Room 8's story on Iraq War opponent Rep. [sw: Gary Ackerman]'s war profiteering made it to print today in Newsday.
Additionally, the records - reported on www.r8ny.com, a New York City political Web site - show Ackerman (D-Jamaica Estates) accepted a "personal loan" last year for as much as $100,000 from Selig Zises, a large investor in a California-based company that Ackerman called Xenonics Options. However, Ackerman, who denies any improprieties, said the alleged loan was actually a sale of stock that he accidentally misreported. ... On March 9, 2002, Ackerman, a senior member on the International Relations Committee, purchased between $1,001 to $15,000 of stock in Xenonics, which is today valued at between $100,000 and $250,000, according to financial records.The stock had ballooned to as much as $1 million as Room 8 had previously reported. It has since fallen to level reported by Newsday. Ackerman's attempt at playing dumb -- "If I was smart or really knew something, I would have sold it then" -- is pretty lame since, as Gur at Room 8 points out, "said questionable dude not only sits on the House Financial Services Committee, but also on the Subcommittee on Capital Markets - which has oversight on the Securities and Exchange Commission." Ackerman says that he "played no role in steering federal dollars to Xenonics." The real, moral question remains: how does one square opposition to a war with profiting from it? If you oppose said war what would the ethical use of the profits be? Should he give it away to charity? Perhaps an organization trying to bring peace and understanding to said war-torn nation. Or should he spend those war profits on an absolutely awesome bat mitzvah for his little tatalah? It's decision time Ackerman: mensch or schlemeil? Continue reading
- An official at the Interior Department will plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge in connection with the Jack Abramoff investigation. Roger Stillwell was "the desk officer for the Mariana Islands at the U.S. Department of the Interior" and dealt often with Abramoff, who lobbied for the Islands. Stillwell is charged with "[f]ailing to report gifts from a 'prohibited source.'" I'll second Paul Kiel in saying that investigators are most likely starting with a small fish and working their way up. There is certainly a lot of dirt -- and a lot of lawmakers -- involved in the Marianas Islands angle in the web of Abramoff scandals. TPM Muckraker and Think Progress have more.
- Our buddies at Room 8 NY did some digging into the personal finances of [sw: Gary Ackerman] (D-N.Y.) to find that his stock options in the defense contractor Xenonics have skyrocketed over the past four years as the U.S. has been engaged in two wars in Afghanistan and then Iraq. Ackerman purchased stock in Xenonics back in 2002 after the invasion of Afghanistan at a worth of $1,000-$15,000. That stock is now worth between $500,000 and $1,000,000! Since Ackerman's stock purchase and the invasion of Iraq Xenonics has received numerous contracts and multi-million dollar earmarks pushing their stock to higher and higher. Did Ackerman earmark these funds? Well, we don't know because there is no transparency in the process. Perhaps someone should ask.
- Sen. [sw: John McCain] (R-Ariz.) makes his first foray into the blogging world at Porkbusters to assail Congress' use of earmarks and his own party's failure to live up to their ideal of limited government. The conservative blogosphere has picked up on McCain's post. Check out Instapundit, Freeman Hunt, Tim Chapman, and Ankle Biting Pundits. National Journal's Beltway Blogroll also has more. Continue reading