Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Geithner Credits Signs of Housing Market Stabilization to TARP


Treasury Department secretary Timothy Geithner defended financial policies initiated under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), linking them to improved economic conditions over the past year.

"They continue to help responsible, but at-risk Americans hold onto their homes and to repair essential channels of new credit," he told the Congressional Oversight Panel (COP) on Tuesday, according to written testimony.

For example, Geithner said delinquencies for many loan categories appear to have peaked, and home prices are showing signs of stabilization. He warned, however, that "significant challenges" remain, including elevated charge-offs for residential and commercial loans and high projections of bank failures.

"Despite offering relatively low borrowing costs, banks continue to report falling loan balances," Geithner said. "To a significant degree, this reflects a natural and healthy adjustment as borrowers and lenders de-leverage after a period of aggressive credit expansion. But it does mean that many consumers and businesses are still finding it difficult to get new credit."

He said the Obama Administration's efforts through TARP are partly responsible for financial system being stronger now than in 2009.

He said the Treasury's support for the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) and $1.25trn in purchases of their mortgage-backed securities kept mortgage rates at historical lows for borrowers. Geithner also noted the Term Asset-Backed Loan Facility (TALF) and the Public-Private Investment Program (PPIP) contributed to a recovery in security prices.

TALF has supported $58bn of asset-backed securities, along with $12bn of securitization for commercial mortgages. Using a combination of TARP and private capital, Public-Private Investment Funds purchased $12bn of securities from banks.

"Prices for some of the most distressed securities backed by residential mortgages have increased 70% since last March, while prices for some securities backed by commercial properties have improved by roughly half over the same period," Geithner told the COP.

Not only has TARP housed many of the programs Geithner said are responsible for improved financial stability, but the cost of TARP itself is decreasing. He noted that in August 2009, TARP was projected to increase Federal deficits by $341b. That number has since been reduced to $105bn.

Financial firms that received TARP funds are also helping the Treasury recover bailout money. The volume of funds repaid into TARP from financial firms that received capital boosts now exceeds the volume of funds outstanding, the Treasury said earlier this month.

"We are well on the way to winding down TARP," Geithner said.

He noted the Treasury plans to dispose of investments as soon as practicable in order to return TARP funds and reduce the federal debt. The Treasury will aim to dispose of those investments in a way that minimizes the impact on financial markets and the economy.

Wherever possible, Geithner said, the Treasury will encourage private capital to replace government investments. Additionally, he said the government will not intervene in the day-to-day management of private companies that received federal aid through TARP.

Hilarious! "NY pension fund to sue BP for investment loss"

There is deep, deep irony here.

The NY Common Retirement Fund is a member of CERES, a group of Public Employee Pension Funds that champion (in their communications anyway) alternative energy. They are very vocal in telling other people what to do.

A couple years ago the NYCRF made headlines when they announced they were going to commit $500mil. to green investing. The fund has $132 Bil. under management. If my slide rule is right that is less than 4/10ths of 1% of the money they've been entrusted with.

Now it turns out they had 17.5 million shares of BP. *

On the day of the explosion the stock closed at $60.48 valuing the stake at $1.06 Billion. Double their commitment to altenergy.

Even funnier, the fund's largest equity position is ExxonMobil, 18.12 million shares worth a cool $1,234,348,865 i.e. 2 1/2 times their "green" investments in one oil company.

From Reuters via Yahoo:

New York state's pension fund plans to sue BP Plc to recover losses from the drop in the company's stock price following the worst oil spill in U.S. history, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said on Wednesday.

New York's Common Retirement Fund has a long history of serving as the lead plaintiff in shareholder lawsuits. DiNapoli said the fund owned more than 19 million shares when the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in April.

DiNapoli, the sole trustee of the $132.6 billion state pension fund, has hired law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll to represent the fund.

"BP misled investors about its safety procedures and its ability to respond to events like the ongoing oil spill and we're going to hold it accountable," said the comptroller, a Democrat, who stands for election in November...MORE

*All figures as of the latest annual report for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2009. We have to wait until September for the finalized March 31, 2010 numbers. Here's the latest annual asset listing:

Retirement System’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR)

•2009 CAFR

New Home Sales Affected by Tax Credit Expiration 0

In the first month since the tax credit ended, new home sales decreased 33 percent to record lows, according to the Commerce Department.

