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Top ATF Official Involved in F&F Receiving Double Pay by Taxpayers and Private Sector PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 24 August 2012 11:59

Issa and Grassley: Top ATF Official in Operation Fast and Furious Remains on Extended Paid Leave while Simultaneously Employed by Major Financial Services Company

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Darrell Issa have asked the Acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to explain how a top ATF official involved in Operation Fast and Furious, Bill McMahon, can remain on paid leave while simultaneously drawing an additional six figure salary from a major financial services company.  Given McMahon’s extensive involvement in the leadership failures of Operation Fast and Furious, Grassley and Issa sought a detailed explanation of why the Justice Department would approve this special arrangement for McMahon.

“Under any reading of the relevant personnel regulations, it appears that ATF management was under no obligation to approve this sort of arrangement,” wrote Issa and Grassley. “Given McMahon’s outsized role in the Fast and Furious scandal, the decision to approve an extended annual leave arrangement in order to attain pension eligibility and facilitate full-time, outside employment while still collecting a full-time salary at ATF raises a host of questions about both the propriety of the arrangement and the judgment of ATF management.”

The letter continues: “ATF has essentially facilitated McMahon’s early retirement and ability to double dip for nearly half a year by receiving two full-time paychecks—one from the taxpayer and one from the private sector.  Moreover, ATF did not wait for the Office of Inspector General to complete its report on Fast and Furious before approving the arrangement.  This is in sharp contrast to the posture the agency has taken with whistleblowers like Special Agent John Dodson, who is told he must wait until the Inspector General’s report is complete before the agency will even consider his simple request for a statement retracting the false statements made about him by agency leadership.”

The text of their letter is available here and embedded below.  The first part of the final report on the joint Congressional investigation of conduct in Operation Fast and Furious is available here. The report presents evidence detailing numerous errors and decisions by ATF officials and the Arizona U.S. Attorney’s Office that led to serious problems – including inter-agency communication failures between ATF, DEA, and FBI.

Here is a copy of the text of the letter.

 

August 21, 2012

 

Mr. B. Todd Jones

Acting Director

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives

99 New York Avenue, NE

Washington, DC 20226

 

Dear Acting Director Jones:

It has come to our attention that ATF’s former Deputy Assistant Director for Field Operations, William McMahon, has recently obtained full-time employment in the private sector while remaining a full-time employee in ATF’s Office of Professional Responsibility.  In addition to retaining his position at ATF, McMahon is also serving as Executive Director of the Global Security and Investigations Group at J.P. Morgan in the Philippines.  A senior ATF official confirmed McMahon’s status during a phone call last week.  This unusual arrangement is apparently designed to allow Mr. McMahon to reach retirement eligibility while on extended leave for four or five months and simultaneously begin a second career before separating from government employment.

Our most recent joint staff report on Operation Fast and Furious, released on July 31, 2012, scrutinized the role McMahon played in the operation.[1] We detailed his failure to supervise the activities of the Phoenix Field Division during Fast and Furious, his admitted failure to read important documents he was responsible for authorizing, and his false testimony regarding his role in authorizing applications for wiretaps in the case.[2] Despite these failings, ATF not only continues to keep him on its payroll, but also has authorized him to take several months of annual leave while earning a six-figure salary from ATF and an even larger salary at the same time working in the private sector.

While the legality of McMahon’s outside employment and leave arrangement may arguably be unclear, the fact that ATF management chose to authorize it is not.  Under any reading of the relevant personnel regulations, it appears that ATF management was under no obligation to approve this sort of arrangement.  Given McMahon’s outsized role in the Fast and Furious scandal, the decision to approve an extended annual leave arrangement in order to attain pension eligibility and facilitate full-time, outside employment while still collecting a full-time salary at ATF raises a host of questions about both the propriety of the arrangement and the judgment of ATF management.

