This Google Maps street view shows the condo building where bank chairman Darryl L. Woods bought a condo using TARP money.
The chairman of a small bank in Missouri entered a guilty plea on Tuesday to lying about how he used bailout money given to banks during the 2008 economic crisis. Rather than using the federal funds to stabilize his bank,the Mainstreet Bank, court records say, the chairman spent about a third of the money on an oceanfront condo in Florida.
Darryl Layne Woods, 48, of Columbia, Mo., could be sentenced up to a year in prison, may also have to pay a $100,000 fine, and is barred from future work in the financial services industry. Lying to federal officials about how the money was spent is a misdemeanor crime.
“At a time when many other Americans were losing their homes, he was siphoning off public funds to buy a luxury vacation condo in Florida,” Tammy Dickinson, U.S. Attorney for the Western District, said in a statement. “These federal funds were intended to help stabilize the economy during a fiscal crisis. Instead, this disgraced business leader took advantage of the situation to benefit himself and other bank executives, then lied to federal investigators in an attempt to hide his scheme.”
Court records say that Woods, the chairman of Mainstreet Bank in Ashland, Mo., had located the Fort Myers, Fla. condo and started negotiating on a price between July 2007 and Sept. 2008.
Several months later, in November 2008, the bank’s holding company, Calvert Financial Corporation, which Woods also headed, applied for TARP money. The bank received $1.04 million.
That winter, on February 2, 2009, Woods closed on the condo, paying $381,500 that he had transferred from the bank.
One week later, when TARP administrators asked how he had spent the more than $1 million, he failed to disclose that he had bought a luxury condo for himself and other executives.
A sentencing date for Woods has not been scheduled.
The Pentagon announced on Friday that 1.4 million U.S. troops will be kept on the job but won't be paid if the government closes. Nearly half of the Defense Department's 800,000 strong civilian workforce will be placed on unpaid leave if Congress fails to pass a new budget by the fiscal close Monday. It would also delay death benefit payments to family members of any casualties that occur during the shutdown. A proposed budget bill has cleared the Senate, but awaits a vote in the House.
Defense officials outlined how the military would operate under a shutdown as a deeply divided Congress argued over rival spending bills, with the clock ticking on the Monday deadline.
"Military personnel will not be paid until such time as Congress makes appropriated funds available to compensate them for this period of service," Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter wrote in a memo describing contingency plans for a shutdown.
The prospect of military service members and civilian employees having to temporarily forego pay due to acrimony in Congress could exact a high political price for some lawmakers, who often go to great lengths to cultivate the support of soldiers and workers at military bases.
With half of all civilian workers facing unpaid leave under a shutdown, the remaining 400,000 civilian employees would continue to work in areas deemed essential but they too would not be paid during the "lapse," Hale said.
There also was a "ghoulish" provision under the law that will delay any payments of death benefits to military families who lose loved ones during the government shutdown, Hale said.
However, employees involved in transporting the remains of war dead and arranging funeral services for fallen troops would continue their work.
Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued the following statement today after Defense Department officials outlined steps the department would be required to take in the event of a government shutdown:
“A shutdown would require our troops to go into combat while receiving only an IOU, put hundreds of thousands of DoD civilians on furlough without pay, and could even delay death benefits to the families of troops who fall in combat. It’s unconscionable that some members of Congress would place their own policy preferences ahead of the needs of our troops and their families. Our military and the American people deserve better. I urge Speaker Boehner to reject the legislative anarchy that House Republicans are pursuing, bring the Senate-passed continuing resolution to the floor of the House, send it to the president for his signature and end the threat of a shutdown.”
From PBS, "The Revisionaries" is an important look at how a few right wing religious fanatics duped a state into teaching kids in public schools that evolution and creationism in science class, and that students need to be taught about the importance of the "Heritage Foundation" in history textbooks.
Once every decade, the highly politicized Texas State Board of Education rewrites the teaching and textbook standards for its nearly five million schoolchildren. When an unabashed creationist seeks re-election as chairman, the theory of evolution and U.S. history are caught in the crosshairs, which could impact the classroom curricula not only of Texas, but also of the nation as a whole.
This is a must see in order to keep it from happening in other states.
