A charity co-founded by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) — a key Congressional champion of the pharmaceutical industry — has received over $172,000 in contributions from drugmakers. Hatch’s son has also been hired as a lobbyist by the industry. Big Pharma’s contributions only came to light because the IRS mistakenly released a confidential tax filing to a nonprofit last year. Good government advocates say that points up the need for stronger disclosure laws. (Washington Times)
Court documents released in the Dusty Foggo case show that in 2005, Foggo and defense contractor Brent Wilkes had dinner at Washington’s Capital Grille with then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay, and then-House Appropriations Committee chair Jerry Lewis, according to a report by the journalist Seth Hettena. Lewis has since claimed not to remember seeing Wilkes — who pleaded guilty to bribing former GOP congressman Duke Cunningham — in ten years. (SethHettena.com)
Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater Worldwide — now known as “Xe” — has announced he is stepping down as CEO of the parent company. Though Prince will remain chairman, he’ll no longer be involved in the day-to-day running of the firm he founded 11 years ago. Five former Blackwater guards are scheduled to stand trial for a shooting incident in a Baghdad Square that killed 17 Iraqi civilans in 2007. And both the State Department and Iraq recently declined to renew the company’s license to operate in that country. “I’m a little worn out by the whole thing, the politics of it all,” Prince said. (Wall Street Journal).
Morgan Stanley fired its highest ranking real estate executive in China after finding evidence that he may have offered bribes to Chinese officials, the firm admitted in an SEC filing last month. Garth Peterson — a “star deal maker who had become a powerful figure on the Shanghai investment scene,” according to the New York Times — partnered with Chinese government investment funds on some deals. The United States Foreign Corrupt Practices Act bars American business people from bribing foreign officials. (New York Times).
The Justice Department’s Inspector General is probing a $250-per-person fundraiser held at the Philadelphia home of interim U.S. Attorney Laurie Magid. The January 30 event was held on behalf of former US Attorney Patrick Meehan, a likely GOP candidate for governor in 2010, and was hosted by Magid’s husband, Jeffrey Miller. Magid assumed her present position after Meehan stepped down last summer. DOJ is investigating whether the fundraiser ran afoul of a law limiting the political activities of federal employees. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
The lawyer for a top official in FEMA’s New Orleans Hurricane Recovery Office has said that calls for his client to resign are unwarranted. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Rep. Joseph Cao (R-LA) called for Douglas Whitmer, the office’s chief of staff, to step down after a congressional hearing into allegations of sexual harassment, cronyism, and other ethics violations at the office. FEMA has said that for now, Whitmer has been moved to a regional agency office in Texas. (Associated Press)