Daily Archives: July 29, 2016

New York State Department of Financial Services launches reverse-mortgage probe

The New York State Department of Financial Services has launched a wide-ranging probe into Reverse Mortgage Solutions and Champion Mortgage’s reverse-mortgage operations, following a story by The Post.

Last Sunday, The Post broke the story of a sharp uptick in foreclosure cases against New York homeowners with reverse mortgages — risky home-equity loans made to senior citizens.

Ailing Howard Beach homeowner Frederick Feil, 67, fears he’ll become homeless if he loses a foreclosure battle against Finance of America Reverse on a loan serviced by RMS. The foreclosure filing didn’t include the amount of the alleged arrears — a common omission in these cases, for which delinquent charges total on average just $10,000, legal services attorneys say.

Read on.

Former Republican Senator Norm Coleman was exposed by Wikileaks?

 We have certainly had a serious cybersecurity problems for quite some time….

Opinion: Taxpayers revolt against paying hundreds of millions of dollars for sports stadiums

Politicians could lose their jobs, as what happened in Cobb County, Georgia

If taxpayers are going to shell out hundreds of millions of dollars for stadiums without getting a say in the matter, their elected representatives should pay, too.

In Cobb County, Georgia, taxpayers watched as county officials borrowed $376 million by issuing bonds — including nearly $300 million that will be paid out of property taxes — to finance the new SunTrust Park for the Atlanta Braves. During the process, ballpark opponents were barred from speaking against the lending scheme, the Braves’ president shrouded the deal in secrecy to prevent a public vote and the Georgia Supreme Court struck down an appeal against issuing the bonds. The county also ended up fronting the Braves another $9.9 million to build a pedestrian bridge over a highway to a convention and arts center after that somehow wasn’t included in the original deal.

To cap off the whole messy affair, Cobb County quietly passed an ordinance preventing businesses or private parking lots within a half mile of SunTrust park from selling spaces for people attending stadium events. That diverts all parking revenue to the Braves under the guise of “safety.”

Keep in mind that the Braves’ current ballpark just turned 20 years old this summer. Cobb County officials and the Braves owners kept harping on Turner Field’s lack of a MARTA subway connection, modest parking and location in a “bad” neighborhood — the latter accusation providing a rather thin veil for their more unsavory motivations. However, amid all of those complaints, the people of Cobb County never expressed an overwhelming desire to pay for a new ballpark for the Braves owner — $14 billion media conglomerate Liberty Media Group LMCA, +5.81%  — or rip the Braves out of Atlanta entirely.

That became apparent July 26, when Cobb County residents voted out County Commission Chairman Tim Lee by an almost 2-to-1 margin. His opponent, Mike Boyce, ran primarily on one issue: Lee’s role in the ballpark debacle. Though Lee told Atlanta’s WSB-TV 2 that he doesn’t regret how the ballpark deal played out and just wished “folks would take time to really understand how it works,” his constituents had other ideas:

“A lot of people don’t like the way the Braves deal went down. That’s one of the reasons I’m here today because we had no say,” a voter said after Lee lost the election.

Read on.

3 Ex-Bankers in Ireland Sentenced for Fraud

But not in the U.S…

DUBLIN (AP) — Three former senior bankers were sent to prison Friday for their roles in concealing the loss of billions in deposits at the defunct Anglo Irish Bank, the biggest accounting fraud in Irish corporate history.
Judge Martin Nolan told the trio — former Anglo executives Willie McAteer and John Bowe and former Irish Life and Permanent chief executive Denis Casey — they were guilty of committing “sham transactions” designed to inflate Anglo’s deposit levels by 7.2 billion euros ($8 billion) in the Dublin bank’s 2008 earnings report.
Lawyers for the men argued that government and regulatory officials had spurred them to collude on transfers to maintain market confidence in Irish banking, but the judge said all three had chosen to employ “dishonest, deceitful and corrupt” tactics.
“I can appreciate the desperation of the moment. I can appreciate that everyone at Anglo wanted to save the bank. But saving the bank isn’t everything,” Nolan said.

Casey received a prison sentence of 2 years, 9 months. McAteer received 3 ½ years, Bowe two years. All were convicted last month of conspiracy to defraud and now have 28 days to lodge an expected appeal. All three stared at the courtroom floor during the verdict.
Casey’s bank supplied funds that Anglo falsely claimed as new customer deposits in full-year results to shareholders.

