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    With the future of journalism up for grabs, Investigating Power reminds us in high-definition why the world needs courageous people to produce original, independent, investigative reporting.

    McCarthyism. Civil Rights. Vietnam. Watergate. Corporate power. Post 9/11.

    Some of the most influential journalists of the last 60 years talk about the stories that not only shaped their careers, but shaped history as well, in a just-launched project produced by the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University and co-sponsored by the Center for Public Integrity and the Fund for Independence in Journalism.

    “At this critical juncture in the history of American journalism, as the news media and the nature and extent of original reporting itself undergo a very difficult transformation, we must reflect on the inherent, incalculable value of original, independent reporting in our nation and in the world,” said site creator Charles Lewis.

    Lewis has long championed upholding truth to power. He was an investigative producer for 60 Minutes, before founding The Center for Public Integrity in 1989. In 1997, Lewis launched the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the world’s first working international network now with 160 reporters in 61 countries.  He’s written five books. And today Lewis is a professor and founding executive director of the Investigative Reporting Workshop in the School of Communication at American University in Washington, D.C.

    For the website, Lewis sat down with many of the greatest journalists from the last century including Murrey Marder, Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward, Moses Newson, Ben Bradlee, Dana Priest and Seymour Hersh and more than a dozen other leading reporters, along with the now deceased Mike Wallace and Daniel Schorr, in never before seen interviews. Lewis spent more than five years researching and creating the website in order to faithfully record, for the first time, journalism’s impact on history from the very people who did the reporting. He plans to add additional footage as the project continues. The project will also form part of a book Lewis is writing, “The Future of Truth: Power, the News Media and the Public’s Right to Know” (Public Affairs), which is expected to be published in 2013. 

    To celebrate the website’s public launch, Lewis is moderating a discussion at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., beginning at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Panelists include Bill Kovach, former Washington bureau chief of The New York Times, Dana Priest, national security reporter for The Washington Post and Barry Sussman, former Watergate editor at The Washington Post and now editor of the Nieman Watchdog Project at Harvard University.

    Investigating Power is likely to become the most bookmarked website for journalism students across the country for decades to come.

    Clockwise from left: Dana Priest, Walt Bogdanich, Moses Newson and Helen Thomas Christine Montgomery http://www.iwatchnews.org/authors/christine-montgomery

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    WHAT: A multimedia project that examines the life and work of the fearless journalists who exposed abuses of power through their investigations and as a consequence changed American history.

    WHO: Charles Lewis, founding executive editor of the Investigating Reporting Workshop at American University’s School of Communication, and founder of the Center for Public Integrity.

    WHERE: National Press Club, Washington D.C., Holeman Lounge
     
    WHEN: Wednesday, April 25; 6:30 pm
     
    SPONSORED BY
    : American University’s School of Communication, the Center for Public Integrity, the Fund for Independence in Journalism and the National Press Club Journalism Institute.


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    The raids should have been a gold star for the Navy. A trial run for a newly designed ship turned into a series of successful missions against cocaine smugglers, resulting in the capture of nine smugglers and over five tons of cocaine. But the early 2010 victories were darkened, quite literally, by a power failure on March 6 that left the ship briefly adrift at sea.

    The mechanical failure was not the last challenge that would face the crew of the USS Freedom, the first of a new breed of Navy vessels meant to become a core part of its fleet over the next decade. A series of test runs caused cracked hulls that forced the ship to limit its speed; engines that simply failed; and over 600 failures of equipment around the ship, leading to a number of dry-dockings at its home base in San Diego, according to data released April 23 by the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight (POGO).

    The so-called Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) already had a troubled reputation. The Pentagon’s Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation notoriously concluded in a 2011 report that the Freedom was unlikely to be “survivable in a hostile combat environment.”

    But POGO, a Washington-based watchdog group, disclosed new details of the Freedom’s shortcomings in a letter to the Chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate armed services committees accompanying the data. The group also raised concerns about what the group calls the Navy’s “pattern of obfuscation” regarding the achievements of the first ship.

    Navy officials such as former Secretary Donald C. Winter have praised the LCS as cost-efficient and necessary for global security. “In this platform, we are making the right investments in our future security and prosperity,” Winter said at the commissioning ceremony for the USS Freedom. “Our nation needs this ship.”

    More nimble than larger vessels, the LCS has been developed to help hunt for submarines, clear out mines, and be available for missions around shallow waters. The ships can be equipped with different “packages” depending on the needs of the mission, theoretically giving the Navy more flexibility in their use.

    Two littoral ships are currently active in the fleet. The ship featured in POGO’s letter, the USS Freedom, was built and designed in a team effort of Lockheed Martin and Marinette Marine Corp at a cost of $357.5 million. A different design, used on the USS Independence, was developed by Austal Ltd and General Dynamics at a cost of $345.8 million per ship. Both models have been active for trial runs.

    All told, the estimated cost for the LCS program is $120 billion for 55 littoral ships meant to be used on missions around the globe. Both design teams have contracts from the Navy to build 10 ships each before another bidding process in 2014. But POGO called for a shutdown of the “dual-development” track, where the two teams are simultaneously developing the models, in favor of the service settling on just one of the designs.

    POGO also highlighted what it depicted as the Navy’s lack of candor with both DoD and Congressional officials. The service has been “reluctant” to share information about the ship with the Pentagon’s Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E), which reports on defense and technological acquisitions, according to the watchdog group. Meanwhile, the Navy has consistently gone to Congress regarding LCS issues late in the budget cycle, making it difficult for those on the Hill to properly judge the future of the program.

    The failures on board the Freedom were not constrained to power outages. During the two month deployment where the ship traveled from Mayport, Florida to San Diego, California, it experienced over 80 equipment failures. A trial mission in 2011 resulted in 17 cracks in the hull, including one longer than 18 inches. Another crack, below the water line, allowed water into the ship and resulted in significant rusting. Some of the cracks were in similar spots on both sides of the ship — an issue that POGO says is indicative of a design flaw.

    Due to the cracks, the ship was unable to safely motor at its top rated speed of 40 knots; instead, the LCS program manager issued guidance last year that the ship was not to travel above 20 knots and that it should avoid going into choppy “head seas” — where waves run directly against the ship’s course — at any speed. For a ship whose signature feature was to be its speed, this was a setback.

    On a January 2012 trip, the ship’s four engines all suffered breakdowns, forcing the Freedom to limp back to port for repairs. A second trip in 2012 resulted in more flooding. Overall, there have been 640 equipment failures since the ship’s maiden voyage, according to the data.

    In a statement Navy spokesman Christopher Johnson said the service was “reviewing” the concerns raised in the letter. However, according to the statement, “nearly all of these issues were well-reported and have been corrected as warranted.” He added that, as the USS Freedom is the first of its kind, it was “expected” that the Navy would have to identify and correct problems with the design over time.

    As to POGO’s charges that the service has not been forthcoming with DOT&E or Congress, Johnson said “that is not correct” and that the Navy works “very closely” with its oversight groups.