The Associated Press reports that the sales dropped from April to May to a seasonally adjusted annual sales pace of 300,000– the slowest on record since 1963, and the largest month-to-month decline reported.

Although economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected sales to wane after the tax credit, they only projected them to sink to a sales pace of 410,000. Real estate and interest rate analyst at Weiss Research, Mike Larson, wrote, “We all knew there would be a housing hangover from the expiration of the tax credit, but this decline takes your breath away.”

Nationwide, new home sales took a dip in May, falling 53 percent from the previous month in the West, 25 percent in the South, 24 percent in the Midwest and 33 percent in the Northeast.

The number of new homes available for sale dropped 0.5 percent to 213,000 as builders cut back significantly amidst worries about the housing market. The median sales price in May was down 9.6 percent from the previous year and 1 percent from April to $200,900.

- Jana Schreiber, Move Trends-Getter

Lawrence Taylor indicted on NY rape charges

NEW YORK — Pro football Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor was indicted Wednesday by a suburban New York grand jury on charges of third-degree rape and patronizing a prostitute.

The indictment follows his May 6 arrest at a Holiday Inn in Ramapo, N.Y., where prosecutors say he paid a 16-year-old girl $300 to have sex with him.

Taylor had been charged previously in Ramapo Town Court, but the indictment transfers the case to Rockland County. He is scheduled to appear July 13.

The former New York Giants linebacker also was indicted on charges of endangering the welfare of a child, and sexual abuse and criminal sexual act in the third degree. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted. He has denied the charges.

Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said the 16-year-old told investigators that she had been verbally threatened and physically assaulted by a pimp who drove her 26 miles north to the hotel where Taylor was waiting.

"One of the most effective ways to target prostitution is to go after the johns," Zugibe said. "This indictment underscores our serious commitment to prosecuting those defendants who create a market for the region's growing sex trade."

Taylor's attorney reiterated his client's innocence Wednesday.

"Mr. Taylor and his legal team made a strategic decision not to present any evidence to the grand jury, including him testifying or any witnesses in his defense," said defense attorney Arthur Aidala.

The evidence includes sworn testimony by a 23-year-old woman who says she accompanied the accused pimp and the 16-year-old girl to the hotel where Taylor was staying. She said Taylor did not rape the girl. The teenager returned to the car with $300 in cash and said: "It was weird ... we didn't even have sex."

The statement was given to investigators working for the defense team and seen by The Associated Press on the condition she not be identified.

Taylor's longtime business manager, Mark Lepselter, said they were looking forward to the legal process "and Lawrence being able to move forward with his life."

A federal criminal complaint filed against the accused pimp, Rasheed Davis, recounts the victim's version of events and makes no mention of a third person in the vehicle at the time of his arrest in the Bronx. Davis has been charged in federal court with sex trafficking.

Authorities said the teen did not know whom she was meeting at the hotel room. The girl sent text messages to her uncle saying she was in trouble, police said. He called the NYPD, who arrested the suspected pimp once he returned to the Bronx with the teenager. The girl provided information about the hotel.

Taylor anchored the Giants' defense and led them to Super Bowl titles in 1987 and 1991. He was selected to the NFL's 75th Anniversary All-time Team.

A 10-time Pro Bowler, he was the NFL's MVP in 1986 and Defensive Player of the Year in 1981, 1982 and 1986.

The weight-loss company NutriSystem Inc. dropped Taylor as a spokesman because of his arrest.

Library of Congress Adds 25 Recordings to National Recording Registry (2009 Selections); New Entries Include Recordings by Tupac, Ethel Merman, and R.E.M.

From the Announcement:

Today, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington named the 25 new additions to the eighth annual National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress, which will ensure that these cultural, artistic and historical recordings are always available to the American public.

Under the terms of the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, the Librarian, with advice from the Library’s National Recording Preservation Board (NRPB), is tasked with selecting 25 recordings that are “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and are at least 10 years old. The selections for the 2009 registry bring the total number of recordings to 300.

The list of recordings named to the registry features a diverse selection of spoken word and musical recordings that span the years 1913-1995. They cover a wide range of sounds and music, attesting to the vast imagination and creativity flowing through the cultural stream of the nation’s aural heritage. Selections cross musical types ranging from klezmer to blues, pop and rap, but also include comedy, radio broadcasts, field recordings, Broadway cast recordings and lab experiments.

