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Anita Dunn

Anita Dunn is the White House Communications Director and will be stepping down by the end of November 2009.[3] She will be replaced by her deputy, Dan Pfeiffer, according to a senior White House official.[4] Previously, she was a Democratic political consultant with a Washington-based consulting firm, Squier Knapp Dunn Communications, and was a top adviser to Barack Obama's presidential campaign.[5] [6]

Obama campaign

In April 2008, it was announced that Dunn, who had joined the Obama campaign in February, would be the director of communications, policy and research operations for Obama for America, where she held the title Senior Adviser and was one of the major decision makers of the Obama campaign. She was featured as one of four top advisers (along with David Axelrod, David Plouffe, and Robert Gibbs) in a 60 Minutes interview held after then President-elect Obama's November 4, 2008 victory speech at Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois. She was described, in the 60 Minutes interview, as, "a relative newcomer who handled communications, research and policy."[7] During the presidential transition of 2008-09, Dunn trained White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.[citation needed]

White House Communications Director

A veteran political operative, Dunn, as interim White House Communications Director, took the lead in the Obama administration's criticism of the Fox News Channel[8] On Sunday, October 11, 2009, she appeared on CNN's Reliable Sources and was asked to clarify a statement she made to Time magazine regarding Fox News, "it's opinion journalism masquerading as news."[9] She responded by saying, "if you were a Fox News viewer in the fall election, what you would have seen would have been that the biggest stories and biggest threats facing America were a guy named Bill Ayers and something called ACORN. The reality of it is that Fox News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party."[10] She added, "And it's not ideological. Obviously, there are many commentators who have conservative, liberal, centrist, and everybody understands that. But I think what is fair to say about FOX and certainly the way we view it is that it really is more a wing of the Republican Party."[11]

On June 5, 2009, Dunn delivered a speech to students at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School of Potomac, Maryland, in which she stated that Mao Zedong was one of her "favorite political philosophers".[12] Four days after Dunn had appeared on CNN's Reliable Sources (i.e., October 15, 2009), Fox News Channel host Glenn Beck aired a clip on his show of that speech criticizing her for that and other statements.[13][14] In response to the criticism, Dunn said "The use of the phrase 'favorite political philosophers' was intended as irony..."[15]. She also stated that "the Mao quote is one I picked up from the late Republican strategist Lee Atwater."[16]

The Washington Post reported on November 10, 2009 that Dunn will step down by the end of November and be replaced by her deputy Dan Pfeiffer.[17]

Personal life

Dunn, who is 51,[18] is married to President Obama's personal attorney, Robert Bauer, a partner at Perkins Coie who is currently personal counsel to President Obama and the incoming White House Counsel.[19] Robert Bauer has also been the general counsel of Obama for America since January 2007.[1][20] In 2008, Newsweek named Dunn and Bauer the new "power couple" in Washington, D.C.[21]

  • Anita Dunn has been a top political strategist and communications advisor for nearly three decades.
  • In 2004, Anita developed strategy and produced the media for Senator Evan Bayh, who won re-election with the highest percentage of support in recent history, even out-performing President Bush in this reliably Republican state. She also produced the media for Congressman Lloyd Doggett, who was running for the first time in a newly-drawn District, resulting from the redistricting efforts of Congressman Tom DeLay. Despite Mr. DeLay’s efforts, Doggett won re-election with 68%.
  • In 2001-2002, Anita served as senior Political Advisor to Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle as well as a consultant to the Senate Democratic Caucus when they gained the majority, and through the September 11/anthrax attack period. She also served as chief strategist and media consultant to U.S. Rep. John Dingell during his successful primary redistricting battle against Rep. Lynn Rivers, dubbed “the most hotly contested primary in the nation” by national observers.
  • Anita produced the media for the New Jersey Democratic Party during both the Torricelli and Lautenberg campaigns, the media for the Texas Democratic party during Ron Kirk’s Senate campaign, and the media for Senator Bob Graham’s successful Amendment 11 campaign in Florida. She advised Montgomery County, Maryland Executive Doug Duncan (a long-time client) on crisis communications during the October sniper attacks, and ended the year with producing the Louisiana Democratic party’s advertising in Senator Mary Landrieu’s special election victory.
  • In 1999, Anita took a leave of absence from the firm to serve as Communications Director and chief strategist for Senator Bill Bradley’s presidential campaign. Upon returning to the firm in 2000, she played a major strategic role with Senator Bill Nelson’s race through her advertising for the Florida Democratic Party and for Senator Tom Carper through her advertising for the Delaware Democratic Party.
  • During the 1997-1998 cycle, Anita played the leading strategic role for both Senator Bob Graham and Senator John Breaux’s reelection campaigns, and in the 1995-1996 cycles designed the strategy and media that elected U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) to office.
  • Anita joined the firm in 1993 from Senator Bill Bradley’s office, where she had served as Communications and Political Director and then Chief of Staff. Anita was the Communications Director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) for both the 1988 and 1990 election cycles, while Democrats had a net pickup of three seats. She was the Communications Director for U.S. Rep. Bob Edgar’s 1984 congressional and 1986 senatorial campaigns; served as a press assistant on Senator John Glenn’s 1984 campaign, and began her career in politics working for White House Chief of Staff Hamilton Jordan under President Jimmy Carter.
A supporter of Mao Se Tung?

Robert Bauer

Robert Bauer is an American attorney, currently a partner at Perkins Coie and in November, 2009, has been named to be the next White House Counsel[1] upon the resignation of the current counsel, Gregory Craig[2]. Bauer was President Barack Obama's personal attorney and the general counsel of the Obama for America presidential campaign since January 2007. He was also the general counsel to the Democratic National Committee[3], and had advised Mr. Obama since Mr. Obama came to Washington, D.C. in 2005 as U. S. Senator.[4].

Personal life

Bauer is married to Anita Dunn, the outgoing director of communications at the White House.[4] Together, they were described as Washington's new "power couple" in Newsweek magazine. [5]


Bob is a 1976 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was named Hardy Dillard Fellow in legal writing. He is the author of several books, including United States Federal Election Law (1982, 1984), Soft Money Hard Law--A Guide To The New Campaign Finance Law (2002) and More Soft Money Hard Law: The Second Edition Of The Guide To The New Campaign Finance Law (2004), and numerous articles. Bob is also the author of the weblog,, on which he writes about campaign finance and other issues of interest to the political community.

In 2006, Bob was named one of the "100 Most Influential Attorneys" by the National Law Journal; he was chosen as one of "America's Leading Political Lawyers" by Chambers USA in 2006 and 2007. In 2000, Bob received the prestigious "Burton Award for Legal Achievement" for his legal writing.

Bob is currently counsel to Obama for America, the Democratic Senatorial and Congressional Campaign Committees, and has served as Co-Counsel to the New Hampshire State Senate in the Trial of Chief Justice David A. Brock (2000); General Counsel to the Bill Bradley for President Committee (1999-2000); and Counsel to the Democratic Leader in the Trial of President William Jefferson Clinton (1999). He has co-authored numerous bipartisan reports, including: Report of Counsel to the Senate Rules and Administration Committee in the Matter of the United States Senate Seat from Louisiana in the 105th Congress of the United States, (March 27, 1997); “Campaign Finance Reform,” A Report to the Majority Leader and Minority Leader of the United States Senate (March 6, 1990); and “The Presidential Election Process in the Philippines” (1986) (A bipartisan report prepared at the request of the Chairman and Ranking Member of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations).

Anthony "Van" Jones

Portrait photo of an African-American man seated in front of a wood paneled wall. He has a bald head, glasses and a mustache, and is wearing a gray suit, blue shirt and red tie.
Van Jones as White House Council on Environmental Quality's Special Advisor for Green Jobs, 2009

Anthony "Van" Jones (born September 20, 1968) is an American environmental advocate, civil rights activist and attorney who served from March 16[1] to September 5,[2] 2009 as Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) in the United States.

Jones founded the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in 1996, a California non-governmental organization (NGO) working for alternatives to violence. In 2005, Jones co-founded Color of Change, an advocacy group for African Americans.[3] Formerly based in Oakland, California, Jones founded Green For All in 2007, a national NGO dedicated to "building an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty."[4] His first book, The Green Collar Economy, was released on October 7, 2008, and reached number 12 on the New York Times Best Seller list.[5] In 2008, Time magazine named Jones one of its "Heroes of the Environment".[6] Fast Company called him one of the "12 Most Creative Minds of 2008".[7]

He was appointed by President Barack Obama in March 2009, to the newly-created position on the White House Council on Environmental Quality, where he worked with various "agencies and departments to advance the administration's climate and energy initiatives, with a special focus on improving vulnerable communities."[8] In July 2009 he became "embroiled in controversy"[9] over his past political activities including his 1990s association with a Marxist group, a public comment disparaging Congressional Republicans, and his name appearing on a petition for[10][11] Highlighting these issues, conservatives launched an aggressive campaign against him.[12] Jones resigned from the position in early September.[13]

Social and environmental activism

Earlier activism

In 1992, while still a law student at Yale, Jones participated as a volunteer legal monitor for a protest of the Rodney King verdict in San Francisco. He and many other participants in the protest were arrested. The district attorney later dropped the charges against Jones. The arrested protesters, including Jones, won a small legal settlement. Jones later said that "the incident deepened my disaffection with the system and accelerated my political radicalization."[18] In October 2005 Jones said he was "a rowdy nationalist"[15] before the King verdict was announced, but that by August of that year (1992) he was a communist. [15] Jones's activism was also spurred on by witnessing racial inequality in New Haven, Connecticut: "I was seeing kids at Yale do drugs and talk about it openly, and have nothing happen to them or, if anything, get sent to rehab...And then I was seeing kids three blocks away, in the housing projects, doing the same drugs, in smaller amounts, go to prison.”[14]

When he graduated from law school, Jones gave up plans to take a job in Washington, D.C., and moved to San Francisco instead.[15] He got involved with Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM), a group explicitly committed to revolutionary Marxist politics[19] whose points of unity were revolutionary democracy, revolutionary feminism, revolutionary internationalism, the central role of the working class, urban Marxism, and Third World Communism.[20] While associated with STORM, Jones actively began protesting police brutality.[15]

Ella Baker Center for Human Rights

In 1995, Jones started Bay Area PoliceWatch, the region's only bar-certified hotline and lawyer-referral service for alleged victims claiming police abuse. The hotline started receiving fifteen calls a day.[14] PoliceWatch began as a project of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights. "We designed a computer database, the first of its kind in the country, that allows us to track problem officers, problem precincts, problem practices, so at the click of a mouse we can now identify trouble spots and troublemakers," says Jones "This has given us a tremendous advantage in trying to understand the scope and scale of the problem. Now, obviously, just because somebody calls and says, "Officer so-and-so did something to me," doesn't mean it actually happened, but if you get two, four, six phone calls about the same officer, then you begin to see a pattern. It gives you a chance to try and take affirmative steps.".[21] By 1996, Jones founded a new umbrella NGO, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, which "consisted of a closet-like office and a computer that Jones had brought from his apartment."[15]

From 1996-1997, Jones and PoliceWatch led a campaign which was successful in getting officer Marc Andaya fired from the San Francisco Police Department. Andaya was the lead officer accused of the in-custody death of Aaron Williams, an unarmed black man. In 1999 and 2000, Jones was a leader in the failed campaign to defeat Proposition 21, which sparked a student movement that made national headlines.[22][23] In 2001, Jones and the Ella Baker Center launched the Books Not Bars campaign. From 2001 to 2003, Jones and Books Not Bars led a campaign to block the construction of a proposed "Super-Jail for Youth" in Oakland's Alameda County. Books Not Bars later went on to launch a statewide campaign to transform California's juvenile justice system.[24]

Color of Change

Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Jones and James Rucker co-founded a Web-based grassroots organization to address Black issues called Color of Change. Color of Change's mission as described on its web site is as follows: " exists to strengthen Black America's political voice. Our goal is to empower our members—Black Americans and our allies—to make government more responsive to the concerns of Black Americans and to bring about positive political and social change for everyone."[3] Within two years of co-founding the organization, Jones moved on to other pursuits, but remains listed on the Color of Change website as "Former Staff".[3][25]

Shift to environmentalism and Green for All

By 2005, Jones had begun promoting eco-capitalism and environmental justice.[26] In 2005 the Ella Baker Center expanded its vision beyond the immediate concerns of policing, declaring that "If we really wanted to help our communities escape the cycle of incarceration, we had to start focusing on job, wealth and health creation."[24] In 2005, Jones and the Ella Baker Center produced the "Social Equity Track" for the United Nations' World Environment Day celebration, held that year in San Francisco.[27] It was the official beginning of what would eventually become Ella Baker Center's Green-Collar Jobs Campaign.

The Green-Collar Jobs Campaign was Jones' first concerted effort to meld his desire to improve racial and economic equality with his newer desire to mitigate environmental concerns. It soon took as its mission the establishment of the nation's first "Green Jobs Corps" in Oakland. On October 20, 2008, the City of Oakland formally launched the Oakland Green Jobs Corps, a public-private partnership that will "provide local Oakland residents with job training, support, and work experience so that they can independently pursue careers in the new energy economy."[28]

In September 2007, Jones attended the Clinton Global Initiative and announced his plans to launch Green For All, a new national NGO dedicated to creating green pathways out of poverty in America. The plan grew out of the work previously done at local level at the Ella Baker Center. Green For All would take the Green-Collar Jobs Campaign mission — creating green pathways out of poverty — national.

Green For All formally opened its doors on January 1, 2008. In its first year, Green For All organized "The Dream Reborn," the first national green conference where the majority of attendees were people of color. It cohosted, with 1Sky and the We Campaign, a national day of action for the new economy called "Green Jobs Now." It launched the Green-Collar Cities Program to help cities build local green economies and started the Green For All Capital Access Program to assist green entrepreneurs. As part of the Clean Energy Corps Working Group, it launched a campaign for a Clean Energy Corps initiative which would create 600,000 'green-collar' jobs while retrofitting and upgrading more than 15 million American buildings.[29]

In reflecting on Green For All's first year, Jones wrote, "One year later, Green For All is real – and we have helped put green collar jobs on the map... We have a long way to go. But today we have a strong organization to help get us there."[29]

Jones advocates a combination of conservation, regulation and investment as a way of encouraging environmental justice and opposing environmental racism. In an interview for the "EON Deep Democracy Interview Series" Jones spoke of a "third wave of environmentalism":

The first wave is sort of the Teddy Roosevelt, conservation era which had its day and then, in 1963, Rachel Carson writes a book, Silent Spring, and she's talking about toxics and the environment, and that really kind of opens up a whole new wave. So it's no longer just conservation but it's conservation, plus regulation, trying to regulate the bad, and that wave kind of continued to be developed and got kind of a 2.5 upgrade because of the environmental justice community who said, "Wait a minute, you're regulating but you're not regulating equally, the white polluters and white environmentalists are essentially steering poison into the people-of-color communities, because they don't have a racial justice frame." ... Now there's something new that's beginning to gather momentum, and it's conservation plus regulation of the bad, plus investment in the good ... beginning to put money into the solutions as well as trying to regulate the problem.[30]


Jones has served on the boards of numerous environmental and nonprofit organizations, including 1Sky, the National Apollo Alliance, Social Venture Network, Rainforest Action Network, Bioneers, Julia Butterfly Hill’s "Circle of Life" organization and Free Press. He was also a Senior Fellow with the Center for American Progress and a Fellow at the Institute of Noetic Sciences. He was a keynote speaker at the youth conference Power Shift 2009 in Washington, D.C.[3]

During the 2003 California gubernatorial recall election, Jones served as Arianna Huffington's statewide grassroots director.[31]

The Green Collar Economy

On October 7, 2008, HarperOne released Jones' first book, The Green Collar Economy. The book outlines Jones' "substantive and viable plan for solving the biggest issues facing the country--the failing economy and our devastated environment."[32] The book has received favorable reviews from Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi, Laurie David, Paul Hawken, Winona LaDuke and Ben Jealous.[33]

In the book, Jones contended that invention and investment will take us out of a pollution-based grey economy and into a healthy new green economy.[34] Jones wrote:

We are entering an era during which our very survival will demand invention and innovation on a scale never before seen in the history of human civilization. Only the business community has the requisite skills, experience, and capital to meet that need. On that score, neither government nor the nonprofit and voluntary sectors can compete, not even remotely.