    Lockheed spokeswoman Dana Casey said the POGO letter is “based on selective information that is more than a year old,” and argues that such problems are commonplace in new ships undergoing trial runs. “Any issue that has arisen in the development, testing and usage of this lead ship has been, or will be, addressed to ensure she and future Freedom-class ships meet or exceed the Navy’s needs. And our overall LCS program remains on cost and on schedule,” she said.

    Last week Navy Undersecretary Bob Work defended the LCS at the annual SeaAirSpace symposium. While acknowledging there have been kinks, Work said lessons have been learned and improvements already made, and that the LCS will be a key component of the Navy’s operations in the coming years.

    “I know there are a lot of skeptics. But this ship is the right ship at the right time for the right fleet design,” Work said, according to the trade publication, Inside the Navy. Work also said that he expects two new LCS ships to be in active service by “early next spring.”

    USS Freedom, the first ship in the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship class. Aaron Mehta http://www.iwatchnews.org/authors/aaron-mehta

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    As a national debate heats up over appropriate student discipline, new data from Los Angeles reveal that school police there issued more than 33,500 court summonses to youths between 10 and 18 in three years — with more than 40 percent of those tickets going to children 14 and younger.

    The data obtained by the Center for Public Integrity show that officers of the nation’s largest school police force issued the equivalent of 28 tickets every day to students during the 2011 calendar year. The Los Angeles Unified School District totals almost 680,000 pupils; the district’s police force has 340 sworn officers and support staff.  

    Students ticketed in 2009 through 2011 were disproportionately Latino or African American. Last year, black students represented about 10 percent of the Los Angeles Unified School District but 15 percent of those ticketed. In 2010, black students were 20 percent of those cited.

    Latinos, about 73 percent of the district enrollment, represented 77 percent of those cited last year. White students, nine percent of enrollment, were about 3 percent of those ticketed.

    This sheer volume of citations, the racial and ethnic statistics and the number of younger children cited have all contributed to a brewing controversy over the role of police in public schools in Los Angeles. 

    Among those who have expressed concern is Judge Michael Nash, who presides over Los Angeles’ juvenile courts, and has actively supported reforms to reduce police citations for incidents he believes should be handled in schools or through counseling or meetings with parents outside court.

    “How much time do our courts have to deal with these kids? I don’t think this has been effective, and it has dealt with them in a superficial way,” Nash said.

    Nash, like other prominent juvenile court judges across the country, points to research showing that students who are pulled into court on minor offenses end up at increased risk of going on to more serious trouble and dropping out of school. 

    The courts, Nash added, “are not there for schools to abdicate their responsibility to work with kids on minor discipline matters.”

    In 2009 through 2011, Los Angeles’ school police cited students for a wide range of infractions that include failing to wear a helmet while biking, jaywalking, vandalism, possessing markers that could be used for graffiti, having cigarettes or a lighter or marijuana possession.

    Other than tardiness, one of the largest single categories of citations over the course of three years was disturbing the peace. This offense can stem from kids engaging in fisticuffs, but can also include threatening to fight or simply being boisterous or unruly in school or nearby.

    Out of 2,378 citations for various kinds of disturbing the peace allegations issued to kids between 10 and 18 last year alone, far more than half — 1,522 — were given to students between 10 and 14 years old, the Center found.

    About 30 elementary-school students from age seven to nine, all black or Latino, were also ticketed during this three-year period. Officers also cited several hundred adults each year.

    Community organizations in Los Angeles are also analyzing the police statistics, which they obtained as a result of a public records request. The statistics do not include arrests officers made or summons to full-fledged delinquency court. The 33,500-plus citations in the new data represent referrals to what is known as Los Angeles’ informal traffic and juvenile court for lower-level allegations.

    Officers with the Los Angeles Police Department and other city police forces that operate in the district also ticket and arrest students. But the Los Angeles Unified School District Police are a constant presence, with officers posted in schools and patrolling nearby. School staff can request that officers get involved in discipline matters, but officers can also make independent decisions at times to ticket students.

    District police chief Steven Zimmerman, who has been receptive to community groups urging changes in how police interact with students, declined to comment on the Center’s findings. The chief wants the department to finish its own analysis of the statistics before commenting on others’ analysis, according to Ellen Morgan, spokeswoman for the school district and police. Morgan said the district would have no response either.

    She suggested that it was possible some citations originated with officers who were not with school police. But the new data stems from a specific request for details on school officers’ citations. 

    Zoe Rawson, a lawyer with the Labor-Community Strategy Center — one of the groups that requested the information — said the data reveal that nearly a quarter of all citations were issued at the Los Angeles district’s middle schools.

    “The majority of youth policed on campus,” Rawson said, “are being cited for conduct that is either non-violent or conduct, like fighting amongst students, that a school must anticipate and has the best opportunity to prevent.”

    Rawson, who has represented students in court, said that there are proven methods that schools can turn to that help reduce disruptive behavior without resorting to police citations that include community service penalties or fines of several hundred dollars.

    Ticketed students are ordered to appear in court with a parent during regular work hours, which means parents must often miss work, which can provoke considerable conflict within families, Rawson said.

    Nash said many kids don’t tell their parents about tickets, and never show up in court. Their fines can accumulate into thousands of dollars, and they can face a misdemeanor charge for failing to appear.

    Jesse Aguiar, 20, is an organizer with a group called the Youth Justice Coalition. He said he received his first ticket — for being disruptive — when he was at 11, at which time he viewed the citation as a badge of honor.

    “It was like a dream come true to me,” he said. “I grew up in a neighborhood where I listened to Snoop Dog and that stuff. When I got a ticket from police, I felt that I was official.”

    Aguiar said he went on to get into more trouble, eventually doing time at juvenile hall. His younger brother, Christopher, 16, was ticketed for vandalism last year for “tagging” under a freeway. Christopher said he was just bored and looking for something to do. He was also cited for arriving about an hour late to school.

    “I overslept,” Christopher said. “I could have not gone to school, but I had an exam that day.”

    The 12 informal juvenile and traffic courts, where “referees” rather than judges hear from kids and decide penalties, are slated to be shut down by June 30 due to a financial crunch. 

    Once that occurs, Nash said, the plan is to forward students’ tickets to probation officers, who will decide whether the cases merit a conference with parents at a probation office or should be sent to juvenile delinquency court, where students could face prosecutors. Youth advocates are concerned that a trip to juvenile delinquency court will only serve to further “criminalize” student behavior.

    Nash said the pending closure of the informal juvenile and traffic courts “is really a golden opportunity for us to all work together to craft a way to deal with this without referral to law enforcement.”

    Nash recently took steps to enact reforms inside the informal juvenile courts by ordering that referees there stop requiring students to pay daytime curfew fines, and instead refer students to counseling or community service.

    The city of Los Angeles also recently amended its 1995 daytime curfew laws to drop basic fines of $250 and instead require counseling sessions to address root causes of tardiness or truancy and help students make plans to get to school.

