Tax legislation draws swarms of lobbyists
If the much-ballyhooed goal of tax reduction legislation now pending in a House-Senate conference committee is to spur the creation of thousands of jobs, then it might be correct to say the bill has already accomplished its purpose in a dubious way. According to Public Citizen, 6,243 lobbyists filed disclosure reports at mid-year that contained the word “tax” among their lobbying interests. PC further reported that 20 corporations and trade associations hired at least 50 lobbyists apiece during the first six months of the year, thus adding at least 1,000 people to the army of special interest pleaders.
FBI scrambled to keep tarmac meeting secret
The FBI went into panic when a reporter stumbled upon last year’s private tarmac meeting between former President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch. It was just a chance meeting between old friends who spent their hour together at the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport talking about their golf swings and grandchildren, the former Attorney General lamely explained. But FBI agents cordoned off the area and blocked reporters from taking photographs. Now, a collection of 29 FBI and Department of Justice emails reveal the government agencies suspected that a reporter was tipped by a Phoenix police officer, and at one point they discussed having all police sign a non-disclosure agreement. Initially, DOJ claimed it didn’t possess documents described in a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act request, but produced them after they were mentioned in a related FOIA lawsuit.
Court keeps draft Clinton indictment under seal
The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia refused to order the release of a 1994 draft indictment against Hillary Rodham Clinton because Judicial Watch, the advocacy group that filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to compel its disclosure, failed to demonstrate how its disclosure would serve an “exceptional” public interest that outweighed Mrs. Clinton’s privacy rights. The decision, written by Circuit Judge Judith Rogers who was nominated to the court by President Bill Clinton in 1993, acknowledged the document exists but “has not been publicly released.” It went on to describe a memo written by Deputy Independent Counsel Hickman Ewing which discussed Mrs. Clinton’s involvements with Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan Association and Whitewater Development Corp., and its conclusion that there was “insufficient evidence” to accuse Mrs. Clinton of a federal criminal offense. Judge Rogers was joined in the ruling by Judge David Tatel, who was nominated by President Clinton in 1994, and Senior Judge Laurence Silberman, who was nominated by President Reagan in 1985.
Bologna lover’s lips said “no” but her eyes said “yes”
The woman behind the wheel said “no” when Border Patrol agents at the El Paso port of entry asked if her vehicle contained any fruits, vegetables, meat, alcohol or tobacco. But inspectors discovered 227 pounds of Mexican bologna hidden beneath the car’s floor mats. The woman was assessed a $1,000 civil fine and the meat was destroyed. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Mexican pork products are banned from the U.S. because it can introduce foreign animal diseases to the U.S. pork industry.
Physician-owned hospital fined for kickbacks
Pine Creek Medical Center LLC, a physician-owned hospital in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, will pay $7.5 million to resolve False Claims Act violations stemming from payments to physicians who referred their patients to the hospital. The Department of Justice said the hospital tried to avoid detection by paying bribes in the form of advertising and promotion expenses that benefitted the referring physicians.
School children rescued from unappetizing lunches
Chocolate milk is going back on the lunch and breakfast trays of America’s school children, thanks to a U.S. Department of Agriculture regulation that restores flexibility for school menu options. “Schools want to offer food that students actually want to eat. It doesn’t do any good to serve nutritious meals if they wind up in the trash can,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said.
Rip ‘n Read is a daily compilation of press releases found on hundreds of websites that are maintained by the federal government, think tanks, watchdog groups and national advocacy organizations. Press releases selected for this feature are, in the opinion of the editor, exceptionally newsworthy, interesting or just plain curious.
The press releases and documents linked to this report were posted on their websites on Friday, December 1