So in the end, our success and survival as a species are largely and directly tied to the new eco-entrepreneurs — and the success and survival of their enterprises. Since almost all of the needed eco-technologies are likely to come from the private sector, civic leaders and voters should do all that can be done to help green business leaders succeed. That means, in large part, electing leaders who will pass bills to aid them. We cannot realistically proceed without a strong alliance between the best of the business world —and everyone else.

Jones had a limited publicity budget and no national media platform. But a viral, web-based marketing strategy earned the book a #12 debut on the New York Times bestseller list. Jones and Green For All used "a combination of emails and phone calls to friends, bloggers, and a network of activists" to reach millions of people.[35] The marketing campaign's grassroots nature has led to Jones calling it a victory not for him but for the entire green-collar jobs movement. The Green Collar Economy is the first environmental book authored by an African-American to make the New York Times bestseller list.[29]

White House Council on Environmental Quality

On March 10, 2009, it was announced that Jones would serve as Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.[9][36] Jones, while an ardent supporter of President Barack Obama, originally did not intend to work for the White House, later explaining "when they asked the question, I burst out laughing because at the time it seemed completely ludicrous that it would even be an option. I think what changed my mind was interacting with the administration during the transition process and during the whole process of getting the recovery package pulled together."[37]

His position with the Obama Administration was described by columnist Chadwick Matlin as "switchboard operator for Obama's grand vision of the American economy; connecting the phone lines between all the federal agencies invested in a green economy."[38] Jones did not like the informal "czar" term sometimes applied to his job, and described his position as "the green-jobs handyman. I'm there to serve. I'm there to help as a leader in the field of green jobs, which is a new field. I'm happy to come and serve and be helpful, but there's no such thing as a green-jobs 'czar.'"[39]


Jones resigned from his position as Special Advisor in September 2009, after receiving criticism from conservative groups such as WorldNetDaily and Americans for Prosperity.[40][41] The critics received coverage from Fox News,[42] notably from Fox commentator Glenn Beck, who featured Jones on 14 episodes of his show.[43][44] They forced Jones in July and August 2009 to defend his past including membership of a socialist group and support for Mumia Abu-Jamal, a death row prisoner, the fairness of whose conviction has been disputed by organisations including Amnesty International.[45][46][47][48] In July 2009 Color of Change, an organization that Jones founded in 2005 and left in 2007, launched a campaign urging advertisers on Beck's Fox News show to pull their ads, in response to comments by Beck in which he "called President Obama a racist who has a 'deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.'"[49] In September 2009,, a website launched in response to the boycott campaign, posted a video[50] on Youtube of a February 2009 event at which Jones called Congressional Republicans "assholes".[51][52] Jones responded by saying that the comments "were clearly inappropriate" and that "they do not reflect the experience I have had since I joined the [Obama] administration."[53]

Several days later, Jones' 2004 signature on a 9-11 Truth petition [54][55] became public, after which Jones said, "I do not agree with this statement and it certainly does not reflect my views now or ever."[56] Other commentators and legislators soon joined in criticizing Jones.[57] Representative Mike Pence (R-Indiana), the chairman of the Republican Conference in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee,[58] [59] publicly criticised Jones, while Senator Kit Bond (R-Missouri) urged Congress to investigate Jones' "fitness" for the position.[60] Another critic was Bob Beckel, formerly an official in the Carter administration and currently a political analyst for the Fox News Channel and a columnist for USA Today, who may have been the first and most prominent liberal or Democrat to call for Jones' resignation.[61][62]

After what Jones described as a "vicious smear campaign" by "opponents of reform [of health care and clean energy]",[2] he resigned on September 5, saying that he could not "in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past. We need all hands on deck, fighting for the future".[2] During an interview on ABC's This Week, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs thanked Jones "for his service to the country" and said that Obama "doesn't endorse" Jones's previous association with the 9/11 Truth movement, his comments regarding race relations and politics, and his support for Mumia Abu-Jamal.[63][64][48] Some editorials, such as those on the Huffington Post expressed continued support for Jones, singling out the efforts of Glenn Beck to force his resignation.[65][66] John McWhorter, in The New Republic, related his analysis to the Obama presidency in general, saying that allowing Jones to resign was "spineless".[67]

Van Jones Exposed:

Jeffrey Immelt

Immelt at the Centricity Healthcare User Group conference in Washington DC, August 28, 2009

Jeffrey Robert Immelt (born February 19, 1956) is the current chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the U.S. based conglomerate General Electric. He was selected by GE's Board of Directors in 2000 to replace John Francis Welch Jr. (Jack Welch) following his retirement. Previously, Immelt had headed up GE's Medical Systems division (now known as GE Healthcare) as its President and CEO.

Life and career

Immelt was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. He holds an A.B. in Applied Mathematics from Dartmouth College where he currently serves on the board of trustees[2] and was president of his fraternity, Phi Delta Alpha, and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He has been with GE since 1982 and is on the board of two non-profit organizations, one of which is the Robin Hood Foundation, a charitable organization which attempts to allieviate problems caused by poverty in New York City.

His tenure as Chairman and CEO started off on a low note - he took over the role on September 7, 2001 - just four days before the terrorist attacks on the United States, which killed two employees and cost GE's insurance business $600 million, as well as having an obvious direct effect on the company's Aircraft Engines sector.

Immelt was named to Time Magazine's Time 100 most influential people in the world in 2008.[3] He was also named one of the five worst Non-Financial-Crisis-Related CEOs of 2008 by the Free Enterprise Action Fund.[4] Since taking over, GE's stock has dropped nearly 80%.[5] In February, 2009, Immelt was appointed as a member to the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board to provide the president and his administration with advice and counsel in fixing America's economic downturn.[6] Recently, Immelt has been criticized by Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly for business transactions between GE and Iran, the country which has reportedly been attacking U.S. forces in Iraq.[7] However, GE's website claims that they stopped doing business in Iran in 2005 (and finished all contracts by 2008).[8]

According to documents filed with the Federal Elections Commission, Immelt lives with his wife Andrea in New Canaan, Connecticut.


As CEO of General Electric in 2007, Jeffrey R. Immelt earned a total compensation of $14,209,267, which included a base salary of $3,300,000, a cash bonus of $5,800,000, stocks granted of $4,713,000, and options granted of $0.[9] In 2008, he earned a total compensation of $5,717,469, which included a base salary of $3,300,000, stocks granted of $2,044,650, and other compensation of $372,819. He waived his bonus in 2008.[10]

Commencement Addresses

After becoming chairman of GE, Immelt delivered his first commencement address to the 2001 graduating class of the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College, of which he is an alumnus. In his speech, he emphasized the importance of future business opportunities with China and the Far East. He received an honorary Doctor of Laws from Dartmouth, in June 2004.[11] In the years that followed, Immelt gave the commencement address at Northeastern University (2006), Pepperdine University on April 29, 2006, the Georgia Institute of Technology on May 5, 2007, the University of Notre Dame on May 20, 2007, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute on May 17, 2008, receiving honorary doctorates from all five as well.


Should He Resign?

You are probably asking yourself why I would ask such a question, General Electric is coming back from the lows it saw during the recession. The answer is that General Electric paid a $50 million fine to the Securities and Exchange Commission last month to settle accounting fraud charges. The Judge in the case rubber stamped the deal (unlike brave and ethical Judge Rakhoff in the Bank of America case) and it was quietly reported by the media without much emphasis. As a result, the outcome is exactly what was intended: the SEC can pretend it held the company to account and the management responsible are still at the helm while the shareholders pay the fine (and paid bonuses to the same management based on fraudulent earnings).

Jeffrey Immelt was appointed president and chief executive officer in 2000. The accounting fraud took place in 2002 and 2003 (why it took so long to investigage this is another story altogether). According to, the SEC filed its complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut pointing out that GE met or exceeded analysts' consensus earnings-per-share expectations every quarter from 1995 through filing of its 2004 annual report. However, the SEC charged that during 2002 and 2003, "high-level GE accounting executives or other finance personnel approved accounting that did not comply with generally accepted accounting principles" in order to hit the EPS estimates. Without going into to the details (I highly recommend the article at, for this) they used improper hedge accounting and concocted schemes to accelerate revenue recognition.

CEOs often resign in cases like this, after all they are responsible for the financial reports but I have not heard Mr. Immelt comment personally on the matter. Since the general public is really not aware of the situation due to the lack of media coverage and the SECs unwillingess to pursue management despite email trails of discussions regarding how to perpetrate the fraud, for Mr. Immelt it is business as usual. But how can investors have confidence in the results of a company who still has the same management that inflated earnings in order to mislead them? What about the those who would say that it is only the accountant's fault, the CEO cannot be expected to know this took place? The answer is that CEOs, including Mr. Immelt, are paid extremely high compensation because they have the responsibility for the company as whole. They are responsible for the financial results and how they are calculated. They must approve the financial statements as does the Board of Directors and they should be held accountable for how they were derived. They cannot have their cake and eat it too. They deserve millions of dollars in compensation because they are such great managers and have a high level of knowledge, but are incompetent when it comes to the calcualtion of their financial results, especially since revenue recognition is taught in Accounting 101.

Corporate executives need to be held accountable for their companies' actions or investing is truly like gambling as the financial results cannot be trusted to give an accurate picture of the company's financial situation. There was a very interesting academic review of 15 corporate fraud cases conducted by a group of researchers in Canada found "that generous doses of external praise can lead an egotistical executive to start to believe his or her own press, creating hubris or an exaggerated sense of self-confidence that leads CEOs to believe they can do whatever they want and get away with it....In most of these cases, these companies and the executives involved were quite present in the media or closely followed by analysts – they were market darlings, so to speak”. Mr. Immelt has been named one of the "World's Best CEOs" three times by Barron's, and since he began serving as chief executive officer, GE has been named "America's Most Admired Company" in a poll conducted by Fortune magazine and one of "The World's Most Respected Companies" in polls by Barron's and the Financial Times. Need I say more!

Jeremiah Wright

Jeremiah Alvesta Wright, Jr. (born September 22, 1941) is Pastor Emeritus and the former Pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ (TUCC), a megachurch in Chicago with around 8,500 members.[1] In early 2008, Wright retired after 36 years as the Senior Pastor of his congregation and no longer has daily responsibilities at the church.[2][3] Following retirement, Wright's beliefs and manner of preaching were scrutinized when segments from his sermons were publicized in connection with the presidential campaign of Barack Obama.[4] Obama addressed the issues raised by the Wright controversy in his speech entitled "A More Perfect Union".[5] To explain more fully his actual positions on these issues, Wright gave a speech before the NAACP on April 27, 2008, in which he stressed that he was not "divisive", but "descriptive", and that the black church experience, like black culture, was "different" but not "deficient".[6] Wright voted for Obama in the 2008 election, despite the controversy.[7]

His wife is Ramah Reed Wright, and he has four daughters, Janet Marie Moore, Jeri Lynne Wright, Nikol D. Reed and Jamila Nandi Wright, and one son, Nathan D. Reed.[8]

Early Years

Wright was born and raised in a racially mixed section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania called Germantown.[9] His parents are Jeremiah Wright, Sr. (1909-2001), a Baptist minister who pastored Grace Baptist Church in Germantown, Philadelphia, from 1938 to 1980,[10] and Mary Elizabeth Henderson Wright, a school teacher who was the first black person to teach an academic subject at Roosevelt Junior High. She went on to be the first black person to teach at Germantown High and Girls High, where she became the school's first black vice principal.

Wright graduated from the Central High School of Philadelphia in 1959, among the best schools in the area at the time.[9] At the time, the school was around 90 percent white.[11] The 211th class yearbook described Wright as a respected member of the class. "Always ready with a kind word, Jerry is one of the most congenial members of the 211,” the yearbook said. “His record in Central is a model for lower class [younger] members to emulate."[9]

Career as Minister

Wright became pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago on March 1, 1972; it had some 250 members on its rolls, but only about 90 or so were actually attending worship by that time.[18] By March 2008 Trinity United Church of Christ had become the largest church in the mostly white[19] United Church of Christ denomination. The President and General Minister of the United Church of Christ, John H. Thomas, has stated: “It is critical that all of us express our gratitude and support to this remarkable congregation, to Jeremiah A. Wright for his leadership over 36 years.”[20] Thomas, who is a member of the Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ in Cleveland, has also preached[21] and worshipped at Trinity United Church of Christ (most recently on March 2, 2008).[20]

Trinity and Wright were profiled by correspondent Roger Wilkins in Sherry Jones's documentary "Keeping the Faith" broadcast as the June 16, 1987 episode of the PBS series Frontline with Judy Woodruff.[22] In 1995, Wright was asked to deliver a prayer during an afternoon session of speeches at the Million Man March in Washington, D.C.[23]

Wright, who began the "Ministers in Training" ("M.I.T.") program at Trinity United Church of Christ, has been a national leader in promoting theological education and the preparation of seminarians for the African-American church.[24] The church's mission statement is based upon systematized Black liberation theology that started with the works of James Hal Cone.[25][26]

Wright has been a professor at Chicago Theological Seminary, Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary and other educational institutions. Wright has served on the Board of Trustees of Virginia Union University, Chicago Theological Seminary and City Colleges of Chicago. He has also served on the Board Directors of Evangelical Health Systems, the Black Theology Project, the Center for New Horizons and the Malcolm X School of Nursing, and on boards and committees of other religious and civic organizations.[8]

Political Controversy

The Jeremiah Wright controversy gained national attention in March 2008 when ABC News, after reviewing dozens of Wright's sermons,[27] excerpted parts which were subject to intense media scrutiny.[28][29] Wright is the former pastor of Barack Obama.[30] Obama denounced the statements in question, but after critics continued to press the issue of his relationship with Wright he gave a speech titled "A More Perfect Union", in which he sought to place Dr. Wright's comments in a historical and sociological context. In the speech, Obama again denounced Wright's remarks, but did not disown him as a person. The controversy began to fade, but was renewed in late April when Wright made a series of media appearances, including an interview on Bill Moyers Journal, a speech at the NAACP and a speech at the National Press Club.[31] After the last of these, Obama spoke more forcefully against his former pastor, saying that he was "outraged" and "saddened" by his behavior, and in May he resigned his membership in the church.[32]

On June 9, 2009, in an interview with the Daily Press of Newport News, Wright indicated that he hadn't had contact with Obama up to that point because "Them Jews aren't going to let him talk to me. I told my baby daughter, that he'll talk to me in five years when he's a lame duck, or in eight years when he's out of office." Wright also suggested that Obama did not send a delegation to the Durban Review Conference in Geneva, a conference "that had devolved into an anti-Jewish free-for-all" according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency,[33] because of Jewish pressure saying: "[T]he Jewish vote, the A-I-P-A-C vote, that’s controlling him, that would not let him send representation to the Darfur Review Conference, that’s talking this craziness on this trip, cause they’re Zionists, they would not let him talk to someone who calls a spade what it is."[7] Writing for The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates characterized Wright's remarks as "crude conspiratorial antisemitism."[34] On June 11, 2009, Wright amended his remarks during an interview with Mark Thompson on his radio program, Make it Plain. “Let me say like Hillary, I misspoke. Let me just say: Zionists... I’m not talking about all Jews, all people of the Jewish faith, I’m talking about Zionists."[35]