In Austin, Texas, 15 people influence what is taught to the next generation of American children. Once every decade, the highly politicized Texas State Board of Education rewrites the teaching and textbook standards for its nearly five million schoolchildren. And when it comes to textbooks, what happens in Texas affects the nation as a whole. Texas is one of the nation's largest textbook markets because it is one of the few where the state decides what books schools can buy rather than leaving it up to local districts, which means publishers that get their books approved can count on millions of dollars in sales. Further, publishers craft their standard textbooks based on the requirements of the biggest buyers. As a result, the Texas board has the power to shape the textbooks that children around the country read for years to come.
Don McLeroy, a dentist, Sunday school teacher, and avowed young-earth creationist, leads the Religious Right charge. After briefly serving on his local school board, McLeroy was elected to the Texas State Board of Education and later appointed chairman. During his time on the board, McLeroy has overseen the adoption of new science and history curriculum standards, drawing national attention and placing Texas on the front line of the so-called “culture wars.”
In his last term, McLeroy, aided by Cynthia Dunbar, an attorney from Houston and professor of Law at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, finds himself not only fighting to change what Americans are taught, but also fighting to retain his seat on the board. Challenged by Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, and Ron Wetherington, an anthropology professor from Southern Methodist University in Texas, McLeroy faces his toughest term yet.
The Revisionaries shines a spotlight on the key players effecting U.S. high school textbooks, with characters representing a wide array of personalities and desires. Some see the board as a stepping-stone to future political success. Others see it as their ordained quest to preserve the teachings of the Bible. Still others see it as their duty to ensure that their children, who are in the public schools, have access to the best possible education that will prepare them to compete for jobs in the global marketplace. In all of this, one thing is assured, these board members are in the right place at the right time. They have the opportunity to affect a generation of Americans.
Filmed for over three years, filmmaker Scott Thurman has captured all of the intense debates, vote trading, and compromises amongst the board members. He shows the back room discussions between the board members and the experts, and is with them as they make their decisions. But, first and foremost, The Revisionaries is about people, those few passionate citizens who are fighting to shape the course of American education, and the future of America with it.
Dr. Paul Broun, a Republican congressman representing Georgia's 10th district and chairman of the United States House Science Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, spoke at the Liberty Baptist Church Sportsman's Banquet on September 27, 2012, in Hartwell, Georgia. Also a medical doctor by trade, Broun made clear just how substantial an impact the bible has in his everyday decision-making:
"God's word is true. I've come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. And it's lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior. You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I've found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don't believe that the Earth's but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That's what the Bible says."
"And what I've come to learn is that it's the manufacturer's handbook, is what I call it. It teaches us how to run our lives individually, how to run our families, how to run our churches. But it teaches us how to run all of public policy and everything in society. And that's the reason as your congressman I hold the Holy Bible as being the major directions to me of how I vote in Washington, D.C., and I'll continue to do that."
A hardcore biblical literalist on the House Science Committee should come as no surprise though, considering another prominent member of the committee is Rep.Todd Akin, but it's still beyond embarrassing for our nation.
I am a bit surprised now that we're not being forced to celebrate a "National Flat Earth Day," or something of that sort.
A dark money nonprofit group that has run more than $1 million in ads in the Ohio race for U.S. Senate told the IRS last year it did not plan to spend any money to influence elections when it applied for recognition of its tax-exempt status.
ProPublica first reported on the group, the Government Integrity Fund, after information from television station political ad files became available online (see our Free the Files project), showing extensive spending by the Fund.
The group's filings with the IRS illustrate how "social welfare" nonprofits, also known as 501(c)(4)s, are playing an aggressive role in this election, pouring tens of millions of dollars into races around the country, while taking advantage of the donor anonymity their tax status provides.
The Fund applied for IRS recognition last December and received the IRS' approval less than two months later.
Question 15 on the application asks, "Has the organization spent or does it plan to spend any money attempting to influence the selection, nomination, election, or appointment of any person to any Federal, state, or local public office or to an office in a political organization?"
Much hinges on this: Under the tax code, social welfare nonprofits may not have political campaign activity as their primary purpose, though exactly what that means is a subject of much debate.
Fund chairman Tom Norris, who signed the Fund's application, checked the "No" box on Question 15.
