Archive for DC

Valentine’s Day: From Russia With Love

russiaRussia dominated headlines this Valentine’s Day in America.

Most of it related to the resignation of Michael Flynn as National Security Adviser to the President just 24 days after Donald Trump was inaugurated. I won’t bore my readers with a rehash of all the news coverage online and in the media about this story, although I will point to this piece by John R. Schindler at The Observer as well as a late-breaking New York Times piece tonight. The NYT story details contacts between Russian intelligence officers and Trump campaign staff ahead of the 2016 election.

I will touch on Schindler’s piece briefly before I move on to my focus. Schindler, a former National Security Agency analyst, discusses the “war” between Trump and the nation’s spy agencies. The scariest part? That the agencies are withholding intelligence from the White House because they don’t trust the administration. One official even told Schindler that they assume the Kremlin has had ears inside the White House Situation Room since President Trump took office.

Schindler’s report is so concerning, along with all the other news about Russian ties to the Trump administration, because of other items in the news that don’t get the wall-to-wall coverage on cable news.

Just last week, Russian military aircraft buzzed a U.S. Navy destroyer in the Black Sea. The flyovers were described as “low altitude” and “high speed.” Russia denied the reports. There were several encounters between Russian military aircraft and U.S. ships in aircraft in 2016.

It also came to light today that the Russians have apparently placed themselves in further violation of the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty by secretly deploying a new missile system that they had been testing since 2014.

There are also reports today of a Russian surveillance ship in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Delaware. This ship made a port call in Cuba before proceeding up the East Coast in international waters.

Additionally, The Moscow Times reported on a story in pro-Kremlin paper Komsomolskaya Pravda. The report included an interview with a Taliban warlord who wanted to build ties with Russia to get the United States out of Afghanistan.

Throw in all the latest intrigue with Russian spies and apparent poisonings, as well as the Flynn issues, and it’s very important that the United States keeps its eye on the ball with the Russians. They are an adversary and we shouldn’t cozy up to them or let them take advantage of us.

I’m really not sure what to make of reports the Kremlin is worried about the unintended consequences of their Trump fandom, but I suspect there’s something else behind those reports getting out.

Buckle up, the bumpy ride will apparently continue.

More Maryland Lottery Politics

Maryland LotteryI previously wrote about the Maryland Lottery and complaints and intimidation from IGT, a spurned bidder for state contracts. After that, I decided to pay more attention to news revolving around the lottery and bidding processes.

Part of the complaints from GTECH were designed to intimidate Gordon Medenica, who had been appointed but not yet confirmed, as director of the Maryland Lottery. Last week, the Executive Nominations Committee held confirmation hearings for several officials, including Mr. Medenica.

After questioning, Senator Joan Carter Conway asked that Medenica’s nomination be held for further investigation. Bryan Sears wrote about the hearing in The Daily Record.

The senator asked Medenica questions about lottery income sources before moving on to questions about the recent contract recommendation made in favor of SGI and the appeals by IGT and Gaming Innovation. As you may recall, IGT filed a protest that they eventually backed down from. Gaming Innovations moved forward with a protest that they eventually dropped.

Specifically, Conway drills down into questions about minority business enterprise (MBE) goals from all three bidders. Medenica points out that the goals are pass/fail and that all three bids met the goal of 20% participation. He also tells Conwa y that a bid with a local joint venture partner does not get any more consideration.

This question related to Gaming Innovation’s bid and their use of a “local” partner, businessman Emmanuel Bailey. In Gaming Innovation’s protest letter, they complained that their team included two members who were “running” the D.C. Lottery.

One of these partners is Emmanuel Bailey. He’s deemed a local partner for the Maryland bid and he also was for a successful bid, along with Intralot, to run the DC Lottery.

Mr. Bailey has been ensnared in investigations of the procurement process related to the DC Lottery.  He was apparently running his operations, as a local partner for Intralot, from the basement of his mother’s home in the District. He apparently lived in Maryland at the time. That is not allowed under D.C. law. You must live in D.C. to be certified as a local partner. Maryland does not have that requirement for local partners.

