Archive for the ‘Congressional Oversight’ Category
Ron Fournier’s article about Wednesday’s IRS hearing is sloppily written. It doesn’t show he’s interested in accuracy:
Conservatives are applauding Issa for shutting down a Democrat. Without evidence, the Right has convicted Lerner, the IRS, the White House, and President Obama of abuse of power.
Conservatives like me applaud Chairman Issa for shutting off Rep. Cummings’ microphone in the middle of a political stunt aimed at deflecting attention from the latest Lerner emails:
I might be crazy but I’ll bet most judges would admit that as evidence. That’s Mr. Fournier’s accusation of convicting Lerner without proof just disappeared. That’s before talking about how Ms. Lerner said something that sounded like a motive for targeting TEA Party organizations.
BTW, that dismisses the Democrats’ protestations that progressive c(4)’s were targeted with equal vigor. Prior to the Citizens United ruling, progressive organizations had applied for and been granted c(4) status. They’d been operating under that part of the Internal Revenue Code for decades. The biggest influx of c(4) applications came from TEA Party organizations and organizations like True the Vote.
That’s before talking about the fact that no progressive organizations have filed a lawsuit demanding that the IRS hadn’t approved or rejected their application for c(4) status. If Lerner and the IRS had applied the same policies equally to both parties, shouldn’t these progressive organizations be complaining about inaction on their applications, too?
The dog that isn’t barking often speaks loudest.
The kid that cries wolf the loudest often isn’t credible. In this instance, Mr. Fournier is crying wolf. Clearly, he isn’t paying attention to the proof that Chairman Issa asked Ms. Lerner about. While Ms. Lerner took the Fifth, Chairman Issa read into the record emails showing Ms. Lerner expressing her worries that she didn’t want Cincinnati working on the TEA Party organizations’ c(4) applications. Additionally, she didn’t want it to look too political while DC fiddled with the TEA Party organizations’ c(4) applications.
That’s what I’d call getting trapped in God’s little acre — east of the rock, west of the hard place. At this point, I’d certainly take the Fifth if I were in Ms. Lerner’s predicament. Thankfully, I’m not foolish enough to put myself in such a difficult position.
I wrote here that MNsure’s difficulties are an indictment of Gov. Dayton, the MNsure board of directors and the DFL co-chairs of the MNsure Legislative Oversight Committee. Here’s an explanation of why each of these people should be fired for gross mismanagement:
Gov. Dayton, in addition to lobbying for the creation of MNsure, appointed the members of the MNsure board of directors. Apparently, he didn’t think it was necessary to put anyone with management experience on the board. It’s apparent because, according to Optum’s report, “no one was in charge of the project to find out what was wrong and fix it.” The report also said that management operated in “crisis mode.”
That’s what happens when a sensible management structure isn’t implemented first.
There isn’t proof that Gov. Dayton paid attention to MNsure after he signed the bill into law. If he paid attention, that’s cause for being really afraid because he didn’t recognize the problems during development. That means Gov. Dayton was either apathetic or incompetent. Neither outcome is flattering to Gov. Dayton’s leadership image.
For his incredible display of indifference to this project, Gov. Dayton deserves getting fired this November. Minnesotans simply can’t afford to have someone this incompetent handling the levers of power.
The next count of the indictment is against the MNsure board of directors. They’re the people who didn’t put the management structure together. As a result, the MNsure website is a failure. More importantly, the MNsure office is a picture of utter incompetence.
That’s resulted in hundreds of millions of the taxpayers’ dollars getting wasted on a) a disfunctional website and b) an incompetent management team. The Optum report, which I’m calling the Optum Indictment, estimates that between $150,000,000 and $160,000,000 have been spent thus far with at least another $50,000,000 to be spent on fixing things.
Management 101 requires management to establish a chain of accountability within the organization to ensure the project is completed successfully, on time and under budget. The MNsure board of directors essentially gave the project team a bunch of money, then told them to get to work.
That isn’t managing a project. That’s the equivalent of giving people a project, then taking a 2-week vacation to Costa Rica. Thank God that didn’t happen.