    Data editor David Donald contributed to this story 

    Los Angeles School District Police Officers guard the outside of Miramonte Elementary school during a protest earlier this year, unrelated to truancy citations. Susan Ferriss http://www.iwatchnews.org/authors/susan-ferriss

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    'Kids Like Me'

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    The Department of Labor reported today that 4,690 U.S. workers suffered fatal injuries in 2010, a 3 percent increase from 2009.

    The higher number in part reflects a string of high-profile disasters in 2010: An explosion at the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia that killed 29; BP’s Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, which killed 11; and a blast at the Tesoro Corp.’s oil refinery in Washington State that killed seven.

    Even discounting the 47 deaths from those three events, the toll rose in 2010. In 2009, 4,551 workers died, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    The fatality rate rose slightly as well, from 3.5 fatal injuries per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers to 3.6.

    The number of workers killed in fires or explosions jumped from 113 in 2009 to 191 in 2010. Work-related transportation deaths increased from 1,795 to 1,857, suicides from 263 to 270.

    The number of construction-related deaths fell from 834 to 774 — a probable reflection of a weak housing market and a generally rotten economy in 2010.

    “It’s disturbing that there hasn’t been any improvement in workplace fatalities in several years,” said Peg Seminario, director of health and safety for the AFL-CIO. “It seems like progress has stalled.”

    Seminario said she wouldn’t be surprised to see the 2011 fatality numbers go up, given that the economy began to pick up steam last year. “We’ll be looking carefully not only at the numbers but the rates,” she said.

    The BLS data release — an update of preliminary numbers put out last year — comes three days before Workers Memorial Day, an international event, started by labor unions, honoring those who have been killed on the job.

    Among those who died in 2010 was 19-year-old Emilio DeLeon, who was electrocuted in a construction accident in Grand Island, Neb. His father, Albert, was in Washington last week to attend a Senate hearing on worker safety and put a statement into the record.

    “Our family has been to therapy to help us cope with the loss of our son,” DeLeon’s statement reads. “The pain and loss is present when I go to sleep and is there when I wake up in the morning. I have lost my Dad, Mom and Sister, and I have to tell you that losing my Son is the worst feeling I have ever had to endure.”

    The construction company that employed Emilio DeLeon was fined only $16,600 for his death by the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, even though OSHA had cited the firm for serious safety violations four months prior to the fatal accident. “They were allowed to continue with business as usual,” Albert DeLeon wrote in his statement.

    In an email to the Center for Public Integrity, OSHA said:

    "On average more than 12 workers die on the job every day, and that reality continues to drive the work of the Labor Department. When the Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed in 1970, the National Safety Council estimated that 14,000 workers died each year on the job. Now, with a workforce that has doubled in size, the annual number of fatalities has dropped significantly. But it's not enough. We cannot relent from our enforcement of laws that keeps our nation's workers safe. One worker killed or injured on the job is too many."

    More detailed BLS fatality data can be found here.

    The 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers, among the 4,690 who died on the job in the U.S. that year. Jim Morris http://www.iwatchnews.org/authors/jim-morris

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    Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren evoked corporate tax punching bag General Electric Co. in a recent ad, claiming the corporate giant pays “nothing — zero — in taxes” to make a point about misplaced values. But that’s not accurate.

    We should preface this by saying that we are wading into a heated media debate about the amount of taxes paid by GE, and the most crucial number — the amount paid in corporate income tax — is unknown.

    This much is certain: As the New York Times and others have well documented, GE has employed a number of aggressive (and legal) strategies that have greatly reduced the company’s corporate tax burden.

    But the claim that it pays no federal income tax at all is disputed by GE. Moreover, aside from corporate income taxes, GE pays payroll taxes, state taxes and local taxes. So Warren’s blanket assertion that GE pays “nothing — zero — in taxes” is simply inaccurate.

    Warren, a Democrat running against incumbent Republican Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, says in her ad, “Today, Washington lets big corporations like GE pay nothing — zero — in taxes, while kids are left drowning in debt to get an education. This isn’t about economics; it’s about our values.”

    The claim about GE paying no taxes stems from a March 24, 2011, story in the New York Times headlined “GE’s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether.” It was part of a 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning series titled “But Nobody Pays That” by David Kocieniewski.

    According to the New York Times story, GE reported U.S. profits of $5.1 billion in 2010 (and $14.2 billion worldwide). “Its American tax bill?” asked the Times. “None. In fact, G.E. claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.” The company accomplished this, the story said, due to “an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore.”

    On April 4, 2011, ProPublica and Fortune co-published their own analysis of GE’s taxes and concluded that the New York Times had left the mistaken impression that GE got a $3.2 billion tax refund, when, in fact, it did not. The company also paid U.S. income taxes in 2010, the authors wrote.

    ProPublica/Fortune, April 4, 2011: Did GE pay U.S. income taxes in 2010? Yes, it paid estimated taxes for 2010, and also made payments for previous years. Think of it as your having paid withholding taxes on your salary in 2010, and sending the IRS a check on April 15, 2010, covering your balance owed for 2009.

    GE chief spokesman Gary Sheffer told ProPublica: “We expect to have a small U.S. income tax liability for 2010.” How much? The company wouldn’t say.

    We emailed one of the story’s authors, Jeff Gerth of ProPublica, a former investigative journalist with the New York Times, and asked him about Warren’s claim. Here’s what he wrote back:

    Gerth, April 23: The fact is that GE’s tax returns are not public. The basis for the statement that they paid a small amount of taxes is the company’s official statements to the press. The basis for the NYT’s original report that they paid no taxes was a reading of their financial statements, which are not the same as their tax returns. I don’t know where Warren gets her facts from.

    Andrew Williams, a spokesman for GE, told us via email that “there is a lot of misinformation out there about what we pay in taxes, but at the most basic level: we pay taxes and we did not get a refund.”

    According to Williams, GE paid $1 billion in federal, state and local taxes in the U.S. for 2010. He declined to say how much of that was for federal income taxes, except to say that some of it was.

    Williams also pointed to a company press release, from April 17, on taxes paid by GE. According to that release, GE paid an effective global tax rate of 7 percent in 2010, counting money paid “to the IRS and foreign counterparts” in other nations. That rate was particularly low, Williams said, because the company lost $32 billion in its financial business during the global financial crisis.

    According to the company release, GE’s effective tax rate jumped to 29 percent in 2011. The company paid $2.9 billion in worldwide corporate income tax in 2011, and another $1 billion in other U.S. taxes that year, the release states.

    We asked Williams how much of the $2.9 billion in worldwide corporate taxes was paid to the U.S. government, and how much the company paid in U.S. corporate income taxes in 2010. “Like virtually all other companies, we do not break out tax data on a country by country basis,” Williams said. “Instead, we disclose our worldwide payments and rates. However, we did pay federal income taxes.”

    We’re not going to weigh in on Warren’s larger point about whether corporations like GE aren’t paying their fair share. That’s up to voters to decide. Again, the company has clearly been aggressive in reducing its tax burden through various tax credits and deductions created by the federal government (one example is clean energy incentives). It also has been creative in moving a good deal of its profits offshore. But Warren overreached with her claim that GE pays “zero” in taxes. The company does pay payroll taxes and local and state taxes. And GE says it also pays federal income taxes. How much? We don’t know, and GE isn’t saying. Nor is it required to.