Among the selections are Coal Miner’s Daughter”; the 1923 recording, “Canal Street Blues,” by King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band that epitomizes the New Orleans sound; the last sessions by the 1961 lineup of the Bill Evans Trio and possibly the greatest live recordings in the history of jazz.

At the bottom of this announcement, you’ll find a complete list of 2009 entries with a brief summary about the recording.

Here are the titles a few of the 25 new entries to the National Recording Registry:

+ Fon der Choope (From the Wedding) – Abe Elenkrig’s Yidishe Orchestra (April 4, 1913)

+ “When You Wish Upon a Star,” Cliff Edwards (recorded 1938; released 1940)

+ The Library of Congress Marine Corps Combat Field Recording Collection, Second Battle of Guam (July 20 – August 11, 1944)

+ “The Little Engine That Could,” narrated by Paul Wing (1949)

+ “Tutti Frutti,” Little Richard (1955)

+ “Smokestack Lightning,” Howlin’ Wolf (1956)

+ “I Started Out As a Child,” Bill Cosby (1964)

+ “Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two),” Max Mathews (1961)

This recording, made at Bell Laboratories on an IBM 704 mainframe computer, is the earliest known recording of a computer-synthesized voice singing a song.

+ “The Band,” The Band (1969)

Jennifer Gavin from LC shares her thoughts about this album. From her blog post, “this album became a favorite when my older brother toted it home from college. There was something gritty and uncontrived about the sound of this group – it almost seemed like material collected by Library of Congress folk researcher Alan Lomax.”

+ “Radio Free Europe,” R.E.M. (1981)

+ “Dear Mama,” Tupac Shakur (1995)

You can review the entire registry through 2008 on the National Recording Preservation Board Web Site (Chronological Order). the registry can also be reviewed by artist (PDF) or by title. (PDF)

Source: LC / National Recording Preservation Board Web Site

Stand With Death Row Prisoner Troy Davis

Tomorrow, Georgia's most famous death row prisoner finally gets to stand in court and present evidence of his innocence. We should all take a stand in support of him, too — and here's why.

Troy Davis has been on death row since 1991 for the murder of a police officer in Savannah, Georgia — a crime he has always said he didn't commit. Since his trial, seven of the nine non-police witnesses against him have either recanted or contradicted their testimony. In an extremely rare move in August, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a lower federal court to hold an evidentiary hearing in the case to decide whether Davis deserves a new trial. That crucial hearing is tomorrow.

As Davis' legal team prepares for the hearing in Savannah, thousands of people around the world will come together today for vigils and gatherings to show their support for Davis and for fair justice. To join them, you can find a group in your city or country here.

There are ways to support Davis from home, as well. Amnesty International, for example, is building a photo mosaic of Davis using photos of supporters holding up messages of support. The current mosaic is above, and when you send your picture it'll be added. (Send your photo here.)

As NAACP President Benjamin Jealous wrote at CNN this week, the high court's unusual decision shows that the "justices are concerned about the constitutionality of executing the innocent." He's right — now let's hope that this concern extends to the case of Hank Skinner when it hits their docket this fall.

To stay up to date as Troy's hearing proceeds tomorrow, you can follow Amnesty International campaign director Laura Moye (@lauramoye), who's tweeting live from Savannah. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Bill Rankin is also always good for reliable, thorough coverage of Georgia's legal system. Of course, we'll keep you in the loop here as well. As Martin Luther King, Jr. put it, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are all Troy Davis.

Matt Kelley is the Online Communications Manager at the Innocence Project and a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

BP puts Bob Dudley in key Gulf clean-up role

BP put Mississippi native Bob Dudley in charge of handling the Gulf of Mexico oil spill on Wednesday, an effort to clean up its image and take the spotlight off chief executive Tony Hayward, the Englishman whose gaffes have infuriated Americans.

Find Trades Today BP PLC confirmed that Dudley, who grew up in Hattiesburg, Miss., an easy drive from the coast, is now the point man in the mission to stop the oil gusher and deal with the economic damage it has caused.