Finally, the MNsure Legislative Oversight Committee should be indicted, then convicted, for not giving a damn about the website or the office. Republicans on the commitee raised lots of issues. The committee’s co-chairs weren’t interested in accountability. They held a contentious meeting on Sept. 24, 2013, then didn’t call another hearing until January, months after reports surfaced talking about data security and systemic management failures.
The DFL has shown that they aren’t serious about accountability or competence. They’ve shown that they’re just interested in spending the taxpayers’ money foolishly.
That’s why the DFL legislature must be fired this November. Their apathy, indifference and incompetence is frightening.
On Thursday, Sen. Feinstein tried selling the spin that Hillary wasn’t responsible for not preventing the Benghazi terrorist attack:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., noted that the bipartisan report released this week on the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks in Libya did not mention Clinton even once.
“I regret that the ‘Additional Views’ of the report adopted solely by six members of the Republican minority unfairly criticizes Secretary Clinton,” Feinstein said in a statement. “I want the record to be clear: I condemn any effort to use this report for political purposes.
Nothing in the bipartisan report, Feinstein said, assigned any blame for the attacks to Clinton, who was secretary of State at the time.
“Ultimately… the final responsibility for security at diplomatic facilities lies with the former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton,” said the “Additional Views” approved only by Republicans. “We believe there should be a full examination of her role in these events, including on the night of the attacks.”
Technically, Sen. Feinstein is right. There’s nothing in the report that blames Hillary for not taking actions that might’ve prevented the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2012. There should be plenty in the report criticizing Hillary for not acting on urgent requests from Christopher Stevens, the assassinated US ambassador to Libya. As usual, the All-Star Panel didn’t pull punches:
Andrew Napolitano nailed it when he said that “This report raises more questions than it answers.” He later opined that “the people who were responsible for this were the ones who did the investigating.” Charles Krauthammer ridiculed Sen. Feinstein, saying “the weakness of the Senate report is that it blames buildings. It blames the State Department. It blames the CIA. It blames the military, these bureaucracies. In the end, it doesn’t blame anybody. No human is held accountable.”
Let’s turn this around on Sen. Feinstein. Let’s use her logic against her. If Hillary wasn’t responsible for protecting Christopher Stevens, then Rumsfeld wasn’t responsible for Abu Ghraib and President Bush wasn’t responsible for waterboarding KSM.
Using Sen. Feinstein’s logic, Langley (the building) caused KSM’s waterboarding and the Pentagon (the building itself) was responsible for Abu Ghraib.
This paragraph is exceptionally telling:
“Our responsibility throughout this review was to focus on the intelligence,” Feinstein said. “The report finds the attacks were preventable, based on extensive intelligence reporting on terrorist activity in Eastern Libya and given known security shortfalls at the U.S. Mission.”
That’s a different way of saying that their committee would do a rehash of the Accountability Review Board’s report. In the real world, where people attempt to connect the terrorists’ dots, people would ask a) who’s responsible for embassy and consulate security, b) what procedures were in place to make sure urgent requests got the Secretary of State’s attention, c) why military assets weren’t pre-positioned and placed on alert to respond to crises and d) why President Obama and Hillary Clinton were nowhere to be found during the terrorist attacks.
Sen. Feinstein accused Republicans of using the report to hurt Hillary Clinton politically. The reality is that Hillary Clinton’s decisions hurt Hillary politically. I’d further argue that political figures should take a political hit for making terrible decisions that got American patriots needlessly murdered.
Returning to reality, let’s admit that Hillary a) ran in 2008 on the claim that she was the only candidate prepared to properly handle a 3:00 am phone call, b) didn’t take action to prevent the needless assassinations of American patriots and c) took the Secretary of State’s job to check off the ‘national security box’ for when she runs for president in 2016.
Finally, let’s admit that, based on what she’s done, Hillary was a mediocre Secretary of State.
