Tag Archives: Cronyism

D.C. Insiders: Team Clinton to Raise Over $2.5 Billion

Is Hillary Clinton the new queen of cronyism? A D.C. insider told BenSwann.com that the GOP nominee would have to face Team Clinton with a $2 billion-plus war chest. Who can stop her?

BenSwann.com’s Joshua Cook asked a national political consultant about his thoughts on the massive amounts of money going to Team Clinton from mainly big corporate donors.

“There is a point of diminished returns with money,” he said. He felt that, so far, Sen. Ted Cruz was raising enough money from smaller donors to be competitive. 

Another D.C. insider told Cook that Donald Trump could be a major player who has the money and is making his rounds in key states like South Carolina.

Though a $2 Billion war chest is intimidating, it may reach a saturation level. Elections isn’t necessarily won on TV,  it’s won on the ground in grassroots.

As reported previously by BenSwann.comSenator Rand Paul took aim at Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation’s mega millions in donated foreign money.

“The focus of conservative candidates shouldn’t be on Clinton, it should be on attacking Jeb Bush,” a S.C. political operative told Cook. “Until Bush is out of the way, Conservatives do not stand a chance. He has that kind of money. Karl Rove is raising tons of money.”

 

Ron Paul Attacks Sheldon Adelson for Cronyism

Former Representative Ron Paul wants billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson to stop using his congressional clout to push a ban on internet gambling.

“It is an open secret, at least inside the Beltway, that this legislation is being considered as a favor to billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson,” wrote Paul in an editorial. “Mr. Adelson, who is perhaps best known for using his enormous wealth to advance a pro-war foreign policy, is now using his political influence to turn his online competitors into criminals.”

Earlier in the year, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Representative Jason Chaffetz introduced a bill that would essential rewrite parts of the 1961 Wire Act to limit “any transmission over the Internet carried interstate or in foreign commerce,” which would essentially ban certain kinds of betting operations.

Supports of the measure deny that Adelson, and his money, had anything to do with the proposed rewrite, but Paul disagrees.

“Supporters of an Internet gambling ban publicly deny they are motivated by a desire to curry favor with a wealthy donor,” Paul wrote. “Instead, they give a number of high-minded reasons for wanting to ban this activity. Some claim that legalizing online gambling will enrich criminals and even terrorists!”

Paul added: “But criminalizing online casinos will not eliminate the demand for online casinos. Instead, passage of this legislation will likely guarantee that the online gambling market is controlled by criminals. Thus, it is those who support outlawing online gambling who may be aiding criminals and terrorists.”

Adelson, who owns casinos all over the world, also started the organization the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling.

Read Paul’s entire editorial here.

 
BenSwann.com covered this issue earlier this year. Check out the video below.

UPDATE – End Big Beer Cronyism: Regulation Hinders S.C. Craft Brewing Industry

Update: Today S.C. lawmakers passed a bill lifting the cap of brewpub production limits. Let’s see if Governor signs it into law. State senator Tom Davis issued this update on his Facebook page today:

As reported by Ben Swann, the local micro brewery business is booming across the Nation and “Big Beer” corporations don’t like it. Ben Swann reported how these beer lobbyists are using the government to eliminate their competition in Florida but it’s happening throughout the U.S., including South Carolina.

Regulation hinders the fledgling start-ups in South Carolina. Many are locating to North Carolina where the regulations are more lax. But S.C. micro breweries are appealing to the state government to lessen brewery regulations.

Currently there is a glimpse of hope for these breweries in the “Stone Bill, ” a bill designed to attract Stone Brewing Co., the 10th largest in the Nation.

The law would allow brewpubs to brew beer and serve it along with food from 2,000 barrels a year to 500,000 barrels a year.

According to the Greenville News, passing the bill would give Stone the ability to both produce a large amount of beer and open an expansive restaurant, billing the location as a tourist destination much like its home in Escondido, California.

So what’s the problem? Well, the South Carolina Brewers Association doesn’t like it.

“Amending brewpub laws would create another exception to the state’s beer regulations, opening the door for erosion of the three-tier system used in South Carolina,” said Brook Bristow, a lawyer who represents the South Carolina Brewers Association.

What is the three-tier system?