    – Robert Farley

    Screen shot of the Elizabeth Warren for Senate ad titled "Kids Like Me." FactCheck.Org http://www.iwatchnews.org/authors/factcheckorg

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    Pro — The United States is exceptional and should be leading the world, not following it. U.S. military power has been a major stabilizing force that has contributed to global peace. The U.S. should have the ability to quickly and decisively project overwhelming military power anywhere in the world. Cutting defense spending would undermine this ability. It would send a signal that we are no longer committed to playing our leadership role; our allies would lose confidence in us; adversaries would challenge us; and Asian countries might increasingly come under China’s influence.

    Con — The U.S. has far more military power than any other nation and more than enough to protect itself and its allies. But we are playing the role of world policeman too much, and we are building up our military power to project it everywhere in the world. We can deal with global threats by working together with our allies and sharing the burden. We don’t have to have a military so big that we can do everything, and do it all by ourselves.


    Editor's note: Between now and May 9th, we will be presenting questions adapted from a national survey by the Program for Public Consultation, a nonprofit group affiliated with the University of Maryland, that was developed jointly with the Center for Public Integrity and the Stimson Center. The survey, which was done with a representative national sample, is meant to gauge public attitudes on whether and how defense spending should be reduced as part of Washington’s effort to trim projected federal deficits totaling $10 trillion over the next decade. The national survey is now being analyzed and findings will be presented on the websites of the three organizations involved and at a joint press conference on May 10th. Visitors to this website are welcome to register their opinions as well; a tally of those results (not to be confused with the findings of the scientific sample of the survey) may be given on the website at a later date. —R. Jeffrey Smith

    Check back tomorrow for another poll question on national security.

    Be the first to hear about the survey results by following and subscribing to iWatch News and the Center for Public Integrity

    The Center for Public Integrity is one of the country's oldest and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative news organizations. iWatch News is the Center's online publication dedicated to investigative and accountability reporting. It provides original and exclusive daily stories as well as in-depth investigations and commentary.


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  • 04/26/12--11:51: Donor profile: AFL-CIO
  • Ranking: 8

    Total contributions to super PACs: $2.3 million*

    • $2.3 million to Workers’ Voice (super PAC formerly known as AFL-CIO Workers’ Voices PAC)

    Notable federal hard money and 527 contributions:

    • More than $1.2 million in PAC donations to Democratic and Republican candidates during the 2007-2008 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics

    Total spent on federal lobbying (2007-2011): $21 million

    Lobbying issues: Higher education, defense, finance, health care, collective bargaining rights.

    Background:

    The umbrella organization of 56 unions represents 12 million workers, including 10 large public employee unions. Its super PAC, Workers’ Voices, raised $2.3 million, mostly from its own union dues and three $500,000 contributions from member unions: the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the American Federation of Teachers and UNITEHERE!

    Richard Trumka, president since 2009, has been critical of President Barack Obama in the past, but made a groundbreaking speech on race ahead of the 2008 election, urging white union voters to ignore racist attacks on Obama and vote for the best, most pro-union candidate.

    The union spent heavily ahead of the 2010 midterm elections, but its outspoken leader began to voice disappointment with the White House’s lack of movement on labor’s key issues as Obama’s first term progressed. Trumka threatened to divert the federation’s funds away from the Democratic establishment, suggesting that building a year-round political “structure for working people” would be a better use of union funds.

    That structure is called “Working America,” a nationwide network of 3 million union and non-union activists that focuses on online, local and legislative advocacy efforts, centered around jobs.

    Trumka’s threat to abandon the Democratic Party was an empty one. Trumka endorsed Obama in mid-March, saying that, despite differences with the president, the union has “never doubted Obama’s commitment to working families.”

    AFL-CIO’s super PAC has not bought any airtime ahead of the 2012 election at this writing. In November, it gave $50,000 to We Are Ohio, which led a successful effort to defeat the state law that would have limited collective bargaining for public sector unions. Workers’ Voices also contributed $100,000 in November to the progressive super PAC American Bridge 21st Century, which produces anti-Romney videos and ads.

    One of the AFL-CIO’s largest member unions, AFSCME, spent $1.5 million in Florida and Ohio on radio, TV, and Internet ads appealing to blue collar workers and criticizing the Republican frontrunner for opposing the auto bailout. Another ad entitled “Greed,” links Romney’s former employer, Bain Capital, to Medicare fraud.

    Last updated: April 25, 2012

    *2011-2012 election cycle; source, Federal Election Commission

    AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C. Paul Abowd http://www.iwatchnews.org/authors/paul-abowd Alexandra Duszak http://www.iwatchnews.org/authors/alexandra-duszak

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    Ranking: 6

    Total contributions to super PACs: $2.6 million*

    Notable federal hard money and 527 contributions:

    • $4 million to Progress for America Voter Fund (links to Bush administration) (2004-2006)
    • $10,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee (2011)

    Notable state-level contributions:

    • $5.4 million to the California Republican Party
    • Nearly $600,000 to candidates including California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R), according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics

    Corporate name: Chartwell Partners, LLC

    Corporate subsidiaries: Chartwell Investment Partners

    Total spent on federal lobbying (2007-2011): $0

    Lobbying issues: N/A

    Family: Wife Margaret, three children

    Biography:

    This former owner of Spanish-language television network Univision is known not only for his media business savvy but also for his real estate acquisitions. One of the largest private landowners in Malibu, Calif., according to Forbes, Andrew Jerrold “Jerry” Perenchio, 82, lives in the Bel Air home that was used for establishing shots in “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

    Perenchio got his start as a talent agent for Music Corp. of America. He then formed his own company, Chartwell Artists. Perenchio represented the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando. He moved into sports promotion, having a hand in one of the biggest boxing matchups of all time, which pitted Muhammad Ali against Joe Frazier in 1971, Malibu Complete reported.           

    In his first foray into television, Perenchio teamed up with producers Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin to establish Embassy Communications. They sold it to Coca-Cola in 1985 for $485 million.

    Perenchio took that money and teamed up with Venezuela’s Venevision and Mexico’s Televisa to buy several Spanish language stations, including the fledgling Univision station then owned by Hallmark, in 1992. This became the launching pad for Univision Communications, which came to control 80 percent of the Spanish-language television market, according to the International Directory of Business Biographies. Perenchio took the company public in 1996 as its CEO, chairman and controlling shareholder.

    As the Italian-American head of a Spanish-language broadcaster who never learned to speak Spanish, Perenchio took heat both from Univision’s audience for his support of anti-immigration Republicans, like former California Gov. Pete Wilson, and from conservatives, like Michelle Malkin at Free Republic, who criticized his opposition to various California propositions that would ban social services to illegal immigrants and abolish bilingual education.  Perenchio’s conservative views drew further criticism from Latinos as Univision grew and merged with the Hispanic Broadcasting Company, which was renamed Univision Radio, the Michigan Daily reported.

