Posts Tagged ‘Terry McAuliffe’

Facebook will invest $1 billion in Virginia — Gov. Terry McAuliffe: “I am proud to welcome Facebook.”

October 6, 2017


Image result for Gov. Terry McAuliffe, photos

Gov. Terry McAuliffe

Facebook will invest $1 billion in Virginia as part of its plans to establish a 970,000-square-foot data center at White Oak Technology Park in eastern Henrico. The data center will cost $750 million to build and more than $250 million will be invested for the construction of new renewable energy projects.

Facebook is expected to have 100 full-time employees when the data center comes online — probably in 2019 — and construction is expected to create thousands of jobs.

In his remarks, County Manager John Vithoulkas called the occasion one of Henrico’s most exciting.

“You’ve got one of the most recognized companies in the world that’s chosen to locate in Henrico,” Vithoulkas said in an interview.

The data center will include two buildings and a so-called admin area. Additional buildings may be developed later and Facebook has enough land for five buildings, said Facebook spokeswoman Lindsay Amos.

Facebook’s Henrico Data Center will be the company’s eighth in the United States. Rachel Peterson, Facebook’s director of data center strategy, said the Henrico facilities will be some of the most advanced, energy-efficient in the world.

“Henrico County is a great fit for our newest data center, and we look forward to being part of the community,” Peterson said in her remarks.

Vithoulkas said the county gave Facebook an $850,000 sewer connection credit on a total fee that would be upward of $2 million. Facebook will become one of the top taxpayers in the county and one of its top water users, Vithoulkas said.

Image may contain: cloud, sky and outdoor

Facebook’s planned data center in Henrico county, Virginia

Facebook plans to use both water and air to keep the Henrico Data Center’s hardware cool. According to Facebook, its data centers use less water than typical data centers.

Vithoulkas said work at the data center will mostly consist of maintaining computers.

“It’s not the factory of yesterday,” Vithoulkas said. “It’s really about the building itself, which is massive, and the equipment in the building.”

In addition to the tax revenue and job impact, local leaders are banking on Facebook to play a role in the region’s schools, though what form that will take hasn’t been finalized.

Tyrone Nelson, the Henrico supervisor for the Varina District, which is home to Facebook’s site, said he was looking forward to seeing the impact Facebook would have on the community.

“The thing that excites me about Facebook is the constant care about investing in the community,” Nelson said.

Henrico has been laying the groundwork to lure Facebook.

Earlier this year, Henrico’s Board of Supervisors lowered the county’s tax rate on computers and equipment related to data centers.

In September, Henrico’s Planning Commission approved a development plan for a data center at White Oak of up to 2.5 million square feet code-named Project Echo.

As part of a new renewable energy tariff designed by Facebook and Dominion Energy Virginia, hundreds of millions will go toward the construction of solar facilities to help make the data center powered with 100 percent renewable energy.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe said the project is three years in the making and included a meeting on Monday in San Francisco to tie things up.

“I am proud to welcome Facebook to Henrico County, and we look forward to a strong partnership,” McAuliffe said.

White supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA linked to three deaths

August 13, 2017

The Associated Press

© Paul J. Richards, AFP | People receive first-aid after a car accident rammed into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, VA on August 12, 2017.


Latest update : 2017-08-13

A car plowed into a crowd of people peacefully protesting a white nationalist rally Saturday in a Virginia college town, killing one person, hurting more than a dozen others and ratcheting up tension in a day full of violent confrontations.

Shortly after, a Virginia State Police helicopter that officials said was assisting with the rally crashed outside Charlottesville, killing the pilot and a trooper.

The chaos boiled over at what is believed to be the largest group of white nationalists to come together in a decade. The governor declared a state of emergency, and police dressed in riot gear ordered people out. The group had gathered to protest plans to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, and others arrived to protest the racism.

Matt Korbon, a 22-year-old University of Virginia student, said several hundred counter-protesters were marching when “suddenly there was just this tire screeching sound.” A silver Dodge Challenger smashed into another car, then backed up, barreling through “a sea of people.”

The impact hurled people into the air. Those left standing scattered, screaming and running for safety in different directions.

The driver was later identified by police as James Alex Fields Jr. of Ohio. Police say Fields, 20, has been charged with charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, and one count related to leaving the scene. A bond hearing is scheduled for Monday.

Field’s mother, Samantha Bloom, told The Associated Press on Saturday night that she knew her son was attending a rally in Virginia but didn’t know it was a white supremacist rally.

“I thought it had something to do with Trump. Trump’s not a white supremacist,” Bloom said.

“He had an African-American friend so …,” she said before her voice trailed off. She added that she’d be surprised if her son’s views were that far right.

Bloom, who became visibly upset as she learned of the injuries and deaths at the rally, said she and her son had just moved to the Toledo area from the northern Kentucky city of Florence. She said that’s where Fields grew up. She relocated to Ohio for work.

Late Saturday, the Department of Justice announced the opening of a federal civil rights investigation into the deadly car attack. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that the FBI’s Richmond field office and Rick Mountcastle, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, will lead the investigation.

“The violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice,” Sessions said in a statement. “When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated.”

