#6. Politics Turns Politicians Into Helpless Children
A woman we’ll call “Alice” worked as the chief aid to one of the men who ran the state of California, which in reality meant she played the role of babysitter to a grown man for several years of her life. … “There’s a culture in the capitol: you get drivers, you get a staff, you get an office, and you’re instantly gifted with a lot of money from your campaign and your ‘officeholder’ account. … It’s like being some sort of weird celebrity. Not to mention the 'Secret Ticket Phone Line’ for the legislator and their staffers.” What she’s referring to there is a dedicated line for politicians to request tickets to NBA games, etc., a line that, incidentally, is run by British Petroleum. Don’t worry – the law doesn’t consider it bribery.
JP Morgan Chase, the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act, and the Corruption of America
The Justice Department has just obtained documents showing that JPMorgan Chase, Wall Street’s biggest bank, has been hiring the children of China’s ruling elite in order to secure “existing and potential business opportunities” from Chinese government-run companies. “You all know I have always been a big believer of the Sons and Daughters program,” says one JP Morgan executive in an email, because “it almost has a linear relationship” to winning assignments to advise Chinese companies. The documents even include spreadsheets that list the bank’s “track record” for converting hires into business deals.
It’s a serious offense. But let’s get real. How different is bribing China’s “princelings,” as they’re called there, from Wall Street’s ongoing program of hiring departing U.S. Treasury officials, presumably in order to grease the wheels of official Washington? Timothy Geithner, Obama’s first Treasury Secretary, is now president of the private-equity firm Warburg Pincus; Obama’s budget director Peter Orszag is now a top executive at Citigroup.
Or, for that matter, how different is what JP Morgan did in China from Wall Street’s habit of hiring the children of powerful American politicians? (I don’t mean to suggest Chelsea Clinton got her hedge-fund job at Avenue Capital LLC, where she worked from 2006 to 2009, on the basis of anything other than her financial talents.)
And how much worse is JP Morgan’s putative offense in China than the torrent of money JP Morgan and every other major Wall Street bank is pouring into the campaign coffers of American politicians – making the Street one of the major backers of Democrats as well as Republicans?
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, under which JP Morgan could be indicted for the favors it has bestowed in China, is quite strict. It prohibits American companies from paying money or offering anything of value to foreign officials for the purpose of “securing any improper advantage.” Hiring one of their children can certainly qualify as a gift, even without any direct benefit to the official.
JP Morgan couldn’t even defend itself by arguing it didn’t make any particular deal or get any specific advantage as a result of the hires. Under the Act, the gift doesn’t have to be linked to any particular benefit to the American firm as long as it’s intended to generate an advantage its competitors don’t enjoy.
Compared to this, corruption of American officials is a breeze. Consider, for example, Countrywide Financial’s generous “Friends of Angelo” lending program, named after its chief executive, Angelo R. Mozilo, that gave discounted mortgages to influential members of Congress and their staffs before the housing bubble burst. No criminal or civil charges have ever been filed related to these loans.
Even before the Supreme Court’s shameful 2010 “Citizens United” decision – equating corporations with human beings under the First Amendment, and thereby shielding much corporate political spending – Republican appointees to the Court had done everything they could to blunt anti-bribery laws in the United States. In 1999, in “United States v. Sun-Diamond Growers,” Justice Scalia, writing for the Court, interpreted an anti-bribery law so loosely as to allow corporations to give gifts to public officials unless the gifts are linked to specific policies.
We don’t even require that American corporations disclose to their own shareholders the largesse they bestow on our politicians. Last year around this time, when the Securities and Exchange Commission released its 2013 to-do list, it signaled it might formally propose a rule to require corporations to disclose their political spending. The idea had attracted more than 600,000 mostly favorable comments from the public, a record response for the agency.
But the idea mysteriously slipped off the 2014 agenda released last week, without explanation. Could it have anything to do with the fact that, soon after becoming SEC chair last April, Mary Jo White was pressed by Republican lawmakers to abandon the idea, which was fiercely opposed by business groups.
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is important, and JP Morgan should be nailed for bribing Chinese officials. But, if you’ll pardon me for asking, why isn’t there a Domestic Corrupt Practices Act?
Never before has so much U.S. corporate and Wall-Street money poured into our nation’s capital, as well as into our state capitals. Never before have so many Washington officials taken jobs in corporations, lobbying firms, trade associations, and on the Street immediately after leaving office. Our democracy is drowning in big money.
Corruption is corruption, and bribery is bribery, in whatever country or language it’s transacted in.
“The problem with government jobs is that they are respectable but don’t pay well. Take for example the traffic officers, they make about 8,000-10,000 taka ($100-$130) a month but you need a minimum of 15,000-20,000 taka to survive in Dhaka at a very basic level. Of course that officer is going to take bribes, how else will he feed his family? It’s the system that is bad, not the people.”
We live in a big cyber world filled to the brim with dating apps and websites. Anyone these days can try to find love with the click of a button, from farmers and ranchers to the obsessively gluten-free. So, what’s the hubbub with this new one called Carrot Dating, which surprisingly is not the name for either of the previous sites mentioned?
MIT graduate and evident ladies’ man Brandon Wade invented an app that bribes women into going on dates with men. (Although the site’s FAQ page states that the briber can be of any demographic or sexual orientation—that is, women are allowed to bribe the men, too—77 percent of the bribers are male.) You see, it’s called Carrot Dating in reference to the idiomatic “carrot and stick.” Back in the old days, a cart driver would dangle a carrot attached to a stick in front of a donkey which would trick the donkey into moving forward, thus moving his cart. To Brandon, women are those finicky donkeys who don’t want to follow an unattractive, self-obsessed cart driver unless he dangles a yummy carrot in front of them.
I have a box packaged up for her sitting nearby me here with so many adorable gifts for her little one and pampering things for her – including a handwritten card from me to her, just encouraging her. And here it sits. All packaged up and ready to go to the post office. We have offered personal adoption. Another family has offered a complete open adoption. We’ve got several folks in Oregon willing to come and literally hold her hand through this pregnancy – offering a free birth/delivery and a place(s) to stay. Free sonos. Everything. The moon. But in her selfishness, she said this evening that she will kill.
And I am sure you have tried to look her up online and find her physical address? Maybe put feet on the ground at least, someone in person. Yes, I was thinking of someone knocking on her door
“Sidewalk Counselor” Kristina Harrhof helping to “counsel” one of her “clients”
Sounds like bribery and harassment to me.
Kristina also volunteers at a CPC in Texas
The second quote is from a friend giving her advice on what to do. Harassment. This is what you get from CPCs and sidewalk counselors.