    Univision sold in 2007 for $12.3 billion, with Perenchio collecting $1.3 billion for his stake, the Los Angeles Times reported. Perenchio is now CEO of Chartwell Partners, a boutique investment and holding firm specializing in media, entertainment and real estate, according to Forbes. Perenchio served as John McCain’s 2008 national finance co-chair and gives more generously to Republicans than Democrats. Much of Perenchio’s giving has been through the Jerry Perenchio Living Trust. Living trusts are established so that after one’s death, survivors don’t have to go through probate, the complicated legal process of validating and executing the deceased’s will via the court system. The larger one’s estate, the more complicated probate is; therefore, a person like Perenchio with a high-value estate potentially saves his family a lot of hassle by placing his property in a trust that, upon his death, can be distributed without court supervision and with less public visibility.

    Last updated: April 25, 2012

    *2011-2012 election cycle; source: Federal Election Commission

    Jerry Perenchio, former Chairman and CEO of Univision, is silhouetted over a backdrop of his personal home, the Kirkeby Estate, in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. Rachael Marcus http://www.iwatchnews.org/authors/rachael-marcus

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  • 04/26/12--11:51: Donor profile: William Doré
  • Ranking: 9

    Total contributions to super PACs: $2.25 million*

    $2.25 million to the Red, White and Blue Fund (pro-Rick Santorum)

    Federal hard money and 527 contributions**:

    Not including his super PAC contributions, Doré, along with his wife, has donated nearly $400,000 to federal candidates, party committees, business PACs and other political commitees that report to the IRS since the 1990 election cycle, including:

    • $100,000 earlier this year to a 527 committee called Believe in Louisiana that supports Louisiana GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal’s education reform efforts
    • $75,000 to the Republican Governors Association, including $25,000 from Doré Energy (2010)
    • $53,500 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (between 2004 and 2008)
    • $26,400 to Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La. (between 2004 and 2011)
    • $25,000 to the “2001 President’s Dinner Committee,” a “soft money” account that benefited the National Republican Senatorial Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee

    Corporate name: Doré Energy Corp.; former president, CEO and chairman of the board of Global Industries, Ltd.

    Total spent on federal lobbying (2007-2011): $0

    Lobbying issues: N/A

    Family: Wife Kay, and four children.

    Biography:

    William “Bill” Doré has more than 30 years of experience in the diving and marine construction industry.

    In 1973, he purchased the near-bankrupt rental equipment company that serviced oil and gas operators where he had been working. That company grew from a three-person operation into Global Industries, Ltd., which had revenues exceeding $1.2 billion in 2006, when Doré announced his retirement. In 2011, the French firm Technip acquired Global Industries for more than $1 billion.

    Doré served as the president, CEO and chairman of the board of Global Industries, which had operations in the United States, as well as Mexico, India and China. He is also a past president of the Association of Diving Contractors, the founder and a past president of the Offshore Pipeline Contractors Association and one-time board member of the National Ocean Industry Association.

    Doré ranks as the top donor to the Red, White and Blue Fund super PAC that backed Republican Rick Santorum in the presidential contest.

    A month after he cut his first seven-figure check to the group, both he and his wife donated the legal maximum of $2,500 to Santorum's campaign. Not including his super PAC donations, his donations over the years have favored Republicans and Republican groups nearly 3-to-1. A sizeable portion of the money that has aided Democrats has gone to Louisiana Dems such as Chris John and Mary Landrieu.

    Over the past two decades, Doré, along with his wife, Kay, have contributed more than $200,000 to federal candidates, PACs and party committees — not including the $2.25 million that he donated to the Red, White and Blue Fund this year.

    Earlier this year, Doré also donated $100,000 to a 527 committee called Believe in Louisiana that supports Louisiana GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal’s education reform efforts, and in 2010, he donated $75,000 to the Republican Governors Association, including $25,000 from Doré Energy.

    In 2001, Doré paid $25,000 to the “President’s Dinner” committee, the annual joint fundraising event of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee that featured a keynote speech by President George W. Bush, whose first presidential campaign Doré had given $2,000. Other big donors to the dinner committee, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, included former Univision head Jerry Perenchio, libertarian-leaning businessman David Koch, Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus and billionaire broadcaster Stanley Hubbard.

    During the 2004 presidential election, Doré again donated $2,000 to Bush while also giving $1,000 to his Democratic rival, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. Four years later, he and his wife both gave the legal maximum of $2,300 to GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

    During the 2006 election cycle, Doré contributed the legal maximum of $10,000 to the political action committee of the National Ocean Industries Association, part of the $174,000 the PAC raised. That election cycle, it doled out $83,000 to federal candidates and committees, with California Republican Rep. Richard Pombo, despised by environmentalists, ranking as its top beneficiary, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

    Doré was born in 1942 into a poor family in southern Louisiana. His educated mother was from a family of Lebanese immigrants. His father, who couldn’t read or write, hailed from a family of Cajun farmers. He was a heavy drinker and would sometime beat his son.

    As he grew up, Doré pursued academics and athletics, landing a scholarship that took him to McNeese University in Lake Charles, La. He worked several jobs on the side, including selling life insurance, as he earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees. He ultimately moved to New Orleans and sold real estate, mutual funds and stocks and bonds before going into the offshore oil and gas construction industry.

    Last updated: April 25, 2012

    *2011-2012 election cycle; source: Federal Election Commission

    **1989-2012; source: Federal Election Commission; Internal Revenue Service; Center for Responsive Politics

    William Doré, director of Global Industries, Ltd. Michael Beckel http://www.iwatchnews.org/authors/michael-beckel

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    Ranking: 2

    Total contributions to super PACs (includes wife and companies): $16.7 million*

    Notable federal hard money and 527 contributions:

    • $2 million to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (2004)
    • $500,000 to Progress for America Voter Fund (2004)
    • $2.9 million to American Issues Project (2008)

    Notable state-level contributions: Simmons has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, plus more than $1 million to Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry over the course of his political career.

    Corporate ownership: Contran Corp.

    SubsidiariesValhi Inc.NL Industries, Kronos Worldwide, Titanium Metals Corp., Waste Control Specialties, CompX International, Keystone Consolidated Industries.

    Total spent on federal lobbying (2007-2011): $2.2 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

    Lobbying issues: Energy and nuclear power, hazardous and solid waste, environment and Superfund, real estate and land use, trade.

    Family: Wife Annette Simmons, daughters Scheryle Patigian, Lisa Epstein, Andrea Swanson and Serena Connelly, two other children

    Biography:

    For a man worth more than $9 billion, Harold Simmons has had his share of problems. The owner of Contran Corp. nearly lost his fortune when his daughters sued him for control of the family’s wealth, and he has had to pay nearly $20,000 in fines for violating federal campaign contribution limits.

    Simmons was born in 1931 in Golden, Texas, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Texas at Austin. His first venture was the purchase of the University Pharmacy in Dallas. After 12 years, Simmons had turned one store into more than 100 and sold the chain to Eckerd for $50 million. Simmons was an early practitioner of the “leveraged buyout” or LBO — when an investor borrows heavily and takes an undervalued public company private and sells it for profit. He grew his fortune by buying and selling shares in a number of companies, including Amalgamated Sugar and Lockheed Corp.