This puts Bailey in a bit of a quandary as it relates to the Gaming Innovation bid for the Maryland Lottery business. As far as DC is concerned, he is “local.”  If so, that means he is lying if he claims to be in Maryland as part of the Gaming Innovation bid.

To sum things up, IGT originally made an implied threat against the confirmation of Gordon Medenica as director of the Maryland Lottery before withdrawing their protest. Gaming Innovation continued their protest based on specious logic and found a sympathetic ear in Joan Carter Conway who is now holding up the confirmation.

I will continue to follow this story as it develops further.

MD Public Defender’s Trump email called “inflammatory”

MD Public DefenderOver the weekend, MD Public Defender Paul DeWolfe sent an email to all Office of Public Defender (OPD) staff members across the state using state government email servers. DeWolfe insists the email wasn’t “anti-Trump” but one Republican state senator calls it “inflammatory rhetoric.”

In his email, DeWolfe mentioned that, “Many of us are still in shock and despair over the [election] results.”

He then talks about the election of Nixon and Republicans in 1968 that he claims “resulted in the reversal of so many of the progressive reforms brought about by the struggles of the Civil Rights movement.”

After detailing the things that he said Nixon was responsible for rolling back, DeWolfe then said, “Believe it or not, this election seems worse to me than even the election of 1968.”

After saying that it is time to “get angry and fight back”, he discusses Trump policies including stop and frisk, “mass deportation” of illegal immigrants, and issues related to incarceration and policing.

DeWolfe also has a three-point call to action for his staff that involves them joining his volunteer immigration team, joining the fight for bail and pretrial reform, and becoming “active in the fight against the anticipated wave of bigotry and repression against our minority, immigrant and LGBTQ clients.”

Here’s a screenshot of the DeWolfe email:

md-public-defender

Yesterday, I sent a request for comment to OPD and pointed out that the message could be considered an anti-Trump email. I received the following statement from Paul DeWolfe:

Communicating with staff about significant national and local issues relevant to criminal defense practice is an important priority of mine.  Consistent with reactions across the country, many OPD staff have expressed concern regarding how the election will impact our clients and our work.  The email message was not anti-Trump but responsive to threats made on constitutional rights that will directly impact the people we represen

After being contacted for a comment, Republican State Senator Justin Ready had strong words for the email sent to OPD staff by DeWolfe:

I think using taxpayer funded resources to send inflammatory material is questionable to say the least. It’s wrong to accuse people who voted for Trump or Trump himself of wanting to roll back the clock on civil rights. That’s an outrageous charge. The OPD performs an important public service ensuring that anyone accused of a crime can have legal representation. However, its irresponsible to be engaging in this kind of rhetoric. It’s wrong and it’s untrue.

More on MD Public Defender Paul DeWolfe

DeWolfe was named MD Public Defender in late 2009 after his predecessor was terminated. He was previously Montgomery County Public Defender.  He was reappointed earlier this year. In an interview in July, he discussed his office’s work to free people arrested during the Baltimore riots of 2015.

The MD Public Defender is hired by a 13 member Board of trustees. 11 members of that board are appointed by the Governor and one each by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House. Good luck finding the membership of the board on the OPD website (or anywhere else online), it’s not there. I even looked in PDFs of their annual reports and in legislative audits.

Speaking of legislative audits – according to a story in The Daily Record in August 2014:

The Office of the Public Defender failed to ensure clients were financially eligible, and the agency failed to submit invoices to the state comptroller for timely payment, according to an audit released Thursday by the Office of Legislative Audits.

Be sure to read the entire audit online from the Office of Legislative Audits for further details.

Maryland State Board of Elections databases show DeWolfe gave money in 2006 to the campaign of Tom Perez. Federal Election Commission databases show no federal contributions given by Paul B. DeWolfe of Maryland.

