But of course they did.
The Trump administration has ordered “Release the Kraken er, Kochtopus!” from IRS “dark money” campaign contribution reporting regulations.
Now corporations and wealthy plutocrats are free to operate entirely in the dark, even from the IRS. ‘Dark money’ groups don’t need to disclose donors to IRS, Treasury says:
Nonprofits that spend money to influence elections but are not required to disclose donors to the public — called “dark money” groups by critics — no longer need to share their donors’ names or addresses in their tax filings under a new Treasury rule announced Monday.
The decision was immediately heralded by
free-speech corporatist advocates who have long sought to protect donors’ private information. But it was rebuked by those who want to reduce the role of money in politics, who claim it would make U.S. elections more susceptible to anonymous foreign donations.
How significant is the change? Here is what you need to know.
What is this new rule about?
Wealthy donors can give unlimited sums of money to politically active nonprofits registered under sections of the Internal Revenue Service code, without their names or addresses being revealed in the nonprofits’ public tax filings.
There has been a surge of political activity by such nonprofit groups since the 2010 landmark Supreme Court Citizens United decision that allowed corporations to spend unlimited sums on campaigns.
These donors’ names, addresses and donation amounts were previously reported to the IRS, but the IRS would redact the names and addresses for public release.
With this policy change, the organizations will still be required to retain the donor information, but no longer have to submit it to the IRS.
Posted in AZBlueMeanie, Campaigns, Corruption, Crime, Election Integrity, Elections, Ethics, GOP War On..., International, Justice, Law Enforcement, Party Politics, Scandals
Tagged campaign finance, dark money, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, irs, Treasury
Most of you are already familiar with the three emoluments clause cases filed against Donald Trump for profiting off of foreign governments at his properties as president.
The first case filed by the ethics group CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) was dismissed for lack of standing, but that case is currently on appeal.
In the second case brought by the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia (No. 8:17-cv-01596), U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte of the District of Maryland ruled that D.C., Maryland can proceed with lawsuit alleging Trump violated emoluments clauses. Judge Messitte rejected an argument made by critics of the lawsuit — that, under the Constitution, only Congress may decide whether the president has violated the emoluments clauses. But Messitte’s ruling also narrowed the lawsuit’s scope to the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., saying that the District and Maryland had standing to sue because they could plausibly claim to have been injured by Trump’s receipt of payments from foreign and state governments.
The third case was filed by more than 200 Democratic members of Congress, Blumental et. al v. Trump in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (No. 1:17-cv-01154), and is presently scheduled for a hearing on a motion to dismiss on June 7, 2018.
The Trump Hotel is only the tip of the iceberg according to reporting over the past week.
Posted in AZBlueMeanie, Campaigns, Congress, Constitution, Corruption, Courts, Crime, Election Integrity, Elections, Ethics, International, Justice, Law Enforcement, Party Politics, President, Russian Affair, Scandals
Tagged Abu Dhabi, bribery, campaign finance, China, Cyber Crime, Emoluments Clause, extortion, financial crimes, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Foreign Policy, influence peddling, Israel, National Security, propaganda, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates
Last week we were left wondering how Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels attorney, got his hands on Michael Cohen’s financial information, which appeared to come from a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR). Avenatti’s memo was quickly confirmed by news media outlets.
We still don’t know how Avenatti got his hands on the SAR report, but we now know how the media was able to confirm the financial information in his memo so quickly: a government whistleblower provided the news media with a copy of the SAR report.
The New Yorker reports, Missing Files Motivated the Leak of Michael Cohen’s Financial Records:
Last week, several news outlets obtained financial records showing that Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal attorney, had used a shell company to receive payments from various firms with business before the Trump Administration. In the days since, there has been much speculation about who leaked the confidential documents, and the Treasury Department’s inspector general has launched a probe to find the source. That source, a law-enforcement official, is speaking publicly for the first time, to The New Yorker, to explain the motivation: the official had grown alarmed after being unable to find two important reports on Cohen’s financial activity in a government database. The official, worried that the information was being withheld from law enforcement, released the remaining documents.