Wright wrote on his Facebook page apologizing for his remarks on June 12. He wrote, "I mis-spoke and I sincerely meant no harm or ill-will to the American Jewish community or the Obama administration... I have great respect for the Jewish faith and the foundational (and central) part of our Judeo-Christian tradition."[36] "In other words," another Atlantic writer, Jeffrey Goldberg, summarized, "[H]e regrets speaking plainly instead of deploying a euphemism."[37] The Anti Defamation League released a statement condemning Wright's remarks as "inflammatory and false. The notions of Jewish control of the White House in Reverend Wright's statement express classic anti-Semitism in its most vile form."[38]

The Jeremiah Wright controversy is an American political issue that gained national attention in March 2008 when ABC News, after reviewing dozens of U.S. 2008 Presidential Election candidate Barack Obama's pastor Jeremiah Wright's sermons,[1] excerpted parts which were subject to intense media scrutiny.[2][3] Wright is a retired senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago and former pastor of President of the United States Barack Obama.[4] Obama denounced the statements in question, but after critics continued to press the issue of his relationship with Wright he gave a speech titled "A More Perfect Union," in which he sought to place Dr. Wright's comments in a historical and sociological context. In the speech, Obama again denounced Wright's remarks, but did not disown him as a person. The controversy began to fade, but was renewed in late April when Wright made a series of media appearances, including an interview on Bill Moyers Journal, a speech at the NAACP and a speech at the National Press Club.[5] After the last of these, Obama spoke more forcefully against his former pastor, saying that he was "outraged" and "saddened" by his behavior, and in May he resigned his membership in the church.[6]


Barack Obama first met Wright in the late 1980s, while he was working as a community organizer in Chicago before attending Harvard Law School.[7] Wright officiated at the wedding ceremony of Barack and Michelle Obama, as well as their children's baptisms.[8]

The title of Obama's 2006 memoir, The Audacity of Hope, was inspired by one of Wright's sermons, which was also a theme of Obama's 2004 keynote address to the Democratic National Convention.[7][8][9] Wright served as both a role model and a spiritual mentor for Obama, and the senator would check with Wright prior to making any bold political moves.[7] According to the Reverend Jim Wallis, who is a leader of the religious left, "If you want to understand where Barack gets his feeling and rhetoric from, just look at Jeremiah Wright."[10]

Wright was scheduled to give the public invocation before Obama's presidential announcement, but Obama withdrew the invitation the night before the event.[11] Wright wrote a rebuttal letter to the editor disputing the characterization of the account as reported in an article in The New York Times.[12]

In 2007, Wright was appointed to Barack Obama's African American Religious Leadership Committee, a group of over 170 national black religious leaders who supported Obama's bid for the Democratic nomination.[13] However, it was announced in March 2008 that Wright was no longer serving as a member of this group.[14]

Controversial Religious Excerpts

Most of the controversial excerpts that gained national attention in March 2008 were taken from two sermons: one titled “The Day of Jerusalem’s Fall” delivered on September 16, 2001 and another, titled "Confusing God and Government", delivered on April 13, 2003.

“The Day of Jerusalem’s Fall”

In a sermon delivered shortly after the September 11 attacks in 2001, Wright made comments about an interview of former U.S. Ambassador Edward Peck he saw on Fox News. Wright said:

"I heard Ambassador Peck on an interview yesterday. Did anybody else see him or hear him? He was on Fox News. This is a white man, and he was upsetting the Fox News commentators to no end. He pointed out — did you see him, John? — a white man, he pointed out, ambassador, that what Malcolm X said when he got silenced by Elijah Muhammad was in fact true — America's chickens are coming home to roost."[15]

Wright spoke of the United States taking land from the Indian tribes by what he labeled as terror, bombing Grenada, Panama, Libya, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, and argued that the United States supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and South Africa. He said that his parishioners' response should be to examine their relationship with God, not go "from the hatred of armed enemies to the hatred of unarmed innocents." His comment (quoting Malcolm X) that "America's chickens are coming home to roost" was widely interpreted as meaning that America had brought the September 11, 2001 attacks upon itself.[16][17][18] ABC News broadcast clips[19] from the sermon[1][20] in which Wright said:

"We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye... and now we are indignant, because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought back into our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost."

Later, Wright continued :

"Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred. And terrorism begets terrorism. A white ambassador said that y'all, not a black militant. Not a reverend who preaches about racism. An ambassador whose eyes are wide open and who is trying to get us to wake up and move away from this dangerous precipice upon which we are now poised. The ambassador said the people that we have wounded don’t have the military capability we have. But they do have individuals who are willing to die and take thousands with them. And we need to come to grips with that."[19]

"Confusing God and Government"

Clips from a sermon that Wright gave, entitled “Confusing God and Government”, were also shown on ABC's Good Morning America[1] and Fox News. In the sermon, Wright first makes the distinction between God and governments, and points out that many governments in the past have failed: "Where governments lie, God does not lie. Where governments change, God does not change."[21] Wright then states:

“[The United States] government lied about their belief that all men were created equal. The truth is they believed that all white men were created equal. The truth is they did not even believe that white women were created equal, in creation nor civilization. The government had to pass an amendment to the Constitution to get white women the vote. Then the government had to pass an equal rights amendment to get equal protection under the law for women. The government still thinks a woman has no rights over her own body, and between Uncle Clarence who sexually harassed Anita Hill, and a closeted Klan court, that is a throwback to the 19th century, handpicked by Daddy Bush, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, between Clarence and that stacked court, they are about to undo Roe vs. Wade, just like they are about to un-do affirmative action. The government lied in its founding documents and the government is still lying today. Governments lie.”

He continued:

“The government lied about Pearl Harbor too. They knew the Japanese were going to attack. Governments lie. The government lied about the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. They wanted that resolution to get us in the Vietnam War. Governments lie. The government lied about Nelson Mandela and our CIA helped put him in prison and keep him there for 27 years. The South African government lied on Nelson Mandela. Governments lie."

Wright then stated:

"The government lied about the Tuskegee experiment. They purposely infected African American men with syphilis. Governments lie. The government lied about bombing Cambodia and Richard Nixon stood in front of the camera, ‘Let me make myself perfectly clear…’ Governments lie. The government lied about the drugs for arms Contra scheme orchestrated by Oliver North, and then the government pardoned all the perpetrators so they could get better jobs in the government. Governments lie.... The government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color. Governments lie. The government lied about a connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein and a connection between 9.11.01 and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Governments lie.”

He spoke about the government's rationale for the Iraq War:

“The government lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq being a threat to the United States peace. And guess what else? If they don’t find them some weapons of mass destruction, they gonna do just like the LAPD, and plant the some weapons of mass destruction. Governments lie.”

Wright then commented on God and government:

"And the United States of America government, when it came to treating her citizens of Indian descent fairly, she failed. She put them on reservations. When it came to treating her citizens of Japanese descent fairly, she failed. She put them in internment prison camps. When it came to treating her citizens of African descent fairly, America failed. She put them in chains, the government put them on slave quarters, put them on auction blocks, put them in cotton field, put them in inferior schools, put them in substandard housing, put them in scientific experiments, put them in the lowest paying jobs, put them outside the equal protection of the law, kept them out of their racist bastions of higher education and locked them into positions of hopelessness and helplessness. The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, not God Bless America. God damn America — that's in the Bible — for killing innocent people. God damn America, for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America, as long as she tries to act like she is God, and she is supreme. The United States government has failed the vast majority of her citizens of African descent.."[21][22][23][24]

These sermon excerpts were widely viewed in early 2008 on network television and the internet.[25]


Controversial Religious Excerpts

When Wright's comments were aired in the national media, Obama distanced himself from them, saying to Charles Gibson of ABC News, "It's as if we took the five dumbest things that I've ever said or you've ever said in our lives and compressed them and put them out there — I think that people's reaction would, understandably, be upset."[26] At the same time, Obama stated that "words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it's on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue."[27] Obama later added, "Had the reverend not retired, and had he not acknowledged that what he had said had deeply offended people and were inappropriate and mischaracterized what I believe is the greatness of this country, for all its flaws, then I wouldn't have felt as comfortable staying at the church."[28]

Obama first denied that he had ever heard Pastor Wright's controversial comments before.[29] The Illinois Senator later admitted, "Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes."[30] Obama said the remarks had come to his attention at the beginning of his presidential campaign but contended that because Wright was on the verge of retirement, and because of Obama's strong links to Trinity, he had not thought it appropriate to leave the church.[31] He began distancing himself from Wright when he called his pastor the night before the February 2007 announcement of Obama's presidential candidacy to withdraw his request that Wright deliver an invocation at the event. A spokesperson later said, "Senator Obama is proud of his pastor and his church, but... decided to avoid having statements and beliefs being used out of context and forcing the entire church to defend itself."[32] Wright attended the announcement, prayed with Obama beforehand, and in December 2007 Obama named him to the African American Religious Leadership Committee of his campaign.[33][34] The Obama campaign released Wright after the controversy.[35][36][37][38]

Many critics found this response inadequate; Mark Steyn, writing in the conservative publication National Review, stated: "Reverend Wright['s] appeals to racial bitterness are supposed to be everything President Obama will transcend. Right now, it sounds more like the same-old same-old."[39]

On March 18, in the wake of the controversy, Obama delivered a speech entitled "A More Perfect Union" at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During the course of the 37-minute speech, Obama spoke of the divisions formed through generations through slavery, segregation, and Jim Crow laws, and the reasons for the kinds of discussions and rhetoric used among blacks and whites in their own communities. While condemning the remarks by the pastor, he sought to place them in historical context by describing some of the key events that have formed Wright's views on race-related matters in America. Obama did not disown Wright, whom he has labeled as "an old uncle", as akin to disowning the black community or disowning his white grandmother, Madelyn Dunham.[40] The speech was generally well received.[41] Obama said that some of the comments by his pastor reminded him of what he called America's "tragic history when it comes to race."[42]

Other Presidential candidates

In an interview with the editorial board of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on March 25, 2008, Hillary Clinton commented on Obama's attendance at Trinity United Church of Christ, stating, "You don't choose your family, but you choose what church you want to attend." Later the same day, during a press conference, Clinton spoke on her personal preference in a pastor: "I think given all we have heard and seen, [Wright] would not have been my pastor." A spokesperson for the Obama campaign asserted that Clinton's comments were part of a "transparent effort to distract attention away from the story she made up about dodging sniper fire in Bosnia" the prior week.[43] Weeks later during the Pennsylvania debate in Philadelphia, Clinton said, "For Pastor Wright to have given his first sermon after 9/11 and to have blamed the United States for the attack, which happened in my city of New York, would have been just intolerable for me."[44]

Future Republican nominee John McCain defended Obama when it came to allegations of guilt by association, saying, "I think that when people support you, it doesn't mean that you support everything they say. Obviously, those words and those statements are statements that none of us would associate ourselves with, and I don't believe that Senator Obama would support any of those, as well."[45]

Government Officials

Vice President Dick Cheney weighed in on the Wright matter on April 10, 2008. He appeared on Sean Hannity's radio show and said, "I thought some of the things he said were absolutely appalling... I haven't gotten into the business of trying to judge how Sen. Obama dealt with it, or didn't deal with it, but I think, like most Americans, I was stunned at what the reverend was preaching in his church and then putting up on his Web site."[46]

Lawrence Korb, Director of National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and former assistant Secretary of Defense in the administration of Ronald Reagan defended Wright's military service, stating, "We've seen on television, in a seemingly endless loop, sound bites of a select few of Rev. Wright's many sermons. Some of the Wright's comments are inexcusable and inappropriate and should be condemned, but in calling him 'unpatriotic,' let us not forget that this is a man who gave up six of the most productive years of his life to serve his country... he has demonstrated his patriotism."[47]


Commentators and Pundits

Conservative radio talk show and television host Sean Hannity expressed shock and anger when hearing the comments, saying, "First of all, I will not let up on this issue. If his pastor went to Libya, Tripoli with Louis Farrakhan, a virulent, anti-Semitic racist, his church gave a lifetime achievement award to Louis Farrakhan. That's been Barack Obama's pastor for 20 years. And we will continue to expose this until somebody in the mainstream media has the courage to take this on."[48] editor-in-chief Joan Walsh wrote, "the whole idea that Wright has been attacked over 'sound bites,' and if Americans saw his entire sermons, in context, they'd feel differently, now seems ludicrous. The long clips Moyers played only confirm what was broadcast in the snippets..." and notes, "My conclusion Friday night was bolstered by new tapes of Wright that came out this weekend, including one that captures him saying the Iraq war is 'the same thing al-Qaida is doing under a different color flag,' and a much longer excerpt from the 'God damn America' sermon that denounces 'Condoskeezer Rice...'".[49]

Fox News' Bill O'Reilly said of Wright, "In my opinion, Rev. Jeremiah Wright is not an honest man. He preaches anti-white and anti-American rhetoric, all the while making money off it."[50]

Democratic strategist Flavia Colgan asserted that Obama was not always in church and that the several minutes of soundbites continually played by the media do not equate to twenty years. Colgan also argued that had the media been able to find additional controversial statements beyond the ones they played, they would have played them as well.[51][verification needed]

Cultural critic Kelefa Sanneh traced Wright's theology and rhetoric back to Frederick Douglass, analyzing his 1854 reference to antebellum US Christians as "bad, corrupt, and wicked."[52]

Noting that "many observers argue that Wright's sermons convey a more complex message than simple sound bites can express," the Chicago Tribune published lengthy excerpts in an article, "Rev. Jeremiah Wright's words: Sound bite vs. sermon excerpt".[53]

Economist and social commentator Thomas Sowell wrote that there was "no way that [Obama] didn’t know about Jeremiah Wright’s anti-American and racist diatribes from the pulpit." He wrote that Obama was "no ordinary member" of the church, having once donated $20,000 to it, and that Obama's speech was "like the Soviet show trials during their 1930s purges", intended only to convince supporters.[54]

Commentary on Media Coverage

The controversy sparked continuous media coverage, on both national media outlets and local sources. More than 3,000 news stories had been written on the issue by early April.[55]

Wright's church, Trinity United Church of Christ, criticized the media coverage of his past sermons, saying in a statement that Wright's "character is being assassinated in the public sphere.... It is an indictment on Dr. Wright’s ministerial legacy to present his global ministry within a 15- or 30-second sound bite."[56]

Lara Cohen, news director at the Us Weekly, noted that her publication "has been accused of distracting people from the 'Important Issues'" because of its focus on Supermarket tabloid concerns, and said that mainstream media "talking heads love to tut-tut about how attention to celebrity gossip is causing the great dumbing-down of American society." She charged that, in light of the sensationalized coverage about Wright, mainstream media outlets no longer had grounds to make these criticisms of Us Weekly, and turned the charge back upon the mainstream media. Cohen state, "The true hallmark of sensationalized journalism is ginning up controversy to drive sales, and for the mainstream news media Wright was a tailor-made tabloid icon. With newspaper sales at record lows, network news ratings tanking and 24-hour news channels desperate to fill up all 24 hours, Wright's outbursts were the mainstream media's equivalent of Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah's couch—a train wreck no one could turn away from. And so they milked it, regardless of the impact on the very race they were supposedly covering objectively."[57]

Republican commentator and former National Security Council staff member Lt. Col. Oliver North (whom Wright mentioned in his controversial comments) said of the controversy's media coverage, "Rather than serving up more blather about Jeremiah Wright, editors, producers and program directors would better serve us all by sending their commentators and correspondents out to cover those who have volunteered to serve in our military."[58]

Stephen Colbert satirized what he portrayed as the media's obsession with the Wright story.[59] Jon Stewart similarly made fun of the media's obsession with Wright, calling it their "Festival of Wrights" and the "Reverending Story."[60][61]

Investigative journalist Robert Parry contrasted the mainstream media's attention to Wright with its almost total silence on the topic of South Korean religious leader Sun Myung Moon and his relationship with the Republican Party and especially the Bush family.[62]

Trinity United Church of Christ Members

Lisa Miller in Newsweek reported that, before the political controversy erupted, "Trinity was already in the throes of a difficult generational transition." After the period of Wright's speaking engagements before national audiences, Miller describes how "the reaction was anguish and anger" among church members and that three basic factions developed among them: those who wished Wright would not speak anymore, those who believed in what he said, and those who just wished the whole controversy would go away.[63]


Many academics commented on Wright, black theology, and the concomitant political controversy within a broader context of American history and culture.