Read on.

Trump Resort in Miami Sued Over Bed Bug Bites

Ewww…

A New Jersey man has filed a lawsuit against Trump National Doral Miami after he says he was bitten by bed bugs while staying at the resort, The Palm Peach Post reports. The lawsuit says he was bitten while staying at the resort’s Jack Nicklaus building. Trump National Doral Miami is owned by the Trump Organization.

The man says the bites left “welts, lumps, spots on his face, neck, and arm.” Eric Linder, is asking for $15,000. Earlier this month, a judge ordered the Trump organization to pay nearly $300,000 in attorneys fees after a painting company claimed that the resort stiffed them of its last payment.

Read on.

Democrat lawmakers duck questions on DNC welcoming lobbying money back into the Convention

The Democratic lawmakers didn’t seem troubled by the DNC rule change at all:

At a posh event hosted by The Atlantic and paid for by the American Petroleum Institute oil lobby, Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, shrugged off concerns about the influence of special interest groups.

“I don’t know, you’ll have to ask the DNC on that,” he said in response to a question whether lifting the ban was the right move.

“Do you think that lobbyists have undue influence?” we followed up.

“I don’t know.”

“What about energy lobbyists? What about oil lobbyists?”

“What about ’em?”

“Do you think they have undue influence in the United States?”

“I think they’re just like teachers, like firemen, like everybody who contributes.”

“What about the Koch Brothers, who spent $400 million on an election?”

“You’ve gotta go talk to the Koch Brothers,” he replied, ending the conversation.

Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia offered a Willie Sutton justification for lifting the lobbying ban. “The lobbyists, that’s where the money is,” he said.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley made attacks on special interests a cornerstone of his short-lived Democratic presidential primary campaign — decrying Hillary Clinton’s “cozy relationship with Wall Street.” Just a few short months later, his concern about moneyed interests influencing the Democratic Party seem to have evaporated.

“I’m really kind of agnostic on it,” he said. “I really don’t care one way or another.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland ducked the question. “It’s above my paygrade,” he quipped.

Missouri Rep. Emanuel Cleaver said he would never have banned lobbyists like Obama did in the first place. “I wouldn’t have done it,” he said. “It’s not a matter of wrong or right. It’s a matter of making sure we have the resources to put on a convention.”

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, the chair of the DNC’s Host Committee, has refused to disclose donors to that committee until 60 days after the convention.

In an interview with The Intercept, Rendell insisted there was nothing wrong with keeping the committee’s donors secret until just a few weeks before the election, and he downplayed the influence of big donors. “I never made one decision where I was influenced by a campaign contribution,” he said.

“So why are lobbyists giving money to the DNC now again,” we asked. “Are they doing it just because they have extra money to give?”

“They want access,” he acknowledged.

Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan avoided the question. “At this point I want to focus on the basic issues. I’m in favor of getting money more and more out of politics,” he said. When we followed up by asking whether lobbyists should be able to fundraise for the DNC, he walked away.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California stopped to talk to us, but after hearing the subject, briskly walked away as a fleet of staffers blocked off access to her.

A staffer for Rep. Adam Schiff of California asked the subject of our interview question. She then informed her boss, who told her, “I don’t want to talk about that.”

Hillary Clinton Will Be Good for Business, Predicts Chamber of Commerce Lobbyist

Chamber head Tom Donohue has also predicted that Clinton would support the TPP after the election.

And that quote by Tom Donohue will be a test for Clinton should she become President as TPP has been a major platform and issue among the Sanders’ supporters and other activists…

 

The Intercept:

WHEN JENNIFER PIEROTTI Lim strode up to the podium on the final day of the Democratic National Convention, she was identified as the co-founder of Republican Women for Hillary, a group of conservative activists supporting Hillary Clinton.

Lim focused her brief comments on Donald Trump’s history of sexist comments, telling the audience that “Trump’s loathsome comments about women and our appearances are too many to list and too crass to repeat.”

But what was even more significant is her day job as a top lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; she’s the Chamber’s director of health policy.

It was the latest indication that the U.S. big-business community may be preparing to back Hillary Clinton, which would be a truly tectonic shift.