Technorati: Dianne Feinstein, Hillary Clinton, Senate Intelligence Committee, Investigation, Accountability Review Board, Benghazi Terrorist Attacks, Christopher Stevens, National Security, Democrats, Donald Rumsfeld, Abu Ghraib, President Bush, Waterboarding, Langley, Pentagon
FNC’s James Rosen has looked through newly declassified documents that say senior Pentagon officials briefed President Obama that Benghazi was a terrorist attack:
Minutes after the American consulate in Benghazi came under assault on Sept. 11, 2012, the nation’s top civilian and uniformed defense officials, headed for a previously scheduled Oval Office session with President Obama, were informed that the event was a “terrorist attack,” declassified documents show. The new evidence raises the question of why the top military men, one of whom was a member of the president’s Cabinet, allowed him and other senior Obama administration officials to press a false narrative of the Benghazi for two weeks afterward.
That’s frightening. Gen. Carter Ham, then the leader of AFRICOM, told then Defense Secretary Panetta that Benghazi had been attacked and that it was a terrorist attack:
Ham’s account of that fateful day was included in some 450 pages of testimony given by senior Pentagon officials in classified, closed-door hearings conducted last year by the Armed Services subcommittee. The testimony, given under “Top Secret” clearance and only declassified this month, presents a rare glimpse into how information during a crisis travels at the top echelons of America’s national security apparatus, all the way up to the president.
Also among those whose secret testimony was declassified was Dempsey, the first person Ham briefed about Benghazi. Ham told lawmakers he considered it a fortuitous “happenstance” that he was able to rope Dempsey and Panetta into one meeting, so that, as Ham put it, “they had the basic information as they headed across for the meeting at the White House.” Ham also told lawmakers he met with Panetta and Dempsey when they returned from their 30-minute session with President Obama on Sept. 11.
Despite Gen. Ham’s briefing, President Obama insisted that we didn’t know what happened in Benghazi, telling Joy Behar of the View that they were still conducting an investigation into what happened that terrible night in Benghazi.
What’s worse is that Secretary Panetta and Gen. Dempsey didn’t speak out immediately. They were briefed by Gen. Ham that the consulate had been attacked by terrorists. Gen. Ham didn’t talk about a demonstration that got hijacked by terrorists. He talked about a co-ordinated terrorist attack.
Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, a first-term lawmaker with experience as an Iraq war veteran and Army reserve officer, pressed Ham further on the point, prodding the 29-year Army veteran to admit that “the nature of the conversation” he had with Panetta and Dempsey was that “this was a terrorist attack.”
The transcript reads as follows:
WENSTRUP: “As a military person, I am concerned that someone in the military would be advising that this was a demonstration. I would hope that our military leadership would be advising that this was a terrorist attack.”
HAM: “Again, sir, I think, you know, there was some preliminary discussion about, you know, maybe there was a demonstration. But I think at the command, I personally and I think the command very quickly got to the point that this was not a demonstration, this was a terrorist attack.”
WENSTRUP: “And you would have advised as such if asked. Would that be correct?”
HAM: “Well, and with General Dempsey and Secretary Panetta, that is the nature of the conversation we had, yes, sir.”
Minutes before they met with President Obama, Gen. Dempsey and Secretary Panetta were told that terrorists had attacked the Benghazi consulate and that Ambassador Stevens was unaccounted for. It’s inconceivable that Panetta and Dempsey didn’t brief President Obama that a terrorist attack was underway.
For the first time since the attacks, a timeline of events and briefings is emerging. That’s especially important because the timeline involves briefings by the top people in the White House and at the Pentagon. These aren’t low-level staffers sharing gossip. These are the top echelons of President Obama’s national security cabinet. This especially stings the President:
Panetta told the Senate Armed Services Committee in February of last year that it was him who informed the president that “there was an apparent attack going on in Benghazi.” “Secretary Panetta, do you believe that unequivocally at that time we knew that this was a terrorist attack?” asked Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla. “There was no question in my mind that this was a terrorist attack,” Panetta replied.
Based on this testimony, there’s no question that President Obama, Secretary Clinton and Ambassor Rice lied about the importance of the anti-Muslim video. They knew within minutes that this was a precision terrorist attack. Then they told America that a video made the terrorists resort to violence.
President Obama’s credibility took a major hit for lying to the American people about keeping the health insurance plan they liked. His credibility will take another major hit for lying about the terrorist attack that got 4 American patriots murdered in Benghazi. Frankly, there isn’t a justification for trusting President Obama after all the whoppers he’s told.
