Friday, January 24, 2014

Not All Business is Good for America

from the Washington Examiner
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a politically entrenched synod of special interests. These fat cats do not represent the best interests of American entrepreneurs, American workers, American parents and students, or Americans of any race, class or age who believe in low taxes and limited government. The chamber's business is the big business of the Beltway, not the business of mainstream America.

If you are a business owner who believes your country should strictly and consistently enforce its borders and deport illegal immigrants who violate the terms of their visas, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn't represent you.

If you are a worker who believes the feds should punish illegal aliens who use fake documents to obtain jobs instead of rewarding them with "legal status," the U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn't champion you.

If you are a parent or educator who opposes top-down federal education schemes such as Common Core that undermine local control, dumb down rigorous curricula and threaten family privacy while enriching big business and lobbying groups, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn't speak for you.

If you are a taxpayer who has had enough of crony capitalism and publicly funded bailouts of failing corporations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn't work for you.

Last year, the chamber poured more than $52 million into K Street lobbying efforts on behalf of illegal alien amnesty, federal education Common Core programs and increased federal spending. This year, chamber bigwigs are paving the perilous pathway to GOP capitulation. The Left hardly needs to lift a finger against Tea Party candidates and activists who are bravely challenging the big government status quo. The chamber has already volunteered to spend $50 million subsidizing the Republican incumbency protection racket and attacking anti-establishment conservatives.

Allow me to say, "I told you so." In 2010, when President Obama hypocritically attacked the chamber for accepting "foreign donations" just before the midterm elections, many on the Right rushed to the group's side. But as I warned then, the purported enemy of my enemy is ... sometimes my worst enemy. Barely three months after their Kabuki campaign fight, Obama and the chamber had already kissed and made up.

The chamber joined hands with the AFL-CIO on a joint campaign to support Obama's increased government infrastructure and spending proposals, stuffed with Big Labor payoffs.

The chamber is one of the staunchest promoters of mass illegal immigration, and joined with the AFL-CIO and American Civil Liberties Union to oppose immigration enforcement measures.

The chamber opposed E-Verify and sued Arizona over its employer sanctions law.

The chamber supported a pro-Obamacare, pro-TARP, pro-stimulus, pro-amnesty Democrat in Arizona over his free-market GOP challenger.

The chamber supported the George W. Bush/Obama TARP, the Bush/Obama auto bailout and the billion-dollar, pork-stuffed stimulus.

This isn't about letting the best ideas and businesses thrive. It's about picking winners and losers. It's about "managing" competition and engineering political outcomes under the guise of stimulating the economy and supporting "commerce." What's in it for the statist businesses that go along for the ride with Obama and his team of corruptocrats? Like they say in the Windy City: It's all about the boodle — publicly subsidized payoffs meted out to the corruptocrats' friends and special interests.

In the case of Common Core, the chamber has made common cause with the left-wing, corporate-bashing Center for American Progress in a new Bootleggers-and-Baptists coalition. They are seemingly strange bedfellows who both profit from increased federal government intervention. For giant corporate publishers such as Pearson and other big-business ventures backed by the chamber, it's all about cashing in on the public schools' Common Core captive guinea pigs in testing, teaching, data collection and data analysis.

For big government advocacy groups such as CAP, it's all about diminishing state, local and parental control over local education and curricular decisions; expanding Washington's regulatory reach into the classroom; and ensuring the perpetuation of the Fed Ed bureaucracy.

When businesses get in the government handout line, it's not a "public-private partnership." It's corporate welfare. Venture socialism. Whatever you call it, it stinks as much under Democrat administrations as it does under Republican ones.

Always beware of Washington business-boosters wearing false free-market facades.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Big Brother's Eye in the Sky is Over APGEA

from the Washington Post
They will look like two giant white blimps floating high above I-95 in Maryland, perhaps en route to a football game somewhere along the bustling Eastern Seaboard. But their mission will have nothing to do with sports and everything to do with war.

The aerostats — that is the term for lighter-than-air craft that are tethered to the ground — are to be set aloft on Army-owned land about 45 miles northeast of Washington, near Aberdeen Proving Ground, for a three-year test slated to start in October. From a vantage of 10,000 feet, they will cast a vast radar net from Raleigh, N.C., to Boston and out to Lake Erie, with the goal of detecting cruise missiles or enemy aircraft so they could be intercepted before reaching the capital.