The three-tier system requires producers to sell their beer through wholesalers. Currently, brewery laws allow a brewery to make and distribute unlimited quantities but to serve only small amounts on site.

According to the Charleston Regional Business Journal, local breweries like Charleston based Coast Brewing Co. says the current law hurts their ability to attract visitors and make secondary income.

Coast Brewing Co’s owners David Merritt and Jaime Tenny say that changing this law could provide them additional income and spread the word about their label, they said. And eventually, if enough microbreweries follow suit, they contend it could create a major tourism boon for the area.

“If you want a vibrant beer business in South Carolina, they are going to have to change some laws,” Merritt said.

Harry Reid Labels Bundy Supporters “Domestic Terrorists” Amidst Questions of Cronyism & Complicity in Bundy Ranch Seige

Las Vegas, Nev., April 18, 2014- In a sensationalist move Senator Harry Reid has labeled supporters of Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy “domestic terrorists” during an event held in Las Vegas on Thursday.

 While speaking at the ‘Hashtags & Headlines’ event, Reid called Bundy supporters:

“Nothing more than domestic terrorists” saying,

“I repeat: what happened there was domestic terrorism.”

He accused the Bundy supporters of inciting violence claiming, “There were hundreds, hundreds of people from around the country that came there,” adding, “They had sniper rifles in the freeway. They had weapons, automatic weapons. They had children lined up. They wanted to make sure they got hurt first … What if others tried the same thing?”

These claims were made in reference to the standoff, reported on by us last week, in Clarke County, Nevada at the Bundy Ranch, in which the feds brought in over 200 armed agents with sniper teams to confiscate cattle, allegedly due to unpaid grazing fees. Perhaps Senator Reid had forgotten that the only violence that commenced during the standoff was when BLM agents tazed Bundy supporters, threw a 57-year-old woman recovering from cancer to the ground, and attempted to allow a dog to attack a pregnant woman.

The mischaracterization of the Bundy supporters as “domestic terrorists” is the continuation of a narrative that has been forwarded by the federal government for a number of years. First there is the MIAC report, which claimed that potential terrorists include people who own gold, Ron Paul supporters, libertarians, and even people who fly the U.S. flag. Then in 2012 there was a leaked Homeland Security study that claimed Americans who are “reverent of individual liberty,” and “suspicious of centralized federal authority” are possible “extreme right-wing” terrorists.

Reid has promised that the BLM fight with the Bundy family is “not over.” Perhaps his possible complicity in the BLM siege that has been reported extensively, questions of cronyism, as his longtime senior advisor Neil Kornze was confirmed by the Senate last Tuesday as the Director of the BLM, along with his involvement in the Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project, which is about 35 miles from the Bundy homestead in Bunkerville, Nevada, is causing him consternation.

Many news outlets have attempted to mitigate the situation by claiming the Chinese owned ENN solar deal, brokered by Reid’s son Rory, was shelved, thus laying the issue to rest. This is disingenuous to the facts, as the BLM has attempted to cover up by deleting documents from its website that shed light on the agency’s “Regional Mitigation Strategy for the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone.”

In a BLM press release on March 14, it was announced that “The BLM’s current action builds on the Western Solar Energy Plan, a two-year planning effort conducted on behalf of the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Energy to expand domestic energy production and spur development of solar energy on public lands in six western states,” adding, “The Western Solar Energy Plan provides a blueprint for utility-scale solar energy permitting in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah by establishing Solar Energy Zones with access to existing or planned transmission, incentives for development within those Solar Energy Zones, and a process through which to consider additional Solar Energy Zones and solar projects.” It goes on to state, “The Regional Mitigation Strategy for the Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone is the first of several pilot plans to be developed by the BLM.”

Although the current Moapa Solar Project is 35 miles away, the BLM, acting under Sen. Reid’s interests, want Bundy off the 600,000 acre Gold Butte area so they can use the land for future projects. As more facts come to light, it sounds less like the Bundy supporters are “domestic terrorists,” and are much more readily described as concerned citizens waging a protest against a Senator’s corrupt interests and crony capitalism.

 

Follow Jay on Facebook and on Twitter @SirMetropolis

Truth in Media: Vaccine Court and Autism

The claims that autism is caused by vaccines have been completely disproven, right? We have all heard that claim, maybe most famously by actress and model Jenny McCarthy.