Pat Kessler is a cautious man when it comes to choosing his words. When he puts a campaign ad through his truth detector, he’ll often say that the ad is deceptive. When the ad is worse than that, he’ll say that the claims in the ad are false. In this interview, Kessler zoomed past those terms. Check it out:
Here’s the transcript from the interview:
KESSLER: Suddenly — and it was very odd to me — suddenly around December first, second, third, right around that time right after Thanksgiving, we suddenly at WCCO, were flooded, inundated with literally hundreds of people calling, saying “I can’t get on. This is crazy.” And I’ll just say it, I think they lied to us. I think they misled us. I think they misdirected, they camoflaged. They said “No there’s no problems, when, in fact, behind the scenes, they were sweating bullets because they couldn’t fix the problems. I think that this is one of the most closed, obtuse, misdirecting, camoflaging agencies I have ever dealt with.
That isn’t what I’d expect from Pat Kessler. I’d expect more cautious wording from him. That he’d jump there from the outset speaks volumes about what he thinks happened within MNsure.
Sunday night, KSTP ran an article about the lack of oversight into MNsure, which I wrote about here. According to KSTP’s Nick Winkler, “the MNsure oversight committee hasn’t met in 3 months and isn’t planning to do so for the rest of the year.” This information is especially lame:
Rep. Joe Atkins, a committee co-chair, said scheduling conflicts and holidays prevented meetings in November or December.
Scheduling a meeting isn’t that difficult, especially after questions about website security were raised. If people have other things going on, then those things need to be given a lower priority. Based on what we know now, I think it isn’t a stretch to think they just made excuses to protect Gov. Dayton’s signature ‘accomplishment.’ After the federal government shutdown ended, attention shifted to HealthCare.gov’s disastrous rollout. Gov. Dayton, Sen. Franken and other high profile Democrats quickly emphasized as fact that MNsure wasn’t the disaster that HealthCare.gov was.
The truth is that MNsure was a disaster from the start. It just didn’t get the scrutiny that it’s getting this week. The oversight committee not meeting might well have been the DFL’s tactic to keep attention away from MNsure’s difficulties. With the DFL, there’s 3 ways of doing things: the right way, the wrong way and the way that helps them most politically.
Clearly, the committee didn’t want Todd-Malmlov to face difficult questions from Sen. Nienow. Clearly, Todd-Malmlov didn’t want to testify that they were doing everything they could to avoid answering the question in the letter Sen. Nienow and Sen. Benson sent her about website security.
Now that she’s resigned, MNsure and Gov. Dayton will be in the spotlight. Todd-Malmlov’s vacation was just the catalyst. Now that it’s out that MNsure is a disaster, Republicans will highlight the fact that Gov. Dayton championed the exchange. While he wasn’t the person who messed the thing up, he’s certainly to blame for pushing a state-run exchange.
To those of us who’ve paid attention to the corruption happening at MnSCU universities, the question about whether the legislature, specifically the House and Senate higher ed committees, are doing their job is a troubling question.
I’ve forwarded both commitees information about specific instances where, at minimum, SCSU’s decisions are creating difficulties for the University today and in the future.
Specifically, President Potter fired Mahmoud Saffari for not putting together an enrollment retention program. That’s part of the documentation Dr. Saffari received from Provost Malhotra. Dr. Saffari’s termination happened in the fall of 2011. There are a multitude of reasons why that’s troubling, starting with the fact that SCSU enrollment is dropping off a cliff.
That’s bad enough but it doesn’t stop there. Since Dr. Saffari’s termination, the administration hasn’t put a plan together. I know they haven’t because they recently asked for help in putting a plan together.
Have either of the higher ed committees looked into this? Of course they haven’t. They’ve told me that “it’s a local issue.” Which it isn’t and they know it. That’s their way of saying that they aren’t interested in holding real oversight hearings.
Five years ago, St. Cloud State enrollments were increasing. SCSU was the flagship university within the MnSCU system. They aren’t anymore. In fact, Mankato has sailed past SCSU in FYE enrollment. (FYE enrollment is the number that matters because that’s the enrollment that determines tuition revenue.)