Aerostats deployed by the military at U.S. bases in Iraq and Afghanistan typically carried powerful surveillance cameras as well, to track the movements of suspected insurgents and even U.S. soldiers. When Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales murdered 16 civilians in Kandahar in March 2012, an aerostat above his base captured video of him returning from the slaughter in the early-morning darkness with a rifle in his hand and a shawl over his shoulders.

Defense contractor Raytheon last year touted an exercise in which it outfitted the aerostats planned for deployment in suburban Baltimore with one of the company’s most powerful high-altitude surveillance systems, capable of spotting individual people and vehicles from a distance of many miles.

The Army said it has “no current plans” to mount such cameras or infrared sensors on the aerostats or to share information with federal, state or local law enforcement, but it declined to rule out either possibility. The radar system that is planned for the aerostats will be capable of monitoring the movement of trains, boats and cars, the Army said.

The prospect of military-grade tracking technology floating above suburban Baltimore — along one of the East Coast’s busiest travel corridors — has sparked privacy concerns at a time of rising worry about the growth of government eavesdropping in the dozen years since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

“That’s the kind of massive persistent surveillance we’ve always been concerned about with drones,” said Jay Stanley, a privacy expert for the American Civil Liberties Union. “It’s part of this trend we’ve seen since 9/11, which is the turning inward of all of these surveillance technologies.”

The Army played down such concerns in written responses to questions posed by The Washington Post, saying its goal is to test the ability of the aerostats to bolster the region’s missile-defense capability, especially against low-flying cruise missiles that can be hard for ground-based systems to detect in time to intercept them.

The Army determined it did not need to conduct a Privacy Impact Assessment, required for some government programs, because it was not going to collect any personally identifiable information, officials said in their written responses to The Post.

“The primary mission . . . is to track airborne objects,” the Army said. “Its secondary mission is to track surface moving objects such as vehicles or boats. The capability to track surface objects does not extend to individual people.”

Even the most powerful overhead surveillance systems, experts say, struggle to make out individual faces or other identifying features such as license plates because of the extreme angles when viewing an area from above.

But privacy advocates say location information can easily lead to the identification of individuals if collected on a mass scale and analyzed over time.

Researchers have found that people vary their movements little day to day, typically traveling from home to work and back while also regularly visiting a small number of other locations, such as stores, gyms or the homes of friends.

Aerostats’ range

The aerostats planned for Maryland will have radar capable of detecting airborne objects from up to 340 miles away and vehicles on the surface from up to 140 miles away — as far south as Richmond, as far west as Cumberland, Md., and as far north as Staten Island. The Army declined to say what size vehicles can be sensed from those distances.

“If it’s able to track vehicles, that is problematic,” said Jennifer Lynch of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group. “You could imagine a scenario in which the location information can reveal where you go to church, what doctor you’re going to, whether you’re cheating on your wife, all those types of details. . . . Once a surveillance technology is put up, it’s very tempting for law enforcement or the military to use it for reasons they did not originally disclose.”

Technologies developed for battlefields — weapons, vehicles, communications systems — long have flowed homeward as overseas conflicts have ended. The battles that followed the Sept. 11 attacks have produced major advances in surveillance equipment whose manufacturers increasingly are looking to expand their use within the United States.

Aerostats — basically big balloons on strings — grew popular in Iraq and Afghanistan and also are used by Israel to monitor the Gaza Strip and by the United States to eye movement along southern border areas. Even a rifle shot through an aerostat will not bring it down, because the pressure of the helium inside nearly matches the pressure of the air outside, preventing rapid deflation.

TCOM, a Columbia, Md.-based company that Raytheon hired to manufacture the aerostats planned for the upcoming deployment, said business is growing for smaller, tactical systems that can be used in sensitive border or harbor areas.

“When you need persistent surveillance in a particular area, there is no better solution than the aerostat because it’s there all the time,” said Ron Bendlin, TCOM’s president.

The Defense Department spent nearly $7 billion on 15 different lighter-than-air systems between 2007 and 2012, with several suffering from technical problems, delays and unexpectedly high costs, the Government Accountability Office found in an October 2012 report .

The system planned for Maryland is called JLENS, short for Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System. The system has had setbacks, including rising costs and an accident in 2010 that damaged one of the aerostats at a facility in North Carolina.

A GAO report in March put the total development costs for JLENS at $2.7 billion. Once expected to provide 16 systems, each consisting of two aerostats and accompanying ground controls, only two of these systems have been built, the one scheduled to fly in Maryland and a second sitting in storage in Utah.