    In the mid-1990s, Simmons put all his wealth into trusts — ostensibly as a way to pass the wealth on to his children — but made himself the sole trustee, a decision criticized by legal experts interviewed by The New York Times. Simmons seemed to use the trust assets as his own and eventually ran into trouble with the Internal Revenue Service. As a result, his daughters Andrea and Scheryle filed a lawsuit against him in 1996. That lawsuit nearly cost him the fortune, according to the Times.

    Simmons also ran into trouble with the Federal Election Commission in 1993 for violating the federal campaign contribution limit of $25,000 per year per individual, which resulted in him having to pay a $19,800 fine, according to FEC documents.

    In addition to his super PAC giving, Simmons is a major contributor to conservatives’ campaigns, donating to Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), among others. He also gave $3 million to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the group whose ads may have sunk Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign.

    Most recently, Contran subsidiary NL Industries, a producer of the paint enhancer titanium dioxide, has been the subject of numerous lawsuits as a result of its environmental practices, according to D Magazine, a Dallas publication.

    According to Forbes, the Texas House of Representatives approved a bill in 2011 that allowed Simmons’ Waste Control Specialists to import low-level radioactive waste from other states and dispose of the material at its facility in Andrews County, Texas — an area that sits atop four aquifers. The review process that preceded the signing of the bill was lengthy and complicated, and D Magazine suggests it was influenced by Simmons’ donations to groups that supported Gov. Rick Perry.

    Last updated: April 25, 2012

    *2011-2012 election cycle; source: Federal Election Commission

    Harold Simmons, owner of Contran Corp. and Valhi, Inc. Alexandra Duszak http://www.iwatchnews.org/authors/alexandra-duszak

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    Ranking: 1 (including family members)

    Total contributions to super PACs: $26.5 million*

    • $7.5 million to Winning Our Future (pro-Newt Gingrich)
    • $12.5 million from wife Miriam to Winning Our Future
    • $1.5 million from a daughter, two stepdaughters and one stepdaughter’s husband to Winning Our Future
    • $5 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund

    Notable federal hard money and 527 contributions:

    • More than $320,000 to the Republican National State Elections Committee

    Notable state-level contributions (see here): 

    • $390,000 to the California Republican Party (2010)
    • $100,000 to Coloradans Against A Really Stupid Idea (2004)

    Corporate ownership: Controlling interest, Las Vegas Sands Corp.

    Subsidiaries: Sands China Ltd., Venetian Macau Ltd.

    Total spent on federal lobbying (2007-2011): $1.2 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics

    Lobbying issues: Gambling and casinos, labor and workplace issues, trade, travel and tourism restrictions, taxes, banking, aviation.

    Family: Wife Miriam, stepdaughters Yasmin Lukatz and Sivan Ochshorn, daughter Shelley Faye Adelson and four other children (one deceased).

    Biography:

    Even after popular enthusiasm faded for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s presidential bid, 78-year-old casino magnate Sheldon Adelson continued to support Gingrich in his run for president. Adelson’s wife, Miriam, a physician, even wrote a $5 million check to the pro-Gingrich super PAC Winning Our Future in late March. Days later, Adelson admitted that Gingrich was “at the end of his line.”

    Prior to that admission, Gingrich, who according to reports plan to drop out and endorse GOP rival Mitt Romney next week, was the sole beneficiary of Adelson’s largesse.

    In addition to the $7.5 million Adelson has given to the pro-Gingrich super PAC, he enlisted the help of wife Miriam (she contributed $12.5 million) and other family members, who gave an additional $1.5 million.

    Gingrich and the Adelsons have known each other for years, and share similar pro-Israel and hard-line views on the Middle East. The Adelsons have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to various Jewish and Israeli causes through several charitable foundations they have created. Sheldon Adelson is of Jewish-Ukrainian descent, and Miriam Adelson has dual citizenship in the United States and her native Israel.

    Adelson was born in Dorchester, Mass., and attended City College of New York for some time before dropping out. Before entering the casino and gaming industry, Adelson worked as a mortgage broker, investment advisor and financial consultant. His biggest early success was the annual Comdex computer trade show, which he and his partners first organized in 1979 and sold for $862 million in 1995.

    Though Adelson lost heavily in the recession, shares of Las Vegas Sands have climbed more than 3,700 percent from 2008 lows, and Forbes reports he is the nation's eighth wealthiest man worth an estimated $21.5 billion. His casino empire extends across the United States and Southeast Asia, and the company’s annual report shows more than $9.4 billion in revenues in 2011.

    The Las Vegas Sands Corp. has been under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice for more than a year on possible charges of bribing foreign officials. A former executive’s 2010 wrongful-termination lawsuit also alleges that Las Vegas Sands Corp. was involved with Chinese organized crime groups.

    Last updated: April 25, 2012

    *2011-2012 election cycle; source: Federal Election Commission

    Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. Alexandra Duszak http://www.iwatchnews.org/authors/alexandra-duszak

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    A rundown of the biggest financial backers in Election 2012.

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    Citing the state’s F grade for redistricting in the State Integrity Investigation, Common Cause/NY filed an amicus brief earlier this week supporting a challenge to the constitutionality of New York’s newly-drawn 63rd Senate district.

    “The entire process was tremendously opaque,” said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause/NY. “It is a very discouraging for the average citizen to see the state carved up in districts as a result of political negotiations behind closed doors.”

    The Common Cause brief supports a lawsuit brought by New York Senate Democrats who claim that Senate Republicans, currently the majority, manipulated the state constitution’s population counting formula – used every 10 years to determine the size of the Senate –  to their advantage. The lawsuit alleges that Senate Republicans  applied two different methods of calculating census growth in different  counties,  allowing them to manipulate the numbers to give them an extra seat in Republican upstate New York.

    The lawsuit was dismissed by the state Supreme Court on April 13. The court ruled that increasing the size of the state Senate was not unconstitutional, but found the use of different counting methods “disturbing.” A spokesman for Senate Republicans said “we were required to add a 63rd seat to comply with the Constitution.” Democrats appealed to the Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court, and arguments are set for today.  

    The Common Cause complaint takes issue not with the size of the state Senate, but with the process used for making the decision to expand – “without a scintilla of transparency or accountability,” as stated in the amicus brief.  The State Integrity Investigation was cited to bolster the advocacy group’s argument that the New York process took place behind closed doors, with little public input.

    “We hope there will be clear standard that will be articulated by the court that will prevent blatant political manipulation of the size of senate in the future,” Lerner said.

    The redistricting section of the State Integrity Investigation’s corruption risk scorecards asked questions on whether the state held public meetings or hearings where citizens could provide input on new district maps, whether the state accepted redistricting plans from the public, and whether the state made redistricting information available online.