On July 18, 2012, we wrote to you regarding your message in “ChangeCast #8: Choices and Consequences” and the chilling effect it might have on future whistleblowers.  While we appreciated the clarification you provided after we raised concerns, this decision regarding McMahon appears to send the opposite message of the one you said you intended in that ChangeCast.  Rather than imposing consequences for his admitted failures, the ATF appears to be rewarding McMahon.  Through this unusual arrangement, ATF has essentially facilitated McMahon’s early retirement and ability to double dip for nearly half a year by receiving two full-time paychecks—one from the taxpayer and one from the private sector.  Moreover, ATF did not wait for the Office of Inspector General to complete its report on Fast and Furious before approving the arrangement.  This is in sharp contrast to the posture the agency has taken with whistleblowers like Special Agent John Dodson, who is told he must wait until the Inspector General’s report is complete before the agency will even consider his simple request for a statement retracting the false statements made about him by agency leadership.

This is not the culture of change that you promised to bring to ATF.

In light of McMahon’s outside employment at J.P. Morgan, please answer the following questions to help us better understand how this could have occurred:

1)      5 C.F.R. § 3801.106(b)(1) prohibits “outside employment that involves …  litigation, investigations, grants, or other matters in which the Department of Justice is or represents a party, witness, litigant, investigator or grant-maker.”  Accordingly, what steps, if any, did ATF take prior to approving the arrangement to ascertain whether McMahon’s position at J.P. Morgan would involve any “litigation, investigations, grants, or other matters in which the Department of Justice is or represents a party, witness, litigant, investigator or grant-maker?”

2)      If no such steps were taken, why not?

3)      If such steps were taken, please describe the determination ATF made regarding the prohibition in 5 C.F.R. § 3801.106(b)(1)(iii) and the basis for ATF’s determination in detail.

4)      If ATF determined that McMahon’s work at J.P. Morgan would be prohibited by 5 C.F.R. § 3801.106(b)(1)(iii), was the prohibition waived in accordance with section 3801.106(b)(2)?

5)      If the prohibition was waived, what were the grounds for the waiver?

6)      What is the current employment status of William McMahon at ATF?

7)      When is William McMahon eligible for full retirement benefits from ATF?

8)      When will William McMahon officially leave ATF?

9)      Who at ATF gave final approval of McMahon’s employment with J.P. Morgan?  On what date was this approval given?

10)  On what date did McMahon’s outside employment commence?

11)  How much ATF sick leave has McMahon used while being employed at J.P. Morgan?

12)  How much ATF sick leave does McMahon have remaining?

13)  How much ATF annual leave has McMahon used while being employed at J.P. Morgan?

14)  How much ATF annual leave does McMahon have remaining?

15)  On how many other occasions in the last three years has ATF authorized a similar arrangement involving (a) approving annual leave extending over several months, (b) an employee not yet eligible to retire prior to commencing annual leave, (c) approval of full-time employment while on annual leave, and (d) a career field where the employee’s experience at ATF is directly related to the outside employment and can be reasonably seen as a motivating factor in the hiring decision?  For each prior similar instance, please provide a detailed explanation of the circumstances and the reason for authorizing the arrangement.

16)  When did you first become personally aware of McMahon’s employment at J.P. Morgan?

17)  Do you approve of this particular outside employment arrangement?

In addition, please provide the following documents:

18)  All internal documents and communications relating to McMahon’s scheduled separation from ATF, including memos, e-mails, and hand written notes, including, but not limited to, communications with ATF’s designated agency ethics official.

19)  All internal documents relating to McMahon’s outside employment at J.P. Morgan, including memos, e-mails, and hand written notes, including, but not limited to, communications with ATF’s designated agency ethics official.

20)  A detailed timeline of the involvement of the ATF Office of Chief Counsel regarding McMahon’s employment at J.P. Morgan.

21)  A full copy of ATF’s personnel manual, including, but not limited to, policies regarding sick leave, annual leave, and outside employment.

22)  Detailed information regarding McMahon’s time and attendance at ATF, including records from the WebTA program, from August 1, 2011 until the present.

Please provide the requested documents and your detailed responses to these questions as soon as possible, but no later than 5:00 p.m. on September 4, 2012.  When producing documents to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, please deliver separate production sets to both the Majority Staff in Room 2157 of the Rayburn House Office Building and the Minority Staff in Room 2471 of the Rayburn House Office Building.  The Committees prefer, to the extent possible, to receive documents in electronic format.

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the principal oversight committee of the House of Representatives and may at “any time” investigate “any matter” as set forth in House Rule X.  The Senate Judiciary Committee’s jurisdiction includes, inter alia, oversight of the Department of Justice and the agencies under the Department’s jurisdiction.  An attachment to this letter provides additional information about responding to the Committees’ request.