Raytheon, the prime contractor on the project, declined numerous interview requests about the JLENS system and, after requesting questions in writing, also declined to answer those.

The military has no concrete plans to build more JLENS systems, though supporters of the program have not given up hope of reviving support.

“They are bringing this to the East Coast, close to Washington, to get the Pentagon guys and Congress to say, ‘Whoa, we could really use this,’ ” said Daniel Goure of the Lexington Institute, a military think tank with ties to the defense industry. “This is re-purposing. You’ve already spent the money.”

Tests in Utah

The JLENS aerostats can stay in the air continuously for up to 30 days and have shown the ability in tests to track fast-moving objects in flight. The JLENS radar systems also can detect what security experts call “swarming boats,” the kind of small, agile watercraft that, when loaded with explosives, can threaten ships.

The aerostat system destined for use outside Baltimore has spent the past few years based at the Utah Test and Training Range, in the vast, parched salt flats west of Salt Lake City.

Residents of the area complained less about privacy issues than the militarization of the airspace. Testing of the JLENS involved small aircraft that raced through the sky, mimicking the flight of missiles. The radar systems were supposed to track them and help firing systems home in on the moving targets. The aerostats themselves were not armed.

The Army said similar tests will not be conducted while the aerostats are deployed in suburban Baltimore.

As the aerostats hover above the area, they will be visible — at least faintly — for dozens of miles in any direction. To fans seated in the stands behind home plate at Orioles games in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, more than 15 miles away, they will probably appear as two white dots hovering in the sky beyond the historic brick warehouse at Camden Yards.

The JLENS system will require pilots to take precautions in flights through the area; the Federal Aviation Administration is creating a “special use airspace” for the three-year test period, the Army said.

There also will be “minor adverse impacts” on the bald eagle population in the vicinity of Aberdeen Proving Ground, which sits among the highest density of nests for the iconic birds in the Chesapeake Bay region, according to an Army environmental assessment.

One of the two base stations for the aerostats will breach a 500-meter perimeter established to protect a nest used by a pair of bald eagles. The environmental assessment says that if those eagles are disturbed or killed because of the proximity of the JLENS base station or related construction, it would qualify as a legally permissible “incidental take” of the species.

In a bid to demonstrate the long-term utility of JLENS to potential customers, Raytheon organized and paid for an exercise at a Utah test range in which it outfitted an aerostat with a spherical MTS-B sensor, often used by the Air Force and Customs and Border Protection to conduct overhead surveillance from drones. The exact capabilities of the MTS-B are classified, military officials said, but engineers familiar with the technology said its electro-optical and infrared sensors probably can detect individuals from more than 20 miles away.

For the Raytheon test, the MTS-B spotted a person pretending to be a terrorist planting an improvised roadside bomb, even though the view was obscured by smoke from a nearby forest fire, according to a Raytheon news release from January 2013. Operators could see live feeds of “trucks, trains and cars from dozens of miles away.”

The Army described the MTS-B test as “a contractor conducted demonstration” and said that only Raytheon could provide details. The company declined to do so, referring all questions to the Army.

Activists in Utah critical of the aerostat testing there said they were never alerted to the testing or to potential privacy issues for the test of Raytheon’s surveillance sensors.

“I’m positive that was never raised,” said Steve Erickson of the Citizens Education Project, based in Salt Lake City. “Privacy was just not an issue, in part because of the remoteness of the place.”
See HERE for a video.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Transitioning America to Single Payer Health Care System Already Built Into Obamacare

from the Weekly Standard
Robert Laszewski—a prominent consultant to health insurance companies—recently wrote in a remarkably candid blog post that, while Obamacare is almost certain to cause insurance costs to skyrocket even higher than it already has, “insurers won’t be losing a lot of sleep over it.” How can this be? Because insurance companies won’t bear the cost of their own losses—at least not more than about a quarter of them. The other three-quarters will be borne by American taxpayers.

For some reason, President Obama hasn’t talked about this particular feature of his signature legislation. Indeed, it’s bad enough that Obamacare is projected by the Congressional Budget Office to funnel $1,071,000,000,000.00 (that’s $1.071 trillion) over the next decade (2014 to 2023) from American taxpayers, through Washington, to health insurance companies. It’s even worse that Obamacare is trying to coerce Americans into buying those same insurers’ product (although there are escape routes). It’s almost unbelievable that it will also subsidize those same insurers’ losses.