But is the claim untrue? What if I told you that while HHS says there is no link between autism and vaccinations, the federal government has quietly awarded families of autistic children damages as a result of vaccine injuries?

The first step toward truth is to be informed.

The story we are talking about today is something that just doesn’t get attention from the mainstream media, and on the rare occasion when it does, the story is predictable. Scandal surrounding a doctor who claims autism and vaccines are linked. The bizarre parents who believe that their child has autism because of a vaccine, a claim clearly not based in science.

But is there more to this story than what the media has told you?

The real story behind vaccines begins in 1986.

That is because it was in 1986 when the U.S. Congress created National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act. Now that alone is worthy of a story, because what most Americans don’t know is that a family who has child injured by a vaccine, cannot simply sue the vaccine maker. Under this 1986 law, Congress took that power away from families and instead created a “vaccine court” if you will.

So what is the vaccine court? It is a Federal Claim’s court that deals specifically with vaccine cases where families can go for injury compensation if their child is injured by a vaccine.
The official name, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (“VICP”). Of course, this program is seen as necessary because virtually every child who attends a pre-school, daycare or public or private school is required to be vaccinated.

So what’s the problem?

In 1986 when the VICP was first created vaccine makers were protected from lawsuit by the public. The VICP insulates vaccine manufacturers from liability and requires that petitioners bring their petitions solely against HHS. They may not sue manufacturers or healthcare practitioners. The rationale for this industry and professional protection was to ensure a stable childhood vaccine supply and to keep prices affordable.

The 1986 Law also permits the vaccine makers the right to not disclose known risks
to parents or guardians of those being vaccinated. Based on something called the “learned intermediary” doctrine, manufacturers bear no liability for giving, or failing to give, accurate or complete information to those vaccinated.

In exchange for being subject to the vaccine court, families of those injured would be compensated through an administrative process based on a table of presumptive vaccine injuries.

At its outset, 90% of claims were “on table.” But almost 30 years later, things are very different. Today, the vaccine schedule, meaning the list of vaccines offered to children has tripled, but the table of injuries has become much more restrictive, forcing 90% of petitioners into “off-table” litigation. And it gets worse. Because for families who believe that their children have been injured by vaccines, there are enormous roadblocks to overcome when seeking compensation for those injuries.

Mark Blaxill is the father of an autistic child. A child who he says has been injured by vaccines. Blaxill is part of a group called the Canary Party, a coalition of parents who are pushing for changes to the system through political means.

Blaxill: The Canary Party is a social movement that’s created to stand up for the victims of medical injuries, environmental toxins, industrial foods, the things that care causing these new health crises and epidemics that we are seeing.

Swann: Let’s talk about this issue of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program because most Americans, I would guess have no idea that this even exists.

Blaxill: Well, the thing that people should know about the VICP is that it is unlike any other product liability circumstance that any of us deal with on a regular basis. In 1986, Congress passed a law that gave a blanket exemption to pharmaceutical companies from any liability at all for any injury that their products, in this case vaccines, may cause to consumers and especially to children and infants. And what that did, was that put in place a liability shield on the pharmaceutical industry unlike any other pharmaceutical product categories so that if anything wrong happens to any recipient of the vaccine, what the family has to do is to, instead of just going to regular civil court with all the normal checks and balances and procedures and protections we see in the American legal system, they are forced to petition of government to recognize the injury to their child and to decide on whether or not they deserve an compensation.

So for parents, like Blaxill, why does he believe the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has failed?

That goes back to 2002 when nearly five thousand families filed petitions with the VICP claiming that vaccines had caused their children’s neurological disorder called “autism.”

According to the Pace Law Review, in an unprecedented proceeding, the VICP created and conducted the Omnibus Autism Proceeding that concluded in 2010. That means instead of taking the cases one at at time, they consolidated hearings for all these families. in the end, the VICP dismissed all the “test case” claims of vaccine-induced autism.

Blaxill: The original intent of the VICP was to provide a no fault, generous, rapid program of compensating victims. Now what we have a is a cover up. And a situation in which the government is trying to say, these things which people think they have observed, not only are we going to discount it, we are going to treat it with prejudice. We are going to say…

Swann: That this person is trying to get over on the system, that they are gaming the system.

