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Braley Calls for House Hearing into CFTC Oversight of Peregrine Financial Group PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Monday, 16 July 2012 14:21

Alleged misappropriation of investor funds for twenty years calls into question CFTC’s oversight

 

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today called on the US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to investigate the Commodities Futures Trading Commission’s role in allowing Peregrine Financial Group of Cedar Falls to apparent misappropriate $200 million of investor funds over 20 years in what could be the largest financial fraud in Iowa history.

 

In a letter to committee Chairman Darrell Issa and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, Braley requested a hearing into Peregrine Financial Group and the CFTC’s oversight of commodities trading.  Braley is a member of the House Oversight Committee.

 

“It’s shocking to think that Peregrine was defrauding its customers for more than 20 years,” Braley said.  “My question is, where were the regulators who should have stopped this long ago and how did Peregrine so easily fool them?

 

“It’s the job of regulators to protect farmers, families, and businesses who have invested in futures. I’m greatly concerned that this misappropriation of funds was allowed to continue for so long before it was discovered.  Iowans deserve answers – especially those who were victims of Peregrine’s fraud.”

 

In court filings, federal prosecutors allege that Russell Wassendorf, Sr., CEO of Peregrine Financial Group, admitted to falsifying bank statements and defrauding customers for 20 years.

 

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has said that Peregrine has “used customer funds for purposes other than those intended by its customers.” According to CFTC, the money has been misused for years and as many as 1,845 investors are missing their money.

 

The full text of Braley’s letter to Issa and Cummings follows.

 

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July 16, 2012

 

The Honorable Darrel Issa                          

Chairman                      

Committee on Oversight and Government Reform                        

B3540-A, Rayburn HOB                           

Washington, DC  20515                         

 

The Honorable Elijah Cummings

Ranking Member

Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

2471 Rayburn HOB

Washington, DC  20515

 

 

Dear Chairman Issa and Ranking Member Cummings:

 

I am writing to bring to your attention the apparent misappropriation of more than $200 million in client funds by Peregrine Financial Group, an Iowa-based futures trading company. According to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Peregrine has “used customer funds for purposes other than those intended by its customers.”

 

According to a criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney on Friday, Russell Wassendorf, Sr., Founder and CEO of Peregrine Financial Group, admitted that he was defrauding his customers for as long as 20 years.  According to court documents, Peregrine had as many as 1,845 investors – and it is unclear whether their money will ever be recovered.

 

It is the job of regulators to protect farmers, families, and businesses who have invested in futures.  I’m greatly concerned that this misappropriation of funds was allowed to continue so long before being discovered.

 

In the wake of the MF Global debacle and these new allegations at Peregrine Financial Group, I ask that you immediately hold a hearing to look at unanswered questions related to the role of the CFTC in allowing this situation to continue and investigate whether this agency had the proper procedures in place to prevent this type of abuse from happening again. It is absolutely essential that there is investor confidence in our commodity trading system.

 

It is also important that any hearing focus on whether there is a process in place to expedite the recovery of the assets of these investors.

 

Thanks again for your consideration of this request. We owe it to American taxpayers and investors to ensure a secure marketplace where they can trust that their money is protected from fraud.

 

Sincerely,

Bruce L. Braley

Member of Congress

 

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Judicial conference on Maui scrutiny continues PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 16 July 2012 13:44
Monday, July 16, 2012

Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Jeff Sessions, ranking member of the Budget Committee, have been scrutinizing the expense of the Ninth Judicial Circuit’s upcoming conference in Hawaii.  The Ninth Circuit announced that it will cancel next year’s conference.  Grassley and Sessions are seeking cost containment for the Hawaii conference this year, as well as for future conferences.  Grassley made the following comment.

“After weeks of scrutiny, it’s good to see a response at last to criticism of expensive conferences.  However, while an encouraging sign, cancelling next year’s conference does not necessarily signal lasting change.  This year’s conference is likely to be expensive, and future events could be expensive, as well.  I’m looking for long-term spending reductions and restraint on conference expenditures.”

The Ninth Circuit’s 2013 conference cancellation announcement is available here.

Grassley and Sessions sent a second letter to the Ninth Circuit on Friday.  That letter is available here.

 
Governor Quinn Names Kelly Kraft Director of Communications PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Nafia Khan   
Monday, 16 July 2012 13:31

Kraft to Oversee State Communication Operations;

Mica Matsoff to Serve as a Senior Advisor

CHICAGO – July 13, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today announced that Kelly Kraft will serve as his Director of Communications, effective on Monday. Kraft has served as the Assistant Director and Communications Director of the Governor's Office of Management and Budget (GOMB). Mica Matsoff will become Senior Advisor to the Governor. As communications director, Kraft will work closely with Brooke Anderson, who continues to serve as Press Secretary to the Governor.

