Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sebelius pays over $7,000 in back taxes and penalties

Hmm...this sounds familiar...Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, Barack Obama's nominee to be Health and Human Services Secretary, has tax problems.

The Kansas governor explained the changes to senators in a letter dated Tuesday that was obtained by The Associated Press. She said they involved charitable contributions, the sale of a home and business expenses.

She and her husband paid a total of $7,040 in back taxes and $878 in interest to amend returns from 2005-2007.

Several Obama administration nominees have been derailed by tax issues, notably the president's first nominee for HHS secretary, former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle. He withdrew from consideration while apologizing for failing to pay $140,000 in taxes and interest.

Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., quickly issued a statement supporting Sebelius' nomination.

Isn't that special, Max?

Sebelius' husband, Gary, is a federal magistrate judge.

Which Obama appointee is next?

Related posts:

Sebelius takes HHS job, leaves Kansas in a mess

Archbishop to Obama veep candidate Sebelius: Stop taking Communion

UPDATED: Gov. Sebelius' son's "Don't Drop the Soap" prison board game

Marathon Pundit's My Kansas Kronikles

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Report from the GOP Whip Team bloggers' teleconference

"'Just say no' is the right advice to give your teenagers about drugs. It is not an acceptable response to whatever economic policy is proposed by the other party."
Barack Obama, March 17, 2009.

The main takeway I got from this afternoon's Republican Whip Team Blogger Conference is that the GOP has a plan, and it will be unveiled on Capitol Hill 9:30am Eastern Time tomorrow.

For the first time I was able to participate in the bi-weekly bloggers' teleconference hosted by Chief Deputy Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy of California.

Also taking part were his fellow Californian John Campbell, as well as Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), and Paul Ryan (R-WI)--each of them members of the House Budget Committee.

Campbell spoke first, he called Obama's fiscal policy "a spending orgy." He added, "You have to increase every single federal tax by 30 percent...all of them" to come close to balancing the Obama budget."

And of course there are a lot of federal taxes.

Ryan rhetorically asked, "Is the president solving this crisis? I'd say no. The president is exploiting this crisis." He added that Obama has in mind "(bringing forth the third and final great wave of progressivism built upon the New Deal and the Great Society."

Hmm...I don't remember Obama promising that during the presidential campaign.

Ryan continued by stating "I don't know what we're going to call this particular wave, but it is to bring sweeping transformation to the federal government the likes of which have not been seen since the New Deal. And that's not my language, but the language coming from the White House."

Ryan warns that Obama's plans will "crash our economy, debase our currency and permanently lower our standard of living."

McHenry called the Obama budget "a down payment for carbon tax and cap, and a down payment on socialized health care and government-rationed health care." He added that the budget will result in "massive tax increases."

The Obama budget, I was reminded this afternoon, is not inevitable. It can be stopped. And if enough Blue Dog Democrats stand up to Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, it will be.

Another budget option, with specific numbers, will be revealed on Wednesday. And four Republican congressman promise that it won't "Just say no."

Oh, I almost forgot. The reps are enthusiastic about the next round of Nationwide Tea Parties.

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Alexi Giannoulias: Not so transparent

Just like that window from the Giannoulias family's Broadway Bank on Chicago's North Side, sometimes what you think is transparent is in fact not something you can easily see through.

Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, 32, is strongly considering a run for the Senate seat currently held by fellow Democrat Roland Burris. Giannoulias, who prior to his election was a senior loan officer at the bank, had never voted in an election until his name was on the ballot, announced yesterday that he won't be accepting campaign donations from corporate political action committees or federal lobbyists.

Big deal. Will Giannoulias forgo donations from union PACs? Or money from his family members, you know, the ones who own Broadway Bank?

About that bank: Almost half of the $7 million Giannoulias raised for his 2006 race came from "the Broadway family."

And this is not just any bank: Broadway loaned millions to convicted mobster Michael "Jaws" Giorango. Giannoulias said in 2006 that he met Jaws, who has prostitution and bookmaking convictions on his résumé, a "few times" and described Giorango as "a very nice person."

Because of Jaws and Giannoulias' pathetic explanations regarding his relationship to the felon, Illinois Democratic Party Chairman, state House Speaker Michael Madigan refused to endorse Giannoulias his after victory the 2006 Democratic primary.

One year later, "The Boy Banker" was forced to testify about a 2002 Broadway Bank loan he approved to 83 year-old Loren Billngs. She ended up getting swindled out of that loan money by three business partners. Billings, who owns the Museum of Holography, could lose the museum and her home.

Billings' family sued Broadway, the bank won the suit.

Giannoulias couldn't remember very much about the Billings loan during his testimony.

Just like he forgot to vote each Election Day before 2006.