Blaxill: That they are gaming the system, they are trying to blame, they are trying to get money from the government and that’s just wrong.

But there is more… A Review of Compensated Cases of Vaccine-Induced Brain Injury finds that The VICP has compensated approximately 2,500 claims of vaccine injury since the inception of the program in 1986.

Since that time, despite the official ruling that there is no link between vaccines and autism, there have been at least 83 cases of autism among those compensated for vaccine-induced brain damage.

Swann: The last thing that I would ask you is that in terms of outcomes what are you all hoping for? Because this is really a fight for other families, a fight for an entire generation of Americans, is it not?

Blaxill: We are asking for justice because you have many, many injured children and families that are struggling and they deserve support. We’re asking for awareness of this crisis in this health system. We have the worst outcomes in the entire industrial world here in America. We have the highest cost healthcare system, the most interventionist healthcare system in terms of medication and vaccination. We have a dramatic disfunction and we need awareness of that, that we have a problem and we need to shine a light on that. And then we need change. We need fundamental renovation of our way of dealing with parental choice, with the rights of consumers, authority in the healthcare system. Who gets to choose and then we need to find ways to treat and heal all those injured children and now adults who are suffering from this system.

What you need to know

Is that on the Department of Health and Human services website is this statement:

“HHS has never concluded in any case that autism was caused by vaccination.”

Parents point out that while number and use of vaccines is skyrocketing, the number of autism cases is skyrocketing as well. But remember, correlation does not equal causation. Agencies like HHS will say that doctors and medical professionals are just better at recognizing autism than they used to be and that may be true. But as one parent told me, while public statements have been made that there is no research supporting the assertion that vaccines can cause autism, families point to dozens of studies that do find a link between vaccines and autism that public health officials do not share with the public. And that families would like to present in a civil court, before a jury, which believe is their right under the Constitution.

Exclusive: Hospitals Using DHEC to Shut Down Natural Birth Centers in SC – UPDATE

 See update below…

Hospitals are losing millions to natural birth centers and want to use government regulation to eliminate their competition.  According to an employee of a Fort Mill center, Obstetricians from Rock Hill sent an email to a S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) board member in order to shut down the center.

They succeeded. In September, the license for a Fort Mill birth center was suspended pending an investigation by DHEC.

According to the Charlotte Observer, the center released a statement saying it is appealing the suspension, which stemmed from “a birth with a bad outcome.”

Benswann.com’s Joshua Cook reached out to one of the midwives who works at the center to get more details.

Christine Struther from Carolina Community Maternity Center states, “we been suspended since September 2nd because of two citations. One was thrown out because they were saying that we didn’t have an agreement with EMS which we do. That wasn’t a valid citation. The other one was regarding a policy statement that we changed and got resolved.”

“So the only reason why we are still suspended is this “physician on call” statute that they are enforcing now. They are able to keep us closed. We are appealing this in court now,” said Struthers.

But this reinterpretation of the statute doesn’t effect just the Fort Mill center. DHEC now requires all birth centers throughout the state to be supervised by physicians or be suspended.

“South Carolina has over 80 percent of physicians working for hospitals already and cannot work for a birth center even if they want to,” said Struthers.  “DHEC is not giving birth centers time to comply with this new interpretation of the law, and Birth centers are now being told that they have 15 days to comply or they will be shut down.”

Lesley Rathbun, owner and director of the Charleston Birth Place, told Charleston City Paper that “the state agency is reinterpreting its regulations for birth centers and could end up shutting down non-hospital birthplaces across the state.”

“We’re really concerned about what’s going to happen to the consumers,” says Rathbun. “They do about 30 births a month here, and similar numbers in the other birth centers,” Lenehan says. “These people, as you can see, are looking for a really different product than they’re going to get in the hospital, and they’re not going to be able to get that elsewhere. This is safe, it’s cost-effective, and it’s what the customers desire. So what’s going to happen to all these mothers who are due in three weeks?”

Joshua Cook asked Struthers why expecting mother choose to deliver at natural birth centers?

cozy room“Our birth center is beautiful and people love it. I had people literally come into a tour and cry because they want to be here because it’s that nice. They get to be with the same person. If I’m your client, I’m with you the whole time,” said Struthers.

Citizens are outraged that they may lose the freedom to choose where to birth their children because of crony capitalism. 