More from his bio:

A Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers since 2005, Mr. DeWolfe is currently on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He is a former President of the Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys Association, and a former President of the Bar Association of Montgomery County Maryland. Currently he is Secretary of the Criminal Law Section Council of the Maryland State Bar Association.

 

Tom Perez jokes about murdered girl at Clinton event

Tom Perez jokes about Amber AlertsNTK News reports that U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez was interrupted at a Hillary Clinton event in North Carolina by phones going off due to an Amber Alert for a missing boy there. The boy was later found safe.

. Perez has been mentioned as a likely candidate for attorney general in a Hillary Clinton administration.

Perez replied, “Amber Alert. “Oh yeah? Well, Amber is going to vote for Hillary!”

Perez saying Amber is going to vote for Hillary is insensitive at best since the Amber they were named for was kidnapped and murdered in 1996. Her name was Amber Hagerman (pictured above) and her murderer has still not been found.

Conservative group AR2 has called on Perez to apologize.

Here’s video of the Perez remarks:

More on Tom Perez

Perez was also mentioned as a potential running mate for Hillary Clinton.

More from Capital Research Center:

Perez was a volunteer for CASA de Maryland, a George Soros-funded advocacy group representing the interests of illegal aliens. He served on the organization’s board in 1995-2002, rising to president. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) has called CASA de Maryland “a fringe advocacy group that has instructed illegal immigrants on how to escape detection and also promoted illegal labor sites and driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants.” Big donors to CASA de Maryland include Soros’s Foundation to Promote Open Society (at least $270,000 in 2010-2013), the National Council of La Raza ($70,000 in 2004-2013), and two government-supported entities, the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corp. (at least $40,000 in 2011-2013) and the Maryland Legal Services Corporation, which is supposed to provide legal services to the poor (at least $630,203 in 2005-2013).

More from Red Maryland in 2010:

Richard Faulknor at Blue Ridge Forum and Ann Corcoran at the Potomac Tea Party Report have raised issues about the fitness of Tom Perez to be Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division given his dubious association with CASA de Maryland. Mr. Perez’s involvement in the decision by the Civil Rights Division to not press for civil or criminal sanctions against the antics of King Samir Shabazz, of “kill some cracker babies” fame, and the New Black Panther Party is inexplicable and now the subject of an investigation by the US Civil Rights Commission, and hopefully by Darrell Issa when he assumes chairmanship of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

DNC bus dumps raw sewage down storm drain

DNC Bus

WSB-TV in Atlanta reports that local authorities in Gwinnett County are investigating a report that a bus being used by the DNC (Democratic National Committee) dumped raw sewage into a storm drain (above photo from WSB-TV.)

An employee at an O’Reilly Auto Parts store reported seeing the bus pull into a turn lane on the road outside the store. According to the employee, the RV driver got out and opened the drain plug on the bus. All of the sewage from the bus lavatory then drained out onto the street and into the storm drain. The employee also took photographs that were provided to the police.

A police report indicated that there was a “foul smell” and a “large amount” of”drying toilet paper” where the bus had parked in the roadway. A fire department hazmat team was called to clean up the spill.

A statement from the DNC to WSB apologized:

This was an honest mistake and we apologize to the Lawrenceville community for any harm we may have caused. We were unaware of any possible violations and have already taken corrective action with the charter bus company to prevent this from happening again. Furthermore, the DNC will work with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, as well as local and state officials to determine the best course of corrective action.

The first part of this statement seems far-fetched and seems a bit disingenious with the “may have caused” phrase. That part reeks of apologies to anyone who might have been offended in other faux apologies by people committing wrongdoing.

DNC not the only offender

In 2005, a tour bus driver for the Dave Matthews Band admitted dumping 800 pounds of sewage onto passengers on a tour boat on the Chicago River. The bus was on a bridge at the time. The driver, Stefan Wohl, received 18 months probation and was also sentenced to a $10,000 fine and 150 hours of community service. The band had previously given $50,000 to the Chicago Park District and Friends of the Chicago River. Wohl apparently never drove for the band again.