That’s before talking about President Potter signing a contract with the J.A. Wedum Foundation that virtually guarantees their apartment complex a profit for the next 20 years. The first two years that the apartments existed, SCSU had to send the Foundation all of the rent they collected from students plus checks totalling $2,250,000. The figures haven’t been released for the third year but reports have it that the University is hoping they only lost $950,000 this time.
Again, have either higher ed committee looked into this? Nope. A university with shrinking enrollment and losing money on its other ‘investments’ isn’t enough to get the commitees’ attention. Apparently, they think that it isn’t a big deal because it isn’t their money.
Let’s be clear about some things. First, the blame rightly belongs to the committee chairs. They’re the only people with the authority to gavel an oversight hearing into existence. Committee members can’t ask questions until the meeting starts. Second, the time for status quo committee hearings has passed. Lots of things are happening that need addressing. Financial mismanagement at St. Cloud State is running rampant. Third, if higher ed committees don’t take their oversight responsibilities seriously, it sends the signal that universities can pretty much do whatever they want with impunity.
The committee chairs carry the big stick. They can get the universities’ attention if they’re intent on being the taxpayers’ watchdog. When they aren’t willing to be the taxpayers’ watchdog, then they’re part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Finally, legislators in positions of power are in a position of vulnerability because taxpayers take it seriously when they turn a blind eye towards corruption and financial mismanagement. Legislators should know that, while taxpayers don’t care about every penny of wasteful spending, they care if legislators ignore a ton of corruption mixed with financial mismanagement.
Committee chairs aren’t irreplaceable, especially when they ignore their essential responsibilities.
Technorati: Higher Education, Committee Chairs, Oversight, Taxpayers Watchdog
Financial Mismanagement, Corruption, J.A. Wedum Foundation, St. Cloud State, Declining Enrollments, University of Minnesota-Mankato State
If we know anything about this administration, it’s that a) they’re highly ideological, b) they don’t hesitate in ignoring laws and c) they’re utterly incompetent. Now that it’s confirmed that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is refusing to testify, it’s time to subpoena her and force her testimony.
The Affordable Care Act’s botched rollout has stunned its media cheering section, and it even seems to have surprised the law’s architects. The problems run much deeper than even critics expected, and whatever federal officials, White House aides and outside contractors are doing to fix them isn’t working. But who knows? Omerta is the word of the day as the Obama Administration withholds information from the public.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is even refusing to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in a hearing this coming Thursday. HHS claims she has scheduling conflicts, but we hope she isn’t in the White House catacomb under interrogation by Valerie Jarrett about her department’s incompetence.
The department is also refusing to make available lower-level officials who might detail the source or sources of this debacle. Ducking an investigation with spin is one thing. Responding with a wall of silence to the invitation of a duly elected congressional body probing the use of more than half a billion taxpayer dollars is another. This Obama crowd is something else.
Secretary Sebelius is acting like she’s above oversight. That’s unacceptable at any time but it’s especially unacceptable when she’s overseeing the biggest trainwreck in recent history. This paragraph is telling:
No doubt a hearing would be a spectacle—with TV cameras on hand—but Mrs. Sebelius can’t hide forever. Even pro-entitlement liberals want to know about what went wrong and why, how much if any progress is being made, and whether the ObamaCare website Healthcare.gov will be usable in a matter of months—or years.
Let’s summarize what we know and don’t know. First, it’s indisputable that the federal health insurance exchanges don’t work. Second, we don’t know how long it’ll take to get the federal health insurance exchanges fully functional. Third, we aren’t certain that people purchasing insurance through the federal exchanges are eligible for federal premium support payments. Thanks to this federal lawsuit, it’s anything but certain that people purchasing health insurance through federal-run health insurance exchanges will get premium support.
Fourth, we know that Kathleen Sebelius has time to attend a gala the night before the committee hearing. Fifth, we know that IT experts have stated that they’d be ashamed if their work was this big of disaster:
LUKE CHUNG: It wasn’t designed well. It wasn’t implemented well. It looks like nobody tested it.
JAN CRAWFORD: Luke Chung’s company builds online database programs. He supports the new health care law. He says it’s not demand that’s crashing HealthCare.gov. The entire website needs a complete overhaul.
