CEO Says FBI Is Investigating Rep. Cooper

The CEO of an electric cooperative trade group alleged during testimony at a hearing Thursday that Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) is under investigation by the FBI for accessing the group


House Oversight Hearing on Tanker Contract Scheduled for July 15

Congressional interest in the Air Force's much-contested aerial refueling tanker contract is expanding. The House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on July 15 to examine the actions of the Air Force in awarding the contract to Northrop Grumman and EADS North America. Boeing lost to the two companies and has successfully protested the award with the Government Accountability Office.

-Roxana Tiron

Boehner Calls for Countrywide Hearings

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) called for hearings on the Countrywide Financial program that gave mortgages to Sens. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.).

Both Dodd and Conrad received mortgages through the Friends of Angelo program, named after Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo.

"Before the House moves forward on a massive housing bailout at the expense of every American taxpayer, there are significant questions that must be answered about the Friends of Angelo program and the sweetheart loans provided to key Democratic lawmakers," Boehner said in a statement. "[House Financial Services Committee] Chairman [Barney] Frank (D-Mass.) and [House] Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi (D-Calif.) should begin immediate hearings to examine the special VIP housing perks that Countrywide gave powerful congressional Democrats at the same time it was hiking mortgage rates on American families. I am also concerned by news reports suggesting that banks wrote the bailout provisions of this bill to allow them to cherry-pick the mortgages that are least likely to be repaid and dump the debt on taxpayers. Surely Democrats in Congress believe our highest responsibility is to the American people, not their campaign contributors."

Boehner also noted a report in the Washington Post revealing that banks worked with Democrats to write parts of the $300 billion housing bailout bill, which is now before the Senate.

"[D]emocrats who receive sweetheart deals from their campaign contributors shouldnt be pushing legislation forcing taxpayers to bankroll a $300 billion bailout of scam artists and speculators, and the American people have every right to demand answers if they do," Boehner said in his statement.

Download a copy of Boehner's letter to Frank here.

Report: Justice Dept. Illegally Screened Out Liberals from Hiring Process

The Justice Department illegally favored conservative candidates for its entry-level honors program, according to a new report by the department's own inspector general and ethics office.

The report, released Tuesday, found that a group working under Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2002 allowed political appointees to take over the screening committee responsible for interviewing and selecting candidates. In the past, the less partisan career department employees had run the selection process.

Download the report here.

Rep. Waxman Asks Bush to Declassify Information on Plans for Bases in Iraq

House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) today called on President Bush to declassify information regarding plans for U.S. military bases in Iraq, expressing concern about speculation of permanent bases.

The administration's critics have speculated that Bush intends to establish permanent bases, as the administration pushes for a security deal between the U.S. and Iraq. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, the top U.S. diplomat in Iraq, has denied any such plans.

In a letter to Bush today, Waxman asked that "in light of these [Crocker's] statements, I respectfully request that you exercise your authority under Executive Order 12958 to declassify information regarding the plans for military bases in Iraq."

"Mr. President, many Americans believe that a plan exists to establish military bases in Iraq that will remain indefinitely.


U.S. Ambassador to Albania Aided Arms Cover Up, State Dept. Official Alleges

The U.S. ambassador to Albania may have personally approved an effort to cover up the illegal Chinese origins of ammunition shipped to Afghanistan, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said today.

Furthermore, the State Department withheld that information from the committee when it looked into the matter in April, Waxman says.

Major Larry Harrison, the Chief of the Office of Defense Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy in Albania, told Waxman's committee in a June 9 interview that the ambassador had met with Albania's defense minister in November 2007, and that the two decided to aid AEY, Inc. in its destruction of Chinese packaging housing ammunition it was sending to Afghanistan, Waxman said today.

AEY's 22-year old president was indicted last week under allegations of illegally sending Chinese ammo to Afghanistan under government contract. AEY received $300 million in federal contracts.

Harrison also alleged that his input was redacted from a State Department report on the embassy's involvement with AEY. The committee had asked the embassy for information in April, and embassy officials denied his input from a briefing, Harrison alleged.

In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Waxman today asked that the ambassador and five other embassy officials give transcribed interviews to the committee no later than July 11.

Bond: 'This Bud's Not For You'

Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) slammed the proposed takeover of Anheuser-Busch by Belgian-based InBev.

"My Missouri constituents say, 'This Bud's not for you,'" Bond told InBev's chairman, Carlos Brito, according to a release from Bond's office.

The takeover would lead to job losses for Missouri and hurt the St. Louis community, which depends on Anheuser-Busch's charitable works, Bond said.

Bond has also asked the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission to review whether the deal meets acquisition regulations.

Missouri's junior senator, Claire McCaskill (D), also opposes the deal, which is worth about $46.3 billion. Directors at Anheuser-Busch, brewer of Budweiser, said they would evaluate the offer, made earlier this month. InBev has proposed paying $65 a share.

CFTC Limits Oil Speculation, Responding to Senators' Call

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today announced it would limit the trading of oil futures after a bipartisan group of senators called for such a measure earlier this month.

Democratic and Republican senators had alleged that futures speculation has helped to drive up the price of oil.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), one of the senators who led the call, lauded the decision today in a press release.



Waxman Requests Probe into Iraq Contracts

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) today asked the Defense Department to investigate what he says may be thousands of criminal cases involving fraudulent contracting in Iraq.

Waxman's committee received a report in May from Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General for Audit Mary Ugone finding that the U.S. Army had not provided enough documentation for its disbursements in Iraq, Egypt, and Kuwait. The audit centered on concerns of waste, fraud, and abuse related to over $10.7 billion in Army payments.

More than 7,000 of the audited transactions may indicate criminal behavior, Waxman said today in a letter to DoD Inspector General Claude Kicklighter.

In the letter, Waxman officially requested an investigation and asked Kicklighter to make recommendations to DoD and Congress on how to identify, investigate, and prosecute criminal activity in Army contracting in Iraq.

Waxman Threatens Contempt Vote for EPA Administrator, White House Official

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chariman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) says his committee will consider voting on whether or not to hold Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Stephen Johnson and White House official Susan Dudley in contempt for failing to turn over subpoenaed documents relating to the EPA's 2007 California emissions decision.

Last month Waxman released e-mails and testimony that, he said, proved White House involvement in the decision. Waxman subpoenaed the EPA in April, demanding documents related to the decision.

In 2007 the EPA denied California's 2005 request to enforce stricter regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. California sued the EPA over the decision in January.

Waxman has battled with the EPA over documents repeatedly since fall, publicly blasting the agency as it has missed deadlines set by the chairman for their release.