If you have any questions concerning this matter, please contact Tristan Leavitt of Senator Grassley’s staff at (202) 224-5225, or Henry Kerner of Chairman Issa’s staff at (202) 225-5074.  We look forward to receiving your response.  Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

 

 

 

____________________________   ______________________________

Darrell Issa, Chairman                       Charles E. Grassley, Ranking Member

Committee on Oversight and                            Committee on the Judiciary

Government Reform                         U.S. Senate

U.S. House of Representatives

 

 

Enclosure

 

cc:           The Honorable Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member

U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

 

The Honorable Patrick Leahy, Chairman

U.S. Senate, Committee on the Judiciary

 

The Honorable Michael E. Horowitz, Inspector General

U.S. Department of Justice

 
Religion Vs. Science – The Debate is Over, Engineering Physicist Says PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Friday, 24 August 2012 11:51

Large swaths of Americans seem to have drastically different views of how humans came to be, according to a June Gallup poll.

Nearly half of America – 46 percent – agrees with the creationist view that humans are purely the product of God, absent of evolution, within the last 10,000 years. Fifteen percent believe humans evolved independent of God, which is 6 percent more than 30 years ago.

These millions of Americans are pitted on two sides of a conflictwhich has a solution, says engineering physicist Daniel Friedmann, CEO of the aerospace company known for building the space station’s robotic arm and author of The Genesis One Code (www.danielfriedmannbooks.com).

“The creation-evolution conflict is a recurring point of contention in the United States, from the presidential election to what should be taught in schools,” he says. “American science legend Carl Sagan tried to settle this conflict by calling both camps ‘non-overlapping magisteria’ – in other words, science and religion each preside as the source of wisdom over separate domains.”

Friedmann argues that both wisdoms are two sides of the same coin and can enlighten each other. The reason the debate developed in the first place, he says, is because the discoveries of modern science of an old Earth seemed to conflict with descriptions in the Bible of a young Earth.

“People believed both could not be right,” he says. “It had to be one or the other – science or religion.”

But they both agree on the timeline for the development of the universe and life on Earth, Friedmann says. He has developed a formula that converts “Bible time” to years as we know them. When applied to calculating the age of the universe and life on Earth, the Bible consistently matches scientific estimates derived from the study of fossil timelines, the solar system and the cosmos.

His formula -- 1,000 X 365 X 7,000 –was derived from references in religious texts and science. The first number is found in Psalms, which says a year for God is 1,000 years for mortals. The second refers to the amount of days in one solar year. The third comes from scriptural study that indicates one creation day in Genesis equals 7,000 God years.

When those numbers are multiplied in human years, each creation day is an epoch of 2.56 billion years, he says. Using the formula, the biblical age of the universe is 13.74 billion years. Scientific estimates put the universe’s age at 13.75 billion, plus or minus 0.13 billion, he says.

“I have nothing but respect for scientists like Sagan and Stephen Hawking, but I feel that both were wrong about religion to varying degrees, especially Dr. Hawking,” he says. “Last year, Hawking dismissed religion, publicly calling it a ‘fairy tale’ for people who are afraid of death. I think that is a terriblynaive and misinformed view of what millions of people have believed in for more than a millennium.”

These are a few of the reasons Hawking is wrong, Friedmann says:

• The Bible and science agree on what happened and when it happened with respect to the formation of the universe and the appearance of life on Earth.

• The term “creation days” can be shown from biblical sources to be 2.5 billion years. Using this conversion factor, it is clear that the Bible is correct about timelines we have confirmed through science, including the age of the universe.

• If the Bible and science agree on what happened and when it happened, do we really have a conflict? It is time to reexamine and bury the conflict between science and religion.  In fact, Friedmann in his book, shows that religion has answers to science’s three biggest questions.

• By continuing this false dichotomy of religion vs. science, we are severely limiting progress and our potential as humans. Nearly 54 percent of the world’s population – Christians, Jews and Muslims – assert the truth of biblical scripture. Recognition of a commonality among diverse cultures, while linked to scientific principle, provides a better chance to advance the understanding of our origins.