But that’s exactly what it will do—unless Republicans take action. As Laszewski explains, Obamacare contains a “Reinsurance Program that caps big claim costs for insurers (individual plans only).” He writes that “in 2014, 80% of individual costs between $45,000 and $250,000 are paid by the government [read: by taxpayers], for example.”

In other words, insurance purchased through Obamacare’s government-run exchanges isn’t even full-fledged private insurance; rather, it’s a sort of private-public hybrid. Private insurance companies pay for costs below $45,000, then taxpayers generously pick up the tab—a tab that their president hasn’t ever bothered to tell them he has opened up on their behalf—for four-fifths of the next $200,000-plus worth of costs. In this way, and so many others, Obamacare takes a major step toward the government monopoly over American medicine (“single payer”) that liberals drool about in their sleep.

Laszewski adds, “The reinsurance program has done and will continue to do what it was intended to do; help attract and keep more carriers in Obamacare than might have otherwise come.” Thus, Obamacare is being aided by having taxpayers subsidize big insurance companies’ business expenses. (Who could ever have guessed that big government and big business might be natural allies?)

But, amazingly, it doesn’t stop there. Laszewski writes that Obamacare also contains a “Risk Corridor Program that limits overall losses for insurers.” So insurers not only don’t have to pay out all of their costs; they also don’t have to swallow all of their losses.

Laszewski explains that if an insurance company expects its costs in a given year to be X, and those costs end up being more than X plus 2 percent, taxpayers will come to that insurance company’s rescue—thanks to Obamacare. In fact, once an insurance company covers that initial 2 percent in unexpected costs, taxpayers will cover at least 80 percent of any additional costs the insurer accrues.

Laszewski provides a couple of examples to help illustrate taxpayers’ unwitting generosity toward these “participating health plans” (plans sold through Obamacare’s government-run exchanges):

“[I]f the health plan has costs at 110% of the medical cost target [the costs that the insurer expects to accrue], it will be responsible for only 102.4% of the target (a 2.4% shortfall)—only about a quarter of its losses.

“If the health plan’s medical costs come in at 120% of the expected claim cost target level, the health plan will only be responsible for 104.4% of the target (a 4.4% shortfall)—again only about a quarter of its losses.”

It’s actually only about a fifth in this example, as taxpayers would cover 78 percent of the losses, with the insurer covering just 22 percent.

Importantly, Laszewski (who’s in a position to know) says that “my sense is that health plans, because they are so insulated from big losses, will generally stand pat with their 2014 rate structures for 2015—no matter how bad the early claims experience looks. I expect that the health insurance industry will be content to give the Obama administration one more chance to reboot Obamacare in the fall of 2014, when the 2015 open enrollment takes place.”

In other words, because taxpayers will bail them out (through both the “Reinsurance Program” and the “Risk Corridor Program”), insurers won’t raise their premiums as much for 2015 as they otherwise would in response to the sicker, older risk pools that Obamacare is clearly attracting. This in turn will make Obamacare look better going forward than it should and will give its government-run exchanges another good swing at the “young invincibles,” who so far don’t seem too enamored with the product that Obama and his insurance cronies are hawking.

All of this puts two things in sharp relief: First, Republicans should attach a no-bailout provision to any debt-ceiling increase—as Charles Krauthammer has suggested—along with a provision delaying Obamacare’s liberty-sapping individual mandate (the delay of which would further undermine Obamacare’s exchanges). Second, Obamacare needs to be comprehensively repealed in January 2017, not modified or “fixed”—and Republicans need to advance a winning alternative to pave the way to that crucial result.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Where is Governor O'Malley?

from the Washington Post
THERE’S NOW a preliminary price tag on Maryland’s failure to roll out a functional health-insurance Web site: $5 million to $10 million. That’s an estimate of how much it will cost the state to offer emergency health coverage to people who couldn’t sign up on Maryland’s online Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace before Jan. 1. Extending last-minute coverage to these people is the right thing to do. But it’s not a substitute for a working Web site, nor for holding the state’s leaders to account.

For months, Marylanders have encountered error after error when trying to use the Maryland Health Connection, which was supposed to serve as their primary interface with the ACA. One bug gave definition to the word infuriating, freezing the site just as users were about to click the “enroll” button. The number of people who managed to sign up for private insurance through the marketplace has just surpassed 20,000, and that relatively low figure came only after recent site improvements resulted in a late increase in enrollments. It is also very far from the state’s goal of 150,000 sign-ups by the end of March.

