Archive for Irene

Illegal Alien in Fla. Drug Bust Deported 3 Times, Easily Reentered U.S.

A startling drug trafficking case out of south Florida is especially disturbing because the illegal immigrant caught with more than half a million dollars in crystal methamphetamine had been deported three times in three months shortly before the drug bust. A few months after the third deportation, the Mexican national returned to the United States with a partner and a vehicle stuffed with thousands of grams of pure crystal meth. The drugs have a street value of about $560,000, according to estimates issued by federal authorities.

The thrice deported illegal immigrant, Saul Bustos Bustos, and his partner in crime, fellow Mexican Irepan Juanchi Salgado, got arrested when they tried to sell five kilograms of crystal meth to undercover Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents in Miami. The exchange occurred in November and this week both men pled guilty to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute drugs. “During the transaction, the defendants, who possessed a total of 3,717 grams of 98% pure crystal methamphetamine, worked together to transfer the drugs from their vehicle to the undercover officer,” according to a statement from the Department of Justice. “Bustos Bustos also pled guilty to illegal reentry after removal, after reentering the United States subsequent to removal on April 13, 2017, July 6, 2017, and July 19, 2017.”

It’s not clear how or where Bustos Bustos entered the country after getting deported, but court documents reveal he drove from Atlanta with the drugs as part of an operation based in Georgia and New York. On November 28, the two Mexican men drove to a restaurant in the Miami Dade County city of Hialeah to make the sale. The customer, an undercover DEA agent, followed the drug dealers to a warehouse to complete the transfer and the Mexican men got arrested. Bustos Bustos is scheduled to be sentenced on March 29 and faces life in prison. Salgado’s sentencing date has not been set, but he also faces a lengthy jail sentence for the narcotics conviction. Authorities say his brother, Luciano Salgado, is a renowned meth dealer.

Previously deported illegal immigrants have reentered the U.S. to commit a multitude of atrocious crimes over the years, but this one sticks out because President Donald Trump vowed to tighten border security and the violations occurred after he took office. Under the famously lax Obama rules, this type of thing was par for the course. In fact, the former president’s own uncle, Onyango Obama, an illegal immigrant from Kenya, reentered the U.S. and even got a driver’s license after getting deported. Uncle Onyango lost the license for driving drunk and was somehow able to obtain a special “hardship license” from the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles even though he wasn’t even supposed to be in the United States and had been removed.

Just a few months ago a previously deported gang member was charged with attempted murder and kidnapping in the northern Colorado city of Ft. Collins. The illegal alien from El Salvador, Angel Ramos, was deported from Texas to El Salvador last year after getting arrested for domestic violence. Somehow, he reentered the U.S. and tried to kill a woman by stabbing her repeatedly with a screw driver then running her over with his car before trying to stuff her in the trunk. Ramos is a confirmed member of the violent street gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and is wanted for homicide in his native El Salvador, according to information provided to the media by the U.S. Marshals Service. In November the 36-year-old was charged with attempted murder, assault, menacing with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, domestic violence and criminal impersonation.

Back in 2014 a Judicial Watch investigation uncovered that a twice deported illegal immigrant was a key figure in a sophisticated narco-terror ring. The Mexican national, Hector Pedroza Huerta, plotted a Chicago truck bombing with two of the FBI’s “most wanted” terrorists and was deeply involved in smuggling drugs and weapons. The narco-terror ring that Huerta helped operate after being deported two times from the U.S. runs from El Paso to Chicago to New York. Though he was an illegal alien with a substantial criminal record and deportation history, Huerta lived in El Paso and planned several bomb plots targeting oil refineries in Houston and the Fort Worth Stockyards. He is also alleged to have smuggled explosives and weapons from the Fort Bliss range and exercise areas in concert with corrupt US Army soldiers and government contractors with gate passes at the El Paso base.

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VA Sec. Against Prosecuting Army Vet for “Posting” U.S. Flag, Misled by Staff

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs was misled by his inner circle about a case involving an elderly Army veteran criminally prosecuted for displaying the American Flag at a southern California VA facility, documents obtained by Judicial Watch show. After seeing a news report about the preposterous case, VA Secretary David J. Shulkin asked his chief of staff, Vivieca Wright, to check if the story was correct, the documents show. In an electronic mail to his chief of staff, Shulkin writes that if the story is accurate “we should not be pressing charges and we should do a release saying so.” Shulkin adds: “I understand that media reports do not always tell the real story.”

Incredibly, the story is real. Rosebrock was federally charged for supposedly hanging a four-by-six-inch American Flag on the outside fence of a VA facility in West Los Angeles on Memorial Day in 2016. The fence is part of the “Great Lawn Gate” and marks the entrance to the Los Angeles National Veterans Park. The public facility is part of a larger, 388-acre parcel that includes the Veterans Home of West Los Angeles. Since 2008, Rosebrock and a group of fellow veterans have assembled at the gate weekly and on Memorial Day to protest the VA’s failure to make full use of the property to benefit veterans, particularly those who are homeless. Judicial Watch helped represent Rosebrock, who faced up to six months in jail for the ghastly offense of reportedly affixing Old Glory at a site honoring those who served their country. He was also charged with taking unauthorized photographs of both the Flag and VA police, but a judge ruled in mid-April that the charges violated the First Amendment. The Trump Department of Justice (DOJ) has appealed the dismissal of the two charges, however.

Rosebrock went to trial for the flag charges and on April 18, 2017 a California U.S. District Court ruled that he was not guilty of violating federal law for displaying the two small flags. If found guilty, he would have faced up to six months in prison. More than a month before the trial, VA Secretary Shulkin’s inner circle circulated numerous falsehoods about the case, including that Rosebrock made the choice to go to court rather than pay a fine and that he faced no jail time. Gathering information for their boss, the VA officials also asserted it was “too late” to intervene in the Rosebrock case and that it was “out of our hands” because the case was old even though the trial was weeks away. VA Deputy Undersecretary Steve Young is included in the email exchanges, which are dated March 4 and 5, 2017. In one email, Marie Weldon, director of the VA’s western healthcare network, tells Young that Rosebrock “was issued a citation from the VA Police and if he chose not to pay the fine then he elects to take it to court which is where it is now.” This is incorrect. Rosebrock had no choice to go to court because the feds were prosecuting him. Weldon adds that Rosebrock has a history of hanging even full-size flags upside down on the fence of VA property. “This was not a first offense and Rosebrock was aware of his consequences,” Weldon, who oversees the healthcare system for 1.2 million veterans, writes to Young.

In another email addressed to Weldon, Wright and Young, the director of the West L.A. VA, Ann Brown, writes: “Forgot to add—he is facing a $25 fine with NO jail time.” Less than 20 minutes later, Wright, the VA Secretary’s chief of staff, forwards the erroneous information to a redacted email address that appears to be her boss’s. Large chunks of type are redacted under federal exemptions throughout the documents, which were provided to Judicial Watch in response to a request for records about Rosebrock. A largely redacted email from Brown to Weldon, Wright and Young discloses that she “met with DOJ about 9 months ago to resolve this and we’re told…” The rest is redacted under exemptions that allow agencies to withhold deliberative process material and protect privacy. It’s unclear how much of the information made it back to Secretary Shulkin. The fact remains however, that high level VA officials responsible for gathering facts about a case for the agency’s secretary instead circulated serious falsehoods.

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Radical Islamic Scholar Hillary Let Back into U.S. as Sec. of State Jailed for Rape

The radical Islamic scholar that Hillary Clinton let back into the U.S. after a lengthy ban over terrorist ties is in jail on rape charges. This week a judge in France denied bail for Clinton’s pal, Tariq Ramadan, the grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder and Hamas funder Hassan al Banna. Ramadan, a professor at Oxford University, was arrested in Paris last week and charged with raping two Muslim women. Both women were raped in France, according to a European news report. The first one, a 40-year-old disabled Muslim convert claims Ramadan raped and beat her in the southeastern city of Lyon in 2009 and the other, a 41-year-old feminist activist, says Ramadan raped her in Paris in 2012.

A respected Swiss newspaper, Tribune de Genève, has also reported that Ramadan seduced and had sexual relations with teenage girls at a Geneva school where he once taught. The women say Ramadan told them they were special before having sex with them in the back of his car. One of the women was 14 at the time and the others were 15 to 18 years old. They say Ramadan used his authority as their teacher to seduce them. Oxford University placed Ramadan on a leave of absence after the rape allegations surfaced as well as other accusations of assault and sexual harassment. Professor Ramadan’s teaching, supervising and examining duties will be reassigned, and he will not be present at the University or College,” reads a statement issued by Oxford in early November. “The University has consistently acknowledged the gravity of the allegations against Professor Ramadan, while emphasising the importance of fairness and the principles of justice and due process.”

As Barack Obama’s Secretary of State Clinton, a self-proclaimed women’s rights activist (her Hillary for America policy included confronting violence against women and has a section on sexual assault) went to bat for Ramadan. As part of an Obama administration effort to pursue a better relationship with Muslim communities, Clinton signed special orders to allow the reentry of two radical Islamic academics whose terrorist ties had for years banned them from the United States. One of them was Ramadan. As the nation’s chief foreign affairs adviser, Clinton exercised her exemption authority to allow Ramadan and South African sociologist Adam Habib, a critic of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, back into the country. The State Department had repeatedly denied their visa claiming the men present a national security threat.

Ramadan, one of the European Muslim world’s most prominent scholars, was the better known of the two. He openly supports the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, has worked for Iran and donates money to terrorist causes. His grandfather founded the Muslim Brotherhood, an influential Islamist group that advocates terrorism against Israel and the west and is known as the parent organization of Hamas and Al Qaeda. A few months before Clinton approved his U.S. visa, a Dutch university fired Ramadan over his extremism and his work for the Islamic Republic of Iran. The move capped the beloved Muslim professor’s assessment that London subway bombers were justified in acting out against their oppressors because the “British government is helping Iraqi people to be killed.” A well-known French author who has studied Ramadan extensively said the scholar is undoubtedly an agent of radicalization.

Clinton’s special waiver allowed Ramadan to visit four American cities after being banned from the U.S. for six years. He arrived in New York for a tour that included New Jersey, Chicago, Detroit and Washington. Permitting the controversial scholar to enter the U.S. was part of a broader government mission to create a new and improved relationship—based on mutual interest and mutual respect—with Muslims around the world.

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Public Utility Avoids Fixing Damage by Paying Fancy Law Firm Triple the Money

To dodge its obligation, a state utility company paid a fancy law firm triple the amount of money required to fix damages caused by one of its trucks. It’s yet another example of government wasting taxpayer dollars, a senseless misuse of public funds that is all too common in government at all levels. It’s also a bizarre—and costly—struggle between one of the nation’s largest public power utilities and a small business owner whose security cameras captured the truck crushing the drainage system under the asphalt of her parking lot. The utility truck, which weighs nine tons, left a hole in the pavement and a broken drain pipe underground when it used the parking lot to turn around.

The case comes out of Phoenix Arizona where a single mother and respected professional is simply trying to get the parking lot of her chiropractic business fixed. The culprit is the Salt River Project (SRP), which has served central Arizona since 1903 and provides electricity to approximately 1 million customers in a 2,900-square-mile area, including most of metropolitan Phoenix. In addition to four officers and eight executive managers, SRP has more than 40 elected board members, directors and council members. The utility’s website describes it as a “community-based, not-for-profit organization”  that has adopted a “leaner, greener and even more customer-centric” strategy that meets customers’ needs. SRP assures the public that funds that it is committed to foundational values that have the best interest of the communities it serves.

SRP’s strategy in the Phoenix chiropractor case seems to contradict its promises and certainly cannot be considered in the best interest of the taxpayers who sustain it. The damage to the property is estimated to be $43,000, according to licensed experts hired by the chiropractor, Melody Jafari. She has spent about $20,000 trying to get the utility company to pay for the damage to her parking lot, including legal costs, an expert witness and temporary repairs to keep her business running. Rather than pay for the repairs, SRP has blown $129,000 so far to avoid taking responsibility. The public utility hired a multi-million-dollar national law firm called Jennings Strouss with offices in Phoenix, Peoria, Tucson and Washington D.C. The law firm boasts of leveraging its resources regionally and nationally and having a litigation department that stands as one of the most respected in the Southwest.

Jafari and SRP have been engaged in a tug of war since the incident occurred in early August 2015. The Phoenix area had just been hit with a fierce monsoon storm and power outages were occurring throughout the region. A utility truck was in the area tending to power lines that had been damaged by the storm, though none were in the vicinity of Jafari’s business. The SRP truck making rounds simply used the parking lot to turn around and that’s when the weight of the truck crushed the drainage system under the asphalt parking lot, leaving a large hole in the pavement and a broken drain pipe. Jafari has numerous security cameras monitoring her property and the entire incident was captured on video. When Jafari initially contacted SRP she says they seemed responsive and she was optimistic the utility would fix the damage. Instead, SRP chose to lawyer up and pay three times the cost of conducting the repairs on attorneys’ fees. Judicial Watch reached out to SRP through its media relations department but never heard back.

In the meantime, Jafari has been left to fend for herself. Her unbelievable years-long ordeal with the utility caught the attention of the local police labor counsel, Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA), which is litigating on her behalf. PLEA’s attorney of four decades, Mike Napier, has partnered with Judicial Watch numerous times to address rule of law and conservative issues in the nation’s fifth-largest city and fastest growing county, Maricopa. Napier told Judicial Watch that back in December 2015 SRP offered to compensate Jafari $750 for a hot patch repair of the pavement, which doesn’t begin to cover the magnitude of the damage.

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Obamacare Recruiters Get $1.2 Billion Under Proposed Law

A fraud-infested Obamacare “outreach” program will get an astounding $1.2 billion from American taxpayers if legislation introduced by a veteran congresswoman becomes law. The preposterous measure, introduced by California Democrat Maxine Waters a few week ago, aims to recruit customers for the health insurance exchanges set up under Obama’s disastrous healthcare overhaul. The 14-term congresswoman, investigated by the House Ethics Committee for steering federal funds to her husband’s failing Massachusetts bank, crafted the law because the Trump administration slashed Obamacare outreach funding by more than 90%.

“Our health care system is under attack by a president, administration, and Republican-controlled Congress that – after numerous failed attempts to repeal Obamacare – are sabotaging it for political gain,” Waters said in a statement. “My legislation seeks to reverse their vindictive efforts to undermine and de-stabilize our health care system by ensuring that all consumers are provided with the information they need to make timely and well-informed decisions when purchasing health coverage through the federal and state-run marketplaces.” The bill, Affordable Care Act (ACA) Outreach for the Uninsured, Transformative Recruitment, and Enrollment Action for Compassionate Healthcare (ACA OUTREACH) Act, is cosponsored by 36 other lawmakers. If it passes, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would dole out $300 million annually through 2021 for “navigator” grants. Minority and underserved communities would be especially targeted, according to language in the bill’s text.

The Obamacare navigator program was rife with fraud and corruption and Judicial Watch sued HHS back in 2014 to obtain records that the agency refused to provide under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In 2013, the Obama administration gave dozens of leftists organizations a whopping $67 million to help people “navigate” health insurance exchanges that weren’t even fully established. In a “culturally competent manner” the so-called navigators were tasked with helping people shop for and enroll in plans that would eventually be available on the federal government market places. The money was divided between 105 mostly leftist groups that assisted and recruited the uninsured to sign up for coverage and understand their options.

Here are a few examples of the community organizations that received navigator grants from the government; an Arizona nonprofit called “Campesinos Sin Fronteras” that provides services to farm workers and low-income Hispanics; a south Florida legal group that provided navigators in “racially, ethnically, linguistically, culturally and socioeconomically diverse” communities; three Planned Parenthood branches—in Iowa, Montana and New Hampshire—got a combined $655,000 to serve as navigators. Others include; the Arab Community Center in Michigan, which got nearly $300,000 to reach out to and engage uninsured community members through “multicultural” media. A Black Chamber of Commerce in South Carolina received north of $230,000 to “provide outreach around new coverage options” and a Hispanic aging group in Texas got over $646,000 help members that are “socially isolated due to cultural and linguistic differences.”

Some of the navigator money went to a labor front group called Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York headed by an illegal immigrant activist named Maria Marroquin. The group received navigator funds shortly after Marroquin, an illegal alien from Peru, had been arrested for participating in disruptive demonstrations protesting the deportation of fellow undocumented immigrants and demanding amnesty.

Besides the outrage of hiring an illegal immigrant to promote a U.S. government program, it’s equally disturbing to know that navigators have access to the sensitive personal information of healthcare enrollees. This includes Social Security numbers, which can be used for identity theft, a rampant crime among illegal alien populations seeking to establish residency and land jobs in the U.S.

Navigator funds also went to a nonprofit (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), with such a huge history of corruption that Congress issued a federal funding ban. As part of a broader investigation into ACORN Judicial Watch obtained records showing that HHS violated the congressional ACORN funding ban by awarding a Louisiana nonprofit called Southern United Neighborhoods (SUN) a $1.3 million Obamacare navigator grant to recruit customers. Headquartered in New Orleans, SUN is dedicated to combating poverty, discrimination and community deterioration that keep low-income people from taking advantage of their rights and opportunities, according to its website.

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Trump EEOC Gets Settlement for Muslim Security Guard Discriminated by Co.’s Grooming Policy

Keeping with an Obama practice of pursuing American businesses that won’t accommodate Muslims, the Trump administration sued a security company for refusing to modify its grooming standards. This constituted religious discrimination, according to the government, because the Muslim employee requested the grooming exemption in accordance with his “sincerely held religious beliefs.” In a settlement reached this month between the company and the government, the security guard gets $90,000 in damages and the firm must hire an equal employment monitor and revise its religious accommodation policies.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the bloated federal agency that enforces the nation’s workplace discrimination laws, filed the lawsuit in December against Allied Universal in United States District Court for the Southern District of California. Allied is a national company with more than 150,000 employees that protect tens of thousands of clients across the country. The plaintiff, William Webb, was hired as a security guard to work in the San Diego area. After getting hired, he asked for the grooming exemption and the company refused. The EEOC, which filed dozens of similar lawsuits during the Obama administration, alleges in its complaint that Allied’s conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits religious discrimination and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employees’ sincerely held religious beliefs.