    The State Integrity Investigation found New York to be lacking in those areas. State Integrity Investigation reporter David King wrote that the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR) held meetings around the state and invited public commentary, but that the task force is mostly considered a “dog and pony show.” Lines are typically drawn by legislative leaders in backroom deals, King wrote, and new maps are decided upon before LATFOR even meets.  

    The 63-seat map was signed into law on March 15 by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is named as the defendant in the lawsuit, along with the state Senate and Assembly.

    Lerner said she expects a decision as early as next week. If the court rules in favor of the Democrats, the current map will be invalidated and the Senate will have to recalculate the number of districts.  

    New York ranked 36th among the 50 states overall in the State Integrity Investigation and received a  grade of D.

    New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Caitlin Ginley http://www.iwatchnews.org/authors/caitlin-ginley

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    After the successful U.S. interception of a simulated North Korean warhead in a 2007 test, Lt. Gen. Henry Obering III expressed great confidence in the capabilities of the U.S. missile defense program. “Does the system work? The answer to that is yes,” Obering, then the program’s director, told reporters at a briefing.

    Last Friday, after a year-long study, the General Accountability Office expressed far less confidence and issued a clarification of sorts: The Pentagon, it said, really has no idea if its missile defense systems will do their job, because over the past several decades it hasn’t adequately concocted validated targets to test them, fielded proven interceptors or even collected all the data needed to assess their early performance.

    Deployment of the interceptors Obering praised, the GAO warned, had been rushed to meet a 2004 deadline set by President George W. Bush. The design was not fully tested before production got under way — a frequent occurrence at the Pentagon — and the results were “unexpected cost increases, schedule delays, test problems, and performance shortfalls,” according to its report.

    This troublesome pattern of concurrently testing and manufacturing interceptors and related equipment is now being repeated by the Obama administration, the independent audit agency said in its 100-page report.

    Due to President Obama’s decision in 2010 to deploy missile defenses in Europe by 2015 and improved interceptors by 2020, the program “continues to undertake highly concurrent acquisitions,” it said. While a spate of recent test failures has slowed or halted production of three of the program’s four types of interceptors, the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency plans to buy 29 more of another type that failed in testing last year. The cost will be $389 million.

    Figuring out whether any of these missiles will eventually be up to its assigned task is not going to be easy, if the GAO account is correct. Key flight tests conducted so far were not “accredited,” as required, by the Pentagon’s Operational Test Agency. In 2009, that agency specifically identified 39 shortcomings in the testing plans, and of these, technical solutions have since been found for only 22. No deadline has been set for solving the rest, but the GAO predicted it would take “many years to accomplish.”

    The GAO report “shows that the European missile defense program is now following the same ‘buy long before you fly’ approach that has resulted in our national missile defense system deploying interceptors that don’t work,” said George Lewis, a missile defense specialist and senior research associate at Cornell University’s Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies.

    One problem is the sheer difficulty of accumulating useful data during the high-velocity interceptor flights, when closing speeds can approach 22,000 miles an hour and the attacking warheads must strike targets precisely or explode nearby with split-second timing. So far, according to the GAO, the program’s managers have figured out a way to collect only 15 percent of the more than 2000 data points needed to create accurate models, and they don’t anticipate collecting the remainder for another five to ten years.

    Specific troubles are also laying in wait for the European defense effort, which is supposed to become fully operational in 2018 and is aimed primarily at shooting down any threatening rockets launched by Iran.

    A key component is an immense radar slated for installation in Romania by 2015, before it has been fully tested. The radar, erected inside what looks like a giant golf ball sitting atop a tee (called a deckhouse in missile defense vernacular), will use a portion of the radiofrequency spectrum that the Romanian government may want for some of its wireless broadband communications, the GAO notes. As a result, either the radio or the broadband devices will need modification.

    It’s not hard to imagine that, given a choice between giving their citizens wide access to the internet and helping to field an American missile defense system, Romania might easily become a less compliant ally. A solution is not in sight, prompting the GAO to warn that the frequency interference issue may be “a long-term challenge” not only in Romania but also later in Poland, where another golf ball-like radar dome is slated to be installed. Urban structures and wind farms in both countries are further obstructions, according to Pentagon documents cited by the GAO.

    The dominant theme of the GAO report is that the Missile Defense Agency program managers, financially supported by top Pentagon officials and key lawmakers, have basically been engaged in understandable, but wishful thinking. The unavoidable conclusion is that they’re so keen to have a defensive solution to the missile threat that they want to field one immediately, on the chance that it might wind up accomplishing the mission.

    So far, the government has spent more than $30 billion on just a portion of the effort, involving the deployment of around 30 interceptor missiles in Alaska and California. According to the GAO, these missiles — the ones that Obering endorsed — are still being tested, refurbished, and retrofit.

    The Missile Defense Agency is meanwhile trying to create an improved version of those missiles, but its effort has been set back by two test failures in 2010 that its officials are still struggling to understand. The cost of the upgrade has ballooned to around a billion dollars, a four-fold increase from initial estimates.

    Officials told the GAO that another $180 million will eventually be needed to cover the cost of retrofitting ten of these newer interceptors that were manufactured before the test failures. The newer missiles cost $421 million apiece, its report said. According to the GAO’s calculation, the Pentagon’s tests will not be able to confirm that the new interceptor works until 9 years after its production was approved.

    A related interceptor program, known as THAAD and meant to defend U.S. military bases and foreign cities from short-to-medium range missiles, has also seen costs rise by $40 million, and experienced delays and test problems.  One reason is that two initial operational systems were built before the design was stable and testing was complete. Even now, with testing still under way, the agency has ordered two more.

    Another reason for THAAD’s troubles is what Cristina Chaplain, GAO’s director of acquisition and sourcing management, called a “quality issue” at a hearing April 25 before the Senate armed services subcommittee on strategic forces. She said that during a flight test in 2010, a target meant to be shot down by the system in a test was improperly connected to the airplane carrying it aloft for release. It “fell into the ocean,” she said, causing a delay of that test and others and the expenditure of “hundreds of millions of dollars” on additional targets.

    Chaplain also complained that on too many occasions, the Missile Defense Agency committed to long-term production before the formal approval of a system’s design, producing a circumstance in which “you’ve already made a commitment to something and you don’t have the knowledge you need to make that commitment.”

    At the hearing, J. Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s top testing official, separately called the THAAD system “operationally suitable” but said that reliability problems, test results, and “soldier feedback” indicate it has problems that need to be investigated or corrected. He also complained that the agency’s budget and schedule for all its missile defense components lack any plan for backup or repeat tests that may be needed if parts fail or the results are otherwise unsatisfactory.

    In the past decade alone, the Pentagon has spent $80 billion on all its missile defense efforts, and it forecasts spending another $44 billion over the next four years as the new interceptors are deployed.  The GAO’s conclusion is not that this is a far-fetched or impossible task (as a recent Defense Science Board report hinted last September), but simply that the Missile Defense Agency is not going about its work in a wise manner.

