Extra Extra : Politics

Extra Extra Monday: ATF stings, voter fraud and the new subprime bubble

Investigation: ATF drug stings targeted minorities | USA TODAY

The nation's top gun-enforcement agency overwhelmingly targeted racial and ethnic minorities as it expanded its use of controversial drug sting operations, a USA TODAY investigation shows.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has more than quadrupled its use of those stings during the past decade, quietly making them a central part of its attempts to combat gun crime. The operations are designed to produce long prison sentences for suspects enticed by the promise of pocketing as much as $100,000 for robbing a drug stash house that does not ...

Read more ...

Extra Extra Monday: Fatal flaws in Oklahoma’s execution system, absent city council members, teacher misconduct

Fatal Flaws: How Oklahoma’s lethal injection process went wrong | Tulsa World

Nearly 15 years after Stephanie’s murder, Lockett lay dying as her family watched along with a gallery of law enforcement officials, prison administrators and journalists through the window of Oklahoma’s execution chamber.

State officials had promised in court records and interviews that Oklahoma’s new execution protocol would dispatch him swiftly and painlessly. They were so confident in this assurance that Gov. Mary Fallin ordered Lockett to be executed April 29, the same night another convicted killer was set to die.

Lockett’s death didn’t ...

Read more ...

How the VA developed its culture of coverups

The resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki isn’t likely to fix systemic problems at the beleaguered agency, the Washington Post reports.

The VA’s “towering bureaucracy,” once designed to prevent mismanagement and corruption, ultimately allowed it to hide its problems from senior staff.

Scheduling clerks were told to “zero out” wait times. In Phoenix, for instance, official data showed veterans waited an average of 24 days for an appointment. In reality, the average wait was 115 days. Reporter David Fahrenthold explains:

This is how it worked: A patient asked for an appointment on a specific day. Turner ...

Read more ...

Most Wyoming legislators pass one or zero bills

Of the Wyoming Legislature’s 90 members, only 28 lawmakers got one bill passed in this year’s legislative session, according to a Casper Star-Tribune analysis. Thirty-nine didn’t succeed in getting any bills passed. Fourteen didn’t sponsor anything.

But passing bills is only one way to measure a lawmaker’s effectiveness.

“There are a lot of legislators who may be equally effective because they kill bills that wouldn’t be any good,” Karl Kurtz, a political scientist for the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures, told the Star-Tribune.

Read the story here.

Carlyle-owned refiner helps weaken ethanol policy

Competing corn and oil lobbies aren’t the only groups involved in a battle over a policy that could reduce the amount of ethanol refiners have to blend into gasoline. Reuters found that owners of two Philadelphia-area refineries, the Carlyle Group and Delta Air Lines, also played a major role.

Continuing to increase the amount of ethanol required in gasoline could cost thousands of jobs, the refiners and their allies argued. This interactive graphic, created by Reuters, compiles records of lobbyists' meetings with policymakers.

Lobbyists for the oil refiners spent $81 million in 2013. That's more than triple what ...

Read more ...

Billions unaccounted for in Venezuela's communal giveaway program

The unsupervised spending in El Chaparral is symptomatic of a vast community aid effort with lax financial controls. A network of more than 70,000 community groups has received the equivalent of at least $7.9 billion since 2006 from the federal agency that provides much of the financing for the program, Reuters calculates, based on official government reports.

The money is part of a broad government effort called the "communal state" that steers funds to communities, primarily through an outfit called the Autonomous National Fund for Community Councils, or Safonacc. But exactly how much money passes through this system ...

Read more ...

Georgia Bureau of Investigation probes former Douglas County district attorney

According to WAGA - Atlanta, acting Douglas County District Attorney Brian Fortner didn't take long to clear the air and clear the decks. On his second day on the job, Fortner fired office manager Tammie Agan, her sister, her son, and another legal assistant.

An earlier I-Team investigation showed how former District Attorney David McDade used seized drug money to provide perks, high-paying second jobs and internships for Agan and her family.

McDade has always said he has done nothing wrong. Fortner says he expects “further action” in the ongoing Georgia Bureau of Investigation probe into how McDade spent seized ...

Read more ...

Construction contracts given to political-campaign donors

A school board in Florida split up construction work into a number of small contracts it then gave to companies that had donated to the superintendent's political campaign, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.  In doing so, the school board avoided the $2-million threshold in state statute that would have triggered competitive bidding. Read the full story here.

Georgia state House candidate changes his name before the election

WAGA-TV reports a Georgia state House candidate petitioned the court to change his name before qualifying to run for office. Branson Wright says he picked a name he had used in the past that he liked better. Some believe he was trying to hide his past, which included failure to pay child support and obstructing law enforcement.

Watch the report below or view it on the WAGA-TV website.

Fulton commissioners use on-duty police for rides to meetings, appearances

On-duty police officers routinely chauffeur Fulton County commissioners around town in apparent violation of the board’s own policy prohibiting the practice.

Commissioners have asked officers to drive them to the airport, to concerts and to scores of other public events in recent years, even though county rules forbid using police officers to transport elected officials, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation has found.