“The EEOC’s Complaint alleges that Defendant unlawfully discriminated against Charging Party William Webb (“Webb”) based on religion (Islam) in violation of Sections 701 G) and 703(a) Title VII,” according to the lawsuit. “More specifically, the Complaint alleges that Defendant failed to provide Webb a religious accommodation and discharged him based on his religion, Islam. The commission also alleges that Defendant discharged Webb in retaliation for having engaged in protected activity in violation of Section 704(a) of Title VII.” Besides doling out cash for upholding its longtime grooming policy, Allied must pay for an equal employment monitor—that must be approved by the EEOC—and provide training for all employees, supervisors and managers involved in the religious accommodation process. Among the monitor’s responsibilities is ensuring that the company “maintains and implements nation-wide an anti-discrimination, religious accommodation, and anti-retaliation policy and reporting procedure,” according to the settlement.

In a statement celebrating the victory, an EEOC attorney commends Allied for taking remedies to ensure future religious discrimination will not occur. The agency lawyer also gives notice to other companies that the EEOC will go after them if they don’t follow Allied’s lead in addressing religious accommodation issues. The press release also reminds that “eliminating discriminatory policies affecting vulnerable workers who may be unaware of their rights” is a priority of a national Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) launched in 2012 under the Obama administration. Another SEP focus is to help “immigrant, migrant and other vulnerable workers” and crack down on pay disparities that persist based on race and ethnicity. SEP was recently renewed by the Trump EEOC until 2021.

Under Obama the agency took a special interest in protecting followers of Islam by going after American businesses that refused to change longtime policies for Muslim workers. The EEOC sued a clothing retailer with a policy against head covers of any kind for religious discrimination because it would not allow a female employee at one of its stores to wear a head scarf as required by her religion. An Obama-appointed federal judge in northern California handed the administration a victory, ruling that the Muslim woman’s civil rights were violated. The EEOC also helped two Muslim truck drivers get a hefty cash settlement after being fired for refusing to transport alcohol because it violated their religious beliefs. The judge in that case, an Obama appointee in Illinois, ruled in favor of the Muslims and the Peoria-based trucking company had to pay $240,000 in punitive damages. This month’s settlement in the lawsuit against the security company indicates the Trump administration will not put an end to the deranged Obama policies.

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Leftist Group that Blasted Trump Over DACA Gets Biggest Slice of $37 Mil HUD Grant

A leftist group that attacked President Trump for terminating an Obama program that protects hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants living in the U.S. is being rewarded with taxpayer dollars. The Washington D.C. nonprofit, National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), will get the largest chunk—$999,962—of a $37 million grant awarded this week to fight housing discrimination. The cash is being distributed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), an agency long embroiled in a multitude of scandals and well known for waste and abuse.

The generous award comes on the heels of NFHA’s Trump bashing over a contentious policy known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that shields nearly 800,000 illegal aliens under the age of 31 from deportation and lets them obtain work permits and drivers’ licenses. The overwhelming majority—548,000—are from Mexico, according to figures released by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in September. El Salvador (25,900), Guatemala (17,700) and Honduras (16,100) are the next three countries with the most DACA recipients, the government figures show. The biggest concentration of illegal aliens protected by DACA are in California (197,900) and Texas (113,000), though states such as Illinois (35,600), New York (32,900), Florida (27,000) and Arizona (25,500) also have significant numbers. Most came to the U.S. as children “through no fault of their own,” which is why former President Obama launched DACA through executive order in 2012. The bottom line is that DACA rewards people for breaking the law.

Predictably, when Trump dismantled DACA a few months ago open borders groups went ballistic. They fired off letters to Congress and trashed the commander-in-chief for returning to the rule of law. NFHA led the pack, releasing a statement from its president and CEO, Shanna L. Smith, saying “Donald Trump’s horrifying decision to terminate DACA represents one of the most destructive actions this president has taken to harm marginalized communities in this country. Smith’s rant continues: DACA has provided hope for nearly 1 million young undocumented immigrants whose dreams of a better and successful future reflect the spirit and hope that has defined the United States of America. Their contributions to the American workforce and their courage serves as a model to the rest of us. The fair housing movement stands by the side of Dreamers who will be imperiled by the decision to end DACA.”

Illegal immigrants have “inalienable rights,” Smith asserts, comparing them to communities that suffer under residential segregation and discrimination. “The Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination regardless of the status of their national origin, which may impact citizenship standards, and the Civil Rights Act of 1866 states that all people of the United States have an equal right to make and enforce contracts, including those to secure housing,” the NFHA chief further claims in the Trump lashing. “Fair housing advocates stand at the ready to protect the fair housing rights of ALL people in the United States and we urge Congress to take steps to pass legislation to protect Dreamers.” Smith also fired off a letter, signed by a coalition of other like-minded groups, to Congress calling Trump cruel for nixing DACA and accusing the commander-in-chief of repeatedly trying to divide the nation.

In light of this, it may seem baffling that a member of Trump’s cabinet, HUD Secretary Ben Carson, is rewarding NFHA with nearly one million taxpayer dollars to support its leftwing agenda. The $37 million are being divided among more than 150 groups nationwide that work to confront violations of the Fair Housing Act, according a HUD announcement issued this week. “Every person deserves a fair chance to live in a neighborhood free from discrimination,” Carson says in the agency release. “The funds announced today will allow our fair housing partners on the ground to combat housing discrimination and ensure every person has equal access to housing.” NFHA claims to be the “voice of fair housing.” It’s unclear why the group became embroiled in illegal immigration.

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As FBI Director Mueller Helped Cover Up Fla. 9/11 Probe, Court Docs Show

Court documents recently filed by the government further rock the credibility of Russia Special Counsel Robert Mueller because they show that as FBI Director Mueller he worked to cover up the connection between a Florida Saudi family and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The documents reveal that Mueller was likely involved in publicly releasing deceptive official agency statements about a secret investigation of the Saudis, who lived in Sarasota, with ties to the hijackers. A Florida journalism nonprofit uncovered the existence of the secret FBI investigation that was also kept from Congress.

Under Mueller’s leadership, the FBI tried to discredit the story, publicly countering that agents found no connection between the Sarasota Saudi family and the 2001 terrorist plot. The reality is that the FBI’s own files contained several reports that said the opposite, according to the Ft. Lauderdale-based news group’s ongoing investigation. Files obtained by reporters in the course of their lengthy probe reveal that federal agents found “many connections” between the family and “individuals associated with the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001.” The FBI was forced to release the once-secret reports because the news group sued in federal court when the information wasn’t provided under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The disingenuous statements were issued by FBI officials in Miami and Tampa in a desperate effort to disparage a 2011 story exposing the agency’s covert investigation of the Sarasota Saudis as well as reporting that it had been concealed from Congress. Mueller is referenced in a document index that was ordered by a federal judge to be created in late November 2017. The south Florida judge, William J. Zloch, a Ronald Reagan appointee, asked the FBI to explain where it had discovered dozens of pages of documents in the public-records case filed six years ago. The index reference to then-FBI Director Mueller appears in an item involving an agency white paper written a week after the publication of a news story about the abrupt departure of Saudis Abdulaziz and Anoud al-Hijji from their Sarasota area home about two weeks before 9/11. The couple left behind their cars, clothes, furniture, jewelry and other personal items. “It was created to brief the FBI Director concerning the FBI’s investigation of 4224 Escondito Circle,” the al-Hijjis’ address, the index says.

Though the recently filed court documents reveal Mueller received a briefing about the Sarasota Saudi investigation, the FBI continued to publicly deny it existed and it appears that the lies were approved by Mueller. Not surprisingly, he didn’t respond to questions about this new discovery emailed to his office by the news organization that uncovered it. Though the mainstream media has neglected to report this relevant development, it’s difficult to ignore that it chips away at Mueller’s credibility as special counsel to investigate if Russia influenced the 2016 presidential election. Even before the Saudi coverup documents were exposed by nonprofit journalists, Mueller’s credentials were questionable to head any probe. Back in May Judicial Watch reminded of Mueller’s misguided handiwork and collaboration with radical Islamist organizations as FBI director.

Back in 2013 Judicial Watch exclusively obtained droves of records documenting how, under Mueller’s leadership, the FBI purged all anti-terrorism training material deemed “offensive” to Muslims after secret meetings between Islamic organizations and the then-FBI chief. Judicial Watch had to sue to get the records and published an in-depth report on the scandal in 2013 and a lengthier, updated follow-up in 2015. As FBI director, Mueller bent over backwards to please radical Islamist groups and caved into their demands. The agency eliminated the valuable anti-terrorism training material and curricula after Mueller met with various Islamist organizations, including those with documented ties too terrorism. Among them were two organizations— Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)—named by the U.S. government as unindicted co-conspirators in the 2007 Holy Land Foundation terrorist financing case. CAIR is a terrorist front group with extensive links to foreign and domestic Islamists. It was founded in 1994 by three Middle Eastern extremists (Omar Ahmad, Nihad Awad and Rafeeq Jaber) who ran the American propaganda wing of Hamas, known then as the Islamic Association for Palestine.

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Illegal Aliens Quietly Being Relocated Throughout U.S. on Commercial Flights

Immigrants entering the United States illegally through the southern border are quietly being relocated to different parts of the country on commercial flights, high-ranking Homeland Security officials told Judicial Watch this week. In the last few days alone, groups of illegal aliens boarded planes at airports in Texas and Arizona accompanied by a taxpayer-funded government escort in civilian clothes to avoid drawing attention. The first flight originated at Valley International Airport in Harlingen, Texas and was bound for Minneapolis. The second left from Tucson International Airport and arrived in Salt Lake City, Utah, federal sources said. In both locations the illegal aliens appeared to be in their late teens and were escorted by a Health and Human Services (HHS) chaperone. Judicial Watch reached out to HHS for comment but did not hear back from the agency.

The illegal aliens wear red HHS wrist bands and receive “the gold glove treatment,” according to a veteran federal official, who added that the undocumented immigrants get priority boarding ahead of all other passengers, including law enforcement personnel. “It is shameful and dangerous,” said a seasoned Homeland Security agent with direct knowledge of the secret operations. Labor personnel from front-line Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agencies have complained about the cost and security risk of flying illegal alien minors to any destination of their choosing within the U.S., according to a longtime Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) official present at the meetings. One of the closed-door meetings, late last year, included President Donald Trump and his chief of staff, John Kelly.

It appears that the Trump administration has chosen to ignore the concerns of rank-and-file federal agents, instead opting to quietly extend the controversial Obama-era policy that relocates illegal immigrants to unsuspecting communities nationwide. It is known as “Catch and Release” and frustrated DHS sources tell Judicial Watch the Trump administration is essentially facilitating the ongoing commission of a federal immigration crime despite its tough border security rhetoric. In a recent newspaper article Border Patrol agents in Texas say they’ve been ordered to release illegal immigrants caught entering through Mexico because there is no bed space at detention facilities. This has provoked a surge in illegal crossings, Border Patrol officials say, because there is no punishment to deter the lawbreakers.

In the same news story, the head of the ICE officers’ union (Chris Crane) and the National Border Patrol Council (Brandon Judd) said detrimental old policies remain in place because Obama managers are still running their agencies. Crane, a veteran ICE agent, refers to the Obama holdovers as “incompetent, corrupt and anti-enforcement.” Judd said word is getting back to Mexico and Central America that illegal border crossers will be released if caught, resulting in a huge increase in crossings. In a period of a few months, border crossings skyrocketed from 11,100 in a single month to 26,000, according to figures provided in the news story. Immigrants from Asia are also entering the U.S. through Mexico, federal officials say. In San Diego, California agents apprehended dozens of illegal aliens from Asian countries in the last few months, including more than 60 from India.

There was tremendous hope that Trump would finally put an end—as promised—to the dangerous Obama policies that released scores of illegal immigrants into different parts of the country. Judicial Watch has reported on it extensively and in 2016 exposed a covert DHS program that transported illegal immigrants from the Mexican border to Phoenix and released them without proper processing. The government classified them as Other Than Mexican (OTM) and transferred them 116 miles north from Tucson to a Phoenix bus station where they went their separate way. The OTMs were from Honduras, Colombia, El Salvador and Guatemala and a security company contracted by the U.S. government drove the OTMs from the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector where they were in custody to Phoenix. Outraged Border Patrol agents and supervisors on the front lines said the illegal aliens were released in droves because there was no room to keep them in detention. “They’re telling us to put them on a bus and let them go,” one Arizona law enforcement official told Judicial Watch at the time. “Just move those bodies across the country.” A year into the Trump administration, it seems that little has changed.

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VA Facility Where Vet Got Prosecuted for Posting U.S. Flags Duped out of Millions by Bribed Official

An official at the same Los Angeles Veterans Administration facility where an Army vet got prosecuted for posting American Flags took hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from a vendor that defrauded the VA out of millions. While the feds went on a witch hunt against the 75-year-old vet for affixing Old Glory at a site honoring those who served their country, the VA director was committing the real crime. This month the corrupt VA official, Ralph Tillman, agreed to plead guilty to two felony offenses for taking over a quarter of a million dollars in bribes from a parking lot operator at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System in southern California.

The crooked parking lot operator, Richard Scott, owns a company called Westside Services that has long benefitted from a lucrative contract with the VA. Scott paid Tillman to conceal a scheme in which he failed to pay the VA more than $11 million generated by his operation of the parking facilities, according to the feds. Tillman admitted to federal authorities that he knew the parking lot operator was defrauding the VA out of millions of dollars and that he extended Westside Services’ contract in 2011 to continue the fraud and bribery scheme. Scott personally delivered monthly cash payments to Tillman in sealed FedEx envelopes, according to a statement issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) that says “Tillman specifically admitted that he took $286,250 from Scott from 2003 through last year.” The disgraced VA official faces up to eight years in prison.

For nearly a decade a group called the Old Veterans Guard has filed complaints against rampant corruption at the Los Angeles VA, specifically naming Tillman for abusing and misappropriating VA property. The 338-acre parcel in West Los Angeles, which includes the National Veterans Park and Veterans Home, was deeded to the federal government in 1888 for the specific purpose of caring for disabled veterans. Instead, the property is also used for many unrelated causes. Among them is a stadium for the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) baseball team, an athletic complex for a nearby private high school, laundry facilities for a local hotel, storage and maintenance of production sets for 20th Century Fox Television, the Brentwood Theatre, soccer practice and match fields for a private girls’ soccer club, a dog park, and a farmer’s market.

Members of the Old Veterans Guard say federal authorities retaliated against them for denouncing the fraudulent use of the facility—including Tillman’s scam—by sending VA police to harass and intimidate them at weekly rallies. Since 2008 the group has assembled at the “Great Lawn Gate” that marks the entrance to the Los Angeles National Veterans Park to protest the VA’s failure to make full use of the property to benefit veterans, particularly those who are homeless. Among the group leaders is Robert Rosebrock, an elderly Army vet who got criminally charged for posting a pair of four-by-six-inch American Flags on the outside fence on Memorial Day in 2016. Judicial Watch represented Rosebrock in the federal case, which was tried in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Last April, the court ruled that Rosebrock was not guilty of violating federal law for displaying the flags above the VA fence. Rosebrock’s absurd case was filed during the Obama administration, but the Trump administration moved forward with it.

 

 

 

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3 Out of 4 Convicted Terrorists Came to U.S. Legally Via Current Immigration System

Illustrating the national security threats created by the nation’s immigration system, the overwhelming majority of individuals convicted of terrorism are foreigners who entered the United States legally through various federal programs. Three out of every four convicted terrorists between September 11, 2001 and December 31, 2016 are foreign born and came to the United States through our immigration system, according to a new report issued jointly by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

At least 549 individuals were convicted of terrorism-related charges in American federal courts since 2001 and 402 of them—approximately 73%–were foreign-born, the report says. Here’s the breakdown by citizenship at the time of their convictions; 254 were not U.S. citizens, 148 were naturalized and received American citizenship and 147 were U.S. born. Additionally, 1,716 foreigners with national security concerns were removed from the United States. The Trump administration stresses that figures include only those aliens who were convicted or removed and therefore do not represent the total measure of foreign terrorist infiltration of the United States. Statistics on individuals facing terrorism charges who have not yet been convicted will be provided in follow-up reports that will be made available to the public.

This DHS/DOJ report, issued this month, is disturbing enough and reveals that a significant number of terrorists entered the country through immigration programs that use family ties and extended-family chain migration as a basis for entry. Among them is Mufid Elfgeeh, a national of Yemen who benefitted from chain migration in 1997 and was sentenced to more than 22 years in prison for attempting to recruit fighters for ISIS. Sudanese Mahmoud Amin Mohamed Elhassan came to the U.S. in 2012 as a relative of a lawful permanent resident and eventually pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to ISIS. Pakistani Uzair Paracha was admitted to the U.S. in 1980 as a family member of a lawful permanent resident and in 2006 was sentenced to more than three decades in prison for providing material support to Al Qaeda. Khaleel Ahmed, a national of India, was admitted to the United States in 1998 as a family member of a naturalized United States citizen. Ahmed eventually became an American citizen and in 2010 was sentenced to more than eight years in prison for conspiring to provide material support to terrorists.

Other convicted terrorists came to the U.S. through the controversial visa lottery program, the multi-agency probe found. Among them is Abdurasaul Hasanovich Juraboev, a national of Uzbekistan who was admitted into the country as a diversity visa lottery recipient in 2011. In 2015, he pleaded guilty to conspiring to support ISIS and in 2017 Juraboev was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Sudanese Ali Shukri Amin was admitted to the U.S. in 1999 as the child of a diversity visa lottery recipient and subsequently obtained American citizenship through naturalization. In 2015, he was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for conspiring to provide material support and resources to ISIS. Amin admitted to using social media to provide advice and encouragement to ISIS and its supporters and facilitated ISIS supporters seeking to travel to Syria to join the terrorist group. Amin also helped a Virginia teen named Reza Niknejad get to Syria to join ISIS in 2015.