    As if scolding an errant child, the auditors chief complaint is that the agency has not heeded a simple fact: “To date, all … flight tests [of the interceptors used in this program] have revealed issues that led to either a hardware or software change.” While the agency has recently “begun emphasizing” a better approach to production — namely, waiting until some tests are finished and some designs are proven — its plans to proceed with the purchase of dozens of unproven interceptors are “premature,” the GAO said.

    In response, David G. Ahern, the Pentagon’s deputy assistant secretary for strategic and tactical systems, said he agreed with many of the GAO’s complaints but that other considerations had come into play, such as the need to keep paying key contractors.

    “MDA is balancing,” he said, “the need to demonstrate technical achievement and ensuring the system is thoroughly tested before fielding with the need to keep the industrial base and supply chain healthy to ensure transition as quickly as possible” to better systems. He called its current risk management practices “prudent” but agreed — as the GAO urged — to prepare a report examining whether President Obama’s deadline for deploying the European system “may be contributing to concurrency.”

    That report will go to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Ahern said. He did not mention any plan to send it to Congress or release it to the public.

      A Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) is launched from the USS Hopper. R. Jeffrey Smith http://www.iwatchnews.org/authors/r-jeffrey-smith

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    Click to read fun facts about the top 10 donors.


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  • 04/26/12--11:51: Donor profile: Foster Friess
  • Ranking: 9

    Total contributions to super PACs: $2.25 million*

    Notable federal hard money and 527 contributions:

    • $16,934 to the Republican National Committee (2011)
    • $5,000 to the Senate Conservatives Fund (2011)
    • $2,500 to Rick Santorum's presidential campaign (2011)
    • $2,500 to Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign (2011)
    • $1,000 to Mitt Romney presidential campaign (2011)

    Corporate name: Friess Associates, LLC

    Corporate subsidiaries: Brandywine Fund, Brandywine Blue Fund, Brandywine Advisors Midcap Growth

    Total spent on federal lobbying (2007-2011): $0

    Lobbying issues: N/A

    Family: Wife Lynnette, four children.

    Biography:

    This Wyoming multimillionaire is known for his philanthropy, eccentricities and dedication to keeping former Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign alive. Friess is the top donor to pro-Santorum super PAC Red, White and Blue Fund and the second-biggest donor to the smaller pro-Santorum super PAC Leaders for Families.

    Friess believes in small government and free markets, ideals that closely align with the tea party, which explain his contribution to FreedomWorks for America, a tea party-aligned super PAC that is a descendant of Citizens for a Sound Economy, founded and funded by brothers Charles and David Koch.

    Friess is an “ally” of the Kochs, according to the New York Times, and has attended their retreats for big political donors. Friess has a history of giving to tea party groups, including $3,300 to the Tea Party Express PAC in 2010. He speaks regularly at tea part events, most notably at the Tea Party Patriots’ 2011 American Policy Summit.

    He is also one of the few super donors to have made direct expenditures in support of a candidate. Rather than give through a super PAC, Friess personally spent thousands on pro-Santorum radio and newspaper ads in Friess' birthplace of Rice Lake, Wis., the Center for Public Integrity reported. Before the Wisconsin GOP primary was over, Friess spent $71,614 out of his own pocket on ads and events touting Santorum.

    Born in 1940, Friess graduated valedictorian from his high school and was the first in his family to graduate from college, according to a profile on his website profile entitled “The Man Atop the Horse.” After getting his degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin, he served two years in the U.S. Army Intelligence, according to BusinessWeek.

    He launched Friess Associates, an investment firm, in 1974 and made his millions through Brandywine Fund, Friess Associates' mutual fund. In 2001, Friess sold a controlling stake in Friess Associates to AMG for $247 million, Forbes reported.

    Now that Santorum has dropped out of the presidential race, Friess has come out in public support of Mitt Romney. This is more than a little awkward, considering his outspokenness against Romney when Santorum was still in the running. At times, Friess has been known to joke, "A liberal, a moderate and a conservative walk into a bar. And the bartender says, 'Hello Mitt.’”

    Off-hand comments such as the Romeny joke and the now-infamous aspirin-as-birth-control remark on MSNBC ("Back in my days, they’d use Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees.”) have drawn scrutiny.

    But in his current hometown of Jackson, Wyo., Friess is more known for his philanthropy.

    The Lynne and Foster Friess Family Foundation is a private, Christian charitable foundation and his primary vehicle for giving. The foundation had a budget of $60 million in 2011, when it donated $5 million to the National Christian Foundation and $3,333 to the Council for National Policy, a social conservative activism group that has been criticized for its secrecy. The New York Times says its few hundred members are “some of the most powerful conservatives in the country.”

    The Foundation has drawn criticism for its support of groups like the Crescent Foundation, whose mission is “to reach Muslims with the Gospel of Christ for the Glory of God.” Friess supports a range of groups that are “helping peaceful Muslims … transcend the 7th century ideology of violence, intimidation, and coercion that threatens them... and us.”

    The vast majority of the foundation’s giving since 2005 has been to the National Christian Foundation, which provides bookkeeping and consulting support for individuals and businesses to set up their own Christian charitable foundations, according to the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA), which in part is an accrediting association for Christian nonprofits.

    Friess remains active in investing, according to BusinessWeek, as he still serves as chairman of Friess Associates and director of the Brandywine funds.

    Last updated: April 25, 2012

    *2011-2012 election cycle; source, Federal Election Commission

    Foster Friess speaking at the Tea Party Patriots American Policy Summit in Phoenix, Arizona. Rachael Marcus http://www.iwatchnews.org/authors/rachael-marcus

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    Ranking: 4

    Total contributions to super PACs: $3.6 million*

    Federal hard money and 527 contributions:

    Total spent on federal lobbying (2007-2011): $24 million

    Lobbying issues: Education, budget appropriations, taxes, labor issues.

    Background:

    The nation’s largest union, claiming 3 million public educators, endorsed President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in July. Now it is ramping up its spending. In March, the teachers union gave $3 million to its super PAC, the NEA Advocacy Fund. A week later, the super PAC gave $500,000 to the We Are Wisconsin Political Fund, a group supporting “progressive public policies important to working families all across Wisconsin.” The group is part of a coalition effort to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker in the state’s June 5 special election.

    The NEA super PAC also gave $80,000 to North Carolina-based group Common Sense Matters, which spent money last year opposing two Republican candidates for the Wake County school board.

    On March 30, the NEA gave $100,000 to the pro-Democrat American Bridge 21st Century super PAC, which has received large donations from other labor unions including $575,000 from its top organizational donor, the public employee union American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

    The NEA is poised to follow its sizeable spending ahead of the last major federal election in 2010. The union targeted Republican congressional candidates for their proposed attacks on education funding.

    The union spent $350,000, according to The Hill, on a late-September ad supporting Obama’s jobs bill. More recently, the union’s “Education Votes” project released a mock horror film trailer online, to defeat seven “uber-powerful” corporate tax loopholes that are “shortchanging our children” and “devouring workers.”

    Last updated: April 25, 2012

    *2011-2012 election cycle; source: Federal Election Commission

    Paul Abowd http://www.iwatchnews.org/authors/paul-abowd

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