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The Center for Corporate Policy is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest organization working to curb corporate abuses and make corporations publicly accountable.
Fixing Congressional Corruption: Public Funding of Elections or the Sieves of Sisyphus? The K-Street crack-up and unfolding congressional scandals are forcing Washington to get serious about ethics and lobby reform. All kinds of proposals are on the table: Bans on gifts and privately-funded travel. Closing the Revolving Door. Cracking down on crony contracting and fraud. Improved reporting and transparency requirements and independent enforcement. But many of these proposals are riddled with loopholes, or invite clever forms of subterfuge. Therefore, the number one priority has to be to establish public funding of elections. To learn about this and other proposals go HERE
After killing proposal for Truman Committee on war profiteering, Republicans renig on promise to investigate. In a November floor vote to the Defense Authorization bill, Senate Republicans (with the exception of one -- Lincoln Chaffee) voted to kill an amendment introduced by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) to establish a special committee modeled after Senator Harry Truman's World War II committee, which saved taxpayers $15 billion in 1940s' dollars. This is the third time in two years that the Senate has rejected Dorganís proposal. Before the vote, Sen. John Ensign, R-NV, said: "I plan on holding hearings on exactly this. I plan on pulling that curtain back. I plan on getting into the investigation in the same way as Harry Truman. If it happens to be it is embarrassing to the administration, we are goiing to find out the truth on this -- just like Harry Truman went after those cost-plus contracts in those days ... I am committing to the Senator that the things he is talking about right now will be fully investigated by our committee, and we are going to uphold our oversight responsibility of this administration." (Ensign chairs a subcommittee of the Armed Services Committee known as the Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support.) Anyone concerned about corruption and cronyism should call Sen. Ensign and tell him to honor his pledge and schedule the hearings.
19 members of the Progressive Caucus have called for Halliburton/KBR to be excluded from Katrina contracts based on the company's record in Iraq. See our response. Learn more about Katrina Contracts and related legislation. Also, be sure to demand that Congress include our suggestions for Katrina contracting and corporate accountability in any Katrina-related appropriations.
If corporate crime is one of the Department of Justice's top priorities, then why don't they produce an annual corporate crime report like the one they do for street crime? We have asked Attorney General Gonzales to direct the department to produce the first comprehensive study of corporate crime in 25 years. For more on corporate crime, go to our corporate crime page.
On November 8, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) announced he would soon introduce a bill (HR 4291) that would require shareholder approval of executive pay plans, in effect forcing full disclosure. Executive Excess 2005, the latest report on CEO pay by the Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy, reveals that the CEO:Worker pay ratio rocketed up to 431-to-1. The report indicates that the biggest publicly-traded defense contractors raised their CEOs' compensation by 200% since 9/11. To learn how to stop CEO greed go HERE.
The Senate voted 78-22 in support of John Roberts as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Learn about his record of prioritizing corporate rights over the rights of the people
Gas prices began to skyrocket months before Katrina, and have more to do with oil industry profiteering and price manipulation than unforseen shortages. Meanwhile, reports say some in Congress want to help the oil industry with another energy bill with more subsidies to the industry! To learn more go HERE.
Another corporate crony bites the dust. Former Tyco attorney Timothy Flanigan, nominated to replace Larry Thompson as deputy attorney general, withdrew himself from consideration after questions concerning his association with indicted Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff were raised. The deputy AG is responsible for coordinating the corporate fraud task force established after Enron. While Flanigan was at Tyco, he hired Abramoff to keep open a Bermuda tax haven loophole that saved Tyco millions of dollars a year in taxes. (Tyco reincorporated to Bermuda in 1997.) Tyco's lawyers told Newsweek that it has turned evidence over to the feds indicating that Abramoff defrauded the company when lobbying against legislation to bar federal contracts for corporate tax dodgers. Abramoff also helped a Bermuda-based Russian company organize a lobbying trip for Tom DeLay to London and Scotland. A recent Center for Corporate Policy investigation of "Benedict Arnold Corporations" reveals that Abramoff was just one of dozens of high-powered tax-traitor lobbyists who succeeded in blocking at least 44 bills that would have barred the corporate tax dodgers from federal contracts or closed the offshore tax haven loophole. To learn more about corporate tax traitors go HERE and HERE.
"The ultimate commercial accomplishment is to achieve regulation under law that is purported to be comprehensive and preempting and is administered by an agency that is in fact captive to the industry," Robert Monks and Nell Minow wrote in Power and Accountability. Agency capture, crony contracting, the revolving door and other conflict-of-interest problems have become epidemic in the current administration. The Center for Corporate Policy has begun to compile a list of links to related reports and proposed measures that would begin to address the problem. Click HERE to see.