About Daniel Friedmann

Daniel Friedmann is CEO of MDA, anaerospace company in Canada, which among other things, specializes in robotics used on the international space station. He has a master’s in engineering physics and 30 years’ experience in the space industry. He has published more than 20 peer-reviewed scientific papers on space industry topics. He is also a longtime student of cosmology and religion.

 
Braley: Respect Your Elders PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Amanda Bowman   
Friday, 24 August 2012 11:12

The past few weeks have given us the 75th anniversary of Social Security, the 47th of Medicare, and a reminder of the millions of people the programs have assisted throughout the past decades.

Social Security and Medicare provide protection and support to millions of seniors, and were started with the spirit and belief that America’s seniors should maintain a basic quality of life in their golden years. This social support is critical to protecting the health care and basic needs of our elders, here in Iowa and around the country.

That’s why I’m baffled when I hear that some politicians are trying to do away with Medicare and privatize Social Security.  After years of service and work, our seniors deserve a happy, secure retirement and access to quality, affordable health care.

And I know this through personal experience in my own family – my mom, Marcia, receives both Medicare and Social Security.  She earned it, just like millions of other seniors.

But everywhere you turn, you hear the latest outrageous claims about Medicare and Social Security.  So, to put it in plain English, here’s how I view it:

1.       The term “entitlement” is misleading.  It should be “investment.”  My mom paid into Medicare and Social Security her entire working life, just like every other working Iowan.  She paid for those benefits, and nobody should take that away.

2.       It’s not just seniors who have paid into Medicare and Social Security.  If you are working, then you are helping pay for these programs, whether you’re 25, 55, or 65.  So when politicians talk about cutting benefits for those 55 and younger, they’re still talking about a breach of contract.  If you’re 54 years old, you’ve probably been investing in these programs for over 30 years.

3.       Medicare is currently solvent until 2024, and Social Security until 2033.  These are the facts.  This means that we should be thinking about the future of the programs, but we should not give in to knee-jerk reactions or those who use scare tactics to call for immediate, drastic changes.

I believe that we can protect Medicare and Social Security, maintain all current benefits, and keep the programs solvent.  We should not privatize the programs, turn them into vouchers, or cut benefits – these are just too drastic, and would be bad for seniors and Iowa families.  I’m confident that if we bring a little Iowa common sense to Washington, we can come up with ways to ensure strong, solvent and stable Medicare and Social Security programs for years to come.  I’m not just protecting these programs for my mom, Marcia.  I’m also protecting them for my daughter, Lisa.

# # #

 
Governor Quinn’s Office of New Americans Announces 1st Annual 2012 Hispanic Heritage Month Art & Literary Work Contest PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Ryan C. Woods   
Friday, 24 August 2012 11:10

The Office of Governor Quinn encourages all Illinois youth between K - 12 to participate in this 1st Annual 2012 Hispanic Heritage Month Art & Literary Work Contest. There is no entry fee and submissions are limited to one entry per person. Contest participation requires the creation of one original piece per person, inspired by the interpretation of the Hispanic Heritage Month theme “Many Backgrounds, Many Stories…One American Spirit” and as described in the guidelines below.  There will be a total of four (4) $100-$200 cash prizes that will be awarded to winners based on their age range. Winners will also have their art or literary work displayed in the Illinois State Capitol Building throughout Hispanic Heritage Month.

Art Entry Guidelines:

The Hispanic Heritage Month Art contest is open to all Illinois students in grades K-12. Two winners will be selected: one elementary student (grades K-5) and one middle-school or high-school student (6-12).

In your artwork, depict how Hispanics/Latinos have contributed to the American spirit. You may use traditional, cultural or historical images in your piece.

·      Medium can be mixed, watercolor, acrylic, oil, pen, pencil, chalk, or marker on any type of paper or canvas.

·      Artwork must be two-dimensional and must not exceed 24” x 48”

·      Student’s original signature should be at the bottom right corner of the artwork or on the back of the art piece

·      Judging is based on originality, creativity and interpretation of the Hispanic Heritage Month contest theme

Each art entry must include a title page with the following information:

·      Student’s Full Name,  Student’s Grade Level

·      Title of Work, Medium

·      Sentence about inspiration or description of work

·      Sentence about the student’s interest in art

·      School or Organization Name and Address

·      Student’s Home Address, Telephone Number

Literary Work Guidelines:

The Hispanic Heritage Month Literary contest is open to all Illinois students in grades K-12. Two winners will be selected: one elementary student (grades K-5) and one middle-school or high-school student (6-12).