In 2004, prior to the Wright controversy, Anthony E. Cook, a professor of law at Georgetown University, provided a detailed comparative analysis of sermons delivered after 9-11 by Jerry Falwell, T.D. Jakes and Jeremiah Wright. Cook noted that the overall intent of Falwell's and Jakes's sermons was to use the Christian religion as a justification for the War on Terror, while Wright's overall intent was to side against war and to get listeners to engage in introspection about their daily behavior and relationship with God.[64]

After the political controversy erupted, Georgetown University sociology professor Michael Eric Dyson stated, "Patriotism is the affirmation of one's country in light of its best values, including the attempt to correct it when it's in error. Wright's words are the tough love of a war-tested patriot speaking his mind."[65] J. Kameron Carter, associate professor of theology and black church studies at Duke Divinity School, stated that Wright "voiced in his sermons a pain that must be interpreted inside of the tradition of black prophetic Christianity."[66]

Martin E. Marty, an emeritus professor of religious history,[67] criticized reporters' "naiveté" about the civil rights movement[68] He placed Wright's comments in context of his church: "For Trinity, being 'unashamedly black' does not mean being 'anti-white', and noted that black shame was a debilitating legacy of slavery and segregation in society and church. Marty also argued that Trinity's Africentrism "should not be more offensive than that synagogues should be 'Judeo-centric' or that Chicago's Irish parishes be 'Celtic-centric'."[69]

Bill J. Leonard, Dean of the divinity school and professor of church history at Wake Forest University, argued that Wright "was standing and speaking out of the jeremiad tradition or preaching in the U.S.," which he said "dates back to the Puritans" and that both "black and white ministers have used since the 1600s in this country." Leonard explains that the jeremiad tradition dealt with woe and promise and moral failure not only in the church but in the nation."[5] James B. Bennett of Santa Clara University, says Martin Luther King, Jr. shared similar feelings with Wright concerning some U.S. activities, quoting King as saying, "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government," and that "America was founded on genocide, and a nation that is founded on genocide is destructive."[70][71]

Stephan Thernstrom[72], Winthrop professor of history at Harvard, and Abigail Thernstrom, political scientist and the vice chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights wrote that "[Wright] contended that blacks and whites had completely different brain structures, one left-dominant, the other right-dominant. This is nothing more than an updated version of the pseudo-science once used to defend segregation in the Jim Crow South," and "clearly, Rev. Wright does not speak for mainstream black churches — and he has done them a gross disservice by claiming to do so."[73] Former Harvard lecturer Martin Peretz concurred, endorsing the article and saying that it "puts Trinity into its proper place in relation to other black churches and shows how different it is from them."[74]

Subsequent Jeremiah Wright Appearances

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright publicly discussed the controversy in depth in an hour-long interview with Bill Moyers on April 25, 2008.[75] This included longer clips of his sermons, along with his explanations of what he was saying. There were also clips of his ministry and parishioners at various points in time since he became pastor in 1972, in an attempt to show what Trinity stands for and has accomplished. Wright stated that his comments were "taken out of context"[76] and that "the persons who have heard the entire sermon understand the communication perfectly."[76] He went on to say: "When something is taken like a sound bite for a political purpose and put constantly over and over again, looped in the face of the public, that's not a failure to communicate. Those who are doing that are communicating exactly what they want to do, which is to paint me as some sort of fanatic or as the learned journalist from the New York Times called me, a 'wackadoodle'...[77] The message that is being communicated by the soundbites is exactly what those pushing those sound bites want to communicate."[76] Conservative pundits and PBS's ombudsman criticized Moyers for being too gentle on Wright.[78]

On April 27, Wright gave a keynote address at a fundraising dinner for the Detroit-chapter of the NAACP. In front of nearly 10,000, he discussed the controversy, saying, "I am not running for the Oval Office," referring to what he perceived as Republican attempts to make the controversy part of the campaign. Earlier that day, he delivered a sermon to 4000 at the Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas.[79] On April 28, he spoke to the National Press Club, where he discussed the Black church.[80]

In his speech to the NAACP, Wright speculated that, "Africans have a different meter, and Africans have a different tonality. Europeans have seven tones, Africans have five. White people clap differently than black people. Africans and African-Americans are right-brained, subject-oriented in their learning style. They have a different way of learning."[81] The comments were labeled as racist,[82] and likened to eugenics.[83] This initiated a revival of the controversy, which had been slowly waning.

Former aide to President Ronald Reagan David Gergen called Wright's speaking tour "the dumbest, most selfish, most narcissistic thing I've seen in 40 years of covering politics."[84] Libertarian commentator Andrew Sullivan said Wright's comments on the tour were a "calculated, ugly, repulsive, vile display of arrogance, egotism, and self-regard."[85] Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich characterized Wright's speaking tour as an attempt to deliberately hurt Obama, and stated that Wright's sense of self-importance appeared to be his motivation.[86] Columnist Bob Herbert of The New York Times also suggested that Wright was being a "narcissist" and trying to "wreck" Obama's campaign.[87]

Obama's response

Obama attempted to further distance himself from Wright, as he expressed outrage and shock at a press conference on April 29:

"I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened by the spectacle that we saw yesterday... The person that I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago. His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate, and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church. They certainly don’t portray accurately my values and beliefs. And if Reverend Wright thinks that that’s political posturing, as he put it, then he doesn’t know me very well. And based on his remarks yesterday, well, I may not know him as well as I thought either.... What became clear to me is that he was presenting a world view that contradicts who I am and what I stand for, and what I think particularly angered me was his suggestion somehow that my previous denunciation of his remarks were somehow political posturing. Anybody who knows me and anybody who knows what I'm about knows that I am about trying to bridge gaps and I see the commonality in all people. ...[A]fter seeing Reverend Wright’s performance, I felt as if there was a complete disregard for what the American people are going through and the need for them to rally together to solve these problems. ...[W]hatever relationship I had with Reverend Wright has changed, as a consequence of this."[88][89]


Obama's second statement on the controversy elicited a range of responses. Noam Scheiber of the New Republic, wrote, "I thought Obama put the distance he needed to between himself and Wright just now...The other lingering question is whether people will wonder all over again how Obama could have been friends with this guy for 20 years. It's a legitimate concern, but if it didn't weigh him down too much after the Philadelphia speech in March, I wouldn't expect it to do him in this time. Wright's "performance" yesterday struck me as new and brazen enough to warrant a different reaction than Obama would have had in the past."[90] Victor Davis Hanson wrote, "Obama, by what he wrote in his memoirs, by what he said when he spoke in his early campaign speeches, by his frequent praise of Wright, and by his 20-year presence in front of, and subsidies to, Obama knew exactly the racist and anti-American nature of his odious pastor."[91] American linguist and social commentator John McWhorter wrote, "now that the Reverend Wright has gone on tour and given us full doses of these professionally alienated postures from another time, it is good to see that Mr. Obama has had the courage to decisively break with him. Sad, too — the man was his pastor, after all. But here is one more way that Mr. Obama is learning what hardball really is."[92]

Obama leaves Trinity United Church of Christ

On May 31, 2008, Barack and Michelle Obama announced that they had withdrawn their membership in Trinity United Church of Christ, where Wright had previously served as senior pastor, stating that “Our relations with Trinity have been strained by the divisive statements of Reverend Wright, which sharply conflict with our own views”.[6][93]

Later Impact and Controversy

Wright stated in a June 10, 2009 interview that he had still voted for Obama for President, despite the controversy. He said that he had no regrets about any of his comments. He also alleged that "them [sic] Jews" within the Obama administration are preventing the two from speaking to each other. He also suggested that Obama did not send a delegation to the Durban Review Conference in Geneva, because of Jewish pressure, saying: "[T]he Jewish vote, the A-I-P-A-C vote, that’s controlling him, that would not let him send representation to the Darfur Review Conference, that’s talking this craziness on this trip, cause they’re Zionists, they would not let him talk to someone who calls a spade what it is."[94]

The Anti Defamation League released a statement condemning Wright's remarks as "inflammatory and false. The notions of Jewish control of the White House in Reverend Wright's statement express classic anti-Semitism in its most vile form."[95] Writing for The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates characterized Wright's remarks as "crude conspiratorial antisemitism."[96] Rabbi Scott Gurdin at Temple Sinai said Wright "is missing an opportunity to build alliances and bridges."[94] The National Jewish Democratic Council distributed a statement reading, "Obama showed good judgment in strongly separating himself from Reverend Jeremiah Wright".[97]

Wright modified his statements the next day, saying that "I’m not talking about all Jews, all people of the Jewish faith, I’m talking about Zionists." He also endorsed the anti-Zionist books Judaism Does Not Equal Israel by Marc Ellis and The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ilan Pappe. He commented, "[e]thnic cleansing the Zionist is a sin and a crime against humanity, and they don't want Barack talking like that".[98] Atlantic writer Jeffrey Goldberg remarked that "In other words... [h]e regrets speaking plainly instead of deploying a euphemism."[99] On June 11, classical historian and columnist Victor Davis Hanson compared Wright's ongoing criticisms of Obama to that of the Furies of Greek Mythology.[100]

Wright wrote on his Facebook page apologizing for his remarks on June 12. He wrote, "I mis-spoke and I sincerely meant no harm or ill-will to the American Jewish community or the Obama administration... I have great respect for the Jewish faith and the foundational (and central) part of our Judeo-Christian tradition." He also stated, "I love President Obama as my son, and support and honor him as the President of the United States of America and leader of the free world."[101] Reverend Amos Brown, a former San Francisco supervisor and pastor of the Third Baptist Church, has defended Wright and disputed charges of anti-Semitism. He said, "[p]eople hear snippets of things and they go running with it rather than sitting down and having a dialogue, the way Jesus engaged people".[102]

Opinion Polling

In mid-March, a Rasmussen Reports national telephone poll of voters found that just 8% had a favorable opinion of Jeremiah Wright and 58% had an unfavorable view. 73% of voters believed that Wright’s comments were divisive, while 29% of African-Americans said Wright’s comments made them more likely to support Obama. 66% of those polled had read, seen, or heard news stories about Wright’s comments.[103]

During these events, Clinton briefly took the lead in the Gallup national tracking poll, ahead of Obama by 7 points on March 18. By March 20, Clinton's lead decreased to 2 points, a statistically insignificant amount. The same day, John McCain took a 3 point lead over both Democratic candidates in hypothetical General Election match ups, with a 2 point margin of error.[104] By March 22, Obama had regained his lead over Clinton and was up by 3 points.[105] The editor-in-chief of the Gallup Poll said that the effect of the controversy "died after a couple of days".[106]

A CBS poll taken from March 15 to March 17 found that sixty-five percent of registered voters said it made no difference in their view of Obama, while thirty percent said it made them have a less favorable view.[107]

At the end of March 2008, as over 40 states had already held their Democratic primary processes, Barack Obama built on his national Gallup daily tracking poll results to become the first candidate to open a double-digit lead since Super Tuesday, when his competitor Hillary Clinton had a similar margin. On March 30 the poll showed Obama at 52% and Clinton at 42%. The Rassmussen Reports poll, taken during the same time frame, showed an Obama advantage of five points.[108] These polls followed weeks of heavy campaigning and heated rhetoric from both camps, and another late-March poll found Obama maintaining his positive rating and limiting his negative rating, better than his chief rival Clinton, even considering Obama's involvement in controversy during the period. The NBC News and Wall Street Journal poll showed Obama losing two points of positive rating and gaining four points of negative rating, while Clinton lost eight points of positive rating and gained five points of negative rating.[109]

Following the revival of the controversy surrounding Wright in late April 2008, several polls showed that Obama's image among voters had suffered.[110] According to a poll taken by the Gallup Organization, Obama's nationwide favorable rating dropped from 50% to 45% while his challenger for the nomination, Hillary Clinton's, rating rose to 49%.[110] In this poll, McCain edged Obama by four percentage points in general election match ups, while Clinton was tied with McCain.[110] As of May 5, a Gallup poll of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters showed Obama with a 5% lead over Clinton for the Democratic nomination.[111]

In poll data released 3 May 2008 from the New York Times and CBS News, Obama's favorable/unfavorable rating among white Democrats remained the same from last summer. During the same period, Hillary Clinton's unfavorable rating among black Democrats increased by 36 percentage points. The Times theorized that the opinion shift among blacks was due to tactics of the Clinton campaign labelled 'racially tinged' by many vocal elements within the media, including the alleged 'amplifying' by Hillary Clinton of the Wright affair at numerous times.[112]

Comparisons with Other Candidates

Several commentators have drawn comparisons between the media's treatment of Barack Obama and Jeremiah Wright with the treatment of political candidates who ally themselves with white religious leaders who have made controversial statements.[113][114][115][116] These critics said that John McCain actively sought the recommendation of John Hagee, who has been criticized for anti-Catholic and anti-Muslim statements and has described Hurricane Katrina as "the judgment of God on the city of New Orleans" for the city's "level of sin" (specifically a planned gay pride march).[113][114][115][116][117][118] E. J. Dionne of the Washington Post contended that white religious leaders who make controversial statements often maintain their political influence. He specifically mentioned the remarks of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, who agreed that gays, feminists and liberals shared the blame for the 9/11 attacks, but faced no calls for denunciation by politicians with whom they had relationships.[113][115][118] Frank Rich of the New York Times wrote that Rudy Giuliani's relationship with Monsignor Alan Placa had gained little media attention.[116] (Placa is a longtime friend of Giuliani and performed his second wedding; Giuliani hired him to work in his consulting firm after Placa was barred from his priestly duties due to sexual abuse allegations.[116][119]) Conservative commentator John Podhoretz said that the comparison of Wright with Hagee was "entirely specious", because Obama had a longstanding relationship with Wright and McCain has no personal relationship with Hagee.[120] Dionne and Rich acknowledged this point, but also suggested that a double standard exists for white religious leaders and black religious leaders.[115][116]

Paul Wellstone

Paul David Wellstone (July 21, 1944 - October 25, 2002) was a two-term U.S. Senator from the state of Minnesota and member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, which is affiliated with the national Democratic Party. Before being elected to the Senate in 1990, he was a professor of political science at Carleton College. Wellstone was a liberal and a leading spokesman for the liberal wing of the national Democratic Party. He served in the Senate from 1991 until his death in a plane crash on 25 October 2002, 11 days before the US senate election in which he was running for a third term. His wife, Sheila, and daughter, Marcia, also died in the crash. They had two other grown children, David and Mark, who now co-chair the Wellstone Action nonprofit group.

Paul Wellstone and The Ugly Political Classes

After the funeral of Ron Brown, who died in a plane crash while serving as Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Commerce, television cameras caught Clinton acting in a way his critics would call par for the course. The president, after leaving the funeral services, was laughing and cutting up with his aides. However, when he realized the cameras were rolling, Clinton quickly pretended as though he were wiping tears from his eyes.

It was vintage Clintonism in a nutshell. The world’s most consummate politician was playacting his sorrow at the loss of one of the world’s most effective political operatives. Nothing was real and nothing was sincere; it was nothing but an act put on ultimately to glorify the Clinton Administration and try to convince everyone out there that the president and his minions were "feeling our pain."

