Public Nuisance

Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.

The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Monday, July 08, 2002
Bush Ethicists to the Rescue

So let me see if I've got this straight:
  • George W. Bush

    • Grandfather Prescott was managing director of Union Bankiing Corporation, seized October 20, 1942, under the Trading With the Enemy Act.

    • Through UBC, Prescott Bush appears to have exercised substantial control of Consolidated Silesian Steel Corporation, later reorganized as Silesian American Corporation, which used slave labor from Auschwitz to build the German war machine. When UBC was liquidated in 1951, Prescott Bush received $1.5 million, which formed much of the basis of the Bush family wealth.

    • Brother Neil was a director of Silverado Saving and Loan, which failed at a cost of $1.3 bn to taxpayers. As director, Neil voted to approve $100 mn in loans to Kenneth Good and Bill Walters, who were his partners in an energy company. Bush didn't inform other Siverado directors of his connections to Good and Walters. The load was ultimately repaid by taxpayers. Bush also received a 'loan' of $100,000 from Good with no collateral or obligation of repayment.

    • Neil then formed Apex with $3,000 of his own money and $2.7 mn from the SBA. Apex took about two years to fail with no remaining assets. Neil collected $320,000 in salary and expenses. He then (1991) accepted a job with Bill Daniels, a cable TV owner who at the time was lobbying for deregulation of the industry, who said he "thought Neil deserved a second chance."

    • In 1985, brother Jeb and Armando Codina borrowed $4.6 mn from Broward Savings and Loan to buy a Miami office building. They defaulted on the loan, which contributed to the failure of the Broward S and L. Although taxpayers had to pay off the loan, Bush and Codina retained ownership of the building.

    • In 1982, Dubya himself sold assets worth just under $40,000 to a company run by Philip Uzielli, a friend of James Baker, for $1 mn.

    • In 1986 Spectrum, which Bush owned 15% of, was sold to Harken for 2.1 mn, although it had $3 mn in debts and few assets. Bush also received stock options and a consulting contract paying him $120,000 a year for little or no work.

    • Spectrum subsequently hid losses by selling a subsidiary to its own insiders, financing the deal itself. This deal caused the SEC to ultimately require Harken to restate its financial results. Bush was on the Board of Directors and the Audit Committee at the time.

    • Prior to the SEC inquiry being made public, Bush sold the majority of his shares and failed to inform the SEC, as he was legally required to do. This is only one of four separate instances of Bush illegally failing to notify the SEC of his trades.

  • Dick Cheney

    • As CEO of Halliburton, appeared on a promotional video for Arthur Andersen praising them for work "over and above just the sort of normal by-the-books auditing arrangement."

    • Arranged for Halliburton subsidiaries to violate sanctions, doing $73 mn of businees with Iraq. Lied about it during the campaign: "I had a firm policy that we wouldn't do anything in Iraq, even arrangements that were supposedly legal... We've not done any business in Iraq since U.N. sanctions were imposed on Iraq in 1990, and I had a standing policy that I wouldn't do that." (This Week, July 23, 2000)

    • Changed accounting practices at Halliburton, in order to increase apparent income. Failed to state on SEC reports that the accounting basis had changed.

    • One of the subsidiaries doing business in Iraq was Dresser, a company with long-standing ties to the Bush family which Cheney oversaw the purchase of. Cheney sold his Halliburton stock after being nominated for the Vice Presidency, before public disclosure of Dresser's asbestos liabilities destroyed the stock's value.

  • Karl Rove

    • Met with executives of Intel to discuss federal approval of a proposed acquisition while holding over $100,000 in Intel stock.

This is the crack team which is now working on the problem of unethical business conduct. They certainly don't lack in expertise.