It appears author Steven J. Milloy of JunkScience.com was right when he quipped that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “owns” the American Lung Association (ALA). Taxpayer money may be indirectly financing lobbying campaigns aimed at banning smoking in public places. Since 2001, the EPA has given the ALA more than $20 million in grants, and the ALA, in turn, has been passing on grant money to local governments to encourage such bans. For example, smoking is now banned on the beaches of Fenwick Island, Delaware, after its town council accepted a grant from the ALA. Officials in nearby Dewey Beach are planning to ban smoking on their beaches, too, and are seeking money from the ALA to promote the ban.
“A blockbuster congressional investigation of campaign finance activities by corporations, trade associations, and high net worth individuals may be coming,” warns Covington & Burling, a law firm that focuses on election law. According to its latest report, not only 501(c)(4) groups and trade associations may be congressional targets, but also 501(c)(3) nonprofits. The chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Carl Levin (D-Mich.), has announced he will “tackle … the use of secret money to fund political campaigns.” Levin is notoriously tough, and his new ranking member on the other side of the aisle is Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who is famous for his willingness to have Congress restrict political speech.
Several animals, including three horses, a shark, and a dog, have recently died on the sets of films and TV shows, leading critics of the American Humane Association to say it has become too cozy with the entertainment industry it supposedly polices. Hollywood follows animal treatment guidelines created by the association, but the group’s CEO, Robin R. Ganzert, admits it is having difficulty ensuring animal well-being. She blames the spread of smaller, independent production houses. “We’re not covering enough animal action, because of the way the business model in the industry has changed,” she claims.
Weak-kneed politician? Behind bars while awaiting sentencing, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, a Democrat, is asking to be freed temporarily because he claims he can’t get proper medical treatment for an injured knee in federal prison. He faces up to 20 years in prison after misappropriating funds from his Kilpatrick Civic Fund charity for personal use.
After Hillary Clinton left her job as Secretary of State earlier this year, the (Bill) Clinton Foundation was renamed the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. Cynics wonder if the name of the former First Daughter—whom a Washington Post TV critic once called “one of the most boring people of her era”—may have been added to the letterhead to help her rumored political ambitions.
GOLDMAN SACHS WATCH
Former Goldman Sachs trader Matthew Marshall Taylor has pleaded guilty to wire fraud in New York. In a 2007 futures transaction, Taylor put more than $8 billion at risk while falsely claiming only $65 million was at risk. Goldman lost $118 million in the deal. Court documents indicate Taylor put false information in trading records and put 10 times more money at risk than company rules permitted.