to become head of Baylor University but ironically was forced to step down over his handling of a sex scandal at the Baptist school that also brought down the school’s football coach. Black is best known as the attorney who defended William Kennedy Smith against rape charges in Palm Beach.

The three lawyers negotiated the deal of the century, prompting speculation that Epstein benefitted from his high-level social and political contacts. Those included actors Kevin Spacey, Chris Tucker and Woody Allen, Prince Andrew, and Bill Clinton, who used Epstein’s Boeing 727, The Lolita Express, on at least two dozen occasions. http://www.dailywire.com/news/5749/both-trump-and-clinton-went-jeffrey-epsteins-sex-amanda-prestigiacomo

Not even a prestigious publication like Newsweek could resist the temptation of covering the Epstein-Clinton-Prince Andrew connection in January 2015. http://www.newsweek.com/2015/02/06/sex-offender-who-mixes-princes-and-premiers-302877.html

Epstein’s 2008 plea agreement revealed that prosecutors suspected him of abusing up to 40 underage girls but gave him a secret plea bargain in lieu of prosecuting him. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3364381/Notorious-billionaire-pedophile-ex-bestie-Prince-Andrew-Jeffrey-Epstein-hugs-squeezes-bum-one-young-blonde-escapes-New-York-Caribbean-holiday-beauty.html

As a sidebar to all this sleazy mess, Law Newz, an online legal news service, reported on Monday (July 4) that Trump himself is accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in Epstein’s presence in 1994.

In the Doe v. Donald J. Trump federal civil case, a witness statement is attached to the lawsuit in which the alleged witness claims to have “personally witnessed the plaintiff being forced to perform various sexual acts with Mr. Trump and Mr. Epstein. Both Mr. Trump and Mr. Epstein were advised that she was 13 years old.”

The witness statement went on to say, “I personally witnessed four sexual encounters that the plaintiff was forced to have with Mr. Trump during this period, including the fourth of these encounters where Mr. Trump forcibly raped her despite her pleas to stop.” http://lawnewz.com/celebrity/why-isnt-anyone-paying-attention-to-the-sexual-assault-lawsuit-against-trump/

Of course, so-called witnesses can—and often do—say things under oath that are far removed from the truth. LouisianaVoice is in no position to authenticate or refute the claims but the fact that they are now part of court record gives them added significance. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3564767/Donald-Trump-furiously-denies-woman-s-claims-raped-tycoon-billionaire-pedophile-Jeffrey-Epstein-s-sex-parties.html

Thrown into the mix of this bizarre story is Hoffenberg’s latest scheme, the “Christ Card,” a special “Christian” credit card being peddled to churches across the U.S. “The Christ Card holders have the benefit of gaining discounts in all of their purchases under the walk in grace serving out Lord Jesus Christ as customers and as our partners in faith, in our Christ Card family,” says Hoffenberg’s pitch on his Towers Investors Group Web page. http://towersinvestors.com/portfolio-view/christ-card/

Hoffenberg claims to have been converted to Christianity while serving time for cheating investors and now he’s pushing an idea that has spawned numerous scams—Christian debt. This, of course, is not say his promotion is another scam but he does have the pedigree as one who preys on others’ and as one ready, willing and able to lighten unsuspecting victims’ wallets.

He claims to have already completed the negotiation phase for the marketing of the card to more than 700,000 registered Christian churches in the U.S., according to another Web page of WHAM, Inc. http://whaminc.us/investor-questions-wham-answers

That number dwarfs the number of investor he bilked with his Ponzi scheme back in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. In WHAM’s post of only three weeks ago, Hoffenberg was quoted as saying, “Towers Investors/ WHAM INC Steven Hoffenberg anticipate completion and delivery of the Christ Credit Card to the end users within the next 90 days. This multi-year endeavor by Steven Hoffenberg will change the entire financial picture for WHAM investors.” http://whaminc.us/

So what is WHAM, Inc. and how does it figure in all of this? Well, according to Globe Newswire’s Web posting of Feb. 8, 2016, WHAM acquired 100 percent of all stock owned by Hoffenberg’s New York Post Publishing (not to be confused with Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, previously run briefly by Hoffenberg—got it?), Christ Credit and the trademarks of Christ Donations, Christ Faith Card com., and a few other enterprises run by Hoffenberg—including the “billions of dollars in the Jeffrey Epstein contract with Towers investor victims.” Epstein, the Globe Newswire post says, was Hoffenberg’s “best friend and former partner.” https://globenewswire.com/news-release/2016/02/08/808616/0/en/Additional-Details-Regarding-WHAM-INC-Collection-of-Jeffrey-Epstein-s-Billions-for-the-Towers-Investor-Victims.html

But given the Hoffenberg-Epstein relationship, the Epstein-Clinton ties, and the Hoffenberg-Trump connection (Hoffenberg’s latest marriage to his publishing company president was performed just outside Trump Towers where Hoffenberg maintains his offices), we can’t help be intrigued at this sordid story.

HOFFENBERG WEDDING PARTY

The Hoffenberg wedding party outside Trump Towers (from left to right: Associate Publisher of Post Publishing Flo Anthony, Post Publisher and the new Mrs. Hoffenberg, Maria Santiago, Hoffenberg, best man Steven Jude, pastor Copper Cunningham, and video photographer, identity unknown).

And given that Hoffenberg was first ratted out for swindling Louisiana residents by a north Louisiana publisher, we feel it newsworthy to monitor developments in these interconnected stories as they occur.

And whether subsequent events adversely affect any Republicans or Democrats who might be stupid enough to be caught up in this tangled web of deceit is immaterial to us. Any association with Hoffenberg or Epstein—either by Trump or the Clintons—cannot possible be in the best interests of the average American citizen.

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