While I did not watch any of the overvalued political rally that passed for a "memorial service" to honor the late Paul Wellstone, the Minnesota senator killed along with his wife, daughter, pilots, and campaign workers, in the last days of his re-election campaign, I cannot say that I was surprised at anything that happened. Although much of the negative press was aimed at the partisan nature of the service and the attendees’ booing of Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura and Republican Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, I think there is a much larger picture here that is easily missed: for all of the glorification of the life and beliefs of Wellstone, the service itself was a veritable expose of the shallowness and scheming of the political classes and just how much a menace they are to civilized society.

Before discussing the service and what I believe are its implications, I do think that Wellstone, although he was a socialist, at least was the most eloquent voice outside of Ron Paul in opposing a unilateral U.S. war against Iraq. During debate in the fall of 1990 on whether or not the USA should go to war in the Persian Gulf, Wellstone stood out as uncompromising and also prophetic, declaring that the long-term results of that war would be harmful to the USA. When the U.S. Armed Forces easily drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait, it seemed that Wellstone had been alarmist, but the subsequent years of terrorism, the September 11 attacks, and the various acts of terror and murder committed by Timothy McVeigh (a Gulf War veteran) and the recent murders committed by the alleged Beltway Sniper, also a veteran of that war, seem to make his words ring more true than ever. I believe Wellstone was correct then and is correct now, even in death.

Wellstone was a product of the Minnesota Democrat-Farmer-Labor Party, which most likely is the most left-wing of all of the state Democratic parties. Many members of that party are True Believers when it comes to Socialism, and Wellstone led the pack. It is true that Wellstone was passionate about his beliefs – perhaps something one might expect of a former college professor – but one should also remember that he was passionate about the following things: abolishing private property (except that held by the political classes), high tax rates, massive wealth confiscation from some people to transfer it to others, and making everyone heavily dependent upon the state literally from cradle to grave.

He opposed the U.S. Armed Forces unilaterally making war on other nations, but he also supported with all of his being that same government making war upon the citizens directly supporting it. Wellstone’s ideal state was not a benign entity operating within a voluntary society; it was, instead, a highly-coercive entity run by the political classes that was constantly at war with those individuals in a society who were the most productive. All of this was in the name of the "little guy," of course, but make no mistake about the nature of Wellstone’s socialistic dreams. The state was the be all and end all and those who did not agree would be squashed.

Paul Krugman, the political operative columnist for the New York Times who masquerades as an economist at Princeton University, lauded Wellstone for being an "economic populist." Populism as it came out of the Progressive Movement of the late 1800s, was nothing more than a euphemism for mob rule. Thus, even in trying to honor Wellstone, Krugman unwittingly gives us the sordid basis for socialism.

Many speakers at the service exhorted those in the audience to "carry on" Wellstone’s "dream." That dream – of a peaceful socialist society that provides plenty for all – is just a dream; the reality of socialism, as demonstrated grotesquely by the hundreds of millions of bones that lie beneath the ground in Eastern Europe, Russia, and Asia, is war, starvation, and death. No more proof of statism’s evil is needed, but there are always socialists like Wellstone to tell us that he and others hold the "keys to the kingdom" that will make the system work and provide plenty for everyone, and there always are suckers out there who believe this nonsense.

While the "high-mindedness" of the memorial service supposedly was marred by the "partisan" tone of the speakers, if we look more closely at the entire affair, we find it an exercise in cynicism from the beginning. Almost immediately after Wellstone’s plane crashed, Democrats and Republicans were trying to determine the "optimum" response to the whole thing.

For the Democrats, the question was this: How do we use this episode to attack Republicans and accuse them of not properly honoring Wellstone’s death by continuing political campaigns and simultaneously continue campaigning ourselves? Republicans were asking themselves pretty much the same questions. In short, the first and most important thing was not mourning the passing of Wellstone and his wife but rather how can the political operative make hay out of these newest circumstances.

This is nothing more than deceit of the highest order. Contrary to what Democratic leaders might have said after being criticized for the tone of the Wellstone "memorial," they had planned all along to have a free "infomercial" to promote their candidates, courtesy of various Minnesota television stations, along with some national cable channels. While some officials might have issued "apologies," in truth no one was sorry for anything. The service had accomplished its mission of rallying the party faithful and appealing to a sympathy vote to Minnesotans who might not have made up their minds before the election.

In the end, however, the Wellstone affair simply magnifies the shenanigans of the political classes. For all the talk about his passion and concerns for the poor, along with his anti-war stands, I doubt that Wellstone would have wanted a dignified memorial service. My guess is that the political rally suited him just fine. He might have been against going to war against Iraq, but he did not mind the U.S. Government going to war against the rest of us. For that matter, I doubt he would have objected to the partisan tone of the service. After all, he was a member of the political classes, and when it comes to shameless behavior, the political classes never sleep, even in death.

Senator Al Franken (D., ACORN)

Alan Stuart "Al" Franken (born May 21, 1951) is the junior United States Senator from Minnesota. He is a member of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, that state's affiliate of the Democratic Party.

Franken first became famous as a writer and performer for the television show Saturday Night Live (SNL) since its inception in 1975 before moving on to writing and acting in several films. He then became a political commentator, author of several best-selling books, and host of a nationally syndicated radio show on Air America Radio.

Franken ran for U.S. Senator in 2008 and narrowly defeated incumbent Republican Norm Coleman after a mandatory statewide manual recount. Coleman contested the outcome in court,[2] but the Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously upheld Franken's victory on June 30, 2009.[3] Franken was sworn in to the Senate on July 7, 2009.[4][5]

Radio show (FAIL)

Franken signed a one-year contract in early 2004 to become a talk show host for Air America Radio's flagship program with cohost Katherine Lanpher, who remained with the show until October 2005. The network was launched March 31, 2004. Originally named The O'Franken Factor but renamed The Al Franken Show on July 12, 2004, the show aired three hours a day, five days a week for three years. The stated goal of the show was to provide the public airwaves with more progressive views to counter what Franken perceived to be the dominance of conservative syndicated commentary on the radio. "I'm doing this because I want to use my energies to get Bush unelected," he told a New York Times reporter in 2004.[20]

2008 U.S. Senate campaign

On January 29, 2007, Al Franken announced his departure from Air America Radio.[31] On the day of his final show, February 14, Franken formally announced that he would run for the United States Senate from Minnesota in 2008.[32][33] Challenging him for the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party endorsement was Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, a professor, author, and activist. Other candidates were Mike Ciresi, a wealthy trial lawyer, and Jim Cohen, an attorney and human rights activist who had dropped out of the race earlier.[34][35]

On April 13, 2007, Franken's campaign filed a campaign finance report. He raised $1.35 million in the first quarter of 2007. The incumbent Senator, Norm Coleman, raised $1.53 million.[36] On July 8, 2007, the Franken campaign stated that it expected to announce that Franken had raised more money than Coleman during the second quarter of the year, taking in $1.9 million to Coleman's $1.6 million,[37][38] although as of early July 2007, Coleman's $3.8 million cash on hand exceeded Franken's $2 million.[38]

In late May 2008, the Minnesota Republican Party released a letter regarding an article Franken had written for Playboy magazine in 2000 entitled "Porn-O-Rama!" The letter, signed by six prominent GOP women, including a state senator and state representative, called on Franken to apologize for what they referred to as a "demeaning and degrading" article.[39] Several DFL leaders expressed personal and political discomfort with the article as well.[40] A Franken campaign spokesman responded that, "Al had a long career as a satirist. But he understands the difference between what you say as a satirist and what you do as a senator. And as a senator, Norm Coleman has disrespected the people of Minnesota by putting the Exxons and Halliburtons ahead of working families. And there’s nothing funny about that."[39]

On June 7, 2008, Franken was endorsed at the DFL convention. In a July 2008 interview with CNN, Franken was endorsed by Ben Stein, the noted entertainer, speechwriter, lawyer and author who is known for his conservative views and generally supports Republican candidates.[41] Stein said of Franken, "He is my pal, and he is a really, really capable smart guy. I don't agree with all of his positions, but he is a very impressive guy, and I think he should be in the Senate."

On September 9, 2008, Franken won the Democratic primary for the Senate seat.[42]

During his campaign for the Senate, Franken was criticized for advising SNL creator Lorne Michaels on a political sketch ridiculing Senator John McCain's ads attacking Barack Obama.[43] Coleman's campaign reacted, saying, "Once again, he proves he's more interested in entertainment than service, and ridiculing those with whom he disagrees."[44]

Preliminary reports on election night November 4 had Coleman ahead by over 700 votes; but the official results certified on by November 18, 2008, had Coleman leading by only 215 votes. As the two candidates were separated by less than 0.5 percent, the Secretary of State of Minnesota, Mark Ritchie, authorized the automatic recount stipulated in Minnesota election law. In the recount, ballots and certifying materials were examined by hand, and candidates could file challenges to the legality of ballots or materials for inclusion or exclusion with regard to the recount. On January 5, 2009, the Minnesota State Canvassing Board certified the recounted vote totals, with Franken ahead by 225 votes.[45]

On January 6, 2009, Coleman's campaign filed an election contest, which led to a trial before a three-judge panel.[46] The trial ended on April 7, when the panel ruled that 351 of 387 disputed absentee ballots were incorrectly rejected and ordered them counted. Counting those ballots raised Franken's lead to 312 votes. Coleman appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court on April 20.[2][47][48] On April 24, the Minnesota Supreme Court agree to hear the case.[49] and oral arguments were conducted on June 1.[50]

On June 30, 2009, the Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously rejected Coleman's appeal and said that Franken was entitled to be certified as the winner. Shortly after the court's decision, Coleman conceded.[51] Governor Tim Pawlenty signed Franken’s election certificate that same evening.[52] Franken was sworn in to the Senate on Tuesday, July 7, 2009 using the Bible of late Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone.[53]

Tax issues

During the 2008 election, New York state officials asserted that Al Franken Inc. had failed to carry required workers' compensation insurance from 2002 to 2005. Franken paid the $25,000 fine to the state of New York upon being advised his corporation was out of compliance with the state's workers' compensation laws.[54][55] At the same time, the California Franchise Tax Board reported that the same corporation owed more than $4,743.40 in taxes, fines, and associated penalties in the state of California for 2003 through 2007 because the corporation did not file tax returns in the state for those years.[56] A Franken representative said that it followed the advice of an accountant who believed when the corporation stopped doing business in California that no further filing was required.[54][57] Subsequently, Franken paid $70,000 in back income taxes in 17 states dating to 2003 mostly from Franken's speeches and other paid appearances. Franken said he paid the income tax in his state of residence, and he will seek retroactive credit for paying the taxes in the wrong states.[58]

U.S. Senate

Franken was sworn in to the Senate on July 7, 2009, 246 days after the November 2008 election.[4][64] He is the fifth senator to be sworn in since the class of 2008 was sworn in January 2009.[4][5] He sits at the same desk that Paul Wellstone used, which Senate leaders had kept open for Franken.[65] Since 1979 his Senate seat has been occupied by four different Jewish senators, with the only non-Jew being short-term appointee Dean Barkley.[66]

On August 6, 2009, Senator Franken presided over the confirmation vote of Sonia Sotomayor to be an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.[67][68] Senator Franken's first piece of legislation was the Service Dogs for Veterans Act (S. 1495), which he co-authored with Sen. Johnny Isakson (R). The bill, which passed the Senate via unanimous consent, established a program with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs to pair disabled veterans with service dogs.[69]

A September 2009 Survey USA poll placed Franken's approval rating at 45% of Minnesotans, with 41% disapproving.[70]

A video of Senator Franken on September 2, 2009, at the Minnesota State Fair engaging in a discussion with what started out as an ambush from an angry group of Tea Party protesters but became a productive conversation on health care reform soon found itself going viral.[71][72][73] The discussion was noted for its civility, in contrast to several other similar discussions between members of congress and their constituents that had occurred over the summer.[71][74][75]

Citing the case of Jamie Leigh Jones, Senator Al Franken offered an amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill that would withhold defense contracts from companies like KBR "if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court." It passed the US Senate 68-30. All 30 nay votes came from Republicans.[76]

Election Fraud

Mickey Kaus points to this article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

Here in Minnesota, ACORN has boasted of playing a major role in the 2008 elections. It claims to have registered 43,000 new voters, which it describes as 75 percent of the state's new registrations. Franken's margin of victory in the Senate race was razor-thin: 312 votes out of about 3 million cast. And Minnesota's laws on proof of voter eligibility are notoriously loose. Did ACORN folks pull some fast ones to help get their favorite son Franken elected — a win that handed Democrats the 60-vote, veto-proof majority that they needed to enact their liberal agenda?

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie assures us that Minnesota's system of voter verification protects electoral integrity.

But here's an uncomfortable fact: Ritchie himself was endorsed by the now-notorious ACORN and elected with its help.

As Kaus puts it, "If just 1% were ineligible but cast ballots, or had ballots cast for them illegally, and survived the recount process . . ."

Rep. John P. Murtha (D-PA)

Representative John P. Murtha (D-PA) is a nineteen-term member of Congress, representing Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district. Rep. Murtha chairs the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. Rep. Murtha’s ethics issues and violations stem from (1) his ties to the PMA Group, a now defunct lobbying firm under federal investigation; (2) his ties to Kuchera Industries, a defense contractor under federal investigation; (3) his ties to defense executives and former military personnel convicted of skimming money from government contracts; (4) actions he may have taken to benefit his brother’s lobbying clients; and (5) his chief of staff’s threats to a political opponent. Rep. Murtha was included in CREW’s 2006, 2007, and 2008 reports on congressional corruption.

PMA Group Investigation

Paul Magliocchetti worked with Rep. Murtha as a senior staffer on the Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Defense for 10 years. After leaving the committee, Mr. Magliocchetti founded the PMA Group, which was one of the most prominent Washington, D.C. defense lobbying firms. In November 2008, federal authorities raided the offices of the PMA Group and the home of Mr. Magliocchetti. The PMA Group is being investigated for allegedly violating campaign finance laws by using “straw” donors to make contributions to lawmakers, concealing the true source of the money. In some cases, lawmakers received contributions from individuals listed as PMA lobbyists despite the fact that the individuals were never employees of the firm. Additionally, Mr. Magliocchetti may have reimbursed his employees for contributions made to candidates. After news of the raid broke, the lobbying shop closed its doors on March 31, 2009.

Despite the investigations into PMA’s practices, lawmakers have continued to earmark for the firm’s former clients with Rep. Murtha requesting $16.2 million in earmarks for Parametric Technology Corporation, Ardiem Medical, MobileVox, DRS Technologies, and MTS Technologies. In exchange, these companies made contributions to Rep. Murtha’s campaign committee and PAC.

On June 11, 2009, the Ethics Committee revealed it was investigating “certain, specific allegations within the committee’s jurisdiction” relating to the PMA Group The Ethics Committee’s statement did not mention any specific lawmaker by name, and Rep. Murtha’s spokesperson said the committee had not contacted his office.

Since 1998, Rep. Murtha has accepted $2,378,552 from PMA Group employees and clients of the firm, making him the biggest recipient of contributions from the firm.

Kuchera Corporation Investigation

In January 2009, federal investigators raided the headquarters of Kuchera Corporation as well as the homes of the company’s two top executives. The investigation concerns the misuse of corporate funds to finance a private ranch owned by the company’s president, Bill Kuchera, and contract fraud. In response to the investigation surrounding the firm, the U.S. Navy placed the company on its Excluded Parties List, barring the firm from receiving any more federal contracts. The suspension was revoked, however, after Kuchera agreed to alter some of its accounting practices.

In 1982, Mr. Kuchera pleaded guilty to a single felony count related to drug trafficking and spent less than a year in prison. After his release Mr. Kuchera approached his uncle, then the owner of Kuchera Industries, based in Racine, Wisconsin, for a job. When Mr. Kuchera’s partner in the drug-running operation, Peter Whorley, was released from prison in 1986, he approached Mr. Kuchera and invested $50,000 in the fledgling company in exchange for a share of the profits. Kuchera’s felony conviction never barred his company from winning contracts to handle sensitive government work.