“The United States faces a serious and persistent terror threat, and individuals with ties to terror can and will use any pathway to enter our country,” the new DHS/DOJ report states. “Accordingly, DHS has taken significant steps to improve the security of all potential routes used by known or suspected terrorists (KST) to travel to the United States to ensure that individuals who would do harm to Americans are identified and detected, and their plots are disrupted. These figures reflect the challenges faced by the United States and demonstrate the necessity to remain vigilant and proactive in our counterterrorism posture.”

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3 Out of 4 Convicted Terrorists Came to U.S. Legally Via Current Immigration System

Illustrating the national security threats created by the nation’s immigration system, the overwhelming majority of individuals convicted of terrorism are foreigners who entered the United States legally through various federal programs. Three out of every four convicted terrorists between September 11, 2001 and December 31, 2016 are foreign born and came to the United States through our immigration system, according to a new report issued jointly by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

At least 549 individuals were convicted of terrorism-related charges in American federal courts since 2001 and 402 of them—approximately 73%–were foreign-born, the report says. Here’s the breakdown by citizenship at the time of their convictions; 254 were not U.S. citizens, 148 were naturalized and received American citizenship and 147 were U.S. born. Additionally, 1,716 foreigners with national security concerns were removed from the United States. The Trump administration stresses that figures include only those aliens who were convicted or removed and therefore do not represent the total measure of foreign terrorist infiltration of the United States. Statistics on individuals facing terrorism charges who have not yet been convicted will be provided in follow-up reports that will be made available to the public.

This DHS/DOJ report, issued this month, is disturbing enough and reveals that a significant number of terrorists entered the country through immigration programs that use family ties and extended-family chain migration as a basis for entry. Among them is Mufid Elfgeeh, a national of Yemen who benefitted from chain migration in 1997 and was sentenced to more than 22 years in prison for attempting to recruit fighters for ISIS. Sudanese Mahmoud Amin Mohamed Elhassan came to the U.S. in 2012 as a relative of a lawful permanent resident and eventually pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to ISIS. Pakistani Uzair Paracha was admitted to the U.S. in 1980 as a family member of a lawful permanent resident and in 2006 was sentenced to more than three decades in prison for providing material support to Al Qaeda. Khaleel Ahmed, a national of India, was admitted to the United States in 1998 as a family member of a naturalized United States citizen. Ahmed eventually became an American citizen and in 2010 was sentenced to more than eight years in prison for conspiring to provide material support to terrorists.

Other convicted terrorists came to the U.S. through the controversial visa lottery program, the multi-agency probe found. Among them is Abdurasaul Hasanovich Juraboev, a national of Uzbekistan who was admitted into the country as a diversity visa lottery recipient in 2011. In 2015, he pleaded guilty to conspiring to support ISIS and in 2017 Juraboev was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Sudanese Ali Shukri Amin was admitted to the U.S. in 1999 as the child of a diversity visa lottery recipient and subsequently obtained American citizenship through naturalization. In 2015, he was sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for conspiring to provide material support and resources to ISIS. Amin admitted to using social media to provide advice and encouragement to ISIS and its supporters and facilitated ISIS supporters seeking to travel to Syria to join the terrorist group. Amin also helped a Virginia teen named Reza Niknejad get to Syria to join ISIS in 2015.

“The United States faces a serious and persistent terror threat, and individuals with ties to terror can and will use any pathway to enter our country,” the new DHS/DOJ report states. “Accordingly, DHS has taken significant steps to improve the security of all potential routes used by known or suspected terrorists (KST) to travel to the United States to ensure that individuals who would do harm to Americans are identified and detected, and their plots are disrupted. These figures reflect the challenges faced by the United States and demonstrate the necessity to remain vigilant and proactive in our counterterrorism posture.”

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Exceptionally Critical Audit Exposes Costly Failures in DOD’s Afghanistan Reconstruction

An exceptionally critical audit of the Department of Defense’s (DOD) scandal-plagued initiative to help rebuild Afghanistan reveals that hundreds of millions of dollars were wasted on failed “strategic business and economic activities” and hundreds of millions more were blown on unwarranted “indirect and support costs.” It marks the latest of a multitude of reports documenting atrocities in the U.S. government’s multi-billion-dollar Afghanistan reconstruction, a huge debacle that continues fleecing American taxpayers.

The recent probe, conducted by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), further exposes the DOD’s egregious strategic and operational failures, revealing that programs intended to reduce violence, enhance stability and support economic normalcy in Afghanistan had a mere 22% success rate despite their astounding $316.3 million price tag. Incredibly, this type of fraud and corruption is so pervasive in the government’s mission to reconstruct Afghanistan, that it isn’t news anymore. It is simply par for the course, the unacceptable norm in a horribly mismanaged Pentagon program that has failed miserably.

This probe focuses on a temporary organization called Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO) originally created by the DOD to support operations in Iraq. In 2009 the DOD redirected TFBSO to carry out economic development projects in Afghanistan to develop private investment, industrial development, banking and financial system development as well as agriculture diversification and energy development. Congress appropriated a whopping $823 million for TFBSO operations in Afghanistan and SIGAR investigators found that $675 million has been spent, though the figure could be higher. “While TFBSO’s poor record keeping was problematic in our assessing its performance, it is clear that TFBSO was unable to accomplish its overall goals,” the SIGAR report states. “Specifically, the lack of a clear mission and strategy combined with poor coordination, planning, contracting, and oversight led to conflict with U.S. agencies and waste.” The blasting by the watchdog continues; “TFBSO’s poor planning, contracting, and oversight practices contributed to incomplete projects, unsatisfactory work, and delays, which resulted in waste.”

Less than half of the 89 contracts reviewed by SIGAR used limited competition and sole-source contracting, drastically increasing the government’s risk of waste. Of those, seven contracts worth $35.1 million were awarded to firms employing former TFBSO staff as senior executives. “In other instances, TFBSO contracted with unproven organizations that performed poorly,” the report states. “In one case, TFBSO awarded two sole-source contracts, worth a combined $435,504, to Al Ehsan Construction Company and Tak Dana Dry and Fresh Fruit Processing, to construct and equip a pomegranate cold storage facility. According to contract documents, Al Ehsan completed its construction work for the shell building. However, when we visited the site on April 3, 2017, we found no evidence that the shell building existed.” Contractors were rarely held accountable by TFBSO for poor performance, resulting in money being wasted, the watchdog further writes.

Due to poor planning, disastrous contracting practices and lack of oversight only $70 million of the $316.3 million spent on contracts to fully met their deliverables. That’s a dismal 22% success rate. “The remaining $246.3 million (78%) either partially met or failed to meet their deliverables,” SIGAR found. Even when projects were completed, in many cases neither the Afghan government nor the private sector independently sustained or built upon the results, the audit says. The magnitude of corruption in this out-of-control program may never be fully disclosed because TFBSO didn’t collect or retain data that connected the work of its contracts with achievements or failures. Therefore, SIGAR writes, “sizeable gaps remain” and there is no way to determine if the program even came close to meeting its goals. “In short, because important documents and data were not consistently collected or retained, we could not fully assess the extent to which the $675 million obligated by TFBSO was spent effectively,” the SIGAR report states.

Judicial Watch has reported extensively on Afghanistan reconstruction boondoggles over the years, most of them documented in tremendous detail in federal audits. Highlights include the mysterious disappearance of nearly half a billion dollars in oil destined for the Afghan National Army, a $335 million Afghan power plant that’s seldom used and an $18.5 million renovation for a prison that remains unfinished and unused years after the U.S.-funded work began. Among the more outrageous expenditures are U.S. Army contracts with dozens of companies tied to Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The reconstruction watchdog recommended that the Army immediately cut business ties to the terrorists, but the deals continued. Another big waste reported by Judicial Watch a few years ago, involves a $65 million initiative to help Afghan women escape repression. The government admits that, because there’s no accountability, record-keeping or follow-up, it has no clue if the program was effective. Last year Judicial Watch reported that U.S. government’s $8.5 billion effort to counter narcotics in Afghanistan is a humiliating failure that’s resulted in a huge increase in poppy cultivation and opium production.

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Atlanta Jail Lets Muslim Inmates Wear Hijabs, CAIR to Supply Them in Bulk for Free

Caving into the demands of a terrorist front group, the City of Atlanta Detention Center in Georgia is allowing female Muslim inmates to wear a head scarf (hijab) used as a symbol of modesty in the Islamic dress code. Hats and other head covers are banned in American state and federal prisons for security and safety reasons. Making an exception to this rule to appease followers of one religion sets a dangerous precedent. Besides, the Quran doesn’t require Muslim women to wear a hijab. The cover is optional and those who wear it do so willfully as an act of worship.

Nevertheless, corrections officials at the City of Atlanta Detention Center changed the rules to satisfy the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a co-conspirator in a federal terror-finance case involving the Hamas front group Holy Land Foundation (read more in a Judicial Watch special report that focuses on Muslim charities). CAIR was founded in 1994 by three Middle Eastern extremists (Omar Ahmad, Nihad Awad and Rafeeq Jaber) who ran the American propaganda wing of Hamas, known then as the Islamic Association for Palestine. The Obama administration allowed CAIR to transform the way U.S. law enforcement agencies conduct anti-terrorism training by allowing the group to bully agencies at the local, state and federal level to alter counterterrorism training materials determined to be discriminatory against Muslims.

This includes getting the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to purge anti-terrorism training curricula of material coined “offensive” to Muslims. Judicial Watch uncovered that scandal, obtained the FBI records and published an in-depth report. CAIR also got several local police departments and the U.S. military to eliminate anti-terrorism training materials and instructors deemed anti-Muslim. At CAIR’s request, Obama’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, ordered the U.S. military to “scour its training material to ensure it doesn’t contain anti-Islamic content.” It’s not clear if the Trump administration obliged with CAIR’s March, 2017 demand that the Air Force sever ties with instructor Patrick Dunleavy, a former deputy inspector general for the New York State Department of Corrections who’s testified before Congress on the threat of Islamic radicalization in the nation’s prison system. CAIR wants to oust Dunleavy over his ties to a reputable think-tank recognized as a comprehensive data center on radical Islamic terrorist cells. CAIR accuses the research group, Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), of being an “anti-Muslim propaganda mouthpiece.”

The Atlanta hijab issue surfaced last year when one of CAIR’s Georgia directors got arrested. Authorities instructed the CAIR director, Asma Elhuni, to remove her hijab during boking and she refused, citing her religious beliefs. The incident launched a campaign to change the rules at the jail facility that houses offenders from throughout Fulton County, the state’s most populous. CAIR said Elhun “bravely defended her constitutional rights” and ordered a policy change. This week, the group thanked City of Atlanta Detention Center Chief Patrick Labat for agreeing to a policy that protects religious freedom. To celebrate, CAIR is providing the jail with hijabs, “in-bulk free-of-charge.” Now CAIR is demanding that female inmates be granted the option of taking their booking photos in the presence of only female inmates and female staff to avoid violating their religious beliefs involving men.

Years ago, CAIR published and distributed a Correctional Institution’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices  to help prison officers and administrators gain a better understanding of Islam and Muslims. The 20-page handbook is designed to help prisons formulate and implement policies that will help create a culturally sensitive environment and facilitate rehabilitation in the country’s prisons. It also serves as a guide to the “religiously mandated practices of incarcerated Muslims and their visitors.” Though most prisons around the nation continue to follow the rule of law, a few have caved in to CAIR’s hijab demands, including facilities in Hennepin County Minneapolis and Lucas County Ohio. In 2016, a federal court dismissed a lawsuit against sheriff’s deputies in Oceana County Michigan for making a Muslim woman remove her headscarf during booking. The lawsuit accused the officers of violating the woman’s constitutional rights to free exercise of religion and free expression guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

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U.S. Has a National Mango Board With a $6.7 Million Budget

Even those who follow government closely may not know that the United States has a National Mango Board with a multi-million-dollar budget to help increase consumption of the juicy tropical fruit. This is a serious matter that is handled at the presidential cabinet level. The Mango board is a type of panel that was authorized by Congress decades ago and has 18 members who are appointed by the secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). It operates under a USDA oversight body known as the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).

Based in Orlando, Florida, the National Mango Board has a generous $6.7 million annual budget, according to USDA figures. The board is composed of eight importers, two domestic producers, one first handler and seven foreign producers who serve three-year terms. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue recently appointed six members to the board, including a mango producer from Jalisco, Mexico and another from Piura, Peru. The others are importers from California and Texas and a producer from Hawaii. “I truly appreciate the time and expertise that these individuals have agreed to give guiding the National Mango Board in its mission to find ways to provide fresh mangos to U.S. consumers and help their industry thrive,” Perdue said in an agency statement.

Here’s why this obscure government entity exists; to increase the consumption of fresh mangos in the United States, unlikely to be a pressing issue for most Americans. The board accomplishes this with promotion and market development activities that naturally also support a thriving industry. “The board’s vision is to bring the world’s love of mangos to the U.S.,” according to the National Mango Board website, which describes itself as a “promotion and research organization.” The site includes all sorts of interesting information about mangos, including the unique texture and flavors of different varieties, how to ripen, cut and store the fruit and tips on choosing the perfect mango—don’t focus on color because it’s not the best indicator of ripeness. There are also recipes for just about any dish with mango, including tropical mango guacamole, shrimp and mango curry, mango Manchego stuffed with jalapeños and crusted pork with mango relish, among others. Six varieties of mangos are sold in the U.S.; Tommy Atkins, Haden, Kent, Keitt, Honey and Francis.

The board’s research portion is displayed in several sections that offer information on nutrition, history and “fun facts.” For instance, mangos were first grown in India over 5,000 years ago and mango seeds traveled with humans from Asia to the Middle East, East Africa and South America beginning around 300 or 400 A.D. “Legend says that Buddha meditated under the cool shade of a mango tree,” according to the National Mango Board. More serious research includes academic studies on consumer attitudes, bioactive components of mangos and the effect of hot water treatment on a Mexican specie (Tommy Atkins) vulnerable to fruit flies. A separate study on this type of mango, which also comes from Guatemala, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru, focuses on sunken pits on the fruit’s peel caused by pitting or lenticel damage. This can deter consumers at the store level, according to researchers, and most packers do not have a clear understanding if the damage comes from the orchards or the packing process. Tommy Atkins mangos from Oaxaca, Jalisco, Nayarit and Sinaloa are the focal point of that research.

One of the more recent studies sponsored by the board includes an in-depth analysis on the ideal temperature to deliver the highest quality mangos. The findings are delivered in an exhaustive 38-page report, but the nutshell is that the optimal transit temperature for mangos is around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The problem however, is that mangos are often transported in refrigerated trailers with other food items that require colder temperatures and the mangos get compromised. The experts in “perishable food cold chain”  hired to research the matter were left with the objective of finding commercially available pallet covers for the thermal protection of mango pallets transported in a mixed load refrigerated trailer. It’s not clear how much this important research cost the Mango Board. For those wondering, Kent mangos were used in the study and pallet covers were tested with and without a base.

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Covert Operation Requested by Anti-Gun Dems to Bust Illegal Internet Sales Comes up Empty

An investigation requested by two fierce anti-gun members of Congress to determine if firearms are purchased illegally from internet dealers has come up empty. Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren demanded the probe in the aftermath of mass shootings and the investigative arm of Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), conducted a lengthy covert operation to try to purchase firearms illegally from internet dealers.

All 72 of Congressional investigators’ attempts to purchase a firearm illegally via the surface web were unsuccessful, slamming Cummings’ and Warren’s claims that guns are easily obtained by criminal elements on the internet. “All of our attempts to purchase firearms from private sellers on the surface web were unsuccessful,” the GAO writes in an extensive report. “Our covert testing involving GAO agents attempting to purchase firearms illegally on the Surface Web were unsuccessful. Specifically, private sellers on Surface Web gun forums and in classified ads were unwilling to sell a firearm to our agents that self-identified as being prohibited from possessing a firearm.” Most of the sellers refused to complete a transaction once the undercover investigator revealed either a shipping address across state lines or a prohibition by law from owning firearms. Five of the vendors went so far as to freeze the undercover GAO accounts, preventing agents from using forums and attempting to make a purchase.

In their ardent push to ban guns Cummings and Warren, both high-profile Democrats, questioned whether the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) was enforcing gun laws involving transactions facilitated by the internet. The lawmakers asked the GAO to investigate whether online private dealers sell firearms to prohibited individuals. The probe was conducted from July 2015 to November 2017, in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. It turns out that the ATF’s Internet Investigations Center, created to investigate buyers and sellers who use the internet to facilitate illegal firearms transactions, is indeed doing its job efficiently, according to the bipartisan GAO. “The Center uses several tools to provide investigative support to ATF, which has resulted in the arrests of individuals using the Internet to facilitate illegal firearm purchases,” the GAO report states.

Both Cummings and Warren have been vocal advocates for strict gun control measures in recent years. Last year Cummings joined House Democrats in a protest against congressional inaction on gun violence. “Every year, tens of thousands of Americans die as a result of gun violence,” the veteran congressman said during the heavily publicized sit-in. “In some states, firearms take more lives than car accidents. The American people are fed up with inaction and so am I. It is time for House Republicans to treat gun violence like the scourge on our country that it is.” The demonstration took place months after Cummings praised former President Barack Obama’s executive actions to prevent gun violence by expanding criminal background checks.

Warren has also been on a longtime war path against Americans’ rights to own firearms, proclaiming that “Rambo-style assault weapons” should be banned. The liberal icon co-sponsored a 2013 law  to ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. She warned her colleagues during a speech on the Senate floor last year that Congress would have “blood on our hands” if assault weapons aren’t banned. After the Las Vegas shooting that killed dozens and injured hundreds, Warren took to social media to warn that “Tragedies like Las Vegas have happened too many times. We need to have the conversation about how to stop gun violence. We need it NOW.”