In your literary piece, describe how Hispanics/Latinos have contributed to the American spirit. You may use traditional, cultural or historical references in your work.

·      Acceptable literary forms include essay, poem or short story only.

·      Submissions must be typed; handwritten submissions will not be accepted.

·      Piece must not exceed 500 words, and must contain page numbers at the bottom.

·      Each essay must reflect the contestant’s own research, writing and original thinking.

·      Essay must be written in English but may include Spanish vocabulary.

Each essay must include a title page, not considered part of the 500 word text, with the following information:

·      Author’s Full Name, Author’s Grade Level

·      Title of Literary Piece

·      Sentence about the student’s interest in art

·      School or Organization Name and Address

·      Student’s Home Address, Telephone Number

Deadline: 5pm, Monday, Sept. 10th, 2012.

Early entry submissions are encouraged.

Mail all entries to:

Office of Governor Quinn

Attn: Office of New Americans

100 W. Randolph St., #16-100

Chicago, IL 60601

 

Additional Terms:

·      One entry allowed per student

·      No entry fee

·      Art and literary works will be judged by a panel of experts.

·      The Office of Illinois Governor will have final authority to define what constitutes an acceptable entry

For additional questions or concerns, please call or email:

Socorro Del Real · Office of Governor Pat Quinn · (312)814-1604 · This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 

 

General Release:

By entering the Contest, contestants release and covenant not to bring claim against Sponsors and their respective parents, subsidiaries, affiliated companies, directors, officers, employees, representatives, partners and agents from any liability whatsoever for any claims, costs, injuries, losses or damages of any kind arising out of or in connection with the Contest or with the acceptance, possession or use of any prize (including, without limitation, claims, costs, injuries, losses or damages related to personal injuries, death, damage to, loss or destruction of property, rights of publicity or privacy, defamation or portrayal in a false light). Winning artists grants the Governor’s Office permission to reproduce his or her artwork for non-profit purposes; all other rights to the image remain with the artist. An entry to this contest constitutes full agreement on the part of the artist or their guardian to all conditions outlined in the entry guidelines.

 
Will Iowa’s Congressional delegation Protect Iowa Seniors? PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Matt Sinovic   
Friday, 24 August 2012 11:04

Local organizations launch petition drive at ProtectIowaSeniors.com


DES MOINES, IOWA -- Iowans are petitioning their members of Congress today to ask: will you protect Iowa seniors? The petition drive was launched at ProtectIowaSeniors.com by the Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans, Progress Iowa, and Protect Your Care. The petition calls for Iowa’s delegation to reject the Romney/Ryan budget and support the reforms made in Obamacare.

“Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are the most anti-senior ticket in history,” said Jan Laue, President of the Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans. “Their ticket and the Romney/Ryan budget pose unprecedented threats to all Iowans, particularly Iowa seniors. We are calling on Iowa’s Congressional delegation to reject the Romney/Ryan budget, and protect the programs that benefit our seniors.”

The Romney/Ryan budget ends Medicare as we know it for more than 500,000 Iowans through privatization, replacing the current payment system with a fixed-cost voucher program. The budget also forces more than 60,000 Iowa seniors back into the prescription drug “donut hole” and raises the amount they have to pay for medicine. Iowa’s Congressional delegation has twice voted on the Romney/Ryan budget. Congressmen Dave Loebsack, Bruce Braley, and Leonard Boswell have all opposed the budget. Congressmen Tom Latham and Steve King have supported the budget.

“Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security have provided a strong foundation for Iowa seniors,” said Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa. “And the new reforms in Obamacare only strengthen the care seniors receive. We are now asking Iowa’s congressional delegation: will you protect Iowa seniors by standing up for the reforms we’ve fought for, and by rejecting the Romney/Ryan budget?”

Since Obamacare became law, Iowa seniors have saved more than $32 million on prescription drugs, and more than 400,000 Iowa seniors have received free preventive care. In addition, the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund is extended by reducing overpayments to insurance companies and cracking down on waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare.

To learn more about the petition and issues facing Iowa seniors, visit ProtectIowaSeniors.com.

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