Since 2001, Rep. Murtha has directed approximately $50 million in earmarks to Kuchera Industries. In turn, since 2002, employees of Kuchera Industries and their families have donated to $90,500 to Rep. Murtha’s campaign committee. Additionally, since 2006, employees as well as their families have donated $7,000 to Rep. Murtha’s PAC. Kuchera Industries shares links with a host of other Rep. Murtha connected organizations, including lobbyists and defense contractors.

KSA Consulting

KSA Consulting is a lobbying firm that has employed Rep. Murtha’s brother, Robert “Kit” Murtha, as well as Carmen Scialabba. Mr. Scialabba joined KSA Consulting after leaving the House Appropriations Committee where he worked as an aide to Rep. Murtha. KSA clients that have received earmarks from Rep. Murtha include Aeptec Microsystems, Coherent Systems International, MountainTop Technologies, and KDH Technologies.

Mr. Murtha was personally invited to join KSA Consulting as a lobbyist in 2002 by Mr. Scialabba, where he established a reputation as an “earmark specialist.” In 2004, Congress passed a $417 billion defense appropriations bill, which included earmarks benefitting at least 10 companies represented by KSA Consulting. Records show that KSA Consulting directly lobbied Rep. Murtha’s office for seven of those companies. Mr. Murtha retired from KSA Consulting in 2006.

Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC)

CTC is a large non-profit that in 2007 received $220,423,075 in funding from the federal government. The group’s 990 form also indicates that it paid the PMA Group $461,334 for consulting services. Since 2002, CTC’s employees and employees’ family members have donated more than $126,000 to Rep. Murtha’s political committees and leadership PAC.

Commonwealth Research Institute (CRI) is a subsidiary non-profit of CTC. In 2007, the non-profit received $5,104,829 in funding from the federal government. Since 2003, the group’s totally funding has jumped from $632,884 to just over $5 million.

Federal authorities continue their investigation into (CTC) and its subsidiary, Commonwealth Research Institute (CRI). CRI is under particular scrutiny concerning the process in which it was awarded its non-profit status. When CRI petitioned the IRS for tax-exempt status the IRS questioned whether the group’s purpose as a research institute was adequate rationale for tax-exempt status and noted that “research results must be made available to the interested public.” CRI responded that it planned to work primarily with government contracts, only a small portion of which would be classified. But in the nine years since the group petitioned the government for tax-exempt status, it has never published any of its government backed research.

Previously, CRI caught the attention of the Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General (IG), which was investigating payments made by CRI to an Air Force official awaiting confirmation for work that was never done. Shortly after admitting to a Washington Post reporter that he was being paid, but not doing any work in return, the official committed suicide. The IG’s investigation has been placed on hold pending the outcome of other probes into Rep. Murtha related entities.

If, as it appears, Rep. Murtha accepted donations to his campaign and political action committees in direct exchange for earmarking federal funds, he may have committed bribery and honest services fraud and engaged in conduct not reflecting credibility on the House.

Full Report:

Interactive Web Detailing All of Re. Murtha's Connections to the Defense Industry and it Lobbyists:

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)

Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) is a ten-term member of Congress, representing California’s 35th congressional district. She is a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee. Rep. Waters’ ethics issues stem from a meeting she arranged between officials at the Department of Treasury and OneUnited Bank, a bank with which she has financial ties. Rep. Waters was included in CREW’s 2005 and 2006 congressional corruption reports for unrelated matters.

Meeting Between OneUnited and Treasury Officials

In September 2008, Rep. Waters asked then-Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson to hold a meeting for minority-owned banks that had suffered from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac losses. The Treasury Department complied and held a session with approximately a dozen senior banking regulators, representatives from minority-owned banks and their trade association.

Officials of OneUnited Bank, one of the largest black-owned banks in the country, which also has close ties to Rep. Waters, attended the meeting along with Rep. Waters’ chief of staff. Kevin Cohee, chief executive officer of OneUnited, used the meeting as an opportunity to ask for bailout funds. Former Bush White House officials stated they were surprised when OneUnited officials asked for bailout funds because they understood the meeting had been arranged to discuss the losses minority-owned banks endured when the federal government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

In December 2008, Rep. Waters intervened again, asking Treasury to host another meeting to ensure minority-owned banks received part of the $700 billion allocated under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Within two weeks, on December 19, 2008, OneUnited secured $12.1 million in bailout funds.

Rep. Waters did not disclose her financial ties to OneUnited Bank to Treasury officials in her letters requesting meetings between regulators and bank officials. Treasury officials claimed that although OneUnited also requested a meeting with regulators regarding Fannie and Freddie Mac losses, it wasn’t until Rep. Waters intervened that the Treasury approved a meeting.

By using her position as a member of Congress to assist a bank to which she has financial ties, Rep. Waters violated House conflict-of-interest rules and engaged in conduct that does not reflect creditably upon the House.

Full Report:

Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL)

Senator Roland Burris (D-IL) is a first-term senator from Illinois, appointed to the U.S. Senate in December 2008 by former Governor Rod Blagojevich to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of then President-elect Barack Obama. Sen. Burris’ ethics issues stem from the circumstances surrounding his appointment.

Conflicting Statements on Senate Appointment

On December 9, 2008, former Gov. Blagojevich was arrested by federal agents for what was described at the time as a “political corruption crime spree.” One of the central allegations against the governor was that he attempted to sell an appointment to the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Obama.

Sen. Burris was elevated to the Senate seat by the governor on December 30, 2008. When questions were raised about the appointment, Sen. Burris proclaimed, “I don’t have any taint from Gov. Blagojevich.” Over the next several months, Sen. Burris offered at least three different explanations under oath of how he came to be appointed to the Senate.

The Senate Ethics Committee launched an investigation into Sen. Burris on February 17, 2009, for repeatedly altering his statements regarding his appointment to the Senate and his contacts with Gov. Blagojevich and the governor’s associates.

On May 26, 2009, transcripts of a conversation between Sen. Burris and the former governor’s brother Rob Blagojevich, captured on a federal wiretap related to the corruption probe of Gov. Blagojevich, were released. In the transcripts, Sen. Burris mentioned his interest in the Senate seat and potentially raising money for the governor. Sen. Burris offered to “give him [Gov. Blagojevich] a check” and “do something at the [Burris’] law firm.” Later in the conversation he pledged to “personally do something.” Sen. Burris also discussed having his attorney make a donation – potentially in violation of Illinois elections law – but the attorney later advised against it.

In the first half of 2009, Sen. Burris did not report paying legal fees. His campaign reported raising $41,230, but carried $138,085 in debt. On April 9, 2009, Sen. Burris revealed that he had “rung up” $500,000 in legal expenses resulting from the investigation into his ties with the indicted governor. According to a spokesperson, Sen. Burris began setting up a legal defense fund, but is awaiting Senate approval.

Although a prosecutor found insufficient evidence to file state charges against Sen. Burris for perjury, federal perjury charges may still lie. Under federal law, anyone who takes an oath that he will testify, declare or offer written testimony that he subscribes to be true, but deliberately offers untrue statements about a material matter, is guilty of perjury.

Full Report:

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL)

Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr., is an eight-term member of Congress, representing Illinois’ 2nd district. Rep. Jackson’s ethics issue stems from his bid to be appointed to a vacant Illinois Senate seat and subsequently, the federal investigation of former-Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Vacant Senate Seat

On December 9, 2008, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested by federal agents for what was described at the time as a “political corruption crime spree.” One of the central allegations against the governor was that he attempted to sell an appointment to the Senate seat vacated by then President-elect Obama.

In the affidavit supporting the arrest of Gov. Blagojevich, the governor is quoted stating he believed a particular candidate, later identified as Rep. Jackson, would “raise money” for him and that “he might get some [money] upfront.” The governor also claimed an “emissary” from Rep. Jackson came to him and offered to raise a total of $1.5 million for his campaign should Rep. Jackson indeed be appointed to the vacant Senate seat. In fact, the day before the governor’s arrest, Rep. Jackson met with him to discuss the vacancy.

The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) launched a “preliminary review of Rep. Jackson’s actions surrounding his bid for appointment to the Senate seat.” OCE asked Gov. Blagojevich’s former staffers and campaign aides to turn over correspondence between Rep. Jackson and the governor. Additionally, the Department of Justice has interviewed Rep. Jackson and subpoenaed individuals with knowledge of Rep. Jackson’s alleged effort to raise funds for Gov. Blagojevich. If Rep. Jackson offered then-Gov. Blagojevich anything of value, including campaign contributions, in exchange for an appointment to the vacant U.S. Senate seat, Rep. Jackson may have violated Illinois bribery law.

Rep. Jackson has denied any wrongdoing and says he is cooperating with both investigations. In the first half of 2009, his campaign committee paid $18,697 in legal fees in addition to $100,000 paid in December 2008.

Full Report:

Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-NY)

Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY) is a twenty-term member of Congress representing New York’s 15th district. Rep. Rangel’s ethics issues stem from (1) improperly leasing four rent controlled apartments; (2) improperly using congressional stationery; (3) failing to report rental income from a vacation property; and (4) trading legislative assistance for contributions to the Rangel Center at City College. Rep. Rangel was included in CREW’s 2008 congressional corruption report.

Improper Rental Arrangements

Rep. Rangel leased four rent-stabilized apartments at Lenox Terrace in New York City, three of which serve as his personal residence and the fourth of which was used as an office for his campaign and political action committees. In total, Rep. Rangel paid about $3,800 for the apartments, roughly $7,000 less than new tenants would pay. Because Rep. Rangel was able to maintain at least two apartments in addition to his primary residence at rent-stabilized rates, and because he failed to pay fair-market rent on these apartments, Rep. Rangel may have violated New York housing law, the House gifts rule and campaign finance laws.

Improper Use of Congressional Stationary

Beginning in 2005, Rep. Rangel solicited funds for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York using his official congressional letterhead. House rules prohibit the use of congressional letterhead for any mailing paid for with non-appropriated funds. As a result, by sending out letters on his official letterhead on behalf of City College of New York, Rep. Rangel violated House rules.

Dominican Republic Villa

Rep. Rangel owns a beachfront villa on a Dominican Republic resort that rents for between $500 and $1,100 a night. Although Rep. Rangel’s villa is generally booked solid in the high season of December 15 through April 15, Rep. Rangel did not declare any rental income on his personal financial disclosure forms for the years from 1996-2000 and in 2006 and 2007. In total, Rep. Rangel failed to disclose $75,000 in rental income since 1988.

When Rep. Rangel purchased the villa in 1988, the company developing the resort gave him the mortgage, to be paid back over seven years at a rate of 10.5%. In 1990, the interest was waived for seven early investors including Rep. Rangel because the resort was generating less income than projected. By failing to include the rental income on his personal financial disclosure forms, Rep. Rangel may have violated the Ethics in Government Act and House rules. In addition, if when the interest was waived on his loan for the property Rep. Rangel received better terms than others similarly situated, the loan may have violated the House gifts rule.

In September 2008, Rep. Charles Rangel paid $10,800 in back taxes for his 2004, 2005 and 2006 returns related to the unreported rental income he earned from his Dominican Republic beach house.

Nabors Industries

Rep. Rangel helped preserve a tax loophole benefitting Nabors Industries at the same time he was soliciting donations to the Rangel Center from the company’s chief executive. If Rep. Rangel accepted a contribution to the Rangel Center in direct exchange for legislative assistance for Nabors Industries, he may have committed bribery, deprived his constituents of his honest services, and accepted an illegal gratuity.

Caribbean Trip

From November 6-9, 2008, Rep. Rangel and four other members traveled to St. Maarten to attend a conference supposedly sponsored by the Carib News Foundation. Peter Flaherty, the president of National Legal and Policy Center, also traveled to St. Maarten for the event and found evidence the trip was actually paid for by corporations including Citigroup, IBM, AT&T, Verizon, Pfizer, Macy’s and American Airlines. Because corporations that employ lobbyists appear to have sponsored the trip, because these corporations did not have a direct and immediate relationship with the trip, and because the trip appears to have largely been recreational in nature, Rep. Rangel likely violated House travel rules by accepting expenses for the trip.

Financial Disclosures

Rep. Rangel repeatedly failed to disclose all of his assets and unearned income in clear violation of House rules. From 1978-2006, the lawmaker failed to report buying, owning or selling assets 28 times. According to the Sunlight Foundation, “Assets worth between $239,026 and $831,000 appear or disappear with no disclosure of when they were acquired, how long they were held, or when they were sold, as the operative House rules at the time required.” From 2002-2006, Rep. Rangel failed to report up to $1.3 million in outside income on his financial disclosure forms. On August 12, 2009, Rep. Rangel filed an amendment to his 2007 personal financial disclosure form. The original report failed to disclose between $512,009 and $1.18 million in assets, including a checking account worth at least $250,000. If Rep. Rangel knowingly and willfully failed to disclose, or misrepresented, the true value of his personal assets on his financial disclosure forms, he would appear to be in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001.

Improper Vehicle Storage

Rep. Rangel stored his 1972 Mercedes in a House parking lot for several years. The car was covered by a tarp and did not have license plates. Its registration had expired in 2004 and the car did not display a current House parking permit. The space is valued at $290 per month, and must be reported to the IRS as imputed income. By storing an unlicensed vehicle in a House garage without a valid parking permit, Rep. Rangel violated House rules.

Ongoing Ethics Probe

Since Rep. Rangel initially requested the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct investigate allegations leveled against him, the committee’s probe has expanded. It currently is reviewing allegations into his use of congressional letterhead for fund-raising, the income he earned from the Dominican Republic villa, the three rent-controlled apartments he uses as his New York residence and the additional rent controlled apartment he used as a campaign office, his use of House parking facilities, the trip to the Caribbean and the alleged exchange of legislative assistance for a contribution to the Charles B. Rangel School of Public Service. As a result of this investigation, Rep. Rangel has paid more than $1 million in legal fees.

Full Report:

Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-WV)

Representative Alan B. Mollohan (D-WV) is a fourteen-term member of Congress, representing West Virginia’s 1st congressional district. He serves on the House Appropriations Committee, where he is chair of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies; he is also a member of the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies and the Subcommittee on Homeland Security.

Rep. Mollohan’s ethics issues stem primarily from misuse of his position on the Appropriations Committee, from which he has steered hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarks to family, friends, former employees and corporations in exchange for contributions to his campaign and political action committees. In addition, Rep. Mollohan misreported his personal assets on his financial disclosure forms. He is currently the subject of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. The congressman was included in CREW’s 2006, 2007, and 2008 reports on congressional corruption.

Earmarking of Funds for His Personal Benefit

Over the past ten plus years, Rep. Mollohan has earmarked $369 million in federal grants to his district for 254 separate programs. Between 1997 and 2006, $250 million of that total was directed to five nonprofit organizations that were created by Rep. Mollohan and staffed by his friends. During the same period, top-paid employees, board members and contractors of these organizations gave at least $397,122 to Rep. Mollohan’s campaign and political action committees.

If Rep. Mollohan accepted campaign donations in direct exchange for earmarking federal funds to the nonprofits run by these donors he may have committed bribery and honest services fraud in violation House rules prohibiting dispensing special favors and engaging in conduct that does not reflect creditably on the House.

In June 2004, Rep. Mollohan, his wife, and two top aides took a five-day trip to Bilbao, Spain. The trip, arranged by the West Virginia High Technology Consortium and costing over $36,000 ($7,800 of which constituted the Mollohans’ expenses), was paid for by a group of government contractors to whom Rep. Mollohan funneled more than $250 million in earmarked funds. By soliciting funding for his trip to Spain from TMC Technologies one month after TMC received a $5 million contract as a result of an earmark from him, Rep. Mollohan appears to be in violation of the illegal gratuity statute as well as House travel rules.