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Governors Pardon Immigrants Convicted of Serious Crimes to Halt Deportation

While the nation was preoccupied celebrating the holidays, the governors of two major states pardoned immigrants convicted of serious crimes to shield them from deportation. First, California Governor Jerry Brown pardoned two men on the verge of being deported for committing crimes in the U.S., according to a Sacramento news report. Days later, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo pardoned 18 immigrants convicted of serious crimes so they could remain in the country. The foreigners had obtained legal immigration status in the United States but committed such abhorrent crimes that they faced removal after the completion of their criminal sentence. An official statement issued by the governor’s office refers to the pardoned as “contributing members of society” who face the “threat of deportation and other immigration-related challenges” as a result of their crimes.

Cuomo said the foreign criminals he pardoned had been rehabilitated but the “stigma of convictions” prevented them from gaining legal status or fully reentering society. “While the federal government continues to target immigrants and threatens to tear families apart with deportation, these actions take a critical step toward a more just, more fair and more compassionate New York,” Cuomo said in a statement. The state press release also quotes several representatives from open borders groups praising the governor’s pardons. Among them is the president of a group dedicated to eradicating racial disparities in the criminal justice system, who commended Cuomo’s strong display of leadership. “Too many immigrants with prior criminal convictions are subjected to the gratuitous punishment of deportation, despite being longstanding contributing members of our community,” said the president of the Vera Institute of Justice. The director of the Center on Race, Inequality and the Law also applauded Cuomo, saying “deportation is an out-size punishment for prior criminal convictions when people serve their sentences and go on to become longstanding, law abiding, contributing members of society.”

Let’s look at a few of the newly pardoned immigrants. The Californians are two Cambodian men, Mony Neth of Modesto and Rottanak Kong of Davis, arrested in immigration sweeps a few months ago. The men, ages 42 and 39, came to the U.S. as children and were convicted of felonies as adults. The crimes include a weapons charge and association to a gang. Neth and Rottanak were scheduled to be deported in December along with dozens of other Cambodians convicted of crimes but a federal judge in southern California issued a temporary restraining order after their pro bono attorneys from a civil rights group filed an emergency motion. Nearly 2,000 Cambodians in the U.S. are subject to deportation, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) figures cited in a northern California newspaper. More than half of them have criminal convictions that stripped them of legal status.

The New York pardons include a 57-year-old Mexican transgender woman convicted of criminal facilitation, a 35-year-old man from Estonia convicted of larceny and a 53-year-old Dominican man convicted of criminal sale of a controlled substance. The Mexican national, Lorena Borjas, deserves to stay in the U.S. because she is a strong advocate for transgender and immigrant communities and runs HIV testing programs for transgender sex workers and a syringe exchange for transwomen taking hormone injections. The Estonian, Alexander Shilov, became a nurse and frequently gives talks on overcoming addiction. The Dominican, Freddy Perez, works as an electrician and takes care of his autistic younger brother. For these reasons, they deserve to remain in the U.S. despite their criminal histories, according to Cuomo.

This appears to be part of a broader effort by local governments to protect criminal immigrants from deportation. Months ago, Judicial Watch reported that prosecutors in two major U.S. cities ordered staff not to charge illegal immigrants with minor, non-violent crimes because it could get the offenders deported. Brooklyn, New York District Attorney Eric Gonzalez was the first to issue the order creating two sets of rules involving local crimes. The goal, according to a statement issued by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, is “minimizing collateral immigration consequences of criminal convictions.” Taxpayers in the busy New York City borough are also paying for two immigration attorneys to train all staff on immigration issues and advise prosecutors when making plea offers and sentencing recommendations. The idea is to avoid “disproportionate collateral consequences, such as deportation, while maintaining public safety.” Gonzalez, the Brooklyn District Attorney, says he’s committed to equal and fair justice for all Brooklyn residents—citizens, lawful residents and undocumented immigrants alike.

A few weeks after Brooklyn proudly disclosed its policy, prosecutors in Maryland’s largest city joined the bandwagon, albeit more quietly. There was no public announcement or celebratory press conference but a local newspaper got ahold of an internal memo sent by Baltimore’s Chief Deputy State’s Attorney instructing prosecutors to think twice before charging illegal immigrants with minor, non-violent crimes. The chief deputy, Michael Schatzow, used similar language in the memo, writing that the Trump administration’s deportation efforts “have increased the potential collateral consequences to certain immigrants of minor, non-violent criminal conduct.” Schatzow is second-in-command to Baltimore’s top prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, and oversees major crimes at the state agency. “In considering the appropriate disposition of a minor, non-violent criminal case, please be certain to consider those potential consequences to the victim, witnesses, and the defendant,” Schatzow wrote to his staff.

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Records Show Discrimination Monitor Gets Millions to Create “Harsh” Climate for Cops, Many Leave

Demoralized law enforcement officers in Arizona’s most populous county are leaving in droves while a controversial police monitor gets millions of taxpayer dollars to scrutinize their agency over allegations of racial discrimination, according to records obtained by Judicial Watch. Maricopa County is paying a politically-connected firm called Warshaw and Associates big bucks to reprimand the sheriff’s department for immigration enforcement as permitted by key provisions of a state law upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. So far, the county has paid Warshaw $10.9 million to oversee the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), a force of about 700 deputies.

The arrangement, ordered by a judge after a civil rights group filed a lawsuit, has created a “harsh environment with harsh standards,” according to agency sources interviewed by Judicial Watch. Monitors often “set up calls” dispatched as real radio calls for service for deputies to respond to see how they engage with minority contacts, sources say. Since Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone, who advocates protecting illegal immigrants from deportation, took over in 2016 the agency has had a 10% attrition rate, the records obtained by Judicial Watch show. Ironically, one of the Warshaw monitors assigned to keep MCSO in check is a former Miami, Florida police chief embroiled in a federal corruption investigation. The former chief, Raul Martinez, was among several targets investigated by the feds for helping destroy evidence against drug smugglers, sharing bribes and skimming cash and drugs from seizures, according to a local newspaper report. Martinez invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination before a grand jury.

To keep the taxpayer dollars flowing into its coffers, Warshaw must claim the agencies it monitors have work to do. In MCSO’s case, Warshaw asserts the law enforcement agency is only 40% compliant with the 2013 court order to end racial profiling. The records obtained by Judicial Watch show that Warshaw bills Maricopa County an average of $2.7 million annually, which breaks down to $227,000 per month or $7,000 per day. The documents also state that the county has approved over $5 million for MCSO monitoring in 2018, an increase of more than $2 million allocated for the cause in 2017. The county’s original contract with Warshaw runs for at least three years and can go much longer so the cash will keep flowing as long as Warshaw determines MCSO discriminates against minorities.

This appears to be a racket that is fleecing taxpayers nationwide under the auspice of police discrimination. Warshaw has also made large sums monitoring law enforcement agencies in New York, California, Michigan and Louisiana. A local newspaper report in Niagara Falls, New York wrote that hiring Warshaw and Associates to oversee the city police department cost taxpayers more than $400,000 and produced no tangible results whatsoever. A northern California news article published last year disclosed that Oakland paid Warshaw $6.2 million, yet misconduct continues. When Oakland hired Warshaw in 2014 to oversee its police department the former chief called it a “travesty of justice” because Warshaw “rules by fear and intimidation.” The former Oakland Police chief also predicted that there was going to be a mass exodus from the department because of the atmosphere of fear and intimidation that Warshaw creates. This appears to be what’s occurring in Maricopa County.

Warshaw and Associates is owned by Robert S. Warshaw, a former chief of police in Rochester New York and Statesville North Carolina who served in the Bill Clinton administration. In 1997 Clinton named Warshaw, who also held government positions in Atlanta and Miami, Associate Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The White House announcement said Warshaw had a national reputation for implementing community policing strategies. Personal connections seem to play a key role in landing the lucrative police monitor contracts. A Niagara Falls news article connects the dots, writing that when Andrew Cuomo got elected New York governor Warshaw was selected to be police monitor. Cuomo’s Lieutenant Governor, Robert Duffy, was Warshaw’s deputy chief in Rochester before Warshaw chose him to be chief when Clinton tapped him.

Judicial Watch will continue investigating the Obama era program that assigns police monitors to crack down on alleged racial discrimination and excessive force among the nation’s local law enforcement agencies. Judicial Watch has several public-record requests pending and is considering litigation in at least one case.

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U.S. Sends Al Qaeda’s Arabian Peninsula Headquarters $768 Mil in Humanitarian Aid

The U.S. government keeps sending an Islamic nation that serves as an Al Qaeda breeding ground hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid. The cash—$768 million since October 2016—flows through the famously corrupt U.S. Agency of International Development (USAID), which has a monstrous budget and little oversight. The money is reportedly helping to counter a humanitarian crisis in Yemen, the headquarters of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). In its Country Reports on Terrorism, the State Department reveals that AQAP militants carried out hundreds of attacks including suicide bombers, vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), ambushes, kidnappings and targeted assassinations. The media has also documented this for years with one in-depth report confirming that “Yemen has emerged as the breeding grounds for some of the most high-profile plans to attack the U.S. homeland.”

Additionally, dozens of terrorists freed from the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba have joined Al Qaeda in Yemen. Among them is an Al Qaeda chief who masterminded a U.S. Embassy bombing after getting released, according to a mainstream newspaper. His name is Said Ali al-Shihri and after leaving Gitmo he became an Al Qaeda deputy chief in Yemen and he organized a deadly bombing of the United States Embassy in Yemen’s capital. The former captive was also involved in car bombings outside the American Embassy that killed 16 people. Remember that the convicted terrorist who planned to blow up an American passenger jet over Detroit on Christmas in 2009 trained in Yemen and the plot was organized by Al Qaeda leaders in the Middle Eastern Arab country. A recent study published by the RAND Corporation concludes that the most significant threat to the United States comes from terrorist groups operating in Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

So why does the U.S. government continue giving Yemen huge chunks of taxpayer dollars? Because it is “gravely concerned about a worsening humanitarian situation” in the Islamic nation, according to a statement issued this month by USAID. The document was released to announce a recent $130 million in “emergency food assistance to Yemen.” The U.S. government has determined that “protracted conflict” has created the “world’s largest food security emergency” in Yemen as well as the “world’s worst cholera outbreak.” More than 17 million people are at risk of severe hunger or starvation, according to the agency. The U.S. is also using military force to crack down on Yemen’s Al Qaeda problem. Earlier this month U.S. airstrikes killed five Al Qaeda militants, including one of the group’s key leaders, Mujahid al-Adani.

USAID is well known for gushing out cash with no follow up or oversight to assure the money is spent appropriately and the Yemen allocations are probably no exception. A perfect example is that millions of dollars in malaria drugs provided to Africa are stolen each year and sold on the black market. The problem has gotten so out of control that USAID launched “malaria hotlines” to offer cash rewards for information about the illicit operations that have fleeced American taxpayers out of tens of millions of dollars. Through a variety of programs, the U.S. government has spent billions of dollars to combat malaria in Africa in the last few years. One USAID program alone has dedicated north of $72 million since 2011 to give 19 African countries free malaria drugs, $15 million in 2016 alone. The agency has long acknowledged that malaria drugs financed by American taxpayers are regularly stolen in Africa. “This is not the first report of theft or illegal diversion,” USAID admitted in a statement years ago.

USAID has committed other atrocities with public funds and Judicial Watch has launched investigations to uncover details. Earlier this year Judicial Watch obtained records showing that USAID spent millions of taxpayer dollars to destabilize the democratically elected, center-right government in Macedonia by colluding with leftwing billionaire philanthropist George Soros. The scheme was masterminded by Barack Obama’s U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia, Jess L. Baily, who worked behind the scenes with Soros’ Open Society Foundation to funnel large sums of American dollars for the cause, constituting an interference of the U.S. Ambassador in domestic political affairs in violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Judicial Watch’s ongoing probe has so far revealed that USAID earmarked at least $9.5 million to intervene in the Balkan nation’s governmental affairs, which deviates from its mission of providing humanitarian assistance.

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Secret Govt. Settlement in Rep. Hastings’ Sexual Harassment Case Filed by Judicial Watch

It turns out the government secretly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to resolve a sexual harassment case filed by Judicial Watch against a Florida congressman with a long history of unscrupulous behavior. The veteran Democrat, Alcee Hastings, is most famous for getting impeached by Congress as a federal judge following a scandal involving the solicitation of a $150,000 bribe in return for “favorable treatment for defendants in a racketeering case before him.” The disgraced judge was an unindicted co-conspirator, but there was enough evidence against him for Congress to boot him from the bench. Hastings is one of only six federal judges to be impeached by Congress and removed from the bench.

Judicial Watch’s lawsuit against Hastings was on behalf of a female employee that he regularly harassed. Her name is Winsome Packer and she was repeatedly subjected to “unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome touching” and retaliation by Hastings when he chaired the United States Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. For over two years, from January 2008 through February 19, 2010, Packer was forced to endure unwelcome sexual advances, crude sexual comments, and unwelcome touching by Hastings while serving as the Representative of the Commission to the United States Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Although Packer repeatedly rejected Hastings’ sexual attention and complained about the harassment to the Commission Staff Director, Fred Turner, Hastings refused to stop sexually harassing her. Instead, the congressman and Turner retaliated against Packer—including making threats of termination—because she continued to object to Hastings’ conduct.

Filed in 2011 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Judicial Watch’s lawsuit got dismissed a year later but led to a House Ethics Committee investigation of Hastings. Not surprisingly, the notoriously remiss panel absolved the congressman after a laughable, two-year probe. Charged with investigating and punishing corrupt legislators, the committee instead has a long tradition of letting them off the hook. In Hastings’ sexual harassment case, the panel found that the most serious allegations were not supported by the evidence, though Hastings “admitted to certain conduct that is less than professional.” For instance, the lawmaker admitted hugging Packer, asking her about her underwear and telling her he doesn’t sleep well after having sex.

For all these years, the American taxpayers that unknowingly doled out the cash to settle the case believed it was over. Hastings was absolved by a federal court and the Ethics Committee. Turns out there was an undercover deal in which the Treasury Department paid Packer $220,000 to settle the sexual harassment lawsuit against Hastings, who represents Florida’s 20th District, which includes portions of south Florida’s Broward and Palm Beach counties. A Washington D.C. news outlet dedicated to covering Capitol Hill broke the story last week after obtaining documents about the covert arrangement. “The 2014 payment to settle the case involving Hastings was not apparently included in a breakdown of payouts to settle discrimination complaints against House lawmakers from the past five years released last month by the Office of Compliance, which approves the payouts,” the article states. “That total included only one payment to resolve a sexual harassment claim — $84,000 paid to settle a complaint against Texas GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold.”

This indicates that there’s no telling how much the government, through various accounts and agency divisions, is spending to settle sexual harassment cases. The public may never know the magnitude of the problem, especially since most politicians will never come clean. Even after his secret settlement was exposed, Hastings denied harassing Packer and told a newspaper in his south Florida district that he knew nothing about the settlement. “I am outraged that any taxpayer dollars were needlessly paid to Ms. Packer,” the congressman says. In the meantime, the legislator’s unscrupulous behavior hasn’t changed. Earlier this year Hastings was in hot water after a watchdog revealed he gave his girlfriend the maximum taxpayer salary for five consecutive years to work in a field office. Top congressional salaries are supposed to go to the Washington D.C.-based chief of staff.

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Public University: Whistling May Qualify as Sexual Harassment

The sexual harassment scandals involving prominent Hollywood figures, media personalities and politicians has brought heightened awareness to the issue, but one public college appears to be taking things too far. At Tennessee State University in Nashville, “whistling in a suggestive manner” may qualify as sexual harassment and can get students expelled or employees fired. Those caught making “suggestive or insulting sounds” or making “suggestive or obscene gestures” also face similar consequences as well as students or staff who joke about sex on campus.

The rules are outlined in the university’s discrimination and harassment policy, which was obtained by a conservative journalism nonprofit dedicated to the principles of a free society. The group published an article on its website that reveals Tennessee State University has been blasted by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for several policies that allow free speech to be punished as harassment. With an undergraduate enrollment of about 7,000, the school’s policy lists nearly two dozen “offenses” that can constitute sexual harassment among students and employees. Cases are determined individually and the “totality of the circumstances” will be considered before deciding if sexual harassment has been committed.

The attorney who serves as vice president of FIRE’s policy research points out in the article that Tennessee State University’s policy doesn’t pass legal muster because it’s too ambiguous. Her name is Samantha Harris and she has degrees from two Ivy League universities, Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. “Very broad categories of speech are banned as harassment, simply because someone might find them suggestively offensive and that’s something that courts have repeatedly held violates the first amendment,” Harris says in the story. Prohibitions on jokes and humor are dangerous because they could be abused to suppress unpopular speech involving political and social issues, Harris added. She also said that the school’s policy of banning any kind of demonstration during university events restricts students’ rights to protest and get their message across. Tennessee State also requires gatherings involving dissent to be registered with the vice president of student affairs to ensure the event is held at an acceptable time and appropriate site. That creates prior restraint on speech, according to FIRE’s legal expert.

Taxpayer-funded schools and colleges have taken an extreme leftist turn on several issues over the years and Judicial Watch has reported or taken legal action in several of the cases. This includes exposing a Mexican separatist school that pushes Marxism and Anti-Americanism in Los Angeles, pervasive corruption in Chicago public schools and an after school Satan club in Washington State that received speedy tax-exempt approval from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Judicial Watch is currently embroiled in a legal battle with the Berkeley Unified School District in California to obtain the records of a middle school teacher who is a national organizer for a radical leftist group. The teacher, Yvette Felarca, works at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School and is a prominent figure in By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), an organized militant group founded by the Marxist Revolutionary Workers League that uses raucous militant tactics to protest conservative speaking engagements. Over the summer Felarca was arrested and charged with several crimes, including felony assault, for inciting a riot in Sacramento. Judicial Watch wants records about the controversial teacher’s violent Antifa activism, which reportedly includes illegally recruiting students.

Judicial Watch has also sued to stop illegal immigrants from receiving taxpayer-funded discounted tuition at public universities and colleges and reported extensively on the issue. Last year Judicial Watch wrote about professors at a public university in south Florida that demanded the school protect illegal aliens by creating a “sanctuary campus.” The professors compared immigration enforcement to “fugitive slave laws.” At the time students at colleges around the nation requested their undocumented classmates be protected, but the Florida professors blazed the trail as the first faculty members of an American taxpayer-funded establishment to officially call for campus-wide sanctuary in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election.

