Criminal prosecutions likely against U.S. governors Scott Walker and Chris Christie

Reblogged from The Secular Jurist:

By Robert A. Vella

As we have detailed many times on this blog, corruption is rampant in American politics and has been getting progressively worse since the U.S. Supreme Court unleashed torrents of special interest money with its Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions in 2010 and 2014.  The problem has gotten so bad that some politicians are no longer using rhetorical pretenses to conceal this “pay-to-play” system which enables quid pro quo exchanges between public officials and their financial benefactors.

During his second inaugural speech in January, New Jersey governor Chris Christie had this to say about the purpose of government:

“I will not let up. I will insist we work together,” he said. “And I will make this government truly work for those who pay for it.” [emphasis added]

In 2011, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker – who survived a recall election the following year – discussed conspiratorial plans to destroy the union-backed labor movement in his state with a journalist impersonating himself as the radical right-wing billionaire David Koch (see:  Scott Walker Gets Punked By Journalist Pretending To Be David Koch).

Fortunately, some level of institutional justice remains in America.  It appears now that these two embattled governors will face criminal prosecutions in the coming months.

From PoliticusUSAProsecutors Drop The Hammer On Scott Walker and Accuse Him Of Running a Criminal Scheme:

Court documents were unsealed today in Wisconsin that reveal prosecutors alleging that Scott Walker, the state’s Republican Governor, was at the center of a “criminal scheme” to illegally coordinate fundraising among conservative groups – including Karl Rove – during 2011 and 2012.

* * * * *

Walker has not been formally charged yet, as federal Judge Rudolph Randa has temporarily put the John Doe investigation on hold, but it looking more and more like it is only a matter of time until the hammer falls and corrupt reign of Scott Walker comes to an end in Wisconsin.

From SalonReport: Prosecutor zeroing-in on Chris Christie:

Esquire reports that [U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Paul] Fishman is, to some degree, faced with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to choosing which charges to level against Christie allies and potentially the governor himself. “Christie’s Port appointees — not only [David] Samson, but former [Port Authority] Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni and his oddball sidekick David Wildstein — all face near-certain indictment and are being pressed to hand up Christie,” Esquire claims.

In regard to Samson, a Christie mentor and former attorney general of the state, one source tells Esquire that the septuagenarian — who reportedly has Parkinson’s disease — “got sloppy, arrogant, and greedy” during his time as Port Authority chairman, awarding contracts to various firms with ties to his legal practice. “Samson will want a deal,” the source tells Esquire. “This way, he’d get one or two years. He’d have a future on the other side. He won’t want to die in jail.”

Corporate Greed Is Making Us Sick

Digger666 originally reblogged this from creators.com

It’s difficult to think of many observers of the US domestic scene for whom I have more respect or a higher regard than Jim Hightower.

In regards to this excellent piece, it might be worth noting all of the mega corporations mentioned, while it’s true they have much to explain about their corporate behaviour, still manage to do business quite happily and profitably in the UK, where their workers benefit from statutory sick pay benefits.

But let’s look at Hightower’s take on the consequences of the lack of statutory sick pay and what happens when people try to remedy this situation democratically…

The failure of our corporate and political leaders to make sure every worker gets good health care is causing some unpleasant consequences — like widespread stomach flu.

Ill workers often spread illness, because millions of employees who deal directly with the public are not covered by paid sick leave policies. So, when they come down with something like the stomach flu, they tend to drag themselves to work, rather than going to bed until they recover, since staying home means a loss of pay — or even the loss of their jobs.

Low-wage workers in the restaurant industry are particularly vulnerable and, since they handle food, particularly threatening. Nearly 80 percent of America’s food service workers receive no paid sick leave, and researchers have found that about half of them go to work ill because they fear losing their jobs if they don’t. As a result, a study by the Centers for Disease Control finds that ill workers are causing up to 80 percent of America’s stomach flu outbreaks, which is one reason CDC has declared our country’s lack of paid sick leave to be a major public health threat.

You’d think the industry itself would be horrified enough by this endangerment of its customers that it would take the obvious curative step of providing the leave. But au contraire, amigos, such huge and hugely profitable chains as McDonald’s, Red Lobster and Taco Bell not only fail to provide such commonsense care for their employees, but also have lobbied furiously against city and state efforts to require paid sick days.

Ironically, the top corporate executives of these chains (who are not involved in preparing or serving food to the public) are protected with full sick leave policies. For them to deny it to workers is idiotic, dangerously shortsighted — and even more sickening than stomach flu.

But what about our lawmakers? Where’s the leadership we need on this basic issue of fairness and public health? To paraphrase an old bumper sticker: “When the people lead, leaders will follow. Or not.”

Not when the “leaders” are in the pocket of corporate interests that don’t like where the people are leading. Take Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who never met a corporate pocket too grungy to climb into.

This story starts in 2008, when the people of Milwaukee took the lead on the obvious need for a program allowing employees to earn a few days of paid sick leave each year, to be used if they fall ill or must care for a sick family member. Seven out of 10 Milwaukee voters approved that measure in a citywide referendum.

Corporate interests, however, sued to stall the people’s will, tying the sick leave provision up in court until 2011. By then, the corporations had put up big bucks to put Walker into the governorship — and right into their pocket. Sure enough, he dutifully nullified the Milwaukee vote by passing a “state pre-emption” law, autocratically banning local governments from requiring sick leave benefits for employees.

Just three months later, Walker’s pre-emption ploy was the star at a meeting of ALEC, the corporate front group that brings state legislators into secret sessions with CEOs and lobbyists. There, legislators are handed model laws to benefit corporations — then sent home to pass them. At a session overseen by Taco Bell, attendees got copies of Walker’s no-paid-sick-leave edict, along with a how-to-pass-it lecture by the National Restaurant Association. “Go forth, and pre-empt local democracy!” was the message.

And, lo, they did. Bills summarily prohibiting local governments from passing paid-sick-leave ordinances are being considered in at least 12 states this year, and Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Kansas, Mississippi and Tennessee have already passed theirs.

Florida’s process was especially ugly. Organize now, a coalition of voters in Orlando, had obtained 50,000 signatures to put a sick leave referendum on last November’s ballot. But, pressured by the hugely profitable Disney World empire, county commissioners arbitrarily removed it from the ballot.

The scrappy coalition, however, took ’em to court — and won, getting the referendum rescheduled for a 2014 vote. Disney & Gang scuttled off to Tallahassee this year to conspire with Gov. Rick Snyder and GOP legislative leaders. Quicker than a bullet leaves a gun, those corporate-hugging politicos obligingly delivered a “kill shot” to Orlando voters by enacting a Walkeresque state usurpation of local authority.

By spreading Walker’s autocratic nastiness from state to state, money-grubbing low-wage profiteers are literally spreading illness all across our land.