Friday, October 24, 2014

Obama and Holder follow the Stalinist model of justice

Federal Prosecutor Alleges Boss Pressured Him To Engage in 'Unethical Conduct'; Judge Calls Abuses 'Egregious,' 'Pervasive,” and “Reprehensible”

In perhaps the most stunning documentation yet of abuses by Eric Holder’s Justice Department, two former Assistant United States Attorneys spoke to defense attorneys and revealed appalling deceit and corruption of justice. This latest litigation time bomb has exploded from multi-million dollar litigation originally brought by the Department of Justice against Sierra Pacific based on allegations that the lumber company and related defendants were responsible for a wildfire that destroyed 65,000 acres in California.

In what was dubbed the “Moonlight Fire” case, the tables are now turned. The defendants have discovered new evidence and filed a stunning motion. The new evidence and disclosures are being taken seriously by the Chief Judge of the Eastern District of California—as they should be. In a shocking action, Judge Morrison C. England Jr. ordered the recusal of every federal judge in the Eastern District of California.

Sierra Pacific Industries and other defendants were compelled to pay $55 million to the United States over a period of five years and transfer 22,500 acres of land to settle massive litigation brought against them by the United States alleging that they caused a 2007 fire that destroyed 65,000 acres in California. Sierra Pacific has always maintained that the fire started elsewhere and that the state and federal investigators and Department attorneys lied. Now that settlement may go up in smoke because of the new evidence of outrageous misconduct by the federal prosecutors and the investigators from state and federal offices, as well as findings earlier this year by a state judge.

In an extraordinary development, Judge England, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, ordered the recusal of all the Eastern District judges from the case because of serious allegations that the Court itself was defrauded by the government in the original prosecution. To avoid any appearance of partiality, he has referred the case to Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski to appoint a judge from outside the Eastern District to handle the case going forward. Judge Kozinski has excoriated prosecutors for failing to meet their legal and ethical obligations.

The order notes that the defendants filed an action this week to set aside the $55 million settlement because, as the defendants allege, “the United States presented false evidence to the Defendants and the Court; advanced arguments to the Court premised on that false evidence; or, for which material evidence had been withheld, and obtaining court rulings based thereon; prepared key Moonlight Fire investigators for depositions, and allowed them to repeatedly give false testimony about the most important aspects of their investigation; and failed to disclose the facts and circumstances associated with the Moonlight Fire lead investigator’s direct financial interest in the outcome of the investigation arising from an illegal bank account that has since been exposed and terminated.”

The Sacramento Bee reported on the Defendant’s filing. Indeed, the Defendants’ motion informs us that a former Assistant United States Attorney came forward and disclosed that he believes that he was removed from the original prosecution by “his boss, David Shelledy, chief of the civil division in the United States Attorney’s office,” because he “rebuffed” pressure to “engage in unethical conduct as a lawyer.” Of course, like other former prosecutors who were unethical, Mr. Shelledy is to receive Attorney General Holder’s highest award for excellence—this week.

The defendants also reveal that another former federal prosecutor, Eric Overby, left the Moonlight Fire prosecution team also, stating: “It’s called the Department of Justice. It’s not called the Department of Revenue.” According to the motion, Mr. Overby told defense counsel that in his entire career, “I’ve never seen anything like this. Never.”

Well, sadly we have, and we’ve been reporting on it as fast as we can. This is part of a disturbing and rapidly increasing pattern of abuses by this Department of Justice to line government coffers or redistribute the wealth to its political allies—using its overwhelming litigation might and federal agencies as a tool of extortion and wealth redistribution.

The entire original prosecution against Sierra Pacific appears to have been driven by the Department of Justice’s interest in hitting a “deep pocket” for millions of dollars of revenue. The Defendants’ motion to set aside the settlement reveals a series of fraudulent acts by federal and state authorities that defiles our system of justice.

Dick Beckler, an attorney for the company who used to be at DOJ and is now with Bracewell Giuliani, told the Observer, “Sierra Pacific is looking forward to having its day in court and proving all the facts of the government’s fraud on the court.”