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Public University: Whistling May Qualify as Sexual Harassment

The sexual harassment scandals involving prominent Hollywood figures, media personalities and politicians has brought heightened awareness to the issue, but one public college appears to be taking things too far. At Tennessee State University in Nashville, “whistling in a suggestive manner” may qualify as sexual harassment and can get students expelled or employees fired. Those caught making “suggestive or insulting sounds” or making “suggestive or obscene gestures” also face similar consequences as well as students or staff who joke about sex on campus.

The rules are outlined in the university’s discrimination and harassment policy, which was obtained by a conservative journalism nonprofit dedicated to the principles of a free society. The group published an article on its website that reveals Tennessee State University has been blasted by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for several policies that allow free speech to be punished as harassment. With an undergraduate enrollment of about 7,000, the school’s policy lists nearly two dozen “offenses” that can constitute sexual harassment among students and employees. Cases are determined individually and the “totality of the circumstances” will be considered before deciding if sexual harassment has been committed.

The attorney who serves as vice president of FIRE’s policy research points out in the article that Tennessee State University’s policy doesn’t pass legal muster because it’s too ambiguous. Her name is Samantha Harris and she has degrees from two Ivy League universities, Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. “Very broad categories of speech are banned as harassment, simply because someone might find them suggestively offensive and that’s something that courts have repeatedly held violates the first amendment,” Harris says in the story. Prohibitions on jokes and humor are dangerous because they could be abused to suppress unpopular speech involving political and social issues, Harris added. She also said that the school’s policy of banning any kind of demonstration during university events restricts students’ rights to protest and get their message across. Tennessee State also requires gatherings involving dissent to be registered with the vice president of student affairs to ensure the event is held at an acceptable time and appropriate site. That creates prior restraint on speech, according to FIRE’s legal expert.

Taxpayer-funded schools and colleges have taken an extreme leftist turn on several issues over the years and Judicial Watch has reported or taken legal action in several of the cases. This includes exposing a Mexican separatist school that pushes Marxism and Anti-Americanism in Los Angeles, pervasive corruption in Chicago public schools and an after school Satan club in Washington State that received speedy tax-exempt approval from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Judicial Watch is currently embroiled in a legal battle with the Berkeley Unified School District in California to obtain the records of a middle school teacher who is a national organizer for a radical leftist group. The teacher, Yvette Felarca, works at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School and is a prominent figure in By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), an organized militant group founded by the Marxist Revolutionary Workers League that uses raucous militant tactics to protest conservative speaking engagements. Over the summer Felarca was arrested and charged with several crimes, including felony assault, for inciting a riot in Sacramento. Judicial Watch wants records about the controversial teacher’s violent Antifa activism, which reportedly includes illegally recruiting students.

Judicial Watch has also sued to stop illegal immigrants from receiving taxpayer-funded discounted tuition at public universities and colleges and reported extensively on the issue. Last year Judicial Watch wrote about professors at a public university in south Florida that demanded the school protect illegal aliens by creating a “sanctuary campus.” The professors compared immigration enforcement to “fugitive slave laws.” At the time students at colleges around the nation requested their undocumented classmates be protected, but the Florida professors blazed the trail as the first faculty members of an American taxpayer-funded establishment to officially call for campus-wide sanctuary in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election.

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Tribe Known for Shady Bookkeeping Can’t Account for $14 Mil in FEMA Flood Grants

Though its accounting system is “unreliable” and in “disarray,” a Nebraska Indian tribe got nearly $14 million in flood-assistance grants from the federal government and, predictably, a chunk of the money can’t be accounted for. The taxpayer funds flowed to the Omaha Tribe despite a long history of poor record-keeping that resulted in sanctions by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which operates under the Department of the Interior. Now a federal audit describes the tribe’s mishandling of the emergency money as “serious and pervasive.” The audit also blasts the tribe for “contracting with itself” to generate “artificial profits” to fabricate mandatory matching funds.

Despite the tribe’s shady accounting practices, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) doled out the money after the 2011 flooding of the Missouri River. Parts of the Midwest were devastated by the catastrophic flooding, which caused billions of dollars in damages, including the destruction of highways and flooding of thousands of homes. The disaster occurred after torrential rains stressed the main stream dams. In a federal lawsuit against the government hundreds of landowners assert that the Army Corp of Engineers could have avoided the disaster if flood control had been a priority, according to a local news report about the case. In the flood’s aftermath, FEMA distributed nearly $22 billion in assistance grants, agency figures show, including $3.1 billion to individuals and households.

Situated in northeastern Nebraska and western Iowa, the Omaha reservation’s casino suffered flooding along with 11 homes and a gas station. The tribe has a population of 5,194, according to its website. Under a government formula, FEMA was scheduled to give the tribe 75% of the cost to conduct the repairs while requiring the tribe to contribute the other 25%. Tribal leaders asked the agency to waive its contribution and FEMA denied the request, but President Barack Obama agreed to increase the federal cost share from 75% to 90%, according to the audit, which was conducted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General. “The Omaha Tribe used FEMA funds to pay for the tribe’s normal operating expenses, a bonus to its tribal-owned construction management company, and unauthorized repairs to its old casino building,” the DHS watchdog writes in its report.

The tribe could not provide adequate documentation for $13.9 million in costs and doesn’t have invoices, contracts or canceled checks that prove the work was done. For the new casino construction alone, the tribe could not furnish adequate invoices and canceled checks for $5.9 million in claims and made several payments to its own departments as if they were outside contractors. Tribal contracts did not specify a scope of work or did not include amendments, DHS auditors found. “We also could not determine whether the tribe properly charged contract rates,” the report states. “Invoices, especially from tribal departments or tribal-owned companies, had vague or no descriptions of work performed so we could not determine what work the tribe performed.” This seems to indicate fraud on the tribe’s part, especially considering its history of sloppy accounting. The DHS watchdog came short of accusing the tribe of fraud, writing that there is “little confidence the transactions recorded in the accounting system actually occurred or that the tribe completed its FEMA authorized projects.”

Tribal leaders seem to think they can do whatever they want with taxpayer dollars without accountability. For years the Omaha tribal council has blown off independent audits blasting the tribe’s use of government funds, the DHS IG reveals. Nothing will change if the cash keeps flowing into the derelict tribe’s coffers. In fact, the tribe’s emergency management director told officials investigating fraud associated with the flood emergency money that tribal sovereignty allowed the Omaha Tribe to manage federal funds according to its tribal laws. The audit determines that the Omaha Tribe is a “high-risk grantee” that shouldn’t be awarded future grants without special oversight. Maybe the Trump administration will finally put an end to the madness.

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Jail for Fla. Rep. Who Blasted Feds for Investigating Her Instead of Orlando Terrorist

The disgraced Florida congresswoman who suggested federal agents could have prevented the Orlando terrorist attack if they weren’t preoccupied investigating her is headed to prison. This week a federal judge in Jacksonville sentenced Democrat Corrine Brown, who served 12 terms in Congress, to five years in jail for fraud and tax crimes involving an $833,000 phony education charity. In a 24-count federal indictment, prosecutors called the fake charity (One Door) Brown’s “personal slush fund.” The veteran legislator used her position as a congresswoman to solicit charitable donations that she said would give scholarships to poor, minority students. In May a jury convicted the crooked lawmaker of 18 felonies.

The indictment was issued weeks after an ISIS operative gunned down dozens of people at an Orlando nightclub and the congresswoman went on a tirade outside the federal courthouse that she proclaimed was built “without minority participation” as if that was relevant to her case. “I represent Orlando,” Brown said at the time. “These are the same agents that was not able to do a thorough investigation of the agent and we ended up with 50 people dead and over 58 people injured,” she said referring to the massacre carried out by terrorist Omar Mateen in June, 2016. “Same district! Same Justice Department! Same agents!” Brown also accused the prosecution of being racially motivated and wrote this on her blog: “I’m not the first black elected official to be persecuted and, sad to say, I won’t be the last.” The indictment slammed Brown with multiple counts of mail and wire fraud, conspiracy, obstruction and filing of false tax returns. The fallen lawmaker also played the race card by comparing her indictment to fatal police shootings of black men that ignited nationwide civil unrest.

Brown isn’t the only one headed to prison. Her longtime chief of staff, Ronnie Simmons, was sentenced to 48 months and the president of Brown’s phony nonprofit, Carla Wiley, received 21 months in jail. In 2016, Wiley pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and as part of the plea agreed to cooperate with investigators. Brown abused her status as a congresswoman to solicit charitable donations from corporate entities that she “knew by virtue of her position in the U.S. House of Representatives,” according to federal authorities. The money was used to pay for lavish receptions, luxury boxes for a Beyonce concert and a professional football game, repairs to Brown’s car and several vacations. More than $735,000 of the charitable contributions went to pay a close family member for a job in Brown’s office that involved no work, the indictment states.

At this week’s sentencing hearing the judge, Timothy Corrigan, said the defendants knowingly participated in a shameless conspiracy. “This was a crime born out of entitlement and greed committed to ensure a lifestyle that was beyond their means,” Judge Corrigan said. “Ms. Brown was personally responsible for all or nearly all of the $833,000 that flowed into One Door because, without her clout, donors would not have given to One Door. Even if she did not know how all the money was being used, there was never any intent that the bulk of the money would be used for charitable purposes.” A Jacksonville newspaper called Brown’s sentencing “a remarkable defrocking of the once-powerful and garrulous” Democrat.”

In Congress Brown was known for getting large campaign contributions from the industries she helped regulate. She sat on the House Transportation Committee and transportation industries—railroads, trucking companies and transportation unions—accounted for three of her top four industry donors. Back in 1998 the House Ethics Committee investigated Brown involving several issues, including a $10,000 check she got from a Baptist official in legal trouble and a pricey car her daughter received from one of the congresswoman’s millionaire Florida pals embroiled in a bribery scandal. Brown’s supporters can rest easy that on her tombstone it will not say “felon, guilty.” At least that is what the corrupt lawmaker said in an interview with a Jacksonville news outlet days before her trial started. She also complained that she had to sell her beach house and tap into retirement money to pay for her defense.

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Jail for Fla. Rep. Who Blasted Feds for Investigating Her Instead of Orlando Terrorist

The disgraced Florida congresswoman who suggested federal agents could have prevented the Orlando terrorist attack if they weren’t preoccupied investigating her is headed to prison. This week a federal judge in Jacksonville sentenced Democrat Corrine Brown, who served 12 terms in Congress, to five years in jail for fraud and tax crimes involving an $833,000 phony education charity. In a 24-count federal indictment, prosecutors called the fake charity (One Door) Brown’s “personal slush fund.” The veteran legislator used her position as a congresswoman to solicit charitable donations that she said would give scholarships to poor, minority students. In May a jury convicted the crooked lawmaker of 18 felonies.

The indictment was issued weeks after an ISIS operative gunned down dozens of people at an Orlando nightclub and the congresswoman went on a tirade outside the federal courthouse that she proclaimed was built “without minority participation” as if that was relevant to her case. “I represent Orlando,” Brown said at the time. “These are the same agents that was not able to do a thorough investigation of the agent and we ended up with 50 people dead and over 58 people injured,” she said referring to the massacre carried out by terrorist Omar Mateen in June, 2016. “Same district! Same Justice Department! Same agents!” Brown also accused the prosecution of being racially motivated and wrote this on her blog: “I’m not the first black elected official to be persecuted and, sad to say, I won’t be the last.” The indictment slammed Brown with multiple counts of mail and wire fraud, conspiracy, obstruction and filing of false tax returns. The fallen lawmaker also played the race card by comparing her indictment to fatal police shootings of black men that ignited nationwide civil unrest.

Brown isn’t the only one headed to prison. Her longtime chief of staff, Ronnie Simmons, was sentenced to 48 months and the president of Brown’s phony nonprofit, Carla Wiley, received 21 months in jail. In 2016, Wiley pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and as part of the plea agreed to cooperate with investigators. Brown abused her status as a congresswoman to solicit charitable donations from corporate entities that she “knew by virtue of her position in the U.S. House of Representatives,” according to federal authorities. The money was used to pay for lavish receptions, luxury boxes for a Beyonce concert and a professional football game, repairs to Brown’s car and several vacations. More than $735,000 of the charitable contributions went to pay a close family member for a job in Brown’s office that involved no work, the indictment states.

At this week’s sentencing hearing the judge, Timothy Corrigan, said the defendants knowingly participated in a shameless conspiracy. “This was a crime born out of entitlement and greed committed to ensure a lifestyle that was beyond their means,” Judge Corrigan said. “Ms. Brown was personally responsible for all or nearly all of the $833,000 that flowed into One Door because, without her clout, donors would not have given to One Door. Even if she did not know how all the money was being used, there was never any intent that the bulk of the money would be used for charitable purposes.” A Jacksonville newspaper called Brown’s sentencing “a remarkable defrocking of the once-powerful and garrulous” Democrat.”

In Congress Brown was known for getting large campaign contributions from the industries she helped regulate. She sat on the House Transportation Committee and transportation industries—railroads, trucking companies and transportation unions—accounted for three of her top four industry donors. Back in 1998 the House Ethics Committee investigated Brown involving several issues, including a $10,000 check she got from a Baptist official in legal trouble and a pricey car her daughter received from one of the congresswoman’s millionaire Florida pals embroiled in a bribery scandal. Brown’s supporters can rest easy that on her tombstone it will not say “felon, guilty.” At least that is what the corrupt lawmaker said in an interview with a Jacksonville news outlet days before her trial started. She also complained that she had to sell her beach house and tap into retirement money to pay for her defense.

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Jail for Fla. Rep. Who Blasted Feds for Investigating Her Instead of Orlando Terrorist

The disgraced Florida congresswoman who suggested federal agents could have prevented the Orlando terrorist attack if they weren’t preoccupied investigating her is headed to prison. This week a federal judge in Jacksonville sentenced Democrat Corrine Brown, who served 12 terms in Congress, to five years in jail for fraud and tax crimes involving an $833,000 phony education charity. In a 24-count federal indictment, prosecutors called the fake charity (One Door) Brown’s “personal slush fund.” The veteran legislator used her position as a congresswoman to solicit charitable donations that she said would give scholarships to poor, minority students. In May a jury convicted the crooked lawmaker of 18 felonies.

The indictment was issued weeks after an ISIS operative gunned down dozens of people at an Orlando nightclub and the congresswoman went on a tirade outside the federal courthouse that she proclaimed was built “without minority participation” as if that was relevant to her case. “I represent Orlando,” Brown said at the time. “These are the same agents that was not able to do a thorough investigation of the agent and we ended up with 50 people dead and over 58 people injured,” she said referring to the massacre carried out by terrorist Omar Mateen in June, 2016. “Same district! Same Justice Department! Same agents!” Brown also accused the prosecution of being racially motivated and wrote this on her blog: “I’m not the first black elected official to be persecuted and, sad to say, I won’t be the last.” The indictment slammed Brown with multiple counts of mail and wire fraud, conspiracy, obstruction and filing of false tax returns. The fallen lawmaker also played the race card by comparing her indictment to fatal police shootings of black men that ignited nationwide civil unrest.

Brown isn’t the only one headed to prison. Her longtime chief of staff, Ronnie Simmons, was sentenced to 48 months and the president of Brown’s phony nonprofit, Carla Wiley, received 21 months in jail. In 2016, Wiley pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and as part of the plea agreed to cooperate with investigators. Brown abused her status as a congresswoman to solicit charitable donations from corporate entities that she “knew by virtue of her position in the U.S. House of Representatives,” according to federal authorities. The money was used to pay for lavish receptions, luxury boxes for a Beyonce concert and a professional football game, repairs to Brown’s car and several vacations. More than $735,000 of the charitable contributions went to pay a close family member for a job in Brown’s office that involved no work, the indictment states.

At this week’s sentencing hearing the judge, Timothy Corrigan, said the defendants knowingly participated in a shameless conspiracy. “This was a crime born out of entitlement and greed committed to ensure a lifestyle that was beyond their means,” Judge Corrigan said. “Ms. Brown was personally responsible for all or nearly all of the $833,000 that flowed into One Door because, without her clout, donors would not have given to One Door. Even if she did not know how all the money was being used, there was never any intent that the bulk of the money would be used for charitable purposes.” A Jacksonville newspaper called Brown’s sentencing “a remarkable defrocking of the once-powerful and garrulous” Democrat.”

In Congress Brown was known for getting large campaign contributions from the industries she helped regulate. She sat on the House Transportation Committee and transportation industries—railroads, trucking companies and transportation unions—accounted for three of her top four industry donors. Back in 1998 the House Ethics Committee investigated Brown involving several issues, including a $10,000 check she got from a Baptist official in legal trouble and a pricey car her daughter received from one of the congresswoman’s millionaire Florida pals embroiled in a bribery scandal. Brown’s supporters can rest easy that on her tombstone it will not say “felon, guilty.” At least that is what the corrupt lawmaker said in an interview with a Jacksonville news outlet days before her trial started. She also complained that she had to sell her beach house and tap into retirement money to pay for her defense.

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Leftist Group that Gets Millions from U.S. Offers to Pay Legal Fees of Arrested Tax Reform Protestors

A leftist nonprofit that offered to pay the legal and transportation expenses of tax reform protestors receives tens of millions of dollars from the government, according to records obtained by Judicial Watch. The New York City-based group, Housing Works, describes itself as a “healing community of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.” Its mission is to end homelessness and AIDS through advocacy, lifesaving services and businesses that sustain the efforts.

Last week, Housing Works organized a big demonstration in Washington D.C. to protest the Republican tax overhaul and the group plans to return to the Capitol this week to try to keep the measure from passing. A D.C.-based news publication obtained an internal email that reveals Housing Works  encouraged supporters to commit illegal behavior. “We will transport, house and feed you, and deal with all legal support,” reads the email to supporters. “Caveat: if you are far away from DC and expensive to transport, we can probably only fly you if you can risk arrest.” Next to the message is a link to sign up. The group described the protests like this: “The Rs voted and fled the room, but were snagged by reporters in the hallway, surrounded by bird-doggers, and shamed for their disgraceful votes.”