Big Biotech's backlash against democracy. The growing rural resistance to frankenseeds has companies like Monsanto running to their allies in at least nine US states -- California, Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Dakota, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Arizona, and West Virginia -- to pass or introduce legislation that would preempt local cities and counties that want to restrict the sale of genetically modified seeds. These bills (some of which would also overturn other local restrictions on factory farms and other unwanted land uses) represent a coordinated attempt to block the spread of GMO-free ordinances like the ones passed by citizens in Mendocino and Marin counties in California in 2004. Another local GMO-free law will be voted on in Sonoma County, CA this coming November. The well-coordinated corporate counterstrategy represents a desperate attempt to squash the new populist resistance to corporate rule. Like other laws passed in Pennsylvania, Sonoma's proposed ten-year moratorium is part of a greater fight for local decision-making authority that is spreading across the country. For more model state and local policies, go here.
Wal-Mart starts food fight with egg on its face. CEO Lee Scott says British authorities should investigate Tesco, whose share of the UK food market increased to a record 30.5% over the past three months. And what about the U.S., where Wal-Mart controls 24% of the American grocery market, more than double its next closest competitor and more than the next three competitors combined? Read more. Meanwhile, a new analysis by reveals that "Mr. Sam" paid Scott 871 times what it paid an average Wal-Mart "associate" last year. To learn more about Wal-Mart go here. For more on what can be done about CEO greed, go HERE.
Paul Wolfowitz's conflict of interest. Despite much opposition Paul Wolfowitz will become President of the World Bank on June 1. Read our analysis of how Wolfowitz helped Halliburton loot the "Iraqi people's" oil export revenues and will soon be able to quash a related investigation unless he recuses himself.
WorldCom was allowed to emerge from bankruptcy as MCI, with considerable help from the federal government. But what about millions of poor Americans who won't be able to declare bankruptcy if the credit card companies get their way? MBNA and the rest of the credit card industry made $30 billion last year -- in large part by charging enormous interest rates. Under the new Bankruptcy law, after October 15 it will be much more difficult for consumers with huge debts to make a new financial start. Go here to learn more.
Reports of war profiteering by the Bush family and Vice President Cheney's close ties to Halliburton are just one reason why the Bush administration has refused to support a bipartisan proposal to create a new Congressional committee to investigate war profiteering. Earlier this year, a senior Army budget official estimated that Halliburton would take in $1.5 billion, mostly for supplying the dozen-plus "enduring" military bases under construction across the country. As Senator Kennedy suggested, the construction of permanent bases sends a clear signal "that we will never leave and are in Iraq for our own interests," a perception that "is fueling the insurgency." CIA director Porter Goss testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that "Islamic extremists are [already] exploiting the Iraqi conflict to recruit new anti-U.S. jihadists." To learn more about contractor accountability see our federal contracts page.
Iraq contract quagmire: Many lessons from the failed reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan should be applied to the Katrina contracts. The reconstruction process has virtually stopped because of the security risks. Meanwhile, the epidemic of fraud, bribery and other abuses overwhelmed federal contracting agencies, who failed to provide adequate oversight. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction reported at the end of July that 56 potential criminal cases were still under investigation. Read our report on the Ten Worst War Profiteers of 2004. For the list, click here.
Here Comes the CEO Backlash. Three years after Enron, the epidemic of corporate crime continues to unfold, but that hasn't stopped the the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (which spent more than $53 million on lobbying in 2004, more than any organization has ever spent in a year), the Business Roundtable and other corporate leaders from blocking common sense reforms and pushing the SEC to water down Sarbanes-Oxley regulations. To learn how to prevent more Enrons click HERE.
Corporations funded the candidates. Diebold counted the votes. Sinclair told us who to vote for, and so of course war profiteers like Halliburton and its ex-CEO Dick Cheney won. Business Week called it the day before the 2004 election: the clear winners were big corporations, who are reaping the benefits in a legislative rampage. The good news is that it's also clear from the elections that corporate accountability and economic justice are popular issues. For details click HERE.
Two Alleged Bribery Cases involving Halliburton in Nigeria may be the latest
ripples in the corporate crime wave, but the problem extends far beyond the Vice
President's former company.
Monsanto and Titan
both recently settled overseas bribery cases.
And many other U.S. corporations have reportedly made
improper payments to foreign officials in different countries around the world in
recent years. Weak enforcement and certain
loopholes in the law suggest a need for particular improvements. For more information
visit our Corporate Bribery
Obscure commission proposes gutting anti-trust penalties. The Antitrust Modernization Commission, created by Congress in 2002, has begun to study certain questions, including whether or not to repeal certain criminal penalties. The commission is stacked with corporate lawyers. To learn more go to our corporate concentration page.
Looking for policies to enact at the state and local level? Check out our list of suggestions. (And be sure to email us any you think we should add to the list).
The legal status of corporations: See our new draft paper on the public obligations and purposes of corporations.
100-plus Great Books About Corporations. Check out our list of suggestions HERE .
Hundreds of Americans soldiers have made the ultimate sacrifice for a war that will also cost American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. Reports of wartime profiteering and other contracting abuses suggest a need for increased transparency and accountability. MORE.