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Government Accountability

Arizona Republicans Call for Additional Investigation into ‘Pay to Play’ Allegations Against Governor Katie Hobbs

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More Republican state officials are calling on Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell to investigate the “pay to play” allegations involving the Hobbs administration and Sunshine Residential Homes.

The allegations center around the claim that Sunshine Residential Homes received better daily pay rates per child after donating approximately $400,000 to Hobbs’ campaign, inaugural fund, and the state Democratic Party. These accusations were brought to light in an Arizona Republic story.

Current Investigations and Responses

Attorney General Kris Mayes, a Democrat, has already initiated an investigation following a letter from Senate President Pro Tempore T.J. Shope. Mitchell, a Republican, has indicated she may also launch an investigation after the Auditor General’s office reached out to her.

“As the Treasurer of Arizona, I am responsible for overseeing, safekeeping, and managing the State of Arizona’s securities and investments, which are duties I take seriously. Arizona taxpayers need financial accountability and deserve to know how their money is being spent,” stated Treasurer Kimberly Yee, a Republican.

“Providing state dollars to political donors is a grave misuse of public funds. ‘Pay to play’ and special favors have no place in state government,” Yee added.

Concerns Over Ethical Conflicts

Yee criticized Mayes for asserting control over the investigation, suggesting potential conflicts of interest. “I have requested a separate investigation to be conducted by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has separate jurisdiction in this matter, and the current investigation by the Attorney General’s Office raises concerns of potential ethical conflicts of interest in representing state agencies and officials involved in the alleged scheme,” Yee said.

In response, Attorney General Mayes emphasized the state’s role in handling such allegations. “As with any other investigation our office conducts, we will follow the facts wherever they lead us. As with everything else we do, we are also fully cognizant of our ethical obligations and have taken appropriate measures to protect the interests of all concerned, including directing the Department of Child Services to obtain outside counsel in this matter,” Mayes wrote.

Mayes also pointed out that Yee’s concerns do not fall within her statutory duties as defined by state law.

Calls for Recusal

Rep. David Livingston, R-Peoria, called for Mayes to recuse herself from the investigation, citing a potential conflict of interest due to previous funding she received from the Arizona Democratic Party and her handling of a prior complaint related to Governor Hobbs.

“Your conflict of interest and mishandling of my complaint warrants your recusal from investigating the pay-to-play scandal because it likewise stems from Governor Hobbs’ unprecedented inaugural fundraising and political donations to the ADP. You have already proven that you will shield both the Democrat Governor and your own party from any liability,” Livingston wrote.

Coordination of Investigations

The Center Square reported that Mayes is asking Mitchell to avoid conducting a parallel investigation to streamline the process. During a media availability on Tuesday, Hobbs refused to comment on the allegations or whether she would comply with both investigations if they proceed.

The Attorney General’s office has stated it will not respond to Livingston’s letter.

Government Accountability

Sen. Rand Paul Demands Answers from Pentagon on Missing Funds for Risky Chinese Pathogen Research

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Senator Rand Paul has formally requested Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to provide all files related to the Pentagon’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) that funded pathogen research in China. This request follows a damning Defense Department report revealing the agency lost track of millions of taxpayer dollars sent to China.

A prominent Republican, Paul is demanding the Pentagon explain why it attempted to conceal the allocation of taxpayer dollars for risky virus research in China. The Defense Department’s inability to account for these funds has raised significant concerns about national security and governmental oversight.

A new report from the Defense Department has exposed a startling lack of accountability, with millions of taxpayer dollars sent to China for pathogen research being untraceable. This revelation has prompted Senator Paul to seek clarity from Secretary Austin on the exact usage and oversight of these funds.

“It is unacceptable that DoD cannot account for the full extent of taxpayer funding it has spent on pandemic pathogen research at Chinese research laboratories,” Paul wrote to Austin. The senator has been investigating the origins of COVID-19 for years and is now scrutinizing the Pentagon’s role in funding virus research abroad.

Senator Paul has long been a vocal critic of former White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, particularly regarding Fauci’s handling of COVID-19 and related research policies. Paul’s current focus extends to examining the Pentagon’s involvement in financing potentially dangerous research in China, which includes activities similar to those conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

“This lack of oversight represents a significant gap in our national security and undermines public trust in the DoD,” Paul emphasized. His scrutiny includes the Pentagon’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) and their funding of pathogen research.

Senator Paul has previously highlighted issues of transparency and accountability within government health agencies. He has accused Dr. Fauci of obfuscating the origins of COVID-19 and called for his prosecution over alleged dishonesty regarding gain-of-function research funding.

“The most important information is the NIH deliberation over what is, what is not gain-of-function,” Paul told DailyMail.com. He argues that these documents will reveal whether Fauci lied to Congress about overseeing the dangerous research method, a claim Fauci has consistently denied.

The revelation of the Pentagon’s financial mismanagement and Senator Paul’s ongoing investigation underline the broader issues of trust and transparency within U.S. public health and defense institutions. Paul asserts that public health officials have lost credibility, appearing more as advocates for pharmaceutical interests rather than objective scientists.

“We have public health officials that appear to be more salesmen for Big Pharma than they do objective scientists, and that still is a problem,” Paul stated. He believes this has led to increased public distrust in government statements and actions.

As Paul continues his quest for transparency, the outcome of this investigation could have far-reaching implications for U.S. policies on foreign research funding and the overall trust in governmental oversight.