The ACA was supposed to transform insurance shopping from confusing and opaque to simple, open and user-friendly, with the goal of encouraging lots of people to sign up and enjoy the security of health coverage. Instead, the experience was so bad in Maryland that people couldn’t complete applications, and some of them are now or soon will be on the hook for high medical costs incurred since the beginning of the year, with no way to get coverage that takes effect before next month.

That’s why Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) submitted emergency legislation that would offer people inadvertently stuck without insurance the option of temporary coverage, and make it retroactive to Jan. 1. The plan would avoid any further Web site glitches by using the infrastructure of an older, established Maryland insurance program that operated independently of the ACA. Eventually, participants will have to move into a more functional marketplace. Giving uninsured Marylanders a functional bridge to the new system is only fair. State leaders must, however, make sure that it doesn’t undercut the final phase-in of the ACA.

That means the Web site must improve, and fast, so that the average person can get through it without hassle and so that insurers get all the information they need to enroll applicants. It’s not there yet. After months of mess, the people of Maryland also need an explanation. Why didn’t state leaders — such as Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D), the state’s health-reform point-man — know that the site was such a disaster before launch? Which contractors, and which state officials, should have spoken up? It’s not too early for this discussion. The Obama administration just fired one of its major contractors. What has Maryland done?
I wonder why the Baltimore Sun, Washington Post, et al, can't bring themselve's to blame the Governor for this debacle? Actually, no I don't. Can anyone say, "In the tank?"

Friday, January 10, 2014

Corporate Kleptocrat Republicans Vow to Crush Tea Party Wing

from Bloomberg
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce plans aggressive efforts to back “pro-business” candidates, some of whom will face Tea Party opponents in Republican primary elections this year, Tom Donohue, the group’s president, said today.

The U.S. Chamber, the nation’s largest business-lobbying group and a traditional supporter of Republicans, has in recent years squared off against lawmakers aligned with the Tea Party on issues including trade, U.S. Export-Import Bank reauthorization and the federal budget.

In 2014, the chamber will work to protect and expand a pro-business majority in the House and advance our position and our influence in the Senate,” Donohue said in his annual State of American Business speech in Washington. “The business community understands what’s at stake.”

Donohue cited as a model his group’s successful backing in November of a candidate for an open Alabama congressional seat over a self-described Tea Party activist. Donohue said the organization will support candidates who favor trade, energy development and immigration reform.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television today, Donohue said the chamber’s disagreement isn’t with the Tea Party as it was “originally established” to promote small government. Rather, he said, it’s with politicians who have “hitched their trailer to the Tea Party wagon.” Those lawmakers, whom he declined to name, want to shut down the government and not pay U.S. debt, he said on BTV’s “Market Makers” with Stephanie Ruhle and Erik Schatzker.

Tea-Party Response

His comments drew a frustrated response from some Tea Party groups which the chamber could find itself pitted against in coming elections -- signaling the growing divide on the political right.

The chamber’s “disconnect” with other Republican groups is its “pro-big-business agenda,” said Dan Holler, a spokesman for Heritage Action for America, a Washington nonprofit that advocates for smaller government and is affiliated with the Heritage Foundation think tank led by former South Carolina Republican Senator Jim DeMint.

“If they just wanted to let the private sector thrive, the chamber would have no better friends than conservatives and Tea Party folks,” he said. “If they’re instead content to see business as usual in Washington, that’s where they will run into a ton of resistance not only from conservatives but also independents.”

Incumbent Protection

Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, another Washington group that often aligns with Tea Party candidates, said the chamber and the Tea Party could find agreement in supporting free-enterprise advocates.

“But it looks to me like the chamber is more interested in protecting incumbents and the special deals of some of their members, and that’s where we’re going to disagree in primaries,” Kibbe said.

One early show of the intra-Republican battle will be in Kentucky, where the chamber is backing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell while such groups as the Senate Conservatives Fund -- which helped elect Texas Senator Ted Cruz in 2012 -- prefer businessman and first-time candidate Matt Bevin.

Scorecard Influence

In December, House Speaker John Boehner lashed out at some of the Tea Party-related groups for pressuring lawmakers to oppose a budget deal.

“They’re using our members, and they’re using the American people for their own goals,” he said. “This is ridiculous.”

