Wednesday, February 22, 2012

By November, Whose Rap Sheet Will Be Longer, Buck McKeon (R-CA) Or Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm (R-NY)?


The world is closing in on Santa Clarita crooked congressman Buck McKeon

Before Boehner put the House Armed Services Committee-- and all the millions of dollars in graft and bribery possibilities inherent in that position-- into the grasping hands of Buck McKeon, I always figured the scandalous behavior that would send him to prison eventually would be his shenanigans around the for-profit student loan businesses he's been in bed with for so long. Long before Countrywide reared it's head and long before anyone even knew what the Unmanned Systems Caucus is or how it's connected to drone manufacturers, there was McKeon's very, very lucrative financial relationships with the for-profit student lending industry.

We've been talking about McKeon's penchant for obsessive day-trading and discussed how he has been one of the most avid users of insider info to structure his stock purchases and sales. Yesterday investigative journalist Lee Fang hit it out of the park with startling revelations about how McKeon was trading the stock of Corinthian Colleges while manipulating tax dollars in their direction. As Fang mentions, McKeon "has faced a recent wave of stories concerning evidence that suggests that he has used his elected office to directly benefit himself and his family... Last year, the Huffington Post’s Chris Kirkham published a fascinating overview of the growth of the troubled for-profit college industry. Buried in the piece is a note about how McKeon-- at the time a senior member of a subcommittee with authority over higher education-- bought stock in Corinthian Colleges Inc., a for-profit college that would reap the windfall of the deregulation policies enacted by McKeon and his colleagues:"
The 50 Percent Rule had been put in place with other consumer safeguard measures in the early 1990s, in an effort to protect students and taxpayers in the face of widespread reports of abuse and fraud involving federal student aid programs. The deregulation was the result of a fierce lobbying effort waged by the for profit-college industry, coupled with strategic campaign donations distributed to Boehner, Enzi and Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.), the men who controlled the Education committees in the House and the Senate.

McKeon held and sold stock for Corinthian Colleges Inc., a for-profit college corporation, during the time he was crafting policies for the industry on the House Education committee, according to his required personal financial disclosure forms. According to the documents, he owned between $1,000 and $15,000 in Corinthian stock in 2003, and sold it off in 2004.

Fang contends that "McKeon appeared be seeking a quick buck from a company he was showering with taxpayer money. What’s worse, the policy to promote for-profit colleges has led to the growth of an industry many experts say uses systematic fraud to deceive students. Corinthian College, the for-profit McKeon invested in, faces attorney general investigations and lawsuits in states from coast to coast, and has been cited for falsifying hundreds of student employment records, while maintaining a 'policy' of misleading students... McKeon voted for the Stock Act, the watered down legislation that was originally meant to curb insider trading in Congress. But he hasn’t distanced himself from the for-profit college industry. One top for-profit school lobbyist even donated to McKeon’s wife in her bid for State Assembly."

Two crooks who know their way around a tanning salon

As for Grimm, the DCCC is doing a good job following up on the amazing work of New York-based investigative reporters looking into his connections to organized-- and disorganized-- crime. Their brand new GrimmFiles web page particularly emphasizes his shady business dealings-- wait 'til they find out about Grimm and "Gus" Kontogiannis-- and his illegal fundraising practices.

John Boehner, on the other hand, isn't doing a very good job. He vowed to keep his larcenous caucus from unethical and illegal activities. He certainly hasn't-- nor has he disciplined either McKeon or Grimm. In fact, unlike Nancy Pelosi who would remove crooked Members from their committees if they stepped out of line-- recall Charlie Rangel's loss of his committee chair-- Boehner refused to do likewise with McKeon even after he was formally informed that McKeon is the subject of an official House Ethics Committee investigation. This week, the NY Times suggested that Grimm's case go right to the Justice Department. The Romney campaign immediately distanced itself from Grimm and took his name off their list of convention delegates-- just as they did with their scandal-plagued Arizona campaign co-chair, Paul Babeu. But regardless of all the mounting charges against McKeon-- and regardless of the official Ethics Committee investigation... well, like Romney, McKeon is a Mormon and that connection always supersedes even a crime spree like Lucky Bucky's.

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