LUKE CHUNG: It’s not close. It’s not even ready for beta testing from my book. I would be ashamed and embarassed if my organization delivered something like that.
Despite all that we know that’s disturbing and all that isn’t known that we need to know, Kathleen Sebelius apparently thinks she’s beyond congressional oversight questioning. It’s time she learned, harshly if needed, that she isn’t.
Technorati: Kathleen Sebelius, Health Insurance Exchanges, Glitches, Congressional Oversight, Premium Support, Federal Health Insurance Exchanges, Federal Lawsuit, HealthCare.gov, IT Professionals, Lawlessness, Incompetence, Democrats
This op-ed is written by one of the victims of the IRS’s misconduct. It’s both compelling and infuriating. This part is especially infuriating:
In order to raise money, I filed an application with the IRS in January 2011, seeking to obtain 501(c)(3) status as an educational organization. The IRS processes more than 60,000 non-profit applications annually and it typically takes two or three months for an organization such as mine to be granted status as a public charity.
I have been waiting for 27 months.
In the interim, I lost a $30,000 grant, multiple thousands of my own money and had to cease any further activity for fear the IRS would target me for harassment.
I wrote here that the IRS attacks have high-ranking political operative written all over them. Kim Strassel wrote eloquently and expansively about the Obama campaign’s targeting of their political opponents in this article:
On Aug. 21, 2008, the conservative American Issues Project ran an ad highlighting ties between candidate Obama and Bill Ayers, formerly of the Weather Underground. The Obama campaign and supporters were furious, and they pressured TV stations to pull the ad—a common-enough tactic in such ad spats.
What came next was not common. Bob Bauer, general counsel for the campaign (and later general counsel for the White House), on the same day wrote to the criminal division of the Justice Department, demanding an investigation into AIP, “its officers and directors,” and its “anonymous donors.” Mr. Bauer claimed that the nonprofit, as a 501(c)(4), was committing a “knowing and willful violation” of election law, and wanted “action to enforce against criminal violations.”
While this isn’t proof that the administration is behind the targeting, it’s ample proof that the Obama campaign didn’t hesitate to attack its political opponents through powerful government agencies.
This is outrageous:
While seemingly reluctant to grant my non-profit status, the IRS has been quick to wield all the intimidating power of a federal agency, demanding answers to an invasive, 95-point inquisition, including, for example, that I provide a list of my members and donors and that I state for the IRS my political position on virtually every issue of importance to me. Where does one begin? For good measure, I was asked to identify those whom I train and that I inform the federal government, in detail, about what I am teaching my students.
What does this information have to do with the tax code? This is what an all-powerful and unchecked federal government can do. The old saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely certainly is fitting in this instance. Mr. Kookogey shouldn’t have been subjected to this type of uneven-handed scrutiny.
The good news is that their attempt to cover up their disgusting, capricious and criminal behavior will land people like Lois Lerner, Douglas Schulman and Stephen Miller in prison. The bad news is that patriots like Mr. Kookogey and Catherine Engelbrecht have been subjected to disgusting, possibly illegal acts of threats and intimidation.
In a stunning statement this morning, President Obama insisted that the Benghazi investigation is much ado about nothing:
“And suddenly three days ago this gets spun up as if there’s something new to the story,” Obama said in response to a question about Benghazi. “There’s no there there.”
The president continued, “Keep in mind, by the way, these so-called talking points that were prepared for Susan Rice, five, six days after the event occurred, pretty much matched the assessments that I was receiving at that time in my presidential daily briefing.”
There’s plenty that’s new here. Prior to Wednesday, I didn’t know that Hillary Clinton talked with Gregory Hicks while the Benghazi attacks were happening. Prior to Hicks’ testimony, I didn’t know that Hicks told Hillary that there was an attack going on.
In addition to new information from the testimony, there’s also tons of new questions to get answers to. First, who eliminated the FEST option? Next, why was the FEST option eliminated? Third, who gave the orders to Lt. Col. Gibson to not rescue Glenn Doherty and Tyrone Woods? Fourth, why was this order given? Fifth, why did the State Department’s objections to the CIA’s report take precedence over the truth? After all, the CIA got it right the first time. Sixth, why did Beth Jones send out an email calling the Benghazi attack a terrorist attack? Seventh, why was the truth the final casualty of the terrorists’ attack?