Dudley, who had led BP’s operations in the Americas and Asia, is no stranger to tough situations, having protected his company’s interests in rough dealing in Russia even after he was barred from the country.

The 54-year-old spent two decades climbing the ranks at Amoco Corp., which merged with BP, and lost out to Hayward on the CEO’s slot three years ago.

Perhaps most importantly, he is a fresh face for the oil company as it attempts to fix the spill and protect its future. Hayward shocked Gulf residents last month when he said "I’d like my life back" and weeks later went yachting.

Dudley was appointed president and chief executive of the newly created Gulf Coast Restoration Organization, effective immediately, and will report to Hayward.

"In the near term, my focus will be on listening to stakeholders, so we can address concerns and remove obstacles that get in the way of our effectiveness. And we’ll build an organization that over the longer term fulfills BP’s commitments to the restore the livelihoods and the environment of the Gulf Coast," Dudley said.

The reorganization followed a series of humiliations in recent days for BP. Last week it bowed to President Barack Obama’s demand that it set up a $20 billion escrow fund to cover damages and to suspend dividend payments, followed a day later by a public thrashing for Hayward before a Congressional committee.

Hayward repeatedly apologized and expressed sorrow for the oil leak caused by a fire and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on April 20. Eleven workers on the rig died.

Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee were infuriated when Hayward denied direct responsibility for operational decisions which may have led to the disaster.

"You’re really insulting our intelligence," Rep. Eliot Engel, a Democrat from New York, said at Thursday’s hearing. "I am thoroughly disgusted."

Hayward had a further public relations gaffe over the weekend when he was photographed at a yacht race, and on Tuesday he ducked out of a previously announced commitment to speak at an oil industry conference in London.

A defining moment in BP’s response to the disaster came on May 30 with Hayward’s unguarded remark that "There’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I’d like my life back."

Prime Minister David Cameron intends to press Obama this weekend at the G8 summit for more clarity on the ultimate financial cost that BP will face, the British leader’s office said.

Cameron told the House of Commons on Wednesday that the company is prepared to meet its obligations to fund the clean up and compensate those whose businesses have been blighted by the spill.

"But we do want to make sure that this remains a strong and stable company, for our benefit but also for the benefit of the United States," Cameron said.

BP said the newly formed organization will manage all aspects of the response to the Deepwater Horizon incident and the oil and gas spill in the Gulf of Mexico. That includes clean-up operations, coordinating with the U.S. government and local officials, and managing the $20 billion escrow account.

"Having grown up in Mississippi, Bob has a deep appreciation and affinity for the Gulf Coast, and believes deeply in BP’s commitment to restore the region," Hayward said.

"Our commitment to the Gulf States is for the long-term. And that requires a more permanent sustainable organization to see it through," Hayward added.

BP had said on Tuesday that Dudley would be taking the lead in the United States while Hayward retreated to his chief executive role.

Dudley’s oil industry career began in 1979 with Amoco, which merged with BP in 1998.

Between 1994 and 1997 Dudley was based in Moscow, working on developing Amoco’s business in Russia. From 2003 to 2008, he was president and chief executive of TNK-BP, a joint venture in Russia with a consortium of billionaires.

In that job, he steered the firm through a series of politically explosive disputes that saw one employee charged with espionage, the company’s offices raided by Russian intelligence, an investor boycott and a barrage of tax and labor investigations.


Morning Bell: Time to Dump the Afghanistan Timeline

The Washington Post reports today that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, U.S. commander in Afghanistan, apologized for an upcoming article in Rolling Stone magazine that portrays him and senior officials on his team as dismissive of top Obama administration officials. As a result, General McChrystal has been summoned to the White House to explain his comments. It is a case of poor judgment on the part of the general and his staff to air comments on the character of senior civilian leaders to a reporter, but both the White House and the brass need to put this media gaff aside and focus on the real problem – destroying al Qaeda, defeating the Taliban and helping establish an Afghanistan that can govern itself.

As long as we are being frank, we ought to acknowledge that problem #1 in the president’s strategy was setting an artificial timeline for withdrawal. That led our military leaders to question the strategy in Afghanistan and put tremendous, unnecessary pressure on our armed forces to accomplish the task at hand. And while that timeline provoked questions among top brass, it also led everyone involved to question America’s resolve, from the government in Kabul, to the people in the villages, to the terrorists in the caves, and to the military in Pakistan. In particular, that has led Pakistan to continue to play a dangerous double game, trying to “manage” the Taliban rather than defeat them and root out al Qaeda. We have already seen the consequences – the Times Square Bomber admitted he was trained by the Pakistani Taliban in Pakistan, and he was sent here to kill Americans.

