The Daily Muck

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New details are emerging about the government’s extreme eagerness to ensure that Bank of America didn’t walk away from its deal to buy Merrill Lynch back in December. The Wall Street Journal reports (sub. req.) that Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke threatened that if the deal fell through, the government would remove Bank of America’s directors in the event that it needed more bailout funds. The details suggest the control that the federal government has enjoyed over the financial sector since last fall’s bailout. (Wall Street Journal)

A former employee of the Interior Department was sentenced yesterday to probation and fined $2,000 for his role in a scandal at the Minerals Management Service. Milton Dial received the minimum sentence for one charge of violating federal interest laws and the judge even apologized to Dial for sentencing him at all, saying that, “high executives in our government violate all the time” and go unpunished. Dial’s crime is connected to a wider scandal involving the preferential awarding of contracts by DOI that has already ensnared several current or former department managers. (KATC)

A contractor for the U.S. Army pleaded guilty yesterday to manslaughter after shooting a handcuffed Taliban member in Afghanistan. The case was the first in which a contractor working in either Iraq or Afghanistan was prosecuted under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act of 2000, a law that allows such prosecutions. The case could set a significant precedent for other contractors working abroad. The contractor acted after he heard that the Taliban man had caused significant and eventually fatal injuries to a colleague. (Washington Post)An Ohio man who was indicted on 24 counts of voter fraud has been declared incompetent to stand trial. Antonio Alvande, who was instead sent to Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare, had submitted fraudulent voter registrations for himself and at least eight other people, some of whom were completely made up. While an odd case, Alvande’s actions help further debunk GOP claims of widespread deliberate voter fraud. (NBC4 Columbus)

House Republicans are renewing calls for Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) to step down as the investigation into his finances drags on. While the House Ethics Committee has not yet voted on how to proceed with its probe, the Sunlight Foundation, a watchdog group, has found that Rangel failed to properly report the purchase or sale of assets 28 times since 1978. Rep. John Carter (R-TX) became the most recent House member to call for Rangel’s resignation on Wednesday. (Congressional Quarterly)

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