As for President Obama saying that the “talking points that were prepared for Susan Rice” “pretty much the assessments” he was receiving during his PDBs, that’s BS. It’s insulting. The CIA’s initial report talked about a terrorist attack, with members of Ansar al-Shariah participating in the attack. The CIA’s initial report also talked multiple warnings from the CIA of mounting terrorist threats to foreign interests in Benghazi. That was deleted from the State Department’s talking points. Make no mistake, either, about the talking points. What started as a CIA intelligence report was eventually turned into a State Department CYA talking points memo.
True to their waste-aholic history, the DFL legislature voted against government accountability:
A commission designed to judge whether state agencies, councils or boards have outlived their usefulness may itself cease to exist.
The Democratic-controlled House and Senate have voted to abolish the Sunset Advisory Commission, a 12-member commission championed by Republicans as offering greater accountability and efficiency in state government.
“I think they’re (Democrats) scared,” Rep. Joyce Peppin, R-Rogers, said of taking tough votes on the commission.
A product of 2011 legislation, the Sunset Advisory Commission is patterned after a 30-year-old commission in Texas, one billed as having saved the Lone Star State almost $1 billion at a cost of about $33 million.
Minnesota’s Sunset Commission reviews state agencies and recommends whether a given agency should continue to exist.
Rep. Peppin is right. DFL legislators don’t want to vote on wasteful spending. DFL legislators don’t want to admit that their pet agencies, councils and panels are actually patronage positions.
The DFL is spinning their vote:
The idea of duplication was voiced by another commission member, Rep. Michael Nelson, DFL-Brooklyn Park. “One of the tasks of the sunset commission is to get rid of duplicative government functions,” he said. There’s already the Office of the Legislative Auditor.
Why have both? Nelson asks.
Rep. Nelson, we need both because it’s apparent that there’s a ton of bloat in state government, things that the OLA hasn’t discussed.
As for Rep. Nelson’s assertion of duplication, I’d love hearing his explanation on what it’s duplicating. I’d love hearing him cite the times when the OLA has recommended the sunsetting of a commission, panel or council.
Sen. Bonoff’s statement needs ridiculing:
Bonoff, like other Democrats, argues the commission is itself duplicative. “If committee chairs are doing their jobs, they should be doing this kind of detailed oversight,” she said.
There’s a simple explanation for Sen. Bonoff: the chairs have never gotten into this type of detailed oversight. The Sunset Advisory Commission would’ve been a great tool that forced the legislature to deal with commissions, councils and panels that outlived their usefulness.
Furthermore, does any thinking person think that the DFL would investigate the importance or relevance of these hideouts for their political cronies? Let’s get serious. When Keith Downey proposed reducing the state workforce by 15% by not replacing retiring workers, Eliot Seide accused him of waging war “against working families.” What DFL legislator will vote for sunsetting these commissions, councils or panels knowing that they’ll get primaried by an AFSCME-endorsed candidate?
That’s why the Commission is essential.
Finally, this DFL legislature has repeatedly proven that they oppose accountability. The GOP legislature passed a bill that required teachers to pass a basic skills test, which Gov. Dayton signed. The DFL wants to repeal that law. The GOP legislature passed the Sunset Advisory Commission, which Gov. Dayton signed. The DFL legislature just voted to repeal that essential accountability legislation. Will Gov. Dayton reverse himself & say no to government accountability? If he does, he should prepare for getting labeled as a) a hypocrite, b) a cheap politician who does what’s popular, not what’s right and c) the unions’ puppet, not the public’s servant leader.
This week, the DFL legislature voted for higher pay for themselves, higher taxes on the middle class and less accountability within government. I don’t think that’s the bumper sticker they’ll want to deal with in 2014.
Tags: Terry Bonoff, Mike Nelson, Tom Bakk, Paul Thissen, Mark Dayton, Eliot Seide, AFSCME Council 5, Public Employee Unions, Cronyism, DFL, Sunset Advisory Commission, Accountability, Government Oversight, Reforms, MNGOP