Posted in AZBlueMeanie, Corruption, Courts, Crime, Elections, Ethics, Justice, Law Enforcement, Media, President, Scandals
Tagged Attorney General, campaign finance, Department of Justice, FBI, financial crimes, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, obstruction of justice, Special Counsel
Over the weekend the New York Times and the Washington Post did some excellent investigative reporting into the shady finances of Donald Trump and his consigliere Michael Cohn. The more we learn about Cohn’s “pay to play” scheme, and the two pending lawsuits challenging Trump’s “pay tp play” scheme under the emoluments clauses of the U.S. Constitution, the more this feckless GOP-controlled Congress has an obligation to investigate Trump’s tax records and financial dealings as president to “drain the swamp”: this is the most corrupt administration in recent American history.
Steve Benen has a decent short summary, The closer one looks at Trump’s finances, the louder the questions become:
Last summer, Donald Trump sat down with the New York Times, which asked whether Special Counsel Robert Mueller will have crossed “a red line” if the investigation into the Russia scandal extends to include examinations of the resident’s finances. “I would say yeah. I would say yes,” he replied, adding, “I think that’s a violation.”
Naturally, this generated no shortage of speculation as to why Trump is so concerned about scrutiny of his finances. For that matter, there’s no reason to separate questions about the president’s finances with the Russia scandal – because as Rachel Maddow has explained on her show more than once, there’s an amazing number of people from Russia who’ve purchased Trump properties over the years. (My personal favorite is the story of Dmitry Rybolovlev, the fertilizer king, who purchased a derelict Florida estate from the future president at an extreme markup.)
Posted in AZBlueMeanie, Congress, Constitution, Corruption, Courts, Crime, Ethics, International, Justice, Law Enforcement, Media, Party Politics, President, Scandals, Taxes
Tagged bribery, conspiracy, Department of Justice, Emoluments Clause, FBI, financial crimes, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, influence peddling, money laundering, pay-to-play, Special Counsel, Tax Evasion
Stormy Daniels lawyer Michael Avenatti is not saying how he came into possession of financial records of Michael Cohen, but at some point he may be required to disclose this to the court.
On Tuesday, Avenatti posted online a “Project Sunlight” executive summary (.pdf) for reporters to review. Avenatti examines Essential Consultants LLC, a Delaware company, on Oct. 17, 2016, just a few weeks before Election Day. The company’s banking records are from the First Republic Bank branch (“First Republic”) located in Manhattan, New York City, New York.
Avenatti alleges that representations made to the bank to open the account “were false when made and continued to be false at all material times based on the activity occurring in the account. This likely constitutes bank fraud.”
The media narrative has been that Essential Consultants LLC was used as a cut out for the payment of the $130,000 to Stormy Daniels, which it was.
But Michael Cohen was also using his company for a “pay to play” scheme to sell his access to Donald Trump as his personal attorney.
Avenatti alleges that “From October 2016 through January 2018, Mr. Cohen used his First Republic account to engage in suspicious financial transactions totaling $4,425,033.46.” Among these transactions include:
- Chief among these suspicious financial transactions are approximately $500,000 in payments received from Mr. Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian Oligarch with an estimated net worth of nearly $13 Billion. Mr. Vekselberg and his cousin Mr. Andrew Intrater routed eight payments to Mr. Cohen through a company named Columbus Nova LLC (“Columbus”) beginning in January 2017 and continuing until at least August 2017.
- Columbus Nova is a private equity firm founded in 2000 with over $2 billion in assets. Mr. Intrater is the CEO of Columbus Nova. Columbus Nova is the U.S. investment vehicle for Renova Group, a multi-national company controlled by Mr. Vekselberg. Renova group holds investments in various interests, including mining, oil, and telecommunications .
- Also included in these suspicious financial transactions are four payments in late 2017 and early 2018 totaling $399,920 made by global pharmaceutical giant Novartis directly to Essential in four separate transactions of $99,980 each (just below $100,000).
- In addition, Essential received $200,000 in four separate payments of $50,000 in late 2017 and early 2018 from AT&T.
- Essential also received a $150,000 payment in November 2017 from Korea Aerospace Industries LTD.
There are a several other financial transactions highlighted in Avenatti’s executive summary.
Posted in AZBlueMeanie, Campaigns, Corruption, Courts, Crime, Election Integrity, Elections, Ethics, International, Justice, Law Enforcement, Media, Party Politics, President, Russian Affair, Scandals
Tagged bank fraud, bribery, campaign finance, conspiracy, FBI, financial crimes, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, influence peddling, money laundering, National Security, Special Counsel