Undoubtedly, the measure has ignited controversy because it would be the most sweeping reform of the nation’s tax code in three decades. Americans from all walks of life and groups such as Housing Works have the right to express their opinion and rally supporters to make an impact. But it’s outrageous for a group that receives millions of taxpayer dollars to, not only embolden law breakers, but offer to pay for their legal and transportation expenses. The news publication that broke the story points out that “organizers on either side of the aisle sometimes attempt to coordinate logistics for their teams, but the requirement that an individual need to risk arrest in the District in order to qualify for aid is unique, especially given the fact that hundreds of protesters are facing decades of prison time for violently protesting President Donald Trump’s inauguration.”

What the article failed to mention is that Housing Works gets a lot of money from American taxpayers, the records obtained by Judicial Watch show. Since 2009 the group has received nearly $22 million, including $4.7 million in 2017 alone. The cash flows through the departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Health and Human Services (HHS). The biggest chunk of money comes from HUD, the notoriously corrupt and bloated federal agency embroiled in a multitude of scandals. Of the eight grants issued this year, only one—for $1 million from HUD—was issued before Donald Trump became president. The rest were doled out in February, May and August. A $1,187,909 HHS allocation on May 23, 2017 is described in the records as an Obamacare grant for “new and expanded services under the Health Center Program.” Judicial Watch reached out to both agencies for comment on taxpayer funds being used to promote and defend illegal behavior, but telephone calls and emails to their public affairs department went unanswered.

HUD has long been a bastion of corruption under both Democrat and Republican administrations. Ronald Reagan’s HUD secretary, Samuel Pierce, was embroiled in an influence-peddling scandal that saw 16 people, including some of his top aides at the agency, convicted. Bill Clinton’s HUD secretary, Henry Cisneros, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about payments to a mistress. George W. Bush’s HUD secretary, Alphonso Jackson, was forced to resign during a federal investigation involving cronyism. Under Barack Obama the agency was embroiled in countless scandals, including violating a federal ban on funding for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), allowing a director who simultaneously ran a leftwing nonprofit change agency policies to benefit her group and employees who went on personal shopping sprees with agency credit cards.

In 2012 Judicial Watch sued HUD for records involving a contentious St. Paul, Minnesota case in which the agency unscrupulously meddled with a local issue in the name of race. In an effort to maintain its neighborhoods, the city improved housing enforcement by targeting landlords with a history of violations. A minority contractor claimed that the new code enforcement measures reduced the availability of low-income rentals, causing a disparate impact upon African-Americans. St. Paul got slammed with federal lawsuits and the U.S. Supreme Court was expected to hear the case, but the city backed down amid intense federal pressure.

HHS also has a documented history of wrongdoing, especially involving Obama’s disastrous takeover of the nation’s healthcare system. The agency spent millions of taxpayer dollars on a “guerilla campaign” to promote Obamacare and pumped $1.2 billion into government-funded nonprofit health insurers, known as Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan Programs (CO-OP), that failed. Judicial Watch has been a leader in investigating HHS’s Obamacare embarrassments, including that the agency launched its defective Obamacare website despite known security flaws. Judicial Watch also obtained records showing the Obama Internal Revenue Service (IRS) coordinated with HHS and a hokey White House Behavioral Sciences team in a $5 million program to pressure Americans to sign up for Obamacare.

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Legislators Go Unscathed as Hollywood, Media Punish Sexual Harassment

Of all the high-profile men that have gone down recently for sexual harassment, none of the accused politicians have suffered any consequences indicating that elected officials are immune from punishment. In the last few weeks powerful entertainment figures, prominent television news personalities and a top political journalist have been fired for sexual harassment while members of congress embroiled in similar scandals remain in power.

Minnesota Senator Al Franken simply issued a public apology for groping and demeaning women, telling a local newspaper “I’ve let a lot of people down and I’m hoping I can make it up to them and gradually regain their trust.” In a social media post, the Democratic lawmaker dedicated a heartfelt “I am sorry” to all who have considered him an ally, supporter and champion of women. Veteran Michigan Congressman John Conyers took the amnesia route, claiming that he knew nothing about secretly paying a staffer—with taxpayer funds from his office budget—to make a sexual harassment scandal vanish. Multiple former staff members also accuse the 88-year-old lawmaker, the longest serving House member and until a few days ago the ranking Democrat on the powerful Judiciary Committee, of sexual harassment. A few years ago, Conyers got busted for illegally forcing congressional staffers to be personal servants and work on state and local campaigns, but he wasn’t even disciplined. This seems to be par for the course in Washington.

A few years ago, Judicial Watch sued a Florida congressman with a long history of deceit and corruption, for sexually harassing a female employee. The Democratic legislator, Alcee Hastings, was impeached by Congress as a federal judge after getting caught in a scandal involving the solicitation of a $150,000 bribe in return for “favorable treatment for defendants in a racketeering case before him.” The disgraced judge was an unindicted co-conspirator, but there was enough evidence against him for Congress to boot him from the bench. Hastings is one of only six federal judges to be impeached by Congress and removed from the bench. Appropriately, he joined one of the nation’s most corrupt enterprises and has flourished by committing a multitude of misdeeds that include mixing work as a public servant with romance. Earlier this year Hastings was in hot water after a watchdog revealed he gave his girlfriend the maximum taxpayer salary for five consecutive years to work in a field office. Top congressional salaries are supposed to go to the Washington D.C.-based chief of staff.

Judicial Watch’s lawsuit against Hastings was on behalf of a female employee that he regularly harassed. Her name is Winsome Packer and she was repeatedly subjected to “unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome touching” and retaliation by Hastings when he chaired the United States Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. For over two years, from January 2008 through February 19, 2010, Packer was forced to endure unwelcome sexual advances, crude sexual comments, and unwelcome touching by Hastings while serving as the Representative of the Commission to the United States Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Although Packer repeatedly rejected Hastings’ sexual attention and complained about the harassment to the Commission Staff Director, Fred Turner, Hastings refused to stop sexually harassing her. Instead, the congressman and Turner retaliated against Packer—including making threats of termination—because she continued to object to Hastings’ conduct.

The lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch in 2011 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, led to a House Ethics Committee investigation of Hastings. Not surprisingly, the notoriously remiss panel absolved the congressman after a two-year probe. Charged with investigating and punishing corrupt legislators, the committee instead has a long tradition of letting them off the hook. In Hastings’ sexual harassment case, the panel found that the most serious allegations were not supported by the evidence, though Hastings “admitted to certain conduct that is less than professional.” In a separate investigation into Conyers’ corrupt acts years earlier, the Ethics Committee also failed to discipline the Michigan legislator, determining that he had “accepted responsibility” for the violations. As distinguished figures suffer consequences for committing sexual harassment, the question is who will punish elected officials for the same transgressions?

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Mexicans Use U.S. Business/Tourist Visas to Smuggle Drugs Through Border

For those who believe the southern border is plenty secure, federal agents in one Texas sector seized more than 1,700 pounds of marijuana, 90 pounds of cocaine and 17 pounds of liquid methamphetamine in just one week. In separate incidents the same Border Patrol sector arrested three international gangsters—including members of the Mexican mafia and the notoriously violent Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13)—during the same period. Hundreds of miles to the west, agents in California snatched nearly 842 pounds of narcotics over a weekend, a chunk of it brought in by Mexican citizens with American business and tourist visas.

It has been well documented by federal law enforcement agencies that the majority of illegal drugs in the United States come from Mexico and Mexican traffickers remain the greatest criminal threat to the U.S. Mexican cartels—classified as Transitional Criminal Organizations (TCOs) by the government—have for years smuggled in enormous quantities of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana. In its National Drug Threat Assessment, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) confirmed that Mexican cartels are in a class of their own, that “no other group can challenge them in the near term.” They are sophisticated operations that function like businesses. “These Mexican poly-drug organizations traffic heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana throughout the United States, using established transportation routes and distribution networks,” the DEA report states. “They control drug trafficking across the Southwest Border and are moving to expand their share of US illicit drug markets, particularly heroin markets. National-level gangs and neighborhood gangs continue to form relationships with Mexican TCOs to increase profits for the gangs through drug distribution and transportation, for the enforcement of drug payments, and for protection of drug transportation corridors from use by rival gangs.”

The National Drug Intelligence Center, dismantled by the Obama administration after nearly two decades of operation, published equally alarming figures regarding the Mexican drug crisis. In a detailed report published by Judicial Watch, the now-defunct agency revealed that in 2009 thousands of metric tons of heroin, meth, marijuana and cocaine were smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico and that tens of billions of dollars in drug proceeds flowed back south. At that point, much of the smuggled drugs came through the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation in Arizona, so the problem is spreading like wildfire across the vast and famously porous southern border which spans around 2,000 miles.

Many hoped the situation would improve under the Trump administration, but apparently that is not the case. Frustrated Border Patrol agents interviewed by Judicial Watch say little has changed since Trump was sworn in even though he vowed to tighten border security. The recent figures at just two sectors situated along the Mexican border support that. The 1,700 pounds of marijuana, 90 pounds of cocaine and 17 pounds of liquid methamphetamine were confiscated by the agency’s Rio Grande Valley division during a week in mid-November. Federal authorities estimate the cocaine to be worth more than $2.7 million and the marijuana $1.3 million, according to a press release. The liquid meth is estimated to have a value of over half a million dollars. “The seizures were results of Border Patrol operations along he river and at Border Patrol checkpoints,” the agency writes in the statement.

The weekend stash in San Diego, California has a value of $8.3 million, according to the Border Patrol. It includes fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. The drugs were found in 15 separate smuggling attempts and were hidden in various areas of vehicles such as the gas tank, trunk, battery, floor, quarter panels and tires. Two of the smugglers were Mexican citizens with B-1/B-2 visas granted by the U.S. to foreigners for business, tourism or a combination of both. The first was a 53-year-old man who got busted with ten wrapped packages of fentanyl in a compartment on the floor of his sports utility vehicle. The drugs have an estimated street value of $736,000, according to the feds. The other Mexican smuggler with a U.S. visa was a 56-year-old man driving a commercial bus with 382 pounds of cocaine worth nearly $5 million hidden in the gas tank.

 

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Will House Ethics Comm. Let Conyers’ Sex Scandal Slide Like His Past Corrupt Acts?

The prominent Michigan congressman who illegally forced congressional staffers to be personal servants and work on state and local campaigns is embroiled in a major sex scandal. Various media outlets report that John Conyers, the longest serving House member and ranking Democrat of the powerful Judiciary Committee, secretly settled a sexual harassment claim by an employee with taxpayer funds from his office budget. Additionally, multiple former staff members accuse the 88-year-old lawmaker of repeatedly making sexual advances toward female staff. Democratic colleagues have already called for a House Ethics Committee probe, but there’s little hope Conyers will be punished since the notoriously remiss panel let him off the hook the last time it investigated his corrupt acts, determining that he had “accepted responsibility” for the violations. A former staffer said the legislator, a civil rights icon and founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, is untouchable.

If you recall, Conyers’ wife, disgraced Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers, served three years in prison for bribery. Now it’s hubby’s turn to be in the scandal limelight. Affidavits filed by four former employees and scrutinized by reputable news outlets, show an alarming pattern of sexual misconduct by Conyers. In the documents the workers say they saw the congressman repeatedly making sexual advances to women on his staff, including touching them inappropriately with leg and back rubs and requesting sexual favors. The woman who received the secret settlement filed a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2014, claiming she was fired for rebuffing the congressman’s repeated sexual advances. In 2015 she was paid $27,000 from Conyers’ taxpayer-funded office budget in exchange for silence. “His office would ‘rehire’ the woman as a ‘temporary employee’ despite her being directed not to come into the office or do any actual work,” according to the document cited in the news report that broke the scandal this week. A law clerk representing the woman described it as a “designed cover-up.”

Three other staffers submitted affidavits to the Office of Compliance documenting a disturbing pattern of behavior from Conyers. The congressman touched one woman in a sexual manner and got angry when she brought her husband, the news report says. One former female employee, who was also the victim of Conyers’ sexual advances, was responsible for flying in women for the congressman. “One of my duties while working for Rep. Conyers was to keep a list of women that I assumed he was having affairs with and call them at his request and, if necessary, have them flown in using Congressional resources,” the former staffer wrote in her affidavit. A second staffer interviewed in the news article also said Conyers used taxpayer resources to fly women to him.

When a national newswire confronted Conyers earlier this week, the veteran legislator denied knowing anything about the accusations and was quoted saying he had “been looking at these things with amazement.” Conyers has subsequently acknowledged the secret settlement with the former female staffer but denies the allegations. Now the two most senior Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee (California’s Zoe Lofgren and New York’s Jerry Nadler) behind Conyers are calling for an ethics investigation saying the allegations are extremely serious and deeply troubling. “Obviously, these allegations must be investigated promptly by the Ethics Committee,” Nadler said in a statement. “There can be no tolerance for behavior that subjects women to the kind of conduct alleged. We also must support efforts to reform the way the House of Representatives handles these matters to make the process easier and more supportive of victims, as well as more transparent.”

The last time the House Ethics Committee investigated Conyers it was a big joke. The probe involved illegally forcing congressional staffers to be personal servants and work on several state and local campaigns. After a comical three-year investigation, the committee took no action, declaring that the lawmaker “accepted responsibility” for a series of House rules violations involving the abuse of his staffers. The ethics committee’s top Republican and Democratic members justified the panel’s inaction by declaring that Conyers acknowledged a “lack of clarity” in communicating what was expected of his official staff. As chairman of the House Judiciary Committee in 2009, Conyers abruptly reversed his opposition to a controversial hazardous waste project with financial ties to his corrupt city councilwoman wife. Conyers was vehemently opposed—along with fellow Michigan Congressman John Dingell—to the project in his district but later changed course to become one of its strongest advocates. With the help of his crooked politician wife, Conyers even wrote the federal government a letter supporting the plan and pushing for the permit transfers required for the hazardous waste injection well in the city of Romulus, Michigan. The letter, addressed to the Environmental Protection Agency, explained that “many things had changed” in favor of the project since he stood in opposition to it.

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Terrorist Front Group Outraged School Cancelled Muslim Speaker after Parents Complained

It’s ironic that the Islamic terrorist front group that bullied U.S. law enforcement agencies into purging counterterrorism training materials is outraged that a public school disinvited a Muslim speaker after parents complained. The bruhaha occurred at Northeast Middle School in Bristol, Connecticut. A Muslim woman named Annam Choudhry was scheduled to speak this week in a social studies class, according to an article in the local paper. Choudhry is the founder of a group called YURSA and she was planning to “dispel misconceptions” about the Islamic faith for the seventh-grade students.

Parents received a letter earlier this month announcing that on November 22 Choudhry would discuss misconceptions about her religion and her experiences as a female Muslim. Posted on social media, the letter describes Choudhry as “a young Muslim woman who was born and raised in New York City who now resides in Connecticut.” It continues: “She started YUSRA, an organization for the empowerment of Muslim women. Their mission is to train Muslim women to inform others about the Islamic faith and to dispel misconceptions that are prevalent in today’s society. This presentation will enrich our curriculum on world history.” Parents and other residents of the suburb, which is located about 20 miles southwest of Hartford, expressed fury.

The controversy led the Bristol Board of Education to cancel Choudhry’s engagement, claiming the teacher who scheduled it received threats, though Bristol Police Chief Brian Gould said there is no “specific threat that required police investigation at this point.” Bristol Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu told the local paper she supports the superintendent’s decision to cancel the presentation for the safety of students and staff. Cries of discrimination and censorship soon followed. Calling it a “disturbing example” free speech suppression, the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) claims it has documented many protests over the teaching of Islam in schools.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which reportedly raises money for Hamas, blasted the school district for cancelling the Muslim presentation, asserting that it “emboldens individuals and organizations in Bristol who are Islamophobic” and does a disservice to Bristol students and the community as a whole. Farhan Memon, the chairman of the group’s Connecticut chapter, said it is vital that school children are exposed to Islam at a time when the civil liberties of Muslim Americans are under attack by policies like “Trump’s Muslim Bans.” Memon also said he is “concerned that Bristol Public Schools would seemingly bow to public pressure in this manner.”

Ironically, the nation’s law enforcement agencies bowed to pressure from CAIR to alter counterterrorism training materials deemed by the group to discriminate against Muslim. Under Barack Obama, CAIR wielded tremendous power and managed to coerce law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal level to revamp counterterrorism training materials. This includes getting the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to purge anti-terrorism training curricula of material determined by CAIR to be “offensive” to Muslims. Judicial Watch uncovered that scandal and obtained the FBI records three years ago.

Based on troves of government documents, Judicial Watch subsequently published a special, in-depth report on the scandal. CAIR is not specifically named but the records show that an undisclosed group of “Subject Matter Experts” (SME) determined the federal training material was offensive to Muslims. CAIR also got police departments in Illinois to eliminate anti-terrorism training materials and instructors deemed anti-Muslim. As an example, CAIR asserted that an instructor for the Lombard, Illinois police force wrote an article years earlier that included disparaging comments about the Prophet Muhammad. The course was called “Islamic Awareness as a Counter-Terrorist Strategy” and departments in Lombard, Elmhurst and Highland Park caved into CAIR’s demands. Earlier this year CAIR ordered the Air Force to sever ties with an instructor it considers to be anti-Muslim.

Keep in mind that CAIR is a terrorist front group with extensive links to foreign and domestic Islamists. It was founded in 1994 by three Middle Eastern extremists (Omar Ahmad, Nihad Awad and Rafeeq Jaber) who ran the American propaganda wing of Hamas, known then as the Islamic Association for Palestine. In 2008 CAIR was a co-conspirator in a federal terror-finance case involving the Hamas front group Holy Land Foundation. Read more in a Judicial Watch special report that focuses on Muslim charities. Judicial Watch also tried to find out if CAIR got the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to overhaul its anti-terrorism training but the spy agency said it could “neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence of records” involving meetings or communications with the Muslim rights group. The CIA asserted that the information is classified intelligence protected from disclosure. The response goes on to cite the statutes—such as the CIA Act of 1949 and National Security Act of 1947—that allow the agency to hide even the most benign information from the American public. It’s likely that the CIA met with CAIR during the Obama years—or at least had communication with the extremist group—and doesn’t want the public to know about it.

