8:37 AM, Jun 17, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
Neil S. Rodgers, a former D.C. government official, was sentenced Tuesday for his role in the misappropriation of $110,000 earmarked for D.C.'s Children at Risk and Drug Prevention Fund to cover a deficit for the 51st State Inaugural Ball for President Obama's inauguration in 2009. Rodgers, found guilty of fraud in March, was sentenced to 36 days (served on weekends) plus two years of probation. Rodgers must also repay the entire $110,000 as restitution for his crime.
In 2008, as arrangements were underway for inauguration celebrations, the Washington City Paper reported on former council member Harry Thomas Jr.'s early plans for the 51st State Inaugural Ball, noting that "there would have to be a plan to raise funds for the event, and security and cleanup concerns would also have to dealt with. Thomas says all that will be taken care of; he says he plans to seek private donations to cover the difference between the event's cost and the revenues raised by the $51 ticket cost." Donations, however, came up short. Justice Department officials described Rodgers's role in the misappropriation scheme in a Tuesday press release:
“Neil Rodgers worked with former D.C. Council member Harry Thomas to perpetrate a fraud that diverted money from at-risk children to throw a black-tie ball for adults,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Cohen. “His conviction at trial brings to seven the number of people convicted as part of Harry Thomas’s chronic abuse of the public trust. Neil Rodgers refused to acknowledge that there was anything wrong in the cavalier way that he and Harry Thomas stole from a program for children. He now will be required to pay back every penny he stole from the children of the District. Those children, who were most harmed by this, deserve better from our public officials.”
“Today, Mr. Rodgers accepted his penalty for illegally steering money meant to fund District of Columbia government programs to pay for a Presidential inauguration party,” said Assistant Director in Charge McCabe. “The FBI and our partners at the IRS have worked countless hours to investigate the trail of money that was intended to help youth in the District and how the corrupt actions of a public servant resulted in a loss to the community he served.”
Thomas and Rodgers mischaracterized the ball as a youth event to convince the private-public partnership organization in charge of funding the ball to cover the approximate $100,000 shortfall. That organization used the Children at Risk and Drug Prevention Fund to pay off creditors. The conspirators used "multiple copies of budgets and supporting narratives" to fool the organization into approving use of that fund to pay the remaining bills.
Six others have already pled guilty in cases involving the activities of Thomas, who himself pled guilty to misuse of $375,000 in taxpayer dollars intended for arts and youth programs. Thomas was forced to resign his seat and served 38-months in prison.
According to the Washington City Paper, Thomas said of the ball's location at the John A. Wilson Building, the D.C. government seat, "Why not use the people's building for a people's purpose?" But in the end, both Thomas and Rodgers used the people's money for their own purposes, a decision that ultimately landed both men in jail.
5:55 PM, Apr 20, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
Bill de Blasio is trying to insert himself into the foreign policy arena. The New York City mayor, more specifically, has commented on the deaths of refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
"Drowning deaths off Libya are a man-made tragedy. EU must get serious about tackling the problem at the root and caring for those at home," de Blasio says on Twitter.
8:19 AM, Apr 17, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
Although "life-sized roaring, breathing dinosaurs" may not typically be found at a Presidential Center, visitors to the Clinton Presidential Center will soon find not just one but thirteen of the prehistoric creatures as part of Dinosaurs Around the World,
11:51 AM, Dec 18, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama quietly issued 12 pardons and 8 commutations late yesterday afternoon, which happened to be one of the busiest news days of the year.
Here are the dozen folks pardoned:
7:15 AM, Jan 16, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Did Michelle Obama attend an encore presentation of a classified Presidential Daily Briefing this past December? According to the official White House schedule, it would appear so.
6:39 AM, Aug 13, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Washington, D.C. EMS ambulance that accompanies the presidential motorcade, Medic 1, ran out of gas last week, just as President Obama was pulling away from the White House August 8 on his way to a family birthday celebration at a local Indian restaurant:
11:55 AM, Feb 11, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The headline on Ron Fournier's National Journal story warns us to be alert for a "pivot" by the president in his State of the Union address. It seems that regarding the president's Inaugural Address “the perception remains that Obama lost focus on the economy -- the top issue in the minds of most voters. So look for an address Tuesday tilted heavily toward policies pledging action on joblessness, growing the economy and expanding the middle class, White House officials said Friday.”
The PRI is about to regain power. Should we be worried?8:05 AM, Jun 28, 2012 • By JAIME DAREMBLUM
Assuming the polls are correct, Mexico’s notorious Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) will cruise to victory in Sunday’s presidential election and also win at least one chamber of the national legislature. Will this mean a return to the bad old days of authoritarian politics and corrupt deals with drug cartels, as many PRI critics fear? Or will it affirm the strength of Mexico’s young democracy and create a golden opportunity for economic reform?
1:41 PM, Feb 8, 2012 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
When Mitt Romney won the Florida primary last Tuesday by 14 percentage points, how many people in America imagined that when Colorado, Missouri, and Minnesota were contested just seven days later, he would fail to win in any of them?
12:15 AM, Jan 22, 2012 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
One South Carolina factoid I haven't seen commented on elsewhere: Rick Santorum ran closer to Mitt Romney than Romney did to Newt Gingrich. Romney and Gingrich are the front-runners, but any of the three could be the nominee.
Or it could be someone not yet in the race.
Constant campaign mode. 12:00 AM, Sep 2, 2010 • By GARY ANDRES
Last week House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio delivered a stinging critique of the Obama administration’s economic policies. But the White House’s swift and tart reaction to Boehner was both illuminating and sadly predictable.
Everything you needed to know about Obama could have been learned from his campaign.Aug 2, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 43 • By PETER WEHNER
During the 2008 campaign, it was clear that Barack Obama would govern as a liberal on several important issues. But it seemed possible that, at least in other areas, he might govern as what he insisted he was: something of a centrist, pragmatic and reasonable, nonideological and relatively bipartisan.
Barack Obama has managed a rare feat: The longer he holds office, the more he diminishes in stature. Aug 2, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 43 • By JAMES W. CEASER
From charisma to populism—this is the slippery slope down which Barack Obama has been sliding over the past two years. In June 2008, Obama the candidate described his nomination as “the moment when . . . our planet began to heal.” In June 2010, Obama the president promised his partisans he would find an “ass to kick.”
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