A California state judge, Leslie C. Nichols, in a related state case issued orders earlier this year describing what he called “egregious,” “pervasive,” and “reprehensible” abuses in the investigation and prosecution amounting to “government corruption.” He found the state case to “betray the primary purpose of the judicial system—to reveal the truth.” He awarded $32 million in fees and expenses to the Defendants, finding as the Sacramento Bee reports, that the state agency, Cal Fire, “withheld some documents, destroyed other evidence and ‘engaged in a systematic campaign of misdirection with the purpose of recovering money’ from Sierra Pacific.”

It’s encouraging to see Judge England join Judge Emmet G. Sullivan and Judge Bates, and others, as our Article III judges begin to demand that federal attorneys and agents follow the law and their oaths of office. But there remains a lot more work to do. It’s way past time to hold Holder accountable.

When will the next litigation time bomb and scandal explode on Mr. Holder and this administration? He can’t run fast enough.



TV News Blacks Out This Year’s Bad Election News for Democrats

Bad news for Democrats is no news

 In less than two weeks, voters head to the polls in midterm elections that seem certain to yield strong Republican gains, if not outright control of the U.S. Senate. Such a political sea change is big news, but a new Media Research Center study finds that, in contrast to their enthusiastic coverage of the 2006 midterms when Democrats made big gains, the Big Three broadcast evening newscasts are all but ignoring this year’s political contests.

MRC analysts studied every election story on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts from September 1 through October 20 in both 2006 (the midterm election in George W. Bush’s second term) and 2014 (the equivalent election under President Barack Obama). Even in a changing media landscape, Big Three evening newscasts are a principal news source for more than 23 million viewers, beating all of their broadcast and cable competition.

Our analysts found that, when Democrats were feeling good about their election prospects eight years ago, the CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, and ABC’s World News aired a combined 159 campaign stories (91 full reports and another 68 stories that mentioned the campaign). But during the same time period this year, those same newscasts have offered a paltry 25 stories (16 full reports and 9 mentions), a six-to-one disparity.

Amazingly, since September 1 ABC’s newly-renamed World News Tonight has yet to feature a single mention of this year’s campaign, let alone a full story. In contrast, eight years ago ABC’s World News aired 36 stories that discussed that year’s midterm campaign, including a weekly Thursday night feature that then-anchor Charlie Gibson promised would look at the “critical races.”

Back then, the elections were a major news topic; this year, a regular viewer of ABC’s evening newscast would have no indication that any were even taking place.

CBS and NBC have scarcely been more comprehensive. In 2006, CBS aired a total of 58 evening news stories that discussed the campaign, while NBC Nightly News aired 65 stories. This year, those numbers have fallen to just 14 and 11 as of October 20, declines of 76% and 83%, respectively.

In 2006, with Democrats poised to make big gains, the broadcasts eagerly touted their midterm coverage. On the September 20, 2006 NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams hyped how his broadcast was beginning “a special series that will take a close look at some of the most interesting races in these upcoming midterm elections.”

This election season, Nightly News did not air its first full report on the election until Sunday, October 12. Except for a single full story on October 14 about the Kentucky Senate race (how the Democratic candidate refused to say if she had voted for President Obama), NBC Nightly News has thus far this fall provided no in-depth coverage of any specific races or candidates — merely short mentions of individual contests.

The network blackout of this year’s campaign began long before the Ebola outbreak dominated newscasts after the September 30 diagnosis of Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas. The evening newscasts included just 12 stories about the campaign in September, vs. 13 such stories during the first 20 days of October.

And it’s not as if the Ebola story precluded substantial political coverage — in 2006, the networks also found time to cover major stories, including the war in Iraq and North Korea’s first atomic test, without bypassing politics.

Eight years ago, there was no escaping the negative news for Republicans. Not only were polls projecting a major swing to the Democrats, but a scandal involving Florida Representative Mark Foley received major attention from all three network evening newscasts. Of the 159 network evening news stories that fall, nearly two-thirds (103, or 65%) conveyed either mainly bad news about Republican candidates, or mainly good news about the Democrats, vs. just seven (4%) conveying the opposite message. (The remainder were either neutral or mixed.)

“With scandals, the war, and the President with low approval ratings, this is a very difficult environment for Republicans to run,” CBS’s Gloria Borger opined on the October 17 Evening News. The next night, October 18, NBC Nightly News led their broadcast with poll results that Tim Russert said were making Republicans “very, very nervous,” including a big lead for Democrats in the generic congressional ballot (52% vs. 37% for the GOP).

This week, NBC conducted a similar pre-election poll that found a five-point edge (49% to 44%) for Republicans in the generic ballot, comparable to the six-point edge they had going into the 1994 elections in which they seized control of both the House and Senate. But so far, the NBC Nightly News said nothing about this poll or the bad news it contained for Democrats.

This fall, estimates from the New York Times and Washington Post (as of October 21) place the odds of a Republican takeover of the Senate at between 66% and 93%, and Democrats have been encumbered by a myriad of Obama administration failures including the botched ObamaCare rollout, the Bowe Berghdahl prisoner exchange, the long delay in confronting ISIS, the Secret Service scandal and the fumbling of the Ebola response.

But Democrats have not faced the unrelentingly negative coverage that Republicans confronted eight years ago. From September 1 through October 20, our analysts found ten evening news stories (40%) contained mainly bad news for Democrats or mostly good news for Republicans, while seven (28%) emphasized bad news for Republicans or good news for Democrats.

Back on October 5, The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza wrote about the “striking” similarities between the two midterm elections: “Like Bush, this is the second midterm election of Obama’s presidency. Like Bush, Obama is not at all popular nationally....Like Republicans in 2006, the fate of Democratic control rests in the hands of a handful of incumbents...who sit in states that, at best, swing between the two parties and, at worst, are firmly Republican at the presidential level.”

It wasn’t biased for the networks to sift through polls and predict bad news for Republicans eight years ago. But now that the party labels are reversed, those same networks are showing their bias by giving so much less airtime to the bad political news for Democrats this year.



Democrats push no-residency election law

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.:  Rather than admitting the failure of last year’s House Bill 13-1303 to re-write Colorado election law, Democrats have doubled down on unregulated elections by writing a new law that, among other things, eliminates residency requirements for local elections. Despite widespread opposition to their proposed new election law, House Democrats have passed it quickly, moving it forward to the senate.

The Denver Post editorialized, “…even supporters of HB 1164 ought to recognize that its rushed handling is a disservice to informed lawmaking.”

Late last week, House Republican co-sponsor Carole Murray backed out of sponsoring the bill. Said Murray, “I agreed to participate in the bill because as a former county clerk, I understand the administrative challenges of the variety of elections that we need to conduct, but as I got into being responsible for this bill, I realized that there was just no way to avoid the policy reality that we were forcing our jurisdictions in our local governments to reject a requirement for jurisdictional residency.”

Sen. Ellen Roberts (R-Durango) removed herself as senate sponsor, leaving Democrats with no cover.

Last year’s bill removed residency requirements at the state level but left unclear were the requirements at the local level. Instead of fixing the state residency requirements, Democrats have simply eliminated them at the local level as well.

The city of Broomfield has been in the spotlight after the secretary of state’s office listed alleged elections administration errors, much of which related to residency requirements. Before 2013 and the new election law, Broomfield had not been involved in any election lawsuits; now there are five. House Bill 1164 fixes that by simply stating that the Broomfield election results are confirmed—no proof or process needed.

Meanwhile, a Republican effort by Sen. Kevin Lundberg to allow citizens to opt out of mandatory mail-in ballots was killed on a party-line vote Monday evening. Even the League of Women Voters had supported the bill. This is not unusual for Republican bills: of the initial 39 bills submitted in the Colorado senate, 19 were immediately sent to the designated “kill committee” without hearings.

With no one other than radical Democrats and a few election officials supporting the new bill, Senators Kevin Grantham and Kevin Lundberg Monday submitted a compromise proposal. They were joined by Representatives Carole Murray and Libby Szabo.

Their bill will put last year’s election law (HB13-1303) on hold for two years. This would allow a bipartisan commission time to consider recommending changes to election law, instead of the “my-way-or-the-highway” approach the Democrats have used to date.

Said Lundberg, “Our bill will have a tough time gaining acceptance with this legislature, but it is still the right thing to do.”

In 1992, Edward Djerejian, then Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, characterized the goals of Islamic radicals as “One man, one vote, one time.” The phrase was resurrected in Egypt as Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood took power in Egypt. It means that your vote for a radical Islamist is your last vote.

In Colorado, radical leftist Democrats seem to be seeking the same state of affairs. The recall of two senators and the forced resignation of a third has not changed their iron-fisted control of the legislature. They do not listen to opposition, their hearings—when they are allowed—resemble “show trials,” and their legislation passes through the legislature at light speed.



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