"Kelly Kraft is a true professional who will do an excellent job communicating major policy issues to the people of Illinois,” Governor Quinn said. "I thank Mica for her great work as communication director, and appreciate her willingness to step up and into this new role to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing the state.”

As Director of Communications, Kraft will plan and oversee the execution of the administration’s internal and external communications. She will work closely with senior members of the Governor’s staff and cabinet to develop policies that impact the people of Illinois and move the state forward.

Kraft has served as Assistant Budget Director, helping to guide Illinois' pension reforms, Medicaid restructuring, and Budgeting for Results initiatives. She has also managed complex subjects like debt issuance, financial reporting and budget policy. Prior to her career in public service, Kraft was an award winning and Emmy nominated journalist. She worked as a news anchor, reporter, producer and editor in major television markets such as Las Vegas, Buffalo, San Diego and Chicago. Kraft has also hosted and narrated the award-winning PBS documentaries “Kids in Peril” for law enforcement agencies and students in criminal justice programs.

Kraft earned her bachelor's degree from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana where she studied Journalism and Political Science. Upon graduation, she was awarded the Ross Hazeltine Scholarship, which allowed her to live in Eastern Europe to research life after the fall of communism.  She also studied at Thames Valley University in England. She grew up in Peru, Illinois in La Salle County.

As Senior Advisor, Matsoff will oversee key agencies, develop and implement strategies on high-profile issues, and coordinate policies and initiatives across various agencies of government. Matsoff has been with the Governor’s Office since January 2011 as communications director. Prior to that, she managed press operations at Quinn for Illinois, Chicago 2016, and the departments of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and Employment Security. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Governor Pat Quinn Takes Clemency Action PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Nafia Khan   
Monday, 16 July 2012 13:21
CHICAGO – July 13, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today granted 43 and denied 102 clemency petitions. This action marks another step in a series of clemency decisions aimed at eliminating a backlog of more than 2,500 cases that built up during the previous administration.

The 145 clemency petitions acted upon by Governor Quinn are part of dockets ranging from 2005 through 2011.  Each person granted clemency has recently undergone a criminal background check through the Illinois State Police’s Law Enforcement Agencies Data System (LEADS). A granted clemency request for a pardon with expungement allows the petitioner to seek expungement of their conviction through the court system.

Since taking office, Governor Quinn has acted on 2068 clemency petitions. Governor Quinn has granted 761 and denied 1307 petitions. Those actions include granting 743 pardons and authorizing 17 people who had previously received pardons to seek expungement of their convictions.

For additional information on the granted clemency cases, please contact Ken Tupy at the Prisoner Review Board at (217) 782-7274 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

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Disciplinary Spanking Gets a Bum Rap PDF Print E-mail
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Written by American College of Pediatricians   
Friday, 13 July 2012 12:28

Gainesville, Florida – July 12, 2012 - With the release of a biased report in the journal Pediatrics implying that spanking causes mental disorders, researcher Afifi continues the all-too-common unscientific assault on disciplinary spanking.

By studying the experience of "harsh physical punishment" defined as “pushed, grabbed, shoved, slapped, or hit by their parents," Afif discovered a small association (not causation) with mental disorders in adults.  The survey used to gather the data never asked about "spanking" and never limited the experience to that of a defiant child who may have received an ordinary spanking.  Yet, the researchers conclude that all physical punishment (including spanking) "should not be used with children of any age.”

Furthermore, participants in the study were most likely recalling experiences as teens, since retrospective reports correlate highest with events occurring at this age.   Adolescence is certainly not a recommended age for the use of any physical punishment.

The researchers gloss over their finding that "individuals with a family history of dysfunction were more likely to experience harsh physical punishment."  That is a better explanation for this association than the one they postulate.  It is well known that the use of harsh discipline is often a marker for trouble families and such an unhealthy environment takes its toll on a child.

So, the researchers study the inappropriate use of harsh physical punishment used at inappropriate ages within dysfunctional families, and state that all spanking should be prohibited.  The American College of Pediatricians calls upon researchers and medical publishers to stop this unwarranted assault and return to evidence-based research. Visit www.Best4Children.org for details on the appropriate use of disciplinary spanking.

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The American College of Pediatricians is a national medical association of licensed physicians and healthcare professionals who specialize in the care of infants, children, and adolescents. The mission of the College is to enable all children to reach their optimal physical and emotional health and well-being. For more information about the College, please visit our website www.Best4Children.org.

 
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