Rep. Mollohan continues to maintain a close relationship with several companies that either have office space in the complex run by a non-profit sponsored by the congressman or are clients of Robison International, a lobbying firm that has been a major campaign supporter.

Also, Rep. Mollohan’s family foundation has received free rent and administrative services from a Mollohan backed non-profit while it accepted donations from companies supported by the congressman through earmarks.

Financial Disclosure Forms

Between 2000 and 2004, Rep. Mollohan went from owning assets of less than $500,000, generating less than $80,000 in income in 2000, to at least $6.3 million in assets earning $200,000 to $1.2 million in 2004. As of 2005, Rep. Mollohan’s reported personal assets were worth at least $8 million and his liabilities were in excess of $3.43 million. In June 2006, Rep. Mollohan was forced to file two dozen corrections to his past six financial disclosure forms. If Rep. Mollohan knowingly filed inaccurate financial disclosure statements he broke the law prohibiting false statements.

Department of Justice Investigation

Because of the pending Department of Justice (DOJ) criminal investigation, in January 2007, when Rep. Mollohan was named as the chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State and Related Agencies, he recused himself from working on matters related to the DOJ’s budget. The FBI has subpoenaed financial records from the non-profit organizations that have benefitted from federal funding steered to them by Rep. Mollohan. In addition, at least one witness has been subpoenaed to testify about Rep. Mollohan’s finances before a grand jury. Despite legal questions surrounding some of Rep. Mollohan’s previous earmarks, Rep. Mollohan requested a $1 million earmark to allow the Department of the Interior to expand a wilderness area abutting property owned by the congressman, thereby increasing his property’s value.

Rep. Mollohan spent over $157,000 on legal fees and services in the 2008 election cycle. Despite the ongoing investigation, Rep. Mollohan did not recuse himself from working on the 2010 Commerce, Science and Justice appropriations bill.

Full Report:

The Czars

As of September 6th, 2009:

• A More Conservative Union counts 32 czars in the Obama administration, based on media reports from reputable sources that have identified the official in question as a czar.
• In addition, President Obama has said that he will create the position of cyber czar, and there have been media reports that there could be a health insurance czar and a copyright czar. When and if those positions are filled, that would bring the total to 35.
• Since czar isn't an official job title, the number is somewhat in the eye of the beholder.

NOTE: positions that also existed under previous administrations are indicated with an *.

1. Afghanistan Czar - Richard Holbrooke

Title: Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan
Salary: unknown
Reports to: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Appointed: January 2009
Department that might have handled similar issues: State

• Will work with CENTCOM head Gen. David Petraeus to integrate U.S. civilian and military efforts in the region.
• 45 years of experience have made him a fixture of the Democrats' foreign policy establishment.
• Was U.S. ambassador to U.N., 1999-2001
• Brokered the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords in Bosnia
• Also served as Assistant secretary of state, East Asia and the Pacific (1976 to 1980); worked in foreign service (1962 to 1976)
• From 1972 through 1976, was the editor of Foreign Policy magazine.

2. AIDS Czar * - Jeffrey Crowley

Title: Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy
Salary: $102,000
Reports to: President Obama (as part of the Executive Office of the President’s Domestic Policy Council)
Appointed: February 2009
Department that might have handled similar issues: Health and Human Services

• Coordinates HIV/AIDS policy domestically and internationally.
• Senior Research Scholar at Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute and a Senior Scholar at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University Law Center.
• Was Deputy Executive Director for Programs at the National Association of People with AIDS
• Has Master of Public Health from the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health

3. Auto Recovery Czar - Ed Montgomery

Title: Director of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers
Salary: unknown
Reports to: Larry Summers, the president's top economic adviser, and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis
Appointed: March 2009
Department that might have handled similar issues: Labor

• Will work to leverage government resources to support the workers, communities and regions that rely on the American auto industry.
• Was Deputy Secretary and Chief Economist at the Labor Department (1997 to 1998)
• Is Dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences at the University of Maryland (2003 to present)
• Has PhD in economics from Harvard
• In 2008, made $1,200 in political donations, all of which went to Obama’s presidential campaign.
• Wife is the granddaughter of a General Motors worker from Portland, Mich.
• Drives a 2000 Lincoln

4. Border Czar * - Alan Bersin

Title: Assistant Secretary for International Affairs and Special Representative for Border Affairs
Salary: unknown
Reports to: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano
Appointed: April 2009
Agencies that might have handled similar issues: Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

• Will coordinate all of the department's border security and law-enforcement efforts.
• Essentially had the same job under President Clinton; served as Attorney General Janet Reno's special representative on border issues, a job that he held while retaining the position of U.S. attorney for San Diego.
• This time, boss will be Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who will expect him to handle illegal immigration and drug violence issues along the Mexican-American border
• Previous experience: Chairman of the San Diego Regional Airport Authority (2006 to 2009); Secretary of Education for California (2005 to 2006); Superintendent of San Diego Public Schools (1998 to 2005); U.S. Attorney for San Diego (1993 to 1998)
• Graduate of Harvard and Yale Law School
• Talking about border security shortly before he was named Clinton border czar in 1995, said he wanted to focus on suspected smugglers of both drugs and people and was not interested in prosecuting “economic migrants.”
• Often tied to the 1994 border policy called “Operation Gatekeeper.” The policy shifted the U.S. focus from the arresting of immigrants who actually crossed the border to an increased border presence designed to stop border crossing in the first place. When Bersin left the position in 1998, border arrests were on pace for an 18-year low of just more than 200,000. Latino groups complained that Operation Gatekeeper was immoral, saying the program monitored the border near San Diego but simply forced illegal immigrants to other, more dangerous areas.
• Has given more than $50,000 to political campaigns since 1999, almost all of it to Democrats.

5. California Water Czar - David J. Hayes

Title: Deputy Interior Secretary
Salary: unknown
Reports to: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar
Appointed: June 2009
Confirmed by Senate (as Deputy Interior Security): May 20, 2009
Department that might have handled similar issues: Interior

• Charged with coordinating federal agencies to ease California's water shortage
• Graduate of Stanford Law School; clerked for U.S. District Court for the D.C., has been a partner at two big D.C. law firms
• Was deputy interior secretary under Bruce Babbitt during Clinton administration
• From 1993 to 1995, was chairman of the board at the Environmental Law Institute, a non-profit research center.
• As a lobbyist, represented the Southern California Metropolitan Water District in 2001
• In August 2008, wrote a policy report while working at the Progressive Policy Institute accusing the Bush administration of leaving a “damaging legacy” in their natural resource management policies
• Donated $2,300 to Clinton during 2008 campaign; after she withdrew, donated $2,300 to Obama

6. Car Czar - Ron Bloom

NOTE: on July 13, 2009, Bloom took over as head of the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry, replacing Steven Rattner

Title: Counselor to the Secretary of the Treasury
Salary: unknown
Reports to: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and National Economic Council head Larry Summers
Appointed: July 2009
Department that might have handled similar issues: Treasury

• A leader of the White House task force overseeing auto company bailouts; worked on restructuring of General Motors and Chrysler LLC.
• Was special assistant to president of the United Steelworkers union from 1996-Feb 2009
• Has negotiated restructuring deals for more than 50 companies, getting major concessions from unions and companies.
• Was raised in New York in a pro-union family, which included a schoolteacher mother and unionized relatives.
• After working for the Service Employees International Union, got an MBA from Harvard University because he thought unions lacked business smarts, he said in a 1996 interview in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
• From 1985 to 1990, he worked as an investment banker with Lazard Freres & Co., which specializes in mergers, acquisitions and corporate restructuring, before co-founding the investment-banking firm Keilin and Bloom.

7. Central Region Czar - Dennis Ross

Title: Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for the Central Region (encompasses the Middle East, the Gulf, Afghanistan, Pakistan and South Asia)
Salary: unknown
Reports to: National Security Adviser Gen. James L. Jones
Appointed: June 2009
Department that might have handled similar issues: State

• Spent 12 years in the George H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations trying to create a permanent agreement between the governments of Israel and the Palestinian territories
• In 1981, was named to President Ronald Reagan’s national security staff as the director of Near East and South Asian Affairs.
• Was director of the State Department’s Policy Planning office during President George H. W. Bush’s term.
• 1993: appointed to the position of Middle East coordinator, making him the top negotiator for peace between Israel and Palestinian territories
• After he left government in 2000, headed up Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a hawkish think tank with a pro-Israeli bent

8. Climate Czar - Todd Stern

Title: Special Envoy for Climate Change
Salary: unknown
Reports to: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Appointed: January 2009
Agency or department that might have handled similar issues: Environmental Protection Agency; State

• Responsible for developing international approaches to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.
• Served in the Clinton White House from 1993 to 1999; Was Head of the Initiative on Global Climate Change (1997 to 1999) and Adviser to the Secretary of the Treasury (1999 to 2001)
• As a top aide to President Clinton, helped negotiate the Kyoto and Buenos Aires climate pacts, both of which fell apart partially because of a lack of U.S. support during Bush administration.
• After Bush was elected to office, went to the Wilmer Hale law firm, where he is a partner in the regulatory and government affairs division.
• Was most recently a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, where he focused on climate change and environmental issues.
• Has written extensively on climate change, and has called on the American government and the international community to take a series of steps to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.
• Supports a national cap-and-trade system that would limit carbon emissions and reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil
• Has law degree from Harvard

9. Domestic Violence Czar - Lynn Rosenthal

Title: White House adviser on Violence Against Women
Salary: unknown
Reports to: President Obama and Vice President Biden
Appointed: June 2009
Department that might have handled similar issues: Health and Human Services

• Will advise the President and Vice President on domestic violence and sexual assault issues.
• 2000-2006: served as the Executive Director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence
• Was an advocate for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2000 and 2005 and has assisted states and local communities with implementation of this federal legislation
• Was director of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence

10. Drug Czar * - Gil Kerlikowske

Title: Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy
Salary: unknown
Reports to: President Obama
Appointed: March 2009
Confirmed by Senate: May 7, 2009
Department that might have handled similar issues: Justice

• Directs drug-control policy in the U.S.; is expected to shift drug policy to intervention, treatment and a reduction of problem drug use.
• Was police chief for the city of Seattle from 2000-2009
• Was Deputy Director of the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (1998 to 2000); Police Chief for the city of Buffalo (1994 to 1998); Police chief of Fort Pierce, Fla. (N/A to 1994)
• A strong gun-control advocate, urged both the Washington legislature and the U.S. Congress to pass an assault-weapons ban and has worked to close the loophole that doesn't require background checks at gun shows
• 2003: admitted that busting people for personal marijuana possession was not a top priority of the Seattle police department.
• As Seattle police chief, assigned an officer full-time to the drug court, which commuted sentences of drug users who complete medical treatment in lieu of going to jail.

11. Economic Czar * - Paul Volcker

Title: Chairman of the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board
Salary: Volcker reportedly isn't paid for his advice.
Reports to: President Obama
Appointed: January 2009
Department that might have handled similar issues: Treasury

• Charged with offering independent, nonpartisan information, analysis, and advice to the President as he formulates and implements his plans for economic recovery.
• Some reports say he's been marginalized by Larry Summers.
• Former Federal Reserve chairman (1979-1987)
• Was Undersecretary for Monetary Affairs, Department of the Treasury (1969 to 1974); Deputy Undersecretary for Monetary Affairs, Department of the Treasury (1963 to 1965)
• Gave Obama campaign $2,300 in 2008.

12. Energy and Environment Czar - Carol Browner

Title: Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change
Salary: $172,200
Reports to: President Obama
Appointed: January 2009
Agency that might have handled similar issues: EPA

• Coordinates energy and climate policy, emphasizing regulation and conservation.
• Was Environmental Protection Agency administrator in the Clinton administration (1993-2000)
• Was Florida Secretary of the Environment (1991 to 1993)
• Founded and continues to serve as a principal of The Albright Group LLC, a global strategy firm led by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Also a principal of Albright Capital Management, an investment advisory firm that concentrates on emerging markets.
• Worked on the Socialist International's Commission for a Sustainable World Society, which argues that the global community must work collectively to address environmental policies
• Described Bush administration as the "worst environmental administration ever"
• While orchestrating private discussions between the White House and auto industry officials on vehicle fuel efficiency standards, kept the talks as quiet as possible. Mary Nichols, the head of the California Air Resources Board, said, "We put nothing in writing, ever."
• 2003: A federal judge held the Environmental Protection Agency in contempt for destroying computer files during the Clinton administration that had been sought by a conservative legal foundation. U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth also ordered the EPA to pay the Landmark Legal Foundation's legal fees and costs because the agency disobeyed his order to preserve the electronic records of Browner, the former EPA chief.

13. Faith-Based Czar * - Joshua DuBois

Title: Director of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Salary: $98,000
Reports to: President Obama
Appointed: February 2009
Department that might have handled similar issues: Health and Human Services

• Acts as a liaison between faith and secular community groups and the White House, often partnering with them to tackle social issues. Helps these groups apply for federal grants available to them.
• Is 26 years old
• Has master’s in public affairs from Princeton University; served as associate pastor
• Worked for Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) as an intern and then as a fellow for Rep. Charles B. Rangel (DN. Y.).
• Hired as a legislative correspondent in Obama’s Senate office in May 2005
• In 2008, at the age of 25, was appointed director of religious affairs for the Obama campaign.

14. Government Performance Czar - Jeffrey Zients

Title: Chief Performance Officer
Salary: unknown
Reports to: Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orzag
Appointed: April 2009
Confirmed by the Senate (as deputy director for management for the OMB): June 19, 2009
Agency that might have handled similar issues: OMB

• Charged with cutting costs and finding best practices throughout government.
• Has never worked in government before
• Was a chief executive and former management consultant
• Was founder of Portfolio Logic (2004 to present); Partner of the Washington Baseball Club (2004 to 2006); CEO of the Advisory Board (1998 to 2004)
• Has donated just over $90,000 to political campaigns since 1999, almost all of which went to Democratic candidates

15. Great Lakes Czar - Cameron Davis

Title: Special advisor to the U.S. EPA overseeing its Great Lakes restoration plan
Salary: unknown
Reports to: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson
Appointed: June 2009
Agency that might have handled similar issues: Environmental Protection Agency

• Oversees the administration's initiative to restore the Great Lakes' environment.
• President of the Chicago-based environmentalist group Alliance for the Great Lakes
• Was a litigating attorney and served as an adjunct clinical assistant professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School.
• Served with the United Nations Environment Program in Nairobi, Kenya, where he worked on the Montreal Protocol to protect the Earth’s ozone layer, and U.S. EPA’s Office of Regional Counsel in Chicago.

16. Green Jobs Czar - Van Jones

Title: Special Adviser for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality
Salary: unknown
Reports to: Head of Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley
Appointed: March 2009
Agency or department that might have handled similar issues: Environmental Protection Agency; Labor

• Will focus on environmentally-friendly employment within the administration and boost support for the idea nationwide
• Rose from near obscurity in the Oakland, Calif., grassroots organizing scene to the leader of a national movement to spur the green economy.
• Founded Green For All, an organization focused on creating green jobs in impoverished areas
• Also co-founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and Color of Change, which includes Bay Area PoliceWatch, a group devoted to "protect[ing] the community from police misconduct"
• Published New York Times best-seller The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems, in October 2008
• Started career as a prison-reform advocate in Oakland, Calif., lobbying for reform of the juvenile justice system and youth-violence prevention programs
• Has law degree from Yale
• 2007: worked on the Green Jobs Act with then-Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.), who co-sponsored the bill in the House
• 1993: was arrested at the Los Angeles riots that followed the acquittal of cops in the Rodney King beating. "I was arrested simply for being a police observer," says Jones, who had just graduated from Yale Law School and was working with the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights in San Francisco.
• 1999: was arrested in the 1999 Seattle protests against the World Trade Organization
• Excerpt from a Nov. 2005 interview in the East Bay Express:
Jones had planned to move to Washington, DC, and had already landed a job and an apartment there. But in jail, he said, "I met all these young radical people of color -- I mean really radical, communists and anarchists. And it was, like, 'This is what I need to be a part of.'" Although he already had a plane ticket, he decided to stay in San Francisco. "I spent the next ten years of my life working with a lot of those people I met in jail, trying to be a revolutionary." In the months that followed, he let go of any lingering thoughts that he might fit in with the status quo. "I was a rowdy nationalist on April 28th, and then the verdicts came down on April 29th," he said. "By August, I was a communist." In 1994, the young activists formed a socialist collective, Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement, or STORM, which held study groups on the theories of Marx and Lenin and dreamed of a multiracial socialist utopia. They protested police brutality and got arrested for crashing through police barricades. In 1996, Jones decided to launch his own operation, which he named the Ella Baker Center after an unsung hero of the civil-rights movement.