A licensed Midwife, Brandy Brandfass states,H. 3731 is nanny-state legislation at its worst. South Carolinians have historically placed great value on the freedoms we have. When we leave families without access to trained professionals, we eliminate their option to decide among varied, highly-educated maternity care providers. It is restraint of trade, and an attempt to medical monopoly.”

Struthers concurs with Brandfrass and believes that there is a financial motivator behind this audacious move to shut down birth centers. “If you go into a hospital it will cost you over $11,000, and a cesarean section is double that. In S.C. the cesarean section rate is around 34% and last year our cesarean section was about 2%  … that’s a lot of money these hospitals are losing.”

 

Struthers is encouraging people to join them in a protest this Monday, Demonstrate DHEC – Rock Hill Rally, and supporters of birth centers have created an online petition with over 2,400 signatures so far.

 

We just received this breaking new from the South Carolina Birth Coalition and from a local birth center. There will be an official press release that we will publish here.

Read the South Carolina Birth Coalition message via Facebook.

 

Obamacare Website Company Contributed to Obama Campaign

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Have you heard of CGI Federal? It’s the company that received a $678 million no-bid contract to develop the disaster that is healthcare.gov. It is also the company whose officials are now coming under scrutiny for the roll out of the Obamacare exchange web portal. But it also seems like those officials are also buddy-buddy with the Obama administration.

According to The Daily Caller, Toni Townes-Whitley, a senior vice president at CGI Federal, is a Princeton classmate of First Lady Michelle Obama. Townes-Whitley and Mrs. Obama are both members of are both members of the Association of Black Princeton Alumni.

As reported by the Washington Examiner in early October, the Department of Health and Human Services reviewed only CGI’s bid for the Obamacare account. CGI was one of 16 companies qualified under the Bush administration to provide certain tech services to the federal government. A senior vice president for the company testified this week before The House Committee on Energy and Commerce that four companies submitted bids, but did not name those companies or explain why only CGI’s bid was considered.

According to Federal Election Commission Records, Toni Townes-Whitley gave $500 in 2011 and 2012 to Obama’s reelection, and another $1,000 to the Obama Victory Fund.

The Washington Examiner reports that senior officials at CGI Federal had White House access. Before being granted the no-bid contract, CGI Federal officials attended several invitation only addresses by President Obama. White House visitor logs show that “CGI Federal President Donna Ryan visited the White House six times prior to her company being selected to do the IT design work behind the high-profile website.”

Two of the meetings attended by CGI executives were with Vivek Kundra, Obama’s chief information officer. Kundra was a key figure in Obama administration information technology initiatives across the government.

Ryan met Kundra on June 21, 2010, in the latter’s Old Executive Office Building office, according to the White House visitor logs.

In addition to the $88 million contract awarded to CGI Federal for the health-insurance exchange website, the company has received a total of $422 million in contracts related to Obamacare since the legislation was signed into law, according to Bloomberg News.

Fox News reported a number of occasions in which the company had failed to meet deadlines or experienced botched launches similar to that seen with the launch of healthcare.gov.

“In projects stretching from Canada to Hawaii, parent company CGI Group and its subsidiaries ran into complaints about its performance,” Fox reported.

“The morning I heard CGI was behind [Healthcare.gov], I said, my God, no wonder that thing doesn’t work,” said James Bagnola, a Texas-based corporate consultant who was hired by the Hawaii Department of Taxation (DOTAX) in 2008, to Fox News.

Bagnola suggested that CGI has been shrewd politically, giving to both Democrats and Republicans at both the state and federal levels. In the case of Hawaii, Bagnola said the company was able to continue to work on the DOTAX contract despite repeated complaints from management and a “corrosive” environment in which government employees felt pitted against CGI staff. This was noted in the final 2010 audit.

“I don’t have an ax to grind here, except I was just trying to do my job for this team and stop the state of Hawaii from being ripped off,” he said.

According to campaign records at OpenSecrets.com, CGI Group contributed $345,600 to federal candidates and parties — both Democratic and Republican — during the 2011-12 cycle. Some $147,000 went to the Republican Governors Association; and $35,000 to the Democratic Governors Association. The company spent $400,000 in lobbying expenditures between 2011 and 2012.