This being an Illinois political story, do you think there is a Tony Rezko connection? There sure is! Last year, Nevada officials issued an arrest warrant for Rezko's arrest for writing bad checks at Las Vegas casinos. Those checks were drawn from, you guessed it, Broadway Bank.

In the first half of the decade, Broadway Bank lent millions to the alleged Stratievsky new mayifa family.

Alexi has never given a thorough account of any of these episodes.

Not transparent.

National Republican Senate Committee spokeswoman Amber Wilkerson had this to say about Giannoulias:

If Alexi Giannoulias really wants to provide transparency and accountability in Illinois, he should begin by fully explaining his longstanding connections to the mafia, his family's ties to convicted felon Tony Rezko, and his support for disgraced former Governor Rod Blagojevich. No amount of supposed "reform" can change Giannoulias' sordid past and shady connections, especially as voters recover from the ethical lapses by his friend Blagojevich and Roland Burris. Voters in Illinois are looking for real change – not empty rhetoric to conceal Giannoulias’ questionable past and lack of ethics.

Closer to home, Illinois Republican Party spokesman Lance Trover adds:

If Mr. Giannoulias wants to kick off his campaign by talking about reform then he should begin by fully explaining why, throughout the last six years, he loaned millions of dollars to mob figures and endorsed Rod Blagojevich for re-election in 2006.

Giannoulias is believed to be Sen. Dick Durbin's choice to become the other half of the Illinois U.S. Senate delegation in 2011. Durbin of course was the first prominent politician to call for a special election to determine Barack Obama's replacement in the Senate--until the Majority Whip figured out a Republican could end up winning. Rod Blagojevich of course appointed Roland Burris to that seat.

Giannoulias accompanied Durbin on trip to Greece last month, giving the treasurer "instant cred" for his expected Senate run. During the flight there and back, and while in Greece, presumably the pair had plenty of time to chat. Did high-and-mighty-and-pure Alexi scold Durbin for taking money from corporate PACs?

Here is a partial listing of corporate PAC money Durbin accepted, courtesy of Open Secrets.

The mainstream issue should be covering the clouds surrounding Giannoulias. It's a story they can really sink their Jaws into.

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Ford Motors is in the news too

For understandable reasons, General Motors and Chrysler dominated the news--particularly business news--on Monday.

America's number two automaker, Ford Motors, is making news as well.

Ford announced yesterday that it will be idling many of its assembly plants for the next three weeks. This morning Ford unveiled a payment protection plan for buyers of news cars who lose their jobs.

Before all of these events unfolded, the Detroit Free Press tracked down Ford's top two executives:

With each passing day, Ford Motor Co.'s determination to forgo federal loans is giving the company a sharper edge over its domestic rivals, who must now answer to the federal government.

While GM and Chrysler were scolded Monday by President Barack Obama's auto task force, Ford remains in control of its destiny and aims to keep it that way.

In an exclusive joint interview with the Free Press last week, Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford and Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally said they are taking decisive action to profitably grow their business the way they want to.

"Look at the speed with which we are moving," said Mulally, who has made progress with the UAW and bondholders. "We have the resources, and we are implementing our transformational plan. ... When you are owned by the U.S. government, you are in a different situation."

The temporary plant shut downs are unfortunate, but such moves are sometimes necessary for a company to survive.

As I wrote yesterday, the Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are in power partly because of union support.

In a press conference this morning, GM's new CEO, Fritz Henderson, said plant closings are coming.

Will his boss, Barack Obama, sign off on that?

Will the unions let it happen?

UPDATE 10:50AM CDT: General Motors announced a similar payment protection plan today.

Related post:

New Ford Taurus: A car Obama should be looking at

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Sun-Times files for bankruptcy protection

Late last year the Tribune Company, owner of the Chicago Tribune, several other newsapers, and the Chicago Cubs, filed for bankruptcy protection.

Now the Sun-Times Media Group, which owns the Chicago Sun-Times and dozens of suburban papers, has done the same thing.

The newspaper wrote that the decision to file for bankruptcy was made "with the aim of reorganizing operations, settling a tax liability and making the company fit for a buyer."

The Sun-Times retained Rothschild Inc. to help with a possible sale of assets.

Interim Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Halbreich said in a statement that filing for Chapter 11 protection offers the best opportunity to protect the company's media properties for the long-term.

He said in the Sun-Times that filing was a difficult decision but essential for the company "to re-establish itself as a self-sustaining, profitable operation. That is worth fighting for."

The Sun-Times Media Group was part of Lord Conrad Black's Hollinger empire. Black is in prison now for fraud, and one of STMG's biggest creditors is the Internal Revenue Service--it owes over $600 million in back taxes and penalties that date back to Black's reign.

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