17. Guantanamo Closure Czar - Daniel Fried

Title: Special envoy to oversee the closure of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay
Salary: unknown
Reports to: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
Appointed: March 2009
Department that might have handled similar issues: Justice; State

• Works to get help of foreign governments in moving toward closure of Guantanamo Bay, in fulfillment of Obama's promise to close the prison within a year of taking office.
• Was Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasian Affairs, State Department (2005 to 2009); Director for European and Eurasian Affairs, State Department (2001 to 2005); U.S. Ambassador to Poland (1997 to 2001)

18. Health Czar * - Nancy-Ann DeParle

Title: Counselor to the President and Director of the White House Office of Health Reform
Salary: $158,500
Reports to: President Obama
Appointed: March 2009
Department that might have handled similar issues: Health and Human Services (HHS)

• Coordinates the development of the Administration's healthcare policy agenda.
• Experience: Managing Director, CCMP Capital (since 2001); Adjunct professor (focusing on healthcare policy), Wharton School of Business (since 2001); Commissioner, Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (since 2001); Fellow, Harvard Institue of Politics (2000 to 2001); Director, Healthcare Financing Administration (1997 to 2000)
• Has law degree from Harvard
• Served as the OMB’s representative on health-care reform during Bill Clinton’s first term
• As head of the HHS Health Care Financing Administration under Clinton, ran the largest health insurance provider in America, overseeing $600 billion in payments annually to 74 million recipients of Medicare and Medicaid
• 2001: left government to take a year-long fellowship at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, where she was part of Harvard’s Health Care Policy Forum and led a weekly study group on reforming Medicare.
• During Bush administration, sat on the boards of many health companies, from medical treatment producers to hospital systems
• In September 2008, donated $2,300 each to Clinton and Barack Obama.

19. Information Czar - Vivek Kundra

Title: Federal Chief Information Officer
Salary: unknown
Reports to: Director of the Office of Management and Budget Peter Orszag
Appointed: March 2009
Agencies that might have handled similar issues: other federal agency CIOs

• Basically in charge of overseeing other federal agency CIOs and for setting technology policy across the government.
• Head of a federal technology budget that amounts to $71 billion annually
• Operation is housed in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and will likely have authority to question how money in departmental technology budgets is used
• Formerly head of the District of Columbia's technology operations
• Shortly after he joined the OMB, federal authorities raided his old District government office. They arrested two technology office managers and a subcontractor, charging them with a bribery scheme that allegedly defrauded the city out of at least $500,000. Kundra was not a suspect in the case, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
• Has a masters from Maryland in information technology.
• Experience: Washington, D.C. Chief Technology Officer (2007 to 2009); State of Virginia's Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Trade (2006 to 2007); CEO of computer security firm Creostar

20. Intelligence Czar * - Dennis Blair

Title: Director of National Intelligence
Salary: $197,700
Reports to: President Obama
Appointed: January 2009
Confirmed by Senate: January 28, 2009
Agency that might have handled similar issues: CIA

• Nation’s top intelligence official.
• Retired four-star admiral.
• Graduate of the United States Naval Academy, 1968; sixth-generation naval officer
• Lacks professional roots in the world of intelligence
• Held a number of prestigious Washington posts, including the Pentagon’s top liaison to the CIA and director of the Joint Staff.
• Ran the non-profit Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), which focuses primarily on issues related to national security, and does a lot of work for the Defense Department. Left IDA under a cloud of controversy in mid-2006.

21. Mideast Peace Czar - George Mitchell

Title: Special Envoy for Middle East Peace
Salary: unknown
Reports to: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
Appointed: January 2009
Department that might have handled similar issues: State

• Works to maintain the shaky peace between Israel and Hamas after recent hostilities
• Senate majority leader from 1989 to 1994
• Was special envoy to Northern Ireland during the Clinton administration and lead investigator into steroid use in Major League Baseball.
• 2000: led a fact-finding committee to study violence in the Middle East; 2001's Mitchell Report formed the basis for the road map for Middle East peace

22. Pay Czar - Kenneth R. Feinberg

Title: Special Master on executive pay
Salary: reportedly receiving no compensation for his work.
Reports to: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner
Appointed: June 2009
Department that might have handled similar issues: Treasury

• Named to examine compensation practices at companies that have been bailed out more than once by the federal government
• Oversaw the payouts to the families of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks
• Was the chief administrator to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund, which commemorates the students who died in the April 2007 shooting rampage at Virginia Tech
• Founder and managing partner of Feinberg Rozen LLP (1992 to present), law firm specializing in mediation
• Was Chief of staff for Sen. Edward Kennedy (1978 to 1980)
• While working with the Feinberg Group, donated over $150,000, nearly all of which has gone to Democratic candidates and political action committees. In 2007, donated $2,300 to 2008 presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani (R).

23. Regulatory Czar - Cass R. Sunstein *

Title: Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs
Salary: unknown
Reports to: Office of Management and Budget head Peter Orszag
Appointed: January 2009
Nomination was sent to Senate on April 20, 2009 - no action yet taken
Agency that might have handled similar issues: OMB

• Will be responsible for reviewing draft regulations and assessing their costs and benefits
• Is a Harvard Law School professor; prior to that, was a professor at the Univ. of Chicago Law School (1981-2008)
• Academic specialties: constitutional law, administrative law, and regulatory policy
• Obama: "Cass is not only a valued advisor, he is a dear friend"
• Known for advancing a field called "law and behavioral economics" that seeks to shape law and policy around the way research shows people actually behave; though embraced by conservatives, critics say it fails to account for the sometimes less-than-rational aspects of human behavior.
• In his 2002 book,, discussed the drawbacks of limitless choices on the Internet that allow people to seek out only like-minded people and opinions that merely fortify their own views; he talked about the idea of the government requiring sites to link to opposing views. He later came to realize it was a "bad idea."
• In his 2004 book, Animal Rights, suggested that animals ought to be able to bring suit, with private citizens acting as their representatives, to ensure that animals are not treated in a way that violates current law.
• In a 2007 speech at Harvard he called for banning hunting in the U.S.
• The American Conservative Union started a website, Stop Sunstein, in an effort to keep him out of the White House.

24. Science Czar - John Holdren

Title: Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology
Salary: unknown
Reports to: President Obama
Appointed: December 2008
Confirmed by Senate: March 19, 2009
Agency or department that might have handled similar issues: Energy

• Top adviser to Obama on science and technology, issues that are increasingly relevant to other issues such as homeland security, energy and environmentalism
• Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy and Director, Program in Science, Technology, and Public Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government (1996-2009); Harvard University Professor of Environmental Science and Public Policy (1996-2009); University of California, Berkeley Professor of Energy and Resources Emeritus (1996 to present)
• Studied aerospace engineering and plasma physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — where he earned his BS and MS — and Stanford University, where he received his doctorate in 1970
• Is an outspoken advocate of the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and believes the United States should sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.
• In a 2008 New York Times op-ed, Holdren called climate change skeptics “dangerous” members of a “denier fringe.”
• In 1971, co-authored a paper in Global Ecology suggesting "some form of ecocatastrophe, if not thermonuclear war, seems almost certain to overtake us before the end of the century."
• Some conservative media outlets have called attention to a book Holdren co-authored in 1977 titled Ecoscience: Population, Resources, and Environment. The book reportedly includes this statement: "population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution." Holdren's office says he "does not now and never has been an advocate of compulsory abortions or other repressive measures to limit fertility."

25. Stimulus Accountability Czar - Earl Devaney

Title: Chair of the Recovery Act Transparency and Accountability Board
Salary: unknown
Reports to: Vice President Biden
Appointed: February 2009
Agency that might have handled similar issues: OMB

• Leads oversight board that monitors money spent by the stimulus package
• Experience: Inspector General at the Interior Department (1999 to present); Director of criminal enforcement at the Environmental Protection Agency (1991 to 1999); Special Agent at the Secret Service (1970 to 1991)
• During his tenure at Interior, uncovered the shady dealings of disgraced ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, an investigation that eventually led to Abramoff's imprisonment and the resignation of Interior's no. 2, J. Steven Griles, for lying under oath about his own role in the scandal.
• On July 8, 2009, the U.S. General Services Administration issued a press release announcing an $18 million contract for a new web site, which quoted Devaney as saying, “We are pleased that another major milestone has been achieved."

26. Sudan Czar - J. Scott Gration

Title: Special Envoy to Sudan
Salary: unknown
Reports to: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Appointed: March 2009
Department that might have handled similar issues: State

• Will coordinate U.S. role in the aftermath of the genocide in Darfur
• Experience: Supreme Allied Command, NATO (2004 to 2005); Air Force assistant deputy undersecretary for international affairs (2003 to 2004)
• Commanded all air operations during the Iraq war in 2003
• 2006: left Air Force position to join Obama’s staff after traveling to Africa with the then-Senator from Illinois, even though he was a Republican
• Has won a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, a Defense Superior Service Medal and 16 other awards
• Is a fluent Swahili speaker who grew up in the Congo
• Has called on the Obama administration to incentivize participation by the Sudanese government in peace talks by lifting sanctions, a position that is controversial. Also worked to position himself as the principal negotiator between the Sudanese government and its adversaries in Darfur, and is planning an international conference for September 2009
• Has M.A. in security studies from Georgetown

27. TARP Czar - Herb Allison

Title: Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Stability
Salary: unknown
Reports to: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner
Appointed: June 2009
Department that might have handled similar issues: Treasury

• Leads the government's $700 billion financial rescue program in the office of financial stability
• Veteran Wall Street banker and interim head of the mortgage-finance company Fannie Mae
• Worked at Merrill Lynch for 28 years, reaching position of president and COO
• Was CEO of Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association College Retirement Equities Fund (2002 to 2008); CEO of the Alliance for Lifelong Learning (2000 to 2002)
• Has undergraduate degree from Yale and MBA from Stanford
• 2000: was John McCain’s 2000 presidential campaign finance chairman
• In 2008, donated $2,300 to Obama's presidential campaign

28. Technology Czar - Aneesh Chopra

Title: Chief Technology Officer
Salary: unknown
Reports to: President Obama
Appointed: April 2009
Confirmed by Senate: May 21, 2009
Department that might have handled similar issues: Commerce

• Will lead in the effort to eliminate wasteful government programs
• Will probably work to increase broadband access nationwide and computerize medical records
• Was Virginia’s secretary of technology (2005-2009)
• Has degree in public health from Johns Hopkins, Master's from Harvard in public policy
• Worked at Morgan Stanley as investment banker; also worked at Advisory Board, a health-care research and consultancy firm
• Has donated more than $24,000 since 1997 to various campaigns. With the exception of a $1,000 donation to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) in 2004, all of Chopra’s contributions have gone to Democrats. From 2007 to 2008, Chopra donated $2,750 to Obama’s presidential campaign.

29. Terrorism Czar - John Brennan

Title: Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism
Salary: $172,200
Reports to: National Security Adviser James L. Jones
Appointed: January 2009
Department that might have handled similar issues: Homeland Security

• Under Obama's plan the homeland security adviser’s office would be eliminated, and the National Security Council would take over those duties. Brennan would be responsible for guarding against natural disasters and terrorism.
• Has called for increased integration between the Departments of Commerce, State and Defense
• Graduated from Fordham University in 1977 after a year of intensive Arabic and Middle Eastern studies in Cairo. Earned his J.D. from the University of Texas at Austin before joining the CIA as an intelligence director in 1980.
• Is a CIA veteran and fluent Arabic speaker
• Was CIA deputy executive director (2001 to 2003) and National Counter-Terrorism Center, Chair (2004 to 2005)
• Worked at Analysis Corp, (2005 to 2008);
• Staunch supporter of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Program; defended the use of extraordinary rendition, saying it is “an absolutely vital tool.”

30. Urban Affairs Czar - Adolfo Carrion Jr.

Title: White House Director of Urban Affairs
Salary: $158,500
Reports to: President Obama
Appointed: February 2009
Department that might have handled similar issues: Housing and Urban Development

• Job entails coordinating transportation and housing initiatives, as well as serving as a conduit for federal aid to economically hard-hit cities.
• Has undergraduate degree in world religions from Kings College; became an associate pastor at a Bronx church; earned his master’s degree in urban planning from Hunter College
• Was Bronx Borough President (2001-2009); President of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (since 2007); City Council member (1998 to 2000)
• Many reporters say he has higher ambitions and will probably run for New York City mayor in the next ten years.
• Was an active campaigner for Obama, travelling across the country to speak on his behalf. He focused particularly on states with large Hispanic populations.
• The NY Daily News reported numerous developers made tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations to Carrión around the same time he was considering approving their projects in the Bronx.

31. Weapons Czar - Ashton Carter

Title: Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics
Salary: unknown
Reports to: Defense Secretary Robert Gates
Appointed: April 2009
Confirmed by Senate: April 23, 2009
Department that might have handled similar issues: Defense

• Will coordinate the Pentagon's acquisitions, technology and logistics for weapons.
• Will oversee a weapons-buying system that Obama has placed at the top of his list of federal programs he wants to fix and will be asked to quickly weigh in on difficult decisions concerning at least 10 major defense programs, while also instantly dissecting the procurement system’s ailments so he can advise the administration on its Pentagon acquisition reform agenda
• Is a physicist and Harvard academic whose only previous Pentagon stint was in a mid-level policy post from 1993 until 1996 under the Clinton administration
• Graduated from Yale summa cum laude; studied at Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar and earned a doctorate in theoretical physics.
• Chair of Harvard’s International Relations, Science & Security Area International Security Program within the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy (1993 to 1996); Director of the Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School (early 1990s)
• Has donated primarily to Democratic politicians since 2000. He donated $6,900 to then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in 2007 and 2008. He gave the same amount to then Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) during that same span.

32. WMD Policy Czar - Gary Samore

Title: White House Coordinator for Weapons of Mass Destruction, Security and Arms Control
Salary: unknown
Reports to: National Security Advisor Gen. James L. Jones
Appointed: January 2009
Department or agency that might have handled similar issues: NSC; Defense; State

• Will coordinate issues related to weapons of mass destruction across the government. His portfolio includes proliferation, nuclear and conventional arms control, threat reduction, and terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction.
• Position sits within the National Security Council.
• Is a veteran arms control negotiator.
• B.A. in sociology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and his PhD in government from Harvard University in 1984.
• After brief stints with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the RAND Corporation, joined the State Department during the Reagan administration in 1987. Held several positions there, including director of the Office of Regional Non-proliferation Affairs; special assistant to the Ambassador-at-Large for Non-proliferation and Nuclear Energy Policy; and deputy to Ambassador-at-Large for Korean Affairs Robert Gallucci. Helped to negotiate the 1994 U.S.-North Korea Framework Treaty
• Joined the Clinton administration’s National Security Council in 1995 as an adviser on nonproliferation. Coordinated U.S. policy on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
• Was Director, Council on Foreign Relations (2006 to 2009); Vice President for Global Security and Sustainability, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (2005); Researcher, International Institute of Strategic Studies (2001 to 2005)

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