Posts Tagged ‘Conflict of Interest’

Oligarchy and the revolving door

October 7, 2016

There are two kinds of revolving doors between business and government.   The first is when people come from the world of business, usually temporarily, to make policy in government.

I don’t think this is necessarily wrong.  If you are making policy on a complicated field, such as finance, you want people who know something about the subject, and often as not that will that will be people who earn a living in that field.

Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. was a stock market speculator in the 1920s, trading on inside information and manipulating the market.   But when he became the first chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (1932-1935), he outlawed this practices.   His experience made him a better regulator.

The second is when government regulators and policy-makers plan to move on to jobs in the industries they regulate and make policy for.

Neil Barofsky, who was special inspector general in charge of the oversight of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) from 2008 through 2011, wrote about how he was warned that he would make himself unemployable by being too zealous about doing his job, but that he might have a good post-government career if he toned town his reports.

He said he always realizing that doing his job was incompatible with a future job in finance or a higher federal appointment.  He is now a law school professor.  He is an exception.


The passing scene: Links & comments 7/1/14

July 1, 2014

The Clintons’ web of wealth: Where did Bill and Hillary get all their money? by Zaid Jilani for Al Jazeera America.

After stepping down as President, Bill Clinton repeatedly received six-figure fees for speeches from Citicorp, Goldman Sachs and other banking and financial firms that benefited from his administration’s policies.  He also received six-figure speaking fees from business interests in the Middle East while his wife was Secretary of State.

This information is from financial disclosures required of office-holders and their spouses when Hillary Clinton was a U.S. Senator and then Secretary of State.   News reports indicate she has received two $200,000 speech fees from Goldman Sachs since leaving office.

While these facts raise suspicions of payoffs and conflicts of interests, Jilani pointed out that it isn’t unusual for Washington office-holders to cash in like this after they leave public service.

Before Shooting in Iraq, a Warning on Blackwater by James Rissen of the New York Times.

Just weeks before Blackwater guards fatally shot 17 civilians at Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007, the State Department began investigating the security contractor’s operations in Iraq.

But the inquiry was abandoned after Blackwater’s top manager there issued a threat: “that he could kill” the government’s chief investigator and “no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq,” according to department reports.

People on the move by Dmitry Orlov.

Most Americans seem quite incapable of making the simple connection between destroying somebody’s house and having that somebody then move in to share yours.

An estimated 50 million people are refugees, displaced persons, asylum seekers and unauthorized immigrants.  Dimtry Orlov pointed out that a high proportion are from countries disrupted by the U.S. war on terror, the U.S. war on drugs or U.S. intervention to protect dictators against radical guerrillas.   These include 7 million from Mexico and 3 million from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

Ukraine gas company hires Joe Biden’s son

May 14, 2014

Burisma Holdings Ltd., the Ukraine’s largest producer of natural gas, announced that Hunter Biden, the son of vice president Joe Biden, is joining its board of directors.   He will be in charge of the firm’s legal department, and work on “transparency, corporate governance and responsibility, international expansion and other priorities.”

Joe Biden and Hunter Biden

Joe Biden and Hunter Biden

Burisma also announced the appointment of Devon Archer to its board.   Archer was co-chair of the fund-raising committee for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign.  Hunter Biden used to be a lobbyist, but gave that up in September, 2008, before his dad was elected vice president.

Biden and Archer are members of Rosemont Seneca Partners, a finance and policy advisory firm.   Archer is the college roommate of Christopher Heinz, the stepson of John Kerry.  The two of them founded Rosemont Capital, a private equity firm which owns half of Rosemont Seneca Partners.  Archer is a noted fund-raiser and bundler of campaign contributions for the Democratic party.

Burisma was founded in 2006 and is headquartered in Cyprus.  It owns gas fields all over Ukraine, including in the Donetsk basin in eastern Ukraine where separatists hold sway.

Crony capitalism?   Hardly anybody in Washington appears to think so.  Biden and Archer have violated no laws, and, as one person put it, Hunter Biden shouldn’t be deprived of a job opportunity just because he is the Vice President’s son.  What do you think?