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Deported Gangster in Murder Plot Worked in Colorado City that Wouldn’t Hire Police Chief for Backing Immigration Enforcement

A previously deported illegal immigrant gang member charged with attempted murder and kidnapping this month was arrested by U.S. Marshals in Ft. Collins, a northern Colorado sanctuary city that ousted a finalist for police chief over his support of immigration enforcement. Judicial Watch blew the scandal open in September and is embroiled in a public records saga with Ft. Collins officials for documents surrounding the selection process and abrupt elimination of a respected veteran law enforcement official with impressive credentials. Ft. Collins is trying to keep records secret by asserting that the “material is so candid or personal that public disclosure is likely to stifle honest and frank discussion within the government.”

The former chief deputy for the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office in central Arizona, Steve Henry, was a finalist for the Ft. Collins position and was invited to travel to the city for an interview. But Henry’s offer was abruptly rescinded, according to a source closely involved with the selection process, because he publicly supported an Arizona law (SB1070) that makes it a state crime to be in the U.S. without proper documentation and bans “sanctuary city” policies. This clashes with Ft. Collins’ sanctuary policies, which have been well documented in media reports. Mayor Wade Troxell said in a local newspaper that the city is an open, inclusive and friendly community and that “all people matter.” Members of the city council have consistently said they support diversity and want the city to be a welcoming place for all people.

This recent case proves how sanctuary policies endanger communities. The suspect, an illegal alien from El Salvador named Angel Ramos, tried to kill a woman by stabbing her repeatedly with a screw driver then running her over with his car before trying to stuff her in the trunk. He is a confirmed member of the violent street gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and is wanted for homicide in his native El Salvador, according to information provided to the media by the U.S. Marshals Service. The 36-year-old has been charged with attempted murder, assault, menacing with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, domestic violence and criminal impersonation. Last year Ramos was deported from Texas to El Salvador after getting arrested for domestic violence, authorities told a national news outlet. Days after trying to kill the woman this month, he was arrested at the Ft. Collins construction site where he worked.

It’s not clear how or when Ramos ended up in Ft. Collins, but it’s not unreasonable to assume that the city’s sanctuary measures made it attractive for a previously deported gang member on the run. The MS-13 is a feared street gang of mostly Central American illegal immigrants that’s spread throughout the U.S. and is renowned for drug distribution, murder, rape, robbery, home invasions, kidnappings, vandalism and other violent crimes. The Justice Department’s National Gang Intelligence Center (NGIC) says criminal street gangs like the MS-13 are responsible for most violent crimes in the U.S. and are the primary distributors of most illicit drugs. Wonder how Ft. Collins residents feel about their city leaders enabling MS-13 members to live and work in their community?

Of interesting note is that Ft. Collins’ local newspaper, the Coloradoan, makes no mention of Ramos’ immigration status, reporting only that “Homeland Security agents assisted with the arrest.” The paper supported Ft. Collins’ push to become a sanctuary for illegal immigrants and appears to be completely in the city government’s pocket. Other Colorado media outlets rightfully mentioned the newsworthy information about Ramos’ immigration status. The Ramos case indicates that Ft. Collins could use a better newspaper and a police chief like Steve Henry, whose support for the rule of law ironically served as a disqualifier for a candidate hired to enforce the rule of law.

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Treasury Dept. Blows Off Order to Recoup $8.1 Mil Wasted on Parties, Gifts, Lunches

A federal housing program that blew $8.1 million on employee outings, parties, lunches and gifts has defied orders to recover the money, asserting that only 1% of the cash was misspent. Barack Obama launched the scandal-plagued program, known as Hardest Hit Fund, to help families hit by the housing crisis and it operates under the Treasury Department. Over the years, several federal audits have exposed pervasive fraud and waste in the Hardest Hit Fund, but the Treasury Department has failed to take any action.

An audit conducted by the inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), Obama’s disastrous initiative to rescue the nation’s ailing financial institutions, exposed the $8.1 million waste in Nevada’s Hardest Hit Fund last year. The money was spent on outrageous things like employee outings, staff lunches and gifts, parties, a fancy car for a supervisor and severance pay for a top official. The Treasury Department never bothered trying to recover the money, according to the audit, and the fraud continues to grow. In its lengthy report the watchdog directed the Treasury Department to recover the misspent taxpayer funds. In these cases, there is rarely any follow up but a U.S. Senator investigating the Hardest Hit Fund transgressions demanded that the Treasury Department recoup the money. The agency fired back that it disagreed with the audit’s $8.1 million figure and determined that only 1% of the money needed to be reclaimed.

In a letter addressed to the senator, Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, Treasury Secretary for Legislative Affairs Drew Maloney writes this: “Following a thorough review, Treasury concluded that only $82,171 of such expenses were made in violation of HHF program requirements, and recovered that amount in full from the Nevada HFA.” The agency determined that “recovery of certain other expenditures was not warranted,” the letter further states, adding that the Treasury Department is committed to ensuring that taxpayer funds are utilized responsibly and for their intended purpose. Grassley, who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that recovering only 1% of misspent funds is unacceptable. “Treasury’s explanation of the significant discrepancy between the $8 million that TARP’s watchdog said was misspent and the $82,172 recovered from Nevada HFA is inadequate and unconvincing,” Grassley said, adding that the agency must improve internal policing mechanisms to prevent the abuse of taxpayer dollars.

Obama created the Hardest Hit Fund in 2010 to help struggling families negatively impacted by the housing crisis that began in 2007. The former commander-in-chief asserted that homeowners in regions with high unemployment needed the government’s help to make their mortgage payment and prevent foreclosure. The government has contributed more than $9 billion to the cause and the money will be available until the end of 2020. In the Obama administration’s last year, the fund got an additional $2 billion to assist struggling homeowners and communities. “While the housing market has strengthened in recent years, there are still many homeowners and neighborhoods experiencing the negative effects of the financial crisis,” said the Treasury’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of Financial Stability when the money was doled out, assuring that the funds would help stabilize local communities and help struggling families avoid foreclosure.

Like a lot of government programs during Obama’s eight years, this one ballooned and kept receiving boatloads of cash with virtually no oversight. It started off as a $1.5 billion initiative focused on the five states with the steepest declines in home prices and grew to a $9.6 billion boondoggle encompassing 18 states and the District of Columbia. The money goes to mortgage payment assistance for unemployed or underemployed homeowners, principal reduction to help homeowners get into more affordable mortgages, and blight elimination and down payment assistance efforts. California has received the biggest chunk of money ($2,358,593,320) followed by Florida ($1,135,735,674), Ohio ($762,302,067), Michigan ($761,204,045), and North Carolina ($706,507,564). Nevada got a total of $202,911,881, nearly $9 million of it just months before the publication of that scathing inspector general report documenting $8.1 million in fraud.

Just a few months ago, the TARP inspector general released an exhaustive 93-page report detailing the Hardest Hit Fund’s latest transgressions. Highlights include; $3 million in expenses, deemed “unnecessary” by the watchdog, spent on picnics, barbecues, gift cards, a new customer center, employee bonuses, cars, and more. Here’s a breakdown straight out of the federal audit; $598,374 went to car allowances, free parking, and other transportation perks; $342,728 was spent on settlements, severance, and other employee legal expenses; $342,407 went to employee bonuses, cash debit cards, gifts, and other perks; $258,333 was spent on “avoidable” data storage expenses; $150,618 on barbecues, parties, picnics, steak and seafood dinners, and other food and beverages. The rest was spent on unemployment payments to former employees and a customer center in Rhode Island that had already received federal money years earlier for a new office.

The post Treasury Dept. Blows Off Order to Recoup $8.1 Mil Wasted on Parties, Gifts, Lunches appeared first on Judicial Watch.

EPA Blows $1.5 Million on Parking, Some Spaces Never Used

A government agency with a sordid history paid $1.5 million for subsidized and unoccupied parking spaces in violation of executive orders designed to save taxpayer dollars and the environment by cracking down on parking subsidies in the federal workforce. The waste occurred over a two-year period at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters in Washington D.C. and a regional office in Atlanta Georgia. The two locations doled out more than $840,000 to subsidize employee parking and around $690,000 for unoccupied spaces, according to a federal audit released this week.

In the 42-page report, the EPA Inspector General points out the irony of an agency charged with promoting air quality disobeying various federal orders enacted to improve air quality and public health in the capital area. Among them is Executive Order 13150, Federal Workforce Transportation, which requires federal agencies in the capital region to implement a transit subsidy fringe benefit to discourage commuting by single occupancy vehicles, improve air quality and reduce traffic congestion. Another is Executive Order 13693, Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade, which establishes “a clear overarching objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions across Federal operations” and encourages agencies to “promote sustainable commuting and work-related travel practices for Federal employees … and reward carpooling and the use of public transportation, where consistent with agency authority and Federal appropriations law.”

Other EPA regional offices do not provide subsidized parking for employees and many federal agencies in D.C. don’t either, the watchdog reveals. Among them is the General Services Administration (GSA), the government’s central management agency that handles everything from office space for the feds to communication and purchasing. The agency is huge, with a staff of about 14,000 and an annual budget of nearly $20 billion. “Other federal agencies, such as the GSA, no longer provide subsidized parking to employees except those with disabilities, and nine of the 10 EPA regions also do not provide this fringe benefit,” the EPA IG report states. “The GSA’s Director of Operational Support Division and National Parking Manager observed that the GSA’s new, nonsubsidized parking policy reduced the number of employees driving to work by over 80 percent.”

While it certainly constitutes the squandering of taxpayer dollars, the EPA parking bruhaha is nothing compared to some of the agency’s scandals over the years. During the Obama administration the EPA gave leftist groups tens of millions of dollars to help poor, minority and indigenous communities attain “environmental justice.” Some of the agency funds went to groups that help illegal immigrants, among them a New Jersey nonprofit (Lazos America Unida) that advocates on behalf of the “Mexican immigrant community” and a Missouri farm workers’ group that aims to increase awareness about the dangers of sun and heat exposure in migrant populations. Judicial Watch sued the EPA earlier this year for records about the controversial environmental justice grants because the agency ignored a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that dates back to 2015.

Various probes have also uncovered an epidemic of EPA employees watching pornography on government computers during work hours. This is a government-wide problem, but the EPA appears to be in a class of its own. Watching porn at the agency is so widespread that a bill (Eliminating Pornography from Agencies Act) was introduced in Congress and the lawmaker behind it, North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows, said the EPA served as an inspiration for the measure. “One EPA employee was viewing as much as 6 hours of pornography a day in his office,” the congressman said. “The same federal employee was found to have downloaded as many as 7,000 pornographic files onto his government computer.”

The EPA also fails to punish corrupt employees and allows them to keep their government paychecks, according to a scathing federal audit  that includes slews of examples in which the agency failed to take action against workers who committed wrongdoing. For instance, a senior executive simultaneously worked in a private-sector job while he was supposedly performing tasks at the EPA. Agency brass took no action for nearly a year and ultimately put the executive on “paid administrative leave,” allowing the worker to collect full pay for doing nothing. Other cases include eight employees accused by the EPA of misconduct who are also on paid leave and have accrued around 21,000 hours at a cost of more than $1 million and two employees who got busted watching porn during work hours. Each of the porn viewers has an annual salary of $120,000 and both were placed on administrative leave for a year before they were even reprimanded, according to the audit. One of them retired with full benefits without any punishment and the other is still collecting a full government paycheck. The cases go on and on. “Recent events and activities indicate a possible ‘culture of complacency’ among some supervisors at the EPA regarding time and attendance controls, employee computer usage, real property management, and taking prompt action against employees,” the report says.

Let’s not forget that under Obama’s first EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, the agency was investigated for dodging potential public scrutiny and possibly congressional oversight by using bogus electronic mail accounts to conduct official business. Judicial Watch is investigating the matter and has sued the EPA for using a private encryption software to thwart government oversight and transparency.

The post EPA Blows $1.5 Million on Parking, Some Spaces Never Used appeared first on Judicial Watch.

EPA Blows $1.5 Million on Parking, Some Spaces Never Used

A government agency with a sordid history paid $1.5 million for subsidized and unoccupied parking spaces in violation of executive orders designed to save taxpayer dollars and the environment by cracking down on parking subsidies in the federal workforce. The waste occurred over a two-year period at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters in Washington D.C. and a regional office in Atlanta Georgia. The two locations doled out more than $840,000 to subsidize employee parking and around $690,000 for unoccupied spaces, according to a federal audit released this week.

In the 42-page report, the EPA Inspector General points out the irony of an agency charged with promoting air quality disobeying various federal orders enacted to improve air quality and public health in the capital area. Among them is Executive Order 13150, Federal Workforce Transportation, which requires federal agencies in the capital region to implement a transit subsidy fringe benefit to discourage commuting by single occupancy vehicles, improve air quality and reduce traffic congestion. Another is Executive Order 13693, Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade, which establishes “a clear overarching objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions across Federal operations” and encourages agencies to “promote sustainable commuting and work-related travel practices for Federal employees … and reward carpooling and the use of public transportation, where consistent with agency authority and Federal appropriations law.”

Other EPA regional offices do not provide subsidized parking for employees and many federal agencies in D.C. don’t either, the watchdog reveals. Among them is the General Services Administration (GSA), the government’s central management agency that handles everything from office space for the feds to communication and purchasing. The agency is huge, with a staff of about 14,000 and an annual budget of nearly $20 billion. “Other federal agencies, such as the GSA, no longer provide subsidized parking to employees except those with disabilities, and nine of the 10 EPA regions also do not provide this fringe benefit,” the EPA IG report states. “The GSA’s Director of Operational Support Division and National Parking Manager observed that the GSA’s new, nonsubsidized parking policy reduced the number of employees driving to work by over 80 percent.”

While it certainly constitutes the squandering of taxpayer dollars, the EPA parking bruhaha is nothing compared to some of the agency’s scandals over the years. During the Obama administration the EPA gave leftist groups tens of millions of dollars to help poor, minority and indigenous communities attain “environmental justice.” Some of the agency funds went to groups that help illegal immigrants, among them a New Jersey nonprofit (Lazos America Unida) that advocates on behalf of the “Mexican immigrant community” and a Missouri farm workers’ group that aims to increase awareness about the dangers of sun and heat exposure in migrant populations. Judicial Watch sued the EPA earlier this year for records about the controversial environmental justice grants because the agency ignored a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that dates back to 2015.

Various probes have also uncovered an epidemic of EPA employees watching pornography on government computers during work hours. This is a government-wide problem, but the EPA appears to be in a class of its own. Watching porn at the agency is so widespread that a bill (Eliminating Pornography from Agencies Act) was introduced in Congress and the lawmaker behind it, North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows, said the EPA served as an inspiration for the measure. “One EPA employee was viewing as much as 6 hours of pornography a day in his office,” the congressman said. “The same federal employee was found to have downloaded as many as 7,000 pornographic files onto his government computer.”

The EPA also fails to punish corrupt employees and allows them to keep their government paychecks, according to a scathing federal audit  that includes slews of examples in which the agency failed to take action against workers who committed wrongdoing. For instance, a senior executive simultaneously worked in a private-sector job while he was supposedly performing tasks at the EPA. Agency brass took no action for nearly a year and ultimately put the executive on “paid administrative leave,” allowing the worker to collect full pay for doing nothing. Other cases include eight employees accused by the EPA of misconduct who are also on paid leave and have accrued around 21,000 hours at a cost of more than $1 million and two employees who got busted watching porn during work hours. Each of the porn viewers has an annual salary of $120,000 and both were placed on administrative leave for a year before they were even reprimanded, according to the audit. One of them retired with full benefits without any punishment and the other is still collecting a full government paycheck. The cases go on and on. “Recent events and activities indicate a possible ‘culture of complacency’ among some supervisors at the EPA regarding time and attendance controls, employee computer usage, real property management, and taking prompt action against employees,” the report says.

Let’s not forget that under Obama’s first EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, the agency was investigated for dodging potential public scrutiny and possibly congressional oversight by using bogus electronic mail accounts to conduct official business. Judicial Watch is investigating the matter and has sued the EPA for using a private encryption software to thwart government oversight and transparency.

The post EPA Blows $1.5 Million on Parking, Some Spaces Never Used appeared first on Judicial Watch.

EPA Blows $1.5 Million on Parking, Some Spaces Never Used

A government agency with a sordid history paid $1.5 million for subsidized and unoccupied parking spaces in violation of executive orders designed to save taxpayer dollars and the environment by cracking down on parking subsidies in the federal workforce. The waste occurred over a two-year period at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters in Washington D.C. and a regional office in Atlanta Georgia. The two locations doled out more than $840,000 to subsidize employee parking and around $690,000 for unoccupied spaces, according to a federal audit released this week.

In the 42-page report, the EPA Inspector General points out the irony of an agency charged with promoting air quality disobeying various federal orders enacted to improve air quality and public health in the capital area. Among them is Executive Order 13150, Federal Workforce Transportation, which requires federal agencies in the capital region to implement a transit subsidy fringe benefit to discourage commuting by single occupancy vehicles, improve air quality and reduce traffic congestion. Another is Executive Order 13693, Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade, which establishes “a clear overarching objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions across Federal operations” and encourages agencies to “promote sustainable commuting and work-related travel practices for Federal employees … and reward carpooling and the use of public transportation, where consistent with agency authority and Federal appropriations law.”

Other EPA regional offices do not provide subsidized parking for employees and many federal agencies in D.C. don’t either, the watchdog reveals. Among them is the General Services Administration (GSA), the government’s central management agency that handles everything from office space for the feds to communication and purchasing. The agency is huge, with a staff of about 14,000 and an annual budget of nearly $20 billion. “Other federal agencies, such as the GSA, no longer provide subsidized parking to employees except those with disabilities, and nine of the 10 EPA regions also do not provide this fringe benefit,” the EPA IG report states. “The GSA’s Director of Operational Support Division and National Parking Manager observed that the GSA’s new, nonsubsidized parking policy reduced the number of employees driving to work by over 80 percent.”

