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Collapse all Expand all Print all In new window Facts are STUBBORN Things..."One-Sided Outrage" PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 22 November 2011 16:31

Senate Judiciary Committee Oversight Hearing with Attorney General Eric Holder, Nov. 8, 2011

“One-Sided Outrage”

Senator Schumer: “What I am getting at here, and why I think it’s important to have answers to this question, is because there’s been a selective way in which this investigation has been pursued so far.  It’s sort of one-sided outrage about the whole issue, when we know now that it began, or its progenitor began, before you took office, before President Obama took office.”

FACT

As early as March 2011, Senator Grassley’s staff sought information on Operation Wide Receiver from a gun dealer involved in the operation.  On September 28, 2011—before the Justice Department had produced any documents related to Operation Wide Receiver—Senator Grassley’s staff requested briefings on other cross-border events, which it is now clear included Operation Wide Receiver and the Hernandez investigation.  The Justice Department indicated on September 30 that it would not be “planning additional briefings on other matters at this time.”

Documents supporting the FACTS.

 
No Super Committee Agreement PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 22 November 2011 16:15

Senator Chuck Grassley made the following comment about the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction not reaching agreement on a ten-year proposal for at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction by November 23.

Senator Grassley submitted specific recommendations to the committee for spending reductions totaling hundreds of millions to even billions of dollars from administrative restructuring, reduction of duplicative and overlapping programs, and unnecessary and wasteful programs under the authority and jurisdiction of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, where he serves as Ranking Member.  He also made recommendations to the committee for the Grassley-Kohl legislation which would save $4.8 billion in federal government spending on prescription drugs, including through Medicare and Medicaid, by stopping deals between name-brand and generic drug makers that keep less expensive drugs off the market.  Senator Grassley urged the committee to adopt caps on farm payments, for a savings of $1.5 billion, and he backed a goal of saving $23 billion in spending from programs that fall under the jurisdiction of the Senate Committee on Agriculture.

Grassley comment:

“Even though I didn’t vote for the bill that created the super committee, I hoped it would succeed in reducing government spending and signal that Washington is serious about getting our fiscal house in order.  During the last two years alone, federal spending has increased 22 percent, not even counting the failed $800 billion stimulus program.  Out-of-control deficit spending and a $15 trillion national debt inhibit the ability of the economy to grow and create private-sector jobs.  It’s a moral issue, too, because it’s wrong to leave a legacy of debt for the next generation.

“Going forward, entitlement reforms are needed not only for the federal budget, but also to sustain the programs themselves, and Congress and the President need to stay focused on reducing spending.  Tax increases aren’t the solution because we know that money from tax increases isn’t used to reduce the deficit.  For the last 65 years, every new dollar in tax increases has resulted in Congress’ spending $1.17.

“The President should have been engaged and at least have offered a credible deficit reduction plan.  In addition, the majority leadership of the Senate continues to do nothing about the budget challenges, despite the urgency.”

 

 
Facts are STUBBORN Things...Hernandez and the Mukasey Memo PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 22 November 2011 16:14

Senate Judiciary Committee Oversight Hearing with Attorney General Eric Holder, Nov. 8, 2011

Hernandez and the Mukasey Memo

Senator Schumer: “I am going to go back to the Fast and Furious issue. There has been, of course, a lot of focus on the present administration’s dealings with Fast and Furious. But what has been sort of missing certainly in the House investigation is that it didn’t start with the Obama administration.  It started with Alberto Gonzales and then continued with General Mukasey.”

“As we learned last week, some briefing material on Operation Wide Receiver, the – the Bush era version of Fast and Furious, was prepared for the – Attorney General Mukasey shortly after he took office, in preparation for a November 16th meeting with Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora of Mexico.”

FACT

The memo Senator Schumer referenced is about the Hernandez investigation, not Operation Wide Receiver.  The Justice Department has not produced any document that indicates Attorney General Gonzales or Attorney General Mukasey received any memos on Operation Wide Receiver.  The Justice Department has produced one November 16, 2007, memo to Attorney General Mukasey which refers to the controlled delivery in the Hernandez case.  It does not refer to walking guns.  It does not refer to the Wide Receiver case.