In a statement to ProPublica, the Fund said that "legally, the concept of ‘influencing elections' has been narrowly defined" and that "throughout its existence, [the Fund] has regularly consulted with experienced tax counsel to ensure it is in full compliance with the federal tax laws." (See the full statement.) Norris, a Columbus lobbyist, did not respond to calls.
Ads paid for by the Fund, which ran through the summer, praised Republican Josh Mandel and attacked Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. One spot features Mandel telling a veterans group, "I think this campaign is all about the past versus the future." A voiceover chimes in: "Josh Mandel served our country with two tours in Iraq. Now he's fighting for taxpayers, fighting for our future."
There are several reasons groups may prefer answering "No" to Question 15. Those answering "Yes" are instructed to explain in detail and list the amounts to be spent, which can lead to scrutiny that slows down the IRS approval process, tax experts say.
"Checking yes is a yellow flag for the IRS, which likely would cause the IRS to refer the application to an agent for consideration and follow-up questions," said Lloyd Hitoshi Mayer, an expert in nonprofit tax law at the University of Notre Dame law school. "There could be donors saying, ‘I'm not comfortable giving to you until I know you are a 501(c)(4) and my identity is protected. So I want that IRS [approval] letter.'"
The Fund's IRS application did provide other clues about its intentions. In one section of the form, the Fund said its budget for 2011 was $78,000. It then projected a budget of $6.7 million for 2012, an election year, before going back down to $50,000 for 2013, a nonelection year.
Mayer said the IRS typically wouldn't scrutinize a group's spending until it files a tax return — and in the case of the Fund, the return covering 2012 could be filed as late as November 2013. If the IRS found that the Fund was improperly taking advantage of its status as a social welfare group, it could impose a fine and make the group operate as a political organization that does have to report donors.
The group's application for IRS recognition was signed under penalty of perjury, but Mayer said it was rare for the agency to pursue charges against an applicant for lying.
The IRS did not respond to a request for comment.
The Fund's application for tax-exempt status also sheds a bit more light on who is running the group. It names four men as board members, including Norris. Another of the board members, Jeffrey L. Dean, referred questions to Jonathan Petrea, who was campaign manager and district director for Mandel when he ran for the state legislature.
Petrea told ProPublica he had no official role in the Fund, but helped Norris find potential board members.
"I was just doing a guy a favor by putting him in touch with people who might be interested," Petrea said.
Norris and the Mandel campaign did not respond to questions about Petrea's relationship to the Fund or the candidate.
Petrea was also previously Ohio grassroots director for Americans for Prosperity, a conservative 501(c)(4) backed by the Koch brothers, and has recently done work for Energy Citizens, a group advocating oil and gas development.
The Fund's ads have been off the air since Sept. 6, according to the Brown campaign. (After that date, certain types of ad spending had to be reported to the Federal Election Commission.)
The group's attorney, William Todd, said he doesn't know about its plans "for future education efforts."
Bill talks with financial expert Sheila Bair about the lawlessness of our banking system and the prognosis for meaningful reform. Bair was appointed in 2006 by President George W. Bush to chair the FDIC. During the 2008 meltdown, she argued that in some cases banks were NOT too big to fail — that instead of bailouts, they should be sold off to healthier competitors. Now a senior adviser to the Pew Charitable Trusts, Bair has organized a private group of financial experts including former Fed chairman Paul Volcker, former Senators Bill Bradley and Alan Simpson, and John Reed, once the chairman of Citicorp, to explore ways to prevent the banking industry from scuttling reforms created by the Dodd-Frank Act.
“I worry that the public is getting cynical,” Bair tells Moyers. “One of the reasons I started the Systemic Risk Council is I feel the special interest lobbying is, in a calculated way, trying to slow down reform, complicate reform, water reform down. And the public loses interest — they become cynical about if the regulators in Washington can fix any of this, and they don’t exert counter political pressure to get meaningful reforms in place.”
Occupy protestors gathered Saturday in front of the home of Wells Fargo Chairman and CEO John Stumpf in San Francisco’s Russian Hill to deliver their own version of a foreclosure notice. When the protesters sought to enter the building, they were stopped at the front door.
Stumpf didn’t make an appearance, unless you count the many placards featuring his face.
Saturday's protest followed a clergy-led protest over foreclosures that was held earlier this week in front of the bank's San Francisco headquarters.