As Heritage regional expert Lisa Curtis writes:

By highlighting that the U.S. will begin withdrawing troops in July 2011, President Obama signals to Afghans and others that the U.S. is not truly committed to prevailing over the Taliban.

This weakens Afghan resolve to resist the Taliban now for fear they will be back in power in the near future. It also reinforces Pakistan’s inclination to hedge on its support for the Afghan Taliban leadership based on its territory.

There are, however, no do-overs in war. The president can’t pretend that he never set a timeline, and he can’t undo his decision to send too few troops for the surge, rather than deploying the thousands more the generals in the field said would have been optimum to implement a better counter-insurgency strategy. The president, however, can make things right.

First, he can dump the timeline.

Second, he can make a commitment to the American people that we will achieve victory in Afghanistan, and he can give our military leaders whatever additional forces or resources they need to get the job done.

Third, he can be crystal clear about how to deal with the Taliban. Curtis writes, “U.S. and NATO forces must first weaken the Taliban on the battlefield before engaging in serious negotiations with the leadership.”

Fourth, the Administration has to press Pakistan to deal firmly and unambiguously with all terrorists, including those targeting its arch-rival, India.

President Obama’s strategy has provoked serious questions among military leaders and our allies, it has posed serious problems for our troops on the ground, and it has undermined America’s ability to win the war. In short, we do not need an artificial timeline for withdrawal. We need a strategy for victory.

Quick Hits:

•Despite addressing the country from the Oval Office last week, President Obama hasn’t convinced Americans that he has a grip on the oil spill. A new poll shows 59% of Americans believe Obama does not have a clear plan for dealing with the disaster.

•House Democrats won’t pass a budget in 2010, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) will confirm today. In prepared remarks, Hoyer says it “isn’t possible to debate and pass a realistic, long-term budget” until Congress sees the debt commission’s report in December.

•The co-chairman of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill study commission says it’s unlikely the panel will recommend lifting the president’s ban on oil drilling, despite Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s warning of the severe economic consequences the ban poses.

•White House budget director Peter Orszag is quitting his job in July, making him the first of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet to leave the administration.

•Facing a $1.3 trillion debt with a budget deficit of more than 11 percent of its GDP this year, Britain’s budget chief unveiled an “unavoidable budget” on Tuesday, including cuts to spending and tax hikes.
Author: James Carafano

Video: News Update: US advances to second round of the World Cup

The Crisis in Public Sector Pension Plans: A Blueprint for Reform in New Jersey

Across the country, state public sector pensions are underfunded by as much as $3 trillion. In New Jersey alone, the state's five defined benefit plans are underfunded by an estimated $173 billion, the equivalent of the next five years of state spending combined. State actuaries estimate New Jersey’s pension plans will begin to run out of money to pay benefits in 2013.

Policy makers in Trenton and in capitals around the country have been loath to take on the root of the problem: unrealistic assumptions about returns that have created a fiscal time bomb for the states. Only significant reform can circumvent the pending meltdown.

In The Crisis in Public Sector Pension Plans: A Blueprint for Reform in New Jersey, Eileen Norcross and Andrew Biggs suggest a menu of options for New Jersey and other state policy makers -- and project the costs of doing nothing.

Specifically, the paper recommends that policy makers:

• Extend the defined contribution plan already available to state university faculty and staff and the state's Defined Contribution Retirement Program to all state employees.

• Reduce or freeze cost of living adjustments (COLAs) to reduce the state's unfunded liability.

• Transition non-vested workers to defined contribution plans.

Many states face underfunded public sector pensions, and the hole that New Jersey has dug for itself is one of the worst. This paper represents a step forward in understanding how state policy makers can address public pension reform in a meaningful, sustainable, and honest fashion.

For more information about the Mercatus Center, click here.