As the November 16, 2007, memo states: “ATF has recently worked jointly with Mexico on the first ever attempt to have a controlled delivery of weapons being smuggled into Mexico by a major arms trafficker.  While the first attempts at this controlled have not been successful, the investigation is ongoing, and ATF would like to expand the possibility of such joint investigations and controlled deliveries – since only then will it be possible investigate an entire smuggling network, rather than arresting simply a single smuggler.  To that end, it is essential that a vetted Mexican unit be assigned to work with ATF in this regard.  ATF’s attache in Mexico City has briefed General Medina Mora on this attempted controlled delivery, and stressed the importance of such a vetted unit being assigned.”

In contrast, no attempt was made to work with the government of Mexico in Operation Fast and Furious.  It is unclear whether such an attempt was made in Operation Wide Receiver.

Documents supporting the FACTS.

 
TWO QUAD CITY WOMEN HONORED FOR INNOVATION PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Brittany Marietta   
Tuesday, 22 November 2011 16:12

Nine Iowa Women of Innovation were honored last Thursday evening by the Technology Association of Iowa at the Hy-Vee Conference Center in West Des Moines.  Honorees included entrepreneurs, executives, college professors, and two students who each received $2,500 scholarships.  Betty Griffin, Curriculum and Instruction Specialist for Davenport Community Schools, and Pavane Gorrepati, senior at Rivermont Collegiate in Bettendorf, were among the nine winners.

The Iowa Women of Innovation awards celebrate female leaders in science, technology, engineering, and math.  Nominations were submitted from communities across the state and finalists represented a range of backgrounds: teachers, researchers, technologists, and CEOs, among other titles.  Finalists also include high school, undergraduate, and graduate students who have demonstrated extraordinary achievements in technology.

For a complete list of finalists and winners, visit www.technologyiowa.org.

 

2011 Women of Innovation Award Winners:

Research Innovation and Leadership: Dr. Byrony Bonning, a professor at Iowa State University’s department of entomology.  Bonning, a nationally and internationally recognized scholar, is the founding director of the ISU Virus-Insect Interactions Initiative.  Her research has resulted in five patents that have attracted industrial support.

Academic Innovation and Leadership in Secondary Education:  Betty Griffin, curriculum and instruction specialist in the Davenport Community Schools. Griffin brought the Project Lead the Way (PLTW) program to Davenport, and developed a PLTW summer camp for 8th grade students.  She helped create a scholarship fund to promote college credit for high school students. 

Academic Innovation and Leadership in Post-Secondary Education:  Dr. Sarah Larsen, a professor of chemistry at the University of Iowa.  Larsen’s internationally-recognized research program studies nanomaterials, and has advanced the understanding of how porous particles can be used in environmental protection, catalysis, drug delivery and biomedical imaging.

Entrepreneurial Innovation and Leadership:  Dr. Jennifer Nieweg of Des Moines, co-founder of Catilin. Niewig’s company develops cost-efficient catalysts for the production of bio-fuels.  Recently, Catilin merged with a multinational company, Albemarle, which develops, manufactures, and markets complex chemicals worldwide.

Non-Profit/Government Agency: Toni Tassone of the Iowa Department of Corrections.  Tassone created the Iowa Corrections Offender Network (ICON), an offender case management system. ICON’s first year return on investment is estimated at $2 million.

Small Business Innovation and Leadership:  Charise Flynn, Chief Operating Officer at Dwolla, a social payment network in Des Moines.  Flynn leads a team of 20, managing the company’s fast-paced growth, implementing new processes and systems, and executing the company’s vision.

Large Company Innovation and Leadership:  Kristin Runyan, Chief Information Officer and Vice President of Product Management for CDS Global in Des Moines.  Runyan leads the company’s vision of diversifying its business, changing company culture, and transforming technology.