The turbulence began Friday night, when the white nationalists carried torches though the University of Virginia campus. It quickly spiraled into violence Saturday morning. Hundreds of people threw punches, hurled water bottles and unleashed chemical sprays. At least three more men have been arrested in connection to the protests

The Virginia State Police announced late Saturday that Troy Dunigan, a 21-year-old from Chattanooga, Tennessee, was charged with disorderly conduct; Jacob L. Smith, a 21-year-old from Louisa, Virginia, was charged with assault and battery; and James M. O’Brien, 44, of Gainesville, Florida, was charged with carrying a concealed handgun.

City officials said treated 35 patients altogether, 19 of whom were injured in the car crash.

State Police said in a statement that the helicopter was “assisting public safety resources with the ongoing situation” when it crashed in a wooded area. The pilot, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, 48, of Midlothian, Virginia, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates of Quinton, Virginia, died at the scene.

President Donald Trump condemned “in the strongest possible terms” what he called an “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides” after the clashes. He called for “a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives.”

Trump said he had spoken with the governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, and “we agreed that the hate and the division must stop and must stop right now.”

But some of the white nationalists cited Trump’s victory as validation for their beliefs, and Trump’s critics pointed to the president’s racially tinged rhetoric as exploiting the nation’s festering racial tension.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson noted that Trump for years publicly questioned President Barack Obama’s citizenship.

“We are in a very dangerous place right now,” he said.

Right-wing blogger Jason Kessler had called for what he termed a “pro-white” rally in Charlottesville, sparked by the monument decision. White nationalists and their opponents promoted the event for weeks.

Oren Segal, who directs the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, said multiple white power groups gathered in Charlottesville, including members of neo-Nazi organizations, racist skinhead groups and Ku Klux Klan factions.

The white nationalist organizations Vanguard America and Identity Evropa; the Southern nationalist League of the South; the National Socialist Movement; the Traditionalist Workers Party; and the Fraternal Order of Alt Knights also were on hand, he said, along with several groups with a smaller presence.

On the other side, anti-fascist demonstrators also gathered in Charlottesville, but they generally aren’t organized like white nationalist factions, said Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Many others were just locals caught in the fray.

Colleen Cook, 26, stood on a curb shouting at the rally attendees to go home.

Cook, a teacher who attended the University of Virginia, said she sent her son, who is black, out of town for the weekend.

“This isn’t how he should have to grow up,” she said.

Cliff Erickson leaned against a fence and took in the scene. He said he thinks removing the statue amounts to erasing history and said the “counter-protesters are crazier than the alt-right.”

“Both sides are hoping for a confrontation,” he said.

It’s the latest hostility in Charlottesville since the city about 100 miles outside of Washington, D.C., voted earlier this year to remove a statue of Lee.

In May, a torch-wielding group that included prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer gathered around the statue for a nighttime protest, and in July, about 50 members of a North Carolina-based KKK group traveled there for a rally, where they were met by hundreds of counter-protesters.

Kessler said this week that the rally is partly about the removal of Confederate symbols but also about free speech and “advocating for white people.”

“This is about an anti-white climate within the Western world and the need for white people to have advocacy like other groups do,” he said in an interview.

Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer said he was disgusted that the white nationalists had come to his town and blamed Trump for inflaming racial prejudices.

“I’m not going to make any bones about it. I place the blame for a lot of what you’re seeing in American today right at the doorstep of the White House and the people around the president,” he said.

Charlottesville, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is a liberal-leaning city that’s home to the flagship UVA and Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson.

The statue’s removal is part of a broader city effort to change the way Charlottesville’s history of race is told in public spaces. The city has also renamed Lee Park, where the statue stands, and Jackson Park, named for Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. They’re now called Emancipation Park and Justice Park, respectively.

For now, the Lee statue remains. A group called the Monument Fund filed a lawsuit arguing that removing the statue would violate a state law governing war memorials. A judge has agreed to temporarily block the city from removing the statue for six months.


Trump blames “many sides” for the violent clashes between protesters and white supremacists in Virginia

August 13, 2017


The Associated Press

BEDMINSTER, N.J. (AP) — President Donald Trump on Saturday blamed “many sides” for the violent clashes between protesters and white supremacists in Virginia and contended that the “hatred and bigotry” broadcast across the country had taken root long before his political ascendancy.

That was not how the Charlottesville mayor assessed the chaos that led the governor to declare a state of emergency, contending that Trump’s campaign fed the flames of prejudice.

Trump, on a working vacation at his New Jersey golf club, had intended to speak briefly at a ceremony marking the signing of bipartisan legislation to aid veterans, but he quickly found that those plans were overtaken by the escalating violence in the Virginia college town. One person died and at least 26 others were sent to the hospital after a car plowed into a group of peaceful anti-racist counterprotesters amid days of race-fueled marches and violent clashes.

And officials later linked the deaths of two people aboard a crashed helicopter to the protests, though they did not say how they were linked.


Speaking slowly from a podium set up in the golf clubhouse, Trump said that he had just spoken to Gov. Terry McAuliffe, D-Va. “We agreed that the hate and the division must stop, and must stop right now. We have to come together as Americans with love for our nation and … true affection for each other,” he said.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides,” