Sunday, December 2, 2012

A pattern of corruption under Obama

Dick Cheney's ties to Halliburton were forever a problem during his tenure as Vice-President. Despite the fact that he had divested himself of Halliburton stock and was never in a position to personally profit from contracts awarded to Halliburton, the issue was brought up repeatedly by critics of the Bush Administration. Indeed, it continues to be brought up the hard-core Left, who make it a point to never forget the imaginary transgressions of their opponents. The real transgressions of those on their "side"? They don't even notice these, or offer up pathetically weak excuses like "that's just how it works."

Let's review a few of these.

First, there is the SIGA scandal, largely unknown to most because the mainstream media had no interest in covering it, in doing actual investigative journalism. SIGA was awarded a contract to develop and supply a special-case vaccine for smallpox, a vaccine that can never be actually tested and that has a rather short shelf life. Controlled by people with close ties to the Obama Administration--Ron Perelman--it initially received the contract as a small business, thus allowing the process to avoid Big Pharm. But when it came to light that SIGA did not actually qualify as a small business, the Administration produced a nonsensical narrative about how SIGA was the only viable choice. Based on the contract, SIGA stock price soared:
But the entire episode plays like one big swindle. A next to useless product is ginned up, a bid for that product is handed out to a company designed to get the bid and nothing else, then the stock--having risen sufficiently, based on a phony large number--is sold off. Now the stock is in the toilet and the principles are loading up again, knowing that the lesser deal can be ramped up in the future, after the dust settles, and the game can just be repeated. Some would call this a classic "pump and dump" scenario.
Then there is Solyndra. Apart from the outright stupidity of the Administration throwing money at a loser of a company for no other reason than to appear environmentally conscious, there was real scandal in the story, scandal that was--again--ignored by mainstream media. It revolved around Steven Spinner, a major Obama fundraiser who was given a cushy job at DOE overseeing the loan program, and his wife Allison Spinner who was a partner at the law firm representing Solyndra. Despite signing a pledge to not be directly involved with any company represented by his wife's firm, Steven Spinner did exactly the opposite, using his position at the DOE to push through the loan for Solyndra for the benefit of his wife's firm. And for his actions, Spinner was ultimately awarded another cushy post at the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank.

More recently, we have the case of the embattled Susan Rice, who once seemed a shoe-in for the position of Secretary of State. We know there was incompetence in her handling of Benghazi, if not outright deception, but some might wonder what scandal, similar to any of the above, there was. Well, the largely unreported scandal with Rice doesn't involve Benghazi, at all. Rather, it has to do with the Keystone XL Pipeline. Remember that?

In order for the project to proceed, it needs a go-ahead from the office of the Secretary of State--because it's a cross-border project involving a Canadian company, TransCanada. And guess who has substantial holdings in TransCanada stock? That's right, the person who is on the sort list for Secretary of State, Susan Rice:
According to her most recent personal finance report, covering 2011 and filed in May 2012, Rice and her husband own between $300,002 and $600,000 in TransCanada stock. Those holdings brought them as much as $20,000 in income in 2011. Federal officials are required to disclose the range of an investment rather than the exact amount.

Note that Rice has been holding this stock for a while now, for as long as she has been a part of the Administration. Yet did the issue ever come up when the pipeline was in the news? No, of course not, even though Rice had close contact with people at State even then. The hypocrisy on this issue is staggering. Again, Cheney was pilloried for past connections to a company doing business with the government. Susan Rice and Steven Spinner have and had existing connection to companies. Spinner clearly used his position to benefit his own personal interests. Rice? There's no evidence that she has done that yet, but holding a huge chunk of stock in a company whose activities will be directly under her purview, should she become Secretary of State, looks really bad. It smells really bad.

Yet, it's not as bad as what has been going on at HHS under Kathleen Sebelius. Jeffrey Anderson at the Weekly Standard has uncovered what looks to be a major scandal involving Obamacare and the creation of insurance exchanges. A company called Quality Software Services, Inc (QSSI). was awarded a contract to build and run the databases for federal insurance exchanges (a growing interest, as States are opting out of having their own). The decision came from one Steve Larsen who was--at the time--director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (one of the many new bureaucracies created by Obamacare).

Larsen has since left the Administration and taken a position with UnitedHealth Group, which then bought QSSI. And that purchase will provide UnitedHealth with all kinds of advantages over its competitors in the insurance market. Understand: one of the players--UnitedHealth--owns the company tasked with running the competition. And the guy who made it all happen jumped from making the decision to joining that player, and therefore benefiting wildly from his own decision.

But read all of Anderson's piece. It actually gets worse, as--apparently--HHS told UnitedHealth to violate SEC rules and not make it's purchase of QSSI public until after the election.

The supposedly most transparent Administration in history is quickly becoming the most corrupt one. Pretty sad.

Cheers, all.

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