While it certainly constitutes the squandering of taxpayer dollars, the EPA parking bruhaha is nothing compared to some of the agency’s scandals over the years. During the Obama administration the EPA gave leftist groups tens of millions of dollars to help poor, minority and indigenous communities attain “environmental justice.” Some of the agency funds went to groups that help illegal immigrants, among them a New Jersey nonprofit (Lazos America Unida) that advocates on behalf of the “Mexican immigrant community” and a Missouri farm workers’ group that aims to increase awareness about the dangers of sun and heat exposure in migrant populations. Judicial Watch sued the EPA earlier this year for records about the controversial environmental justice grants because the agency ignored a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that dates back to 2015.

Various probes have also uncovered an epidemic of EPA employees watching pornography on government computers during work hours. This is a government-wide problem, but the EPA appears to be in a class of its own. Watching porn at the agency is so widespread that a bill (Eliminating Pornography from Agencies Act) was introduced in Congress and the lawmaker behind it, North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows, said the EPA served as an inspiration for the measure. “One EPA employee was viewing as much as 6 hours of pornography a day in his office,” the congressman said. “The same federal employee was found to have downloaded as many as 7,000 pornographic files onto his government computer.”

The EPA also fails to punish corrupt employees and allows them to keep their government paychecks, according to a scathing federal audit  that includes slews of examples in which the agency failed to take action against workers who committed wrongdoing. For instance, a senior executive simultaneously worked in a private-sector job while he was supposedly performing tasks at the EPA. Agency brass took no action for nearly a year and ultimately put the executive on “paid administrative leave,” allowing the worker to collect full pay for doing nothing. Other cases include eight employees accused by the EPA of misconduct who are also on paid leave and have accrued around 21,000 hours at a cost of more than $1 million and two employees who got busted watching porn during work hours. Each of the porn viewers has an annual salary of $120,000 and both were placed on administrative leave for a year before they were even reprimanded, according to the audit. One of them retired with full benefits without any punishment and the other is still collecting a full government paycheck. The cases go on and on. “Recent events and activities indicate a possible ‘culture of complacency’ among some supervisors at the EPA regarding time and attendance controls, employee computer usage, real property management, and taking prompt action against employees,” the report says.

Let’s not forget that under Obama’s first EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, the agency was investigated for dodging potential public scrutiny and possibly congressional oversight by using bogus electronic mail accounts to conduct official business. Judicial Watch is investigating the matter and has sued the EPA for using a private encryption software to thwart government oversight and transparency.

The post EPA Blows $1.5 Million on Parking, Some Spaces Never Used appeared first on Judicial Watch.

EPA Blows $1.5 Million on Parking, Some Spaces Never Used

A government agency with a sordid history paid $1.5 million for subsidized and unoccupied parking spaces in violation of executive orders designed to save taxpayer dollars and the environment by cracking down on parking subsidies in the federal workforce. The waste occurred over a two-year period at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters in Washington D.C. and a regional office in Atlanta Georgia. The two locations doled out more than $840,000 to subsidize employee parking and around $690,000 for unoccupied spaces, according to a federal audit released this week.

In the 42-page report, the EPA Inspector General points out the irony of an agency charged with promoting air quality disobeying various federal orders enacted to improve air quality and public health in the capital area. Among them is Executive Order 13150, Federal Workforce Transportation, which requires federal agencies in the capital region to implement a transit subsidy fringe benefit to discourage commuting by single occupancy vehicles, improve air quality and reduce traffic congestion. Another is Executive Order 13693, Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade, which establishes “a clear overarching objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions across Federal operations” and encourages agencies to “promote sustainable commuting and work-related travel practices for Federal employees … and reward carpooling and the use of public transportation, where consistent with agency authority and Federal appropriations law.”

Other EPA regional offices do not provide subsidized parking for employees and many federal agencies in D.C. don’t either, the watchdog reveals. Among them is the General Services Administration (GSA), the government’s central management agency that handles everything from office space for the feds to communication and purchasing. The agency is huge, with a staff of about 14,000 and an annual budget of nearly $20 billion. “Other federal agencies, such as the GSA, no longer provide subsidized parking to employees except those with disabilities, and nine of the 10 EPA regions also do not provide this fringe benefit,” the EPA IG report states. “The GSA’s Director of Operational Support Division and National Parking Manager observed that the GSA’s new, nonsubsidized parking policy reduced the number of employees driving to work by over 80 percent.”

While it certainly constitutes the squandering of taxpayer dollars, the EPA parking bruhaha is nothing compared to some of the agency’s scandals over the years. During the Obama administration the EPA gave leftist groups tens of millions of dollars to help poor, minority and indigenous communities attain “environmental justice.” Some of the agency funds went to groups that help illegal immigrants, among them a New Jersey nonprofit (Lazos America Unida) that advocates on behalf of the “Mexican immigrant community” and a Missouri farm workers’ group that aims to increase awareness about the dangers of sun and heat exposure in migrant populations. Judicial Watch sued the EPA earlier this year for records about the controversial environmental justice grants because the agency ignored a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that dates back to 2015.

Various probes have also uncovered an epidemic of EPA employees watching pornography on government computers during work hours. This is a government-wide problem, but the EPA appears to be in a class of its own. Watching porn at the agency is so widespread that a bill (Eliminating Pornography from Agencies Act) was introduced in Congress and the lawmaker behind it, North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows, said the EPA served as an inspiration for the measure. “One EPA employee was viewing as much as 6 hours of pornography a day in his office,” the congressman said. “The same federal employee was found to have downloaded as many as 7,000 pornographic files onto his government computer.”

The EPA also fails to punish corrupt employees and allows them to keep their government paychecks, according to a scathing federal audit  that includes slews of examples in which the agency failed to take action against workers who committed wrongdoing. For instance, a senior executive simultaneously worked in a private-sector job while he was supposedly performing tasks at the EPA. Agency brass took no action for nearly a year and ultimately put the executive on “paid administrative leave,” allowing the worker to collect full pay for doing nothing. Other cases include eight employees accused by the EPA of misconduct who are also on paid leave and have accrued around 21,000 hours at a cost of more than $1 million and two employees who got busted watching porn during work hours. Each of the porn viewers has an annual salary of $120,000 and both were placed on administrative leave for a year before they were even reprimanded, according to the audit. One of them retired with full benefits without any punishment and the other is still collecting a full government paycheck. The cases go on and on. “Recent events and activities indicate a possible ‘culture of complacency’ among some supervisors at the EPA regarding time and attendance controls, employee computer usage, real property management, and taking prompt action against employees,” the report says.

Let’s not forget that under Obama’s first EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, the agency was investigated for dodging potential public scrutiny and possibly congressional oversight by using bogus electronic mail accounts to conduct official business. Judicial Watch is investigating the matter and has sued the EPA for using a private encryption software to thwart government oversight and transparency.

The post EPA Blows $1.5 Million on Parking, Some Spaces Never Used appeared first on Judicial Watch.

City’s Illegal Alien Defense Fund Gives $17,500 to Terrorist Front Group

Ohio’s capital city has launched a defense fund for illegal immigrants facing deportation and thousands of taxpayer dollars will go to the local chapter of a terrorist front group that promotes itself as a Muslim civil rights organization. The pot of cash is known as Columbus Families Together Fund and the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a national organization that serves as the U.S. front for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, will be among the recipients.

CAIR was founded in 1994 by three Middle Eastern extremists (Omar Ahmad, Nihad Awad, and Rafeeq Jaber) who ran the American propaganda wing of Hamas, known then as the Islamic Association for Palestine. In 2008 CAIR was a co-conspirator in a federal terror-finance case involving the Hamas front group Holy Land Foundation. Read more in a Judicial Watch special report that focuses on Muslim charities. Top FBI counter terrorism chiefs have described CAIR as an entity that not only promotes terrorism, but also finances it. One group has dedicated itself to documenting CAIR’s extensive terrorist ties which include a top official sentenced to 20 years in prison for participating in a network of militant jihadists, another convicted of bank fraud for financing a major terrorist group, a board member who was a co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and a fundraiser identified by the U.S. Treasury Department for financing Al Qaeda.

Allocating public funds to assist illegal aliens with their legal problems is bad enough, but giving some of the cash to a group like CAIR is like pouring salt on the wound. The effort started when Donald Trump got elected president. Columbus City Councilwoman Elizabeth Brown vowed to help illegal immigrants fight deportation and posted this on her social media account on January 30: “In Columbus, we stand with immigrants! This morning I announced Council’s commitment to a legal defense fund to support our refugees and immigrants as they face an onslaught of new hurdles to keep their families together. I’m excited to get to work. Who wants to help?”

Last week the Columbus City Council made it official, establishing the new legal defense fund with a $185,000 infusion to help provide legal services to the area’s illegal aliens and their families. The money will go to various nonprofits that will also “educate detained immigrants on their rights under immigration law,” according to a local newspaper report. A nonprofit called Advocates for Basic Legal Equality Inc. will get the largest chunk of city money, the article reveals, but other groups will also benefit. Priority will go to Columbus-area illegal aliens facing deportation in Cleveland Immigration Court and preference will be given to cases involving children. CAIR will receive $17,500 to provide “legal services that help keep families together in the central Ohio immigrant and refugee communities.” This includes “know your rights” education sessions in Columbus that will cover encounters with federal immigration agents. Brown, the councilwoman behind the effort said “we’re sending a signal here tonight. We value our immigrants. We welcome you. We know that the demonization of immigrants throws them into the shadows and makes a class of silent victims. We won’t allow it.”

City leaders feel an obligation to protect immigrant and refugee families in Central Ohio from the financial and emotional devastation that results from aggressive immigration enforcement, according to a document describing the Columbus Families Together Fund. “The wellbeing of our immigrant communities is intertwined with the city’s overall wellbeing,” the document states. “Ultimately, Columbus is a safer, more just, and more economically vibrant city for everyone when we address the needs of all our residents.” It also says that, because an intact family is one determining factor in economic self-sufficiency and long-term child success, the city will also pay for additional services that help keep immigrant and refugee families together.

Columbus is not alone in allocating public funds to help those in the country illegally after the Trump administration announced a harder line on immigration enforcement. Last year two major U.S. cities that have long offered illegal aliens sanctuary allocated millions of dollars to help them avoid deportation. A few days after the Chicago City Council approved a $1.3 million legal defense fund to assist illegal aliens facing deportation, official in Los Angeles unveiled a similar program with a $10 million infusion.

The post City’s Illegal Alien Defense Fund Gives $17,500 to Terrorist Front Group appeared first on Judicial Watch.

Teacher Sues Public District to Stop it from Giving JW Antifa Activism Records

A Judicial Watch record request has fueled a tense legal drama between a middle school teacher who is a national organizer for a radical leftist group and the public district that employs her. The conflict ensued a few weeks ago when Judicial Watch filed a California Public Records Act (CPRA) request with the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) to obtain information about the controversial teacher’s violent Antifa activism.

The teacher, Yvette Felarca, works at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School and is a prominent figure in By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), an organized militant group founded by the Marxist Revolutionary Workers League that uses raucous militant tactics to protest conservative speaking engagements. Over the summer Felarca was arrested and charged with several crimes, including felony assault, for inciting a riot in Sacramento, according to information provided by the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office to a Berkeley news outlet. Felarca was captured on video calling a man a Nazi and punching him in the stomach repeatedly while shouting obscenities at him. More than a dozen people were injured in the riot, at least 10 with stab wounds, and the capitol grounds suffered thousands of dollars in property damage.

BUSD has accused Felarca of brainwashing and indoctrinating students for years and in a 2016 letter cited in a local news article the district writes that her performance “reflected unprofessional conduct and unsatisfactory performance,” both grounds for dismissal. The teacher repeatedly solicited students to participate in protests, used students to support her own personal political agenda and repeatedly used leave time to attend immigrant rights marches in Washington D.C., even though the district says it is not an allowable use for personal or sick leave. “It was evident that you and your [By Any Means Necessary] representatives were actively trying to brainwash and manipulate these young people to serve your own selfish interests in not being held accountable to the same rules that apply to everyone else,” the letter states. “As a teacher, your conduct was particularly reprehensible.” Earlier this year the district was bombarded with calls to fire the combative teacher.

Judicial Watch filed the CPRA to obtain records of communication between district administrators and King Middle School staff mentioning the words Felarca, Antifa, By All Means Necessary and BAMN as well as the teacher’s personnel file. Last week BUSD Superintendent Donald Evans reluctantly announced that he will comply with Judicial Watch’s request for the records because he is legally required to do so. Evans writes that it’s possible Judicial Watch is conducting a “witch hunt” to intimidate and deny free speech rights, but mentions the bottom line: The law is clear that a public agency’s refusal to comply with a lawful request may result in substantial litigation costs and attorney’s fees imposed on the agency for its refusal to comply. The superintendent reminds that “courts have made clear that the motivation of the requestor seeking public records under the CPRA is not a basis to reject a request — no matter how upsetting the request may be, or how objectionable the motivation for the request may be.”

Felarca responded by suing the district to keep it from fulfilling its legal obligation to provide Judicial Watch with the records. A King Middle School staffer named Lori Nixon and a teacher, Larry Stefl, joined her in the complaint, which argues that Judicial Watch is misusing the law for political means and the district should refuse to provide the information. It also calls Judicial Watch’s record request “illegal.” Evans, BUSD and King Middle School Principal Janet Levenson are named in the complaint. “Judicial Watch and BUSD seek to put on public display the emails of teachers and staff at MLKMS, a school community that has been defending Felarca and the city of Berkeley from right-wing attack,” the teacher’s complaint states. “Defendant seeks to conduct a political witch-hunt, violating Plaintiffs’ privacy and chill their freedom of speech, freedom of association, and right to engage in protected activities and disrupts their public function as educators.”

The court document explains that “Berkeley has found itself at ground zero in the fight against Donald Trump’s policies of anti-immigrant scapegoating and tendency toward creating an authoritarian regime.” Berkeley is at the center of opposing the alt-right and neo-Nazi thugs who have repeatedly targeted the city precisely because of its principles of anti-racism, tolerance and freedom of speech, the filing says. “This case will have tremendous impact on the future course of this struggle.”

The post Teacher Sues Public District to Stop it from Giving JW Antifa Activism Records appeared first on Judicial Watch.

City Claims Records are so “Candid or Personal” Public Disclosure will “Stifle” Govt.

In a huge blow to government transparency, a city in a state that disregards federal immigration and drug statutes is keeping records secret by asserting that the “material is so candid or personal that public disclosure is likely to stifle honest and frank discussion within the government.” It is a laughable excuse to withhold records in an apparent effort to coverup embarrassing and perhaps unprofessional behavior by public officials on taxpayer equipment and time.

Here’s some background; in September Judicial Watch uncovered a controversy involving the northern Colorado city of Ft. Collins’ search for a new police chief. A highly qualified and respected veteran law enforcement official with impressive credentials was precipitously eliminated as a finalist after Ft. Collins officials discovered he endorsed immigration enforcement. His name is Steve Henry, a former chief deputy for the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) in central Arizona with 23 years of continuous and stellar law enforcement service. Henry spent nearly two decades at PCSO, an agency with a $39 million budget that patrols a county the size of Connecticut and he’s a U.S. Army veteran with degrees from Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the Harvard JFK School of Government.

Henry was among 65 applicants for the Ft. Collins police chief job and was notified that he was one of six finalists. He was invited to travel to Ft. Collins to interview with city officials, specifically the city manager, who oversees the police chief. Henry’s offer was abruptly rescinded, a source closely involved with the selection process told Judicial Watch, because he publicly supported an Arizona law (SB1070) that makes it a state crime to be in the U.S. without proper documentation and bans “sanctuary city” policies. The measure also allows local law enforcement officers throughout the state to inquire about suspects’ immigration status. “Three of the top six candidates were dumped for a public stance on one issue or another,” Judicial Watch’s source said. “Political correctness is destroying America when a city government does not want a chief who supports the rule of law.”

Before publishing the story, Judicial Watch reached out to Ft. Collins City Manager Darin Atteberry for comment but an assistant named Rachel left Judicial Watch a voice message saying Atteberry had “back-to-back meetings” for days and would not be available. Judicial Watch also sent Atteberry questions via electronic mail to his official city address ([email protected]) but he did not return them. At the time Judicial Watch had launched an investigation and filed a public records request to obtain details about the troublesome case. After the September article was published Ft. Collins officials mounted a campaign to discredit Judicial Watch by claiming there were numerous inaccuracies without offering specifics. In over 126 documents provided to Judicial Watch by Ft. Collins, not one identified a single inaccuracy in Judicial Watch’s reporting.

Conveniently, Ft. Collins officials claim that the records involving the alleged inaccuracies surrounding the police chief selection process cannot be provided because, the “material is so candid or personal that public disclosure is likely to stifle honest and frank discussion within the government.” Specifically, the withheld records involve electronic mail exchanges between city staff, two draft versions of the city’s response to Judicial Watch’s story, removing police chief candidate names from communications, exchanges between city staff members containing draft public statements to the city council about police chief recruitment, updates with four potential finalists and information about terminating the contract with the California-based company (Ralph Anderson and Associates) hired to conduct the city’s search for a police chief.

In denying the records, Ft. Collins asserts that “Intra-city communication contains candid dialogue regarding updating the City Council about the Judicial Watch post and the police chief recruitment and a candidate name is included.” The city also uses the same “intra-city communication” excuse to deny the other records, including exchanges among officials regarding their response to “numerous emails sent by third parties” in the aftermath of Judicial Watch’s story and “candid dialogue regarding preparation of city press release.” The broad exemption appears to be a ticket to avoid accountability. We can only guess what the withheld exchanges contain. Could the material include lewd photographs, racially derogatory comments, criminal intent, rule violations or offensive language? Judicial Watch is exploring the possibility of litigation to let a court determine if the information gets disclosed to the public. In the meantime, here’s a thought; disclosing material based upon discussions and decisions that are courteous, professional and relevant rarely, if ever, have a “stifling” effect.

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