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Speaking of huge contributions to politicians from Wall Street, you’d think members of Congress would by now be reluctant to accept donations from the American subsidiary of Swiss giant UBS. The economy looks to be in free-fall and the financial excesses (and dubious accounting) of firms like UBS is one important reason why.
UBS has been implicated in the sub-prime mortgage crisis, having been forced to write down “more than $18 billion in exposure to subprime loans and other risky securities.” Even worse, a Senate committee in July “completed its report on UBS’s role in helping wealthy investors shield money from federal taxes,” the Washington Post recently reported. “The bank also is under scrutiny by the IRS and the Justice Department.”
Yet new campaign disclosure reports show that prominent members of Congress, including members of the Senate Banking Committee and House Financial Services Committee, continue to take in big money from UBS. During the second half of August, the company cut checks for a combined $68,500, money that overwhelmingly went to Republicans. Top recipients (accepting the maximum PAC contribution of $5,000) included Senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, and Congressmen Adam Putnam of Florida, Lamar Smith of Texas, and Pat Tiberi of Ohio. Senator Mel Martinez and House Republican Leader John Boehner each got a check for $2,500 from UBS.
Some Democrats were also more than happy to take UBS’s cash. Getting the $5,000 maximum from the company were Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey (through his personal PAC) and Congressman Rick Boucher of Virginia.
UBS, of course, has connections to Senator John McCain’s campaign through former Senator Phil Gramm, one of the senator’s economic gurus. The McCain campaign ditched Gramm–who has served as a lobbyist for UBS and as vice chairman of its investment banking arm–after he detailed his economic recovery plan, namely that things would get better when Americans stopped whining.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
Fleming awoke in the dark and his room felt loose, sloshing so badly he gripped the bed. From his window there was nothing but a hallway, and if he craned his neck, a blown lightbulb swung into view. The room pitched up and down and for a moment he thought he might be sick. The word “hallway” must have a nautical name. Why didn’t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet he’d failed to read. A glossary. A history of the boat, which would be referred to as a ship. Sunny biographies of the captain and crew, who had always dreamed of this life. Lobotomized histories of the islands they’d visit. Who else had sailed this way. Famous suckwads from the past, slicing through this very water on wooden longships.
A welcome packet, the literary genre most likely to succeed in the new millennium. Why not read about a community you don’t belong to, that doesn’t actually exist, a captain and crew who are, in reality, if that isn’t too much of a downer on your vacation, as indifferent to one another as any set of co-employees at an office or bank? Read doctored personal statements from underpaid crew members — because ocean life pays better than money! — who hate their lives but have been forced to buy into the mythology of working on a boat, separated now from loved ones and friends, growing lonelier by the second, even while they wait on you and follow your every order.
Number of people stopped and frisked by the NYPD in 2011 for “furtive movements”:
The faces of Lego people were growing angrier.
Four people were arrested for using a remote-controlled hexacopter to fly two pounds of tobacco to prisoners inside the yard at Calhoun State Prison in Georgia.
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Our congratulations to Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature