It's hardly breaking news at this point, but the GOP and its politicians now represent little more than a complete culture of corruption from top (Donald Trump) to bottom (find a state, pick an elected Republican). Among the tiny sampling of new stories covered on today's BradCast which bear that out. [Audio link to full show is posted below]...
- The EPA's Office of Inspector General finds that disgraced former EPA chief Scott Pruitt owes tax-payers at least $124,000 for improper first-class flights and fancy hotels from during just 10 months of his reign before he was ultimately forced to resign. That, among nearly $1 million misappropriated for unnecessary, improperly approved security personnel and staff travel. The agency says it has no intention of asking Pruitt, who is now working for coal companies, to repay the money, of course;
- But, since a fish rots from the head down, it's only appropriate to note that Donald Trump, on Wednesday evening, pardoned his billionaire pal and business partner, Conrad Black, who spent three years in jail on fraud and obstruction of justice charges after bilking millions from investors in his media company. But, he then said nice things about Trump in 2015 and has since written a book that fawns over the President titled Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other. So, he's now officially pardoned by the President! Trump also pardoned Patrick Nolan, a former GOP leader of the California state assembly yesterday. Nolan was convicted on federal racketeering charges, but he recently criticized the Mueller investigation on behalf of the American Conservative Union, where he now works, so he gets a pardon too!;
- The Republican Culture of Corruption hardly ends in D.C., however. On Tuesday, Georgia's newly elected Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck was indicted on 38 felony counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering. Before reportedly being elected on Georgia's 100 percent unverifiable voting systems last November, Beck allegedly used a fraudulent scheme to embezzle money from a state-run insurance association he ran through several private companies he ran and then to the Georgia Christian Coalition. He has refused to resign but, on Thursday, the state's new (and similarly corrupt) Republican Governor Brian Kemp "suspended" him, whatever that means, while Beck fights the 38-count federal indictment;
- In Michigan on Wednesday, state Rep. Larry Inman was indicted on charges of attempted extortion, soliciting a bribe and lying to the FBI. (Trump better have plenty of ink in his pardon pen!) According to text messages included in the indictment, the GOP super-genius texted a union rep for contributions in exchange for his and his colleagues votes against a measure that would repeal a law requiring union wages, along with the text message: "We never had this discussion";
- But, of course, there are dirty Dems as well. But Republicans are so corrupt these days, they are even letting THEM off the hook...for some odd reason. A high-profile law firm in Boston was found by Federal Elections Commission staff investigators to have unlawfully reimbursed its attorneys for campaign contributions to Democrats to the tune of more than a million dollars in donations. The FEC lawyers recommended a further investigation to the FEC Commissioners, but they voted 2 to 2 on party lines to end the case without any further probe. You'll be shocked to learn the 2 Republicans on the Commission voted AGAINST the further probe, while the Democrat and Independent appointees both voted in favor of it. FEC Chair Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, the lone Democratic appointee, told the Boston Globe: "In every case, it doesn't matter whether Democrats or Republicans are subject of the complaint, the Democrats want to enforce the law and the Republicans don't. It's an ideological opposition to enforcing the law." That sounds about right. It's a Republican Culture of Corruption;
- Next, a bit of a follow-up to our interview yesterday with 30-year Leon County, Florida Election Supervisor Ion Sancho, after news broke this week that the election systems of two Florida counties were said to have been penetrated by Russian Intelligence prior to the 2016 Presidential election, according to the FBI. The Bureau is currently forbidding state officials, and now members of Congress, from informing the public about which counties those are and if, in fact, there are more of them. Florida's U.S. House delegation is hopping mad about it all, as was Sancho yesterday. It should also be noted here that Florida's Republican Sen. Marco Rubio was told about much of this last year, as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, but said nothing even as his fellow Senator from Florida, Democrat Bill Nelson, also then an Intel Committee member, was excoriated before last year's election for noting publicly that Russia had penetrated the Sunshine State's electoral system. He was right. But Rubio said nothing as Nelson was portrayed as an insane old conspiracist. In the bargain, Nelson ended up narrowly losing (according to FL's unverified results) to Rick Scott, the state's then Republican Governor;
- All of this mess, at least, has resulted in at least a few Republican and Democratic officials suddenly becoming alarmed about the dangers posed by vulnerable computerized voter registration and tabulation systems that cannot be overseen by the public to assure they have not been manipulated by hackers and have reported election results as per the voters' intent. George W. Bush's former cybersecurity czar Richard Clarke appeared on yesterday's Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell to make that case, and to warn about the dangers of electoral manipulation from foreign sources that awaits in 2020. We share a clip and note that it's not only foreign sources such as Russia we must be concerned about. But, hey, after more than 15 years of our yelling and screaming about exactly these issues, at least a few elected officials and folks in the corporate media are finally beginning to notice. A little. Whether they have any clue regarding what to do about it is a separate matter all together. So, we'll keep shouting;
- Oh, and here's the full video from NY's Democratic Mayor Bill DeBlasio, announcing that he too is now running for President, which we didn't have time to play on today's show!
- Finally Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with disturbing news following last year's historic deadly fires in California, new evidence that our climate crisis is worsening (and that Exxon knew precisely about where we'd be today decades ago), and some other "impossible" news worth tuning in for...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)