Please feel free to forward this email to interested parties. If you have any questions, please contact Alexandra Tooley at the Mercatus Center at

McChrystal Out as Afghanistan Commander Following Critical Remarks

Gen. Stanley McChrystal is no longer the top US commander and strategist for Afghanistan, reportedly being told Wednesday by President Obama that he is out of a job following a scathing article in which McChrystal and his aides were quoted criticizing ...

The Popularity Paradox

By Michael Swartz

Over the last couple decades America has settled into an uneasy truce with itself, as presidents of both parties propose new ideas and promise a new way of doing business but eventually lose their popular mandate.

Prior to President Obama, the poster child for this phenomenon was George H.W. Bush. The elder Bush frittered away an 89 percent approval rating just after the liberation of Kuwait from the clutches of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. In less than two years his political fortunes declined to such a degree that he drew less than 40 percent of the popular vote in the 1992 election, yielding office to President Clinton.

In time, Clinton’s leadership was questioned so much that his party lost the majority in the House of Representatives two years after his election. After Clinton left office, George W. Bush managed re-election but spent his entire bank of political capital and popularity chasing Osama bin Laden around the Middle East while engaging in a little nation-building along the way.

All these case studies reflect a simple fact: America sours quickly to new leadership if things progress in the same old way.

Get full story here.

The Commission to stop offshore drilling

By Adam Bitely

The Obama administration never ceases to amaze when it comes to employing stealth tactics to enforce their agenda on the American people. The latest tactic they are employing is stacking a seven member commission that is tasked with determining the causes of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and steps that can be taken to improve drilling safety.

The commission has a tall order. Their findings will inevitably determine policy that is enacted in the fall that will likely influence the lives of millions if not all Americans. Many Gulf Coast jobs’ fate rides on the report and the actions taken thereafter. But the members of the commission should trouble anyone who believes that the Obama administration response to the oil spill is serious.

In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, the biographical information for each member of the commission was provided to the readers as a way to peer through the smoke and mirrors of the Obama administration. Not a single member of this commission has any experience in oil drilling, let alone any knowledge on how to better manage an oil rig.

For instance, only one member of the commission has a background in engineering, specializing in physics and optics. Another member, the co-chair who is the former Democratic Senator Bob Graham from Florida, fought offshore drilling throughout his career. While another member, William Reilly, is a former EPA Secretary from the George H.W. Bush administration and spent decades in the environmental movement chairing and serving as President of the World Wildlife Fund. Reilly appears to be the only member with any sort of ties to an oil company by serving on the board of ConocoPhillips, providing them with an environmentalist perspective within their corporate governance.

Get full story here.

Video: Oppose Confirmation of Serial Killer Apologist to Court of Appeals

ALG Editor’s Note: In the following featured video from Americans for Limited Government’s Andrius Vaitekunas, Obama nominee to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Chatigny once opined that confessed 8-time rapist, serial murderer Michael Ross “never should have been convicted”:

ALG Renews Call for Congress to Reject Campaign Speech Restrictions, Extend Media Exemption to Everyone

ALG Renews Call for Congress to Reject Campaign Speech Restrictions, Extend Media Exemption to Everyone

June 23rd, 2010, Fairfax, VA—Today, the House Rules Committee is expected to send the so-called DISCLOSE Act to the floor of the House for an expected vote tomorrow, but Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson says that “House Democrats have done nothing to remove controversial campaign speech restrictions against corporations and not-for-profit organizations to endorse candidates without regulation.”

“Meanwhile, the bill still leaves in place an archaic, blanket exemption for media organizations, who do not have to disclose donors and can say what they want, when they want, for or against candidates,” Wilson said.

“No bribery crisis of elected officials has ever emerged over editorial endorsements by newspapers or any other media outlet, and yet they have long been exempted from disclosure. Meanwhile, we assume that such a crisis exists with all other speech,” Wilson said.

According to 2 USC 431 (9) (B) (i), the 1971 Federal Election Campaign Act: “The term ‘expenditure’ does not include any news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication”. This media exemption to campaign regulation is reinforced in the DISCLOSE Act’s language on page 22.

“The First Amendment is supposed to extend to all individuals and groups of individuals, but instead Congress continues with its curious interpretation of freedom of speech and of the press where certain, politically-favored groups, including media, are completely protected from regulation, and others are not,” Wilson said.

“Why is the Los Angeles Times ‘more free’ than Exxon-Mobil?” Wilson asked.

Get full story here.