Collegiate Innovation and Leadership: Chloe Dedic, a senior in mechanical engineering at Iowa State University.  Dedic studies pollutant formation in devices used for clean power generation.  Thanks in part to her work, the mechanical engineering department was recently awarded a National Science Foundation grant.

Youth Innovation and LeadershipPavane Gorrepati, a senior at Rivermont Collegiate in Bettendorf. Gorrepati is the only student there who has completed six science classes in four years.  She earned a Borlaug-Ruan International Internship and has founded “Sending Seeds Overseas,” which provides seeds for farmers in third-world countries.

Note: Rivermont Collegiate senior Meghana Pagadala was also a finalist in this category.

 

For additional information on Rivermont Collegiate, contact Brittany Marietta, Director of Admissions, at (563) 359-1366 ext. 302 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

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Public Company Accounting Oversight Board transparency bill introduced PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 22 November 2011 10:39

Reed and Grassley Seek to Increase Transparency at Accounting Watchdog

 

WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to protect the investing public and improve the oversight of corporate auditing, U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) are introducing the PCAOB Enforcement Transparency Act of 2011.

In the wake of a series of corporate accounting scandals, such as Enron, that cost investors billions of dollars and hurt the U.S. economy, Congress established the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) as a watchdog to oversee auditors of public companies.   The 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley law creating the Board also required PCAOB’s disciplinary proceedings to be kept confidential through charging, hearings, initial decision, and appeal.  Unfortunately, the secretive nature of the process enables firms that engage in misconduct to drag out the proceedings for years while the investing public is kept in the dark.

The Reed-Grassley bill will make PCAOB disciplinary proceedings public to bring auditing deficiencies at the firms or the companies they audit to light in a timely manner and help to deter violations.

“The PCAOB is responsible for ensuring that auditors of public companies meet the highest standards of quality, independence, and ethics.  Reliable financial reporting is vital to the health of our economy and we must take the legislative steps necessary to enhance transparency in the PCAOB’s enforcement process.  Currently, Congress, investors, and others are being denied critical information about an auditor’s disciplinary process.  Investors and companies alike should be aware when the auditors and accountants they rely on have been charged or sanctioned for violating professional auditing standards,” said Reed.

“Sunshine is the best disinfectant,” Grassley said.  “This legislation levels the playing field between auditors reviewed by the SEC and auditors reviewed by the PCAOB.  Currently, PCAOB proceedings are secret while SEC proceedings are not.    The secrecy provides incentives to bad actors to extend the proceedings as long as possible so they can continue to do business without notice to businesses about potential problems with a particular auditor.   This bill ends the secrecy and brings the kind of transparency that adds accountability to agency proceedings.”

The PCAOB sets auditing standards for auditors of public companies, examines the quality of audit performed by public company auditors, and where necessary, imposes disciplinary sanctions on registered auditors and auditing firms.  The PCAOB oversees more than 2,400 auditing firms registered with the Board, as well as the thousands of audit partners and staff who contribute to a firm’s work on each audit.

The lack of transparency surrounding disciplinary proceedings under current law can provide unscrupulous firms with an incentive to litigate cases in order to continue to shield conduct from the public.

For example, an accounting firm that was subject to a disciplinary proceeding issued no fewer than 29 additional audit reports on public companies during the course of the proceedings.  Those public companies and their investors were completely unaware there was a potential auditing problem with this accounting firm.   Before the firm was expelled from public company auditing, it issued those audit reports, knowing all the while that it was subject to disciplinary proceedings.  But investors were denied this information.

PCAOB’s closed proceedings run counter to the public enforcement proceedings of other regulators, including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the U.S. Department of Labor, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and others.  Nearly all administrative proceedings brought by the SEC against public companies, brokers, dealers, investment advisers, and others are open, public proceedings.

This Reed-Grassley bill will make PCAOB hearings and all related notices, orders, and motions, open and available to the public unless otherwise ordered by the Board.  The PCAOB procedure would then be similar to SEC Rules of Practice for similar matters, where hearings and related notices, orders, and motions are open and available to the public.

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