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Government Accountability

New Democrat Whistleblower Exposes FBI’s Security Clearance Abuses

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A new whistleblower has come forward with allegations that the FBI has been misusing its security clearance process to target employees based on their political beliefs, medical views, and ethnicity. This whistleblower, a supervisory special agent (SSA) and registered Democrat, has provided detailed disclosures to Congress, revealing a pattern of abuse within the FBI’s Security Division.

Empower Oversight, an organization dedicated to protecting whistleblowers and ensuring accountability, has brought these allegations to light in a letter to the Justice Department’s congressional oversight committees.

The whistleblower’s disclosures, submitted by Empower Oversight, describe how the FBI’s Security Division has improperly suspended or revoked the security clearances of employees based on subjective and politically motivated criteria. According to the SSA, the division’s leadership often predetermined the outcomes of clearance investigations and overruled the recommendations of line staff. This process was used as a tool to force employees out of the FBI by suspending their clearance, suspending them from duty without pay, requiring permission to take other jobs, and indefinitely delaying final clearance adjudications.

In a letter to congressional committees, Empower Oversight’s president, Tristan Leavitt, urged swift action to investigate these allegations. Leavitt wrote, “The FBI is not a private club for FBI executives to make in their own image. Empower Oversight respectfully requests that you work swiftly to independently corroborate the information in the attached disclosure with other witnesses, publicly document your findings, hold Director Wray and any responsible FBI officials accountable, and pass legislation to fix the abusive security clearance process and successfully protect future whistleblowers.”

One of the most notable cases highlighted by the whistleblower involves FBI Staff Operations Specialist (SOS) Marcus Allen. Allen had questioned whether FBI Director Christopher Wray had testified falsely to Congress and indicated he would not comply with the FBI’s COVID-19 vaccination requirements. Despite the Security Division staff finding insufficient grounds to suspend Allen’s security clearance, Division leadership did so anyway, claiming these issues indicated a lack of loyalty to the United States. Allen, a U.S. Marine veteran, had his clearance reinstated after Empower Oversight assisted him in filing a retaliation complaint. He was suspended without pay for over two years before his case was resolved.

The whistleblower’s disclosures also reveal that Division leadership rushed to revoke the clearances of Allen and Special Agent Steve Friend in advance of their testimony before the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. This revocation served as the basis for the FBI sharing details about their cases, some of which have since proven false. The whistleblower also disclosed that they and at least two other Security Division employees faced retaliation for raising concerns about these improper practices.

Despite congressional scrutiny over the past two years, officials responsible for these abuses remain in senior positions within the FBI. Leavitt’s letter questions why Director Wray has allowed these officials to remain unaccountable and calls for immediate action to address this systemic issue.

The new whistleblower’s revelations underscore the urgent need for reform within the FBI’s security clearance process. Empower Oversight’s call for a thorough investigation and legislative action aims to prevent future abuses and protect those who courageously come forward to expose wrongdoing.

For more information and to stay updated on this issue, visit Empower Oversight’s website and subscribe to their newsletter.

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Biden Administration

Chemicals From East Palestine Train Disaster Spread To 16 States: Study

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Toxic chemicals released during fires following the Norfolk Southern train derailment in Ohio last year spread to 16 states and likely Canada, according to a study released Wednesday.

The pollution, some of which came from the burning of vinyl chloride, a carcinogen, spread over 540,000 square miles, showing clearly that “the impacts of the fire were larger in scale and scope than the initial predictions,” the authors of the study, published in Environmental Research Letters, found.

Lead author David Gay, coordinator of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program, said that he was very surprised by the way the chemicals had spread. “I didn’t expect to see an impact this far out,” he told The Washington Post.

Gay said the results did not mean “death and destruction,” as concentrations were low on an absolute scale—”not melting steel or eating paint off buildings”—but that they were still “very extreme” compared to normal, with measurements higher than recorded in the previous ten years.

“I think we should be concerned,” Juliane Beier, an expert on vinyl chloride effects who didn’t take part in the study, told the Post, citing the possibility of long-term environmental impacts on communities.

A Norfolk Southern train crashed in East Palestine, Ohio, a village near the Pennsylvania border and the Appalachian foothills, on February 3, 2023. Dozens of train cars derailed, at least 11 of which were carrying hazardous materials, some of which caught fire after the accident and burned for days. Fearing a large-scale explosion, authorities drained the vinyl chloride from five cars into a trench and set it alight in a controlled burn.

A former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official later said that the controlled burn went against EPA rules; the head of the National Transportation Safety Board said the deliberate burning was unnecessary.

The local impact of the fires was felt acutely in the month after the accident—a “potent chemical odor hung in the air for weeks,” according to The Guardian, and people reported nausea, rashes, and headaches.

The new study helps explain the wider environmental impact. The researchers looked at inorganic compound samples in rain and snow at 260 sites. The highest levels of chloride were found in northern Pennsylvania and near the Canada-New York border, which was downwind from the accident.

The authors also found “exceptionally high” pH levels in rain as far away as northern Maine. They did not look at organic compounds such as dioxin or PFAS, which likely also spread following the accident, The Guardian reported. The elevated inorganic chemical levels dropped two to three weeks after the accident.

Norfolk Southern has agreed to pay nearly $1 billion in damages following two settlements reached in recent months. In April, the company reached a $600 million deal with class action plaintiffs living within 20 miles of the derailment site. That deal won’t be finalized until the residents officially agree. In May, the company reached a separate $310 million settlement with the federal government. The company has said that it has already spent $107 million on community support and removed the impacted soil.

Norfolk Southern makes billions in profits every year, and the company gave its CEO a 37% pay hike last year, drawing widespread criticism. The company also spent $2.3 million on federal lobbying last year, according to OpenSecrets data reported by Roll Call.

Link to study

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