Coming Soon: Social Security Bells Toll for Count Chocola?
Coming Soon: Social Security Bells Toll for Count Chocola?
O'Neill Marketing Company has now posted a note about their current relationship (or rather, lack of a current relationship) with USANext. Since we've discussed this at some length, I've posted the relevant portions here ...
As a result of the recent press coverage of United Seniors Association, (now USANext) and the ensuing questions, we thought it might be helpful to clarify and answer the following:
1. OâNeill Marketing Company, (OMC) has no relationship with USANext, does not provide list-marketing services to them and has not done so for many months.
2. OMC was partnered in 1999 with United Seniors Association, but I acquired full ownership, buying out their interest in 2002 and severed the partnership.
3. OMC was a sublessor in suite 450A, 3900 Jermantown Rd. until October 2004 when we moved to suite #300, an Executive Suite. Any remnant phrases referencing the earlier occupied suite, 450A, was simply oversight we have corrected on our site.
Rep. Capito (R) of West Virginia: "I see this as another issue where I've got to weigh what's best for my constituents and how they want and then consider what I think is good policy and what the president wants. You'd hope they'd be along the same lines, but that doesn't happen all the time ... There is a problem, and I do think personal savings accounts is something we should look [at]. Unfortunately it's become so politicized and there's been so many lines in the sand drawn, I'm not sure what kind of life it's going to have."
What's best for the constituents versus what the president wants. Interesting way to put it.
See excerpts from this radio interview today.
(ed.note: Note of thanks to TPM Reader AK.)
Campaign for America's Future goes to bat against Rep. McCrery (R) of Louisiana and hits a triple. Picked up in the Times, the Hill and the Times-Picayune.
See CAF's ad about where McCrery gets his money and who he works for, here.
Rep. McCrery, you'll remember, is the new chairman of the House Ways & Means Social Security Subcommittee who was a down-the-line phase-out man, then hopped into the Conscience Caucus for a few days, then recanted after a self-criticism session at the White House.
I think we know who this fellow works for ...
Cincinnati Enquirer on Rep. Portman's (R) Social Security townhalls in the district: "Pension-reform idea a tough sell."
(ed.note: Thanks to TPM Reader SS for the tip.)
Courtesy of TPM Reader ECK, here's the full text of Administrative Law Judge Steven T. Kessel's ruling upholding the half million dollar fine against United Seniors Association, aka USANext, for sending deceptive mailings intended to fool seniors into believing they were official correspondence from the Social Security Administration.
One of many choice quotes, this one on USANext's persistence as a scofflaw: "[T]he SSA I.G.'s enforcement efforts in this case did not spring fully formed from a blank background. There was a long history of discussion between the SSA I.G. and Respondent [i.e., USANext] in which the SSA I.G. struggled vainly to convince Respondent to curb its practices of sending potentially deceptive mailings to senior citizens. Respondent had been warned on several occasions by the SSA I.G. that its conduct verged on violating or violated the Act. It chose to ignore these warnings."
TPM Readers report in from the field <$NoAd$> on Suite 300 ...
Well, since I work near to 3900 Jermantown Rd I decided to walk over there, in the snow, to check it out.
The directory on the first floor does have "United Seniors Association, Inc" as suite 450. And "O'Neill Marketing Company" as suite 300. Neither address bar seemed to be newer than the rest really.
A quick trip to the 3rd floor found that, in fact, suite 300 is just a large suite with many different companies in it. There's a central reception area and hall ways leading to doors with the names of the businesses on them.
The 4th floor had a door labeled "United Seniors Association Inc Suite 450". That's it. I assume that any sort of suite 450A would have had to been inside suite 450, as I did not see any lettered suites while I was in the building.
My best guess is that they split off some time ago and they were slow to update their website.
I work near O'Neill marketing, so I took my lunch hour to go check them out. I would call it a case of a mouse roaring. 3900 Germantown Rd is a little four story building near Fairfax City. In the lobby, on the orientation board, O'Neill is listed as occupying suite 300, as are about 25 other organizations. The building didn't look that big from the outside, so I trooped upstairs to check out suite 300. Turns out 300 is an incubator. You know the type: start-ups go there, lease some space, share the cost of paying a receptionist, share the copier, share the coffee machine. I am not demeaning organizations that occupy such places. My former company started at one and is now doing quite well... good way of keeping down overhead. A nice person in the elevator told me that 300 is a kind of "mish-mash" of things; people come and go all the time. USA is indeed listed in 450, but, how can I put this? They aren't welcoming visitors.
So who's holding Social Security meetings in their district?
Well, in New York state apparently no one with an 'R' after their name.
In This Together is a pro-Social Security coalition in New York (here's a list of the organizations in the group). Alex Navarro is the group's communications director; and he tells me that as near as they have been able to ascertain not one Republican in New York state is holding a meeting this week.
Democrats, lotsa meetings. Republicans, no meetings. Hard to imagine.
One of the things that makes it hard to find out precisely is that Republicans who are holding meetings don't seem too eager to publicize them. And Navarro makes clear that this was what they could figure out "from a round of calls to their offices at the end of last week."
So, if anyone knows different, do let us know. But until we hear otherwise, New York may be the Empire state. But it ain't got no Republican gladiators.
Did they pay up or slip the noose?
This from an August 2003 bulletin from the Social Security Administration ...
Penalty Upheld Against United Seniors Association, Inc. [aka USANext] for Misleading Advertising
Judge Denies Appeal of $554,196 Civil Monetary Penalty
On August 8, a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Appeals Board Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued a ruling upholding the imposition of a $554,196 civil monetary penalty against the United Seniors Association, Inc. (USA Inc.). The ALJ found that USA Inc. violated Section 1140 of the Social Security Act, which protects Social Security program words and symbols from being used in a misleading manner. Over the course of several years, USA Inc. mailed solicitations to senior citizens in envelopes that appeared to be from, approved, endorsed or authorized by SSA. USA Inc. targeted these solicitations to senior citizens with envelopes that included such terminology as âSOCIAL SECURITY ALERTâ in prominent, red type. USA Inc. consistently refused to cooperate with OIGâs compliance efforts over the course of 5 years. Therefore, OCIG proposed the penalty, and the parties had a full evidentiary hearing in April 2003. The ALJâs August 8th ruling found that: USA, Inc. had âdeliberately contravened the law,â the $554,196 penalty was reasonable, and USAâs envelopes created a âserious threat to the ability of the Social Security Administration to communicate freely with the public.â USA Inc. has the right to appeal the ALJâs decision to the full HHS Departmental Appeals Board.