Illinois Republican Representative John Shimkus praised Boehner for his comments in a meeting with Bloomberg News reporters and editors in Washington today.

“The majority of the conference needed to hear John be a little more exercised about this,” he said. “And then our moderates really needed to hear some vocal support out of the leadership that their concerns were being heard.”

Shimkus, who doesn’t face a primary challenger, also said the “scorecards” some conservative groups, including Heritage Action and the Club for Growth, amass on lawmakers are less influential than even a few months ago. “A lot of people now don’t care as much,” he said.

“Who’s John Shimkus?” Club for Growth spokesman Barney Keller asked when a reporter sought his response. “If we’re so irrelevant, how come members spend so much time talking about us?”

Donohue Speech

Donohue said his group will work to ensure that lawmakers pass laws that the business group favors during an election year, when legislation is often difficult to pass.

“We hope to turn that assumption on its ear by turning the upcoming elections into a motivation for change,” he said.

“We’re determined to make 2014 the year that immigration reform is finally enacted,” he said. “The chamber will pull out all of the stops -- through grassroots lobbying, communications, politics, and partnerships with our friends in unions and faith-based organizations and law enforcement groups and others -- to get this job done.”

Donohue vowed to back trade-promotion authority, sought by President Barack Obama’s administration to smooth passage of agreements, and he said his group would work to fix what it deems to be flaws in the Affordable Care Act.
Health Care

His speech encompassed issues including education, energy, entitlement spending, health care, regulations, tax policy and trade. Donohue said the U.S. has an “unrivaled opportunity” to become an energy exporter, and he told reporters afterward that he favors lifting the nation’s 1970s-era restrictions on crude oil exports.

He acknowledged that the chamber won’t be able “to get rid of” the health-care law, and instead pledged to pursue efforts such as repealing or altering the measure’s mandate for businesses to provide insurance.

While the U.S. business climate is “improving and our economy is gaining strength,” Donohue said, “misguided government policies have also slowed our growth and cost Americans a lot of jobs and a lot of raises.”

“This year we have an opportunity to turn the page,” he said.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Pay to Play - Maryland Style

from Change Maryland
Change Maryland today released the final report on their independent investigation into allegations of unethical relationships between state contractors and the O’Malley-Brown administration during the Governor’s leadership of the Democratic Governors Association (DGA).

Change Maryland identified over five million dollars worth of questionable donations to the DGA from 28 state contractors in multiple industries including healthcare, energy, gambling, transportation, and communications between 2011 and 2013. It was during this time that Governor O’Malley led the fundraising efforts of the national political organization.

“Our research reveals a disturbing pattern from this administration that is at the very least unethical and inappropriate,” said Larry Hogan, founder and Chairman of Change Maryland. “The people of Maryland deserve to know the truth about these donations and the state decisions that may have been influenced. Did the Governor solicit large contributions to help further his national aspirations and reward those donors with huge state contracts and favorable decisions?”

Recognizing the inappropriate and unethical nature of these relationships, state law prohibits state contractors from making contributions to an elected officials campaign account. The evidence in this report indicates the possibility of a deliberate, coordinated effort by this administration to to circumvent the intent of the law by soliciting unlimited contributions to a federal, rather than state account.

“Allowing a ‘pay-to-play’ culture of corruption to take a stronghold in our state government threatens every business and individual in Maryland,” Hogan said. “Even the perception of this practice prevents an honest and fair bidding process for all job creators who may wish to contract with the state. It allows complicit politicians to hijack millions, and even billions in taxpayer dollars that could serve a greater purpose, both in the government and in the wallets of struggling Maryland families.”

“Unfortunately, this culture of corruption is enabled when you have a political monopoly with no checks and balances,” Hogan continued. “For almost eight years, this administration has run amuck without any accountability, and it’s Maryland’s working families who have paid the price. This is just the tip of the iceberg – we believe these allegations seriously warrant further investigation.”

Change Maryland was founded by Hogan in 2011 to advocate for fiscally responsible government and provide an opportunity for average Marylanders to hold their elected officials accountable. The organization gained national recognition in 2012 for its Tax Migration Study that showed 31,000 Marylanders leaving the state following the O’Malley-Brown administration’s historic tax increases. The group has released several other investigative studies detailing the economic decline in Maryland, including a comprehensive report of 40 consecutive tax increases, 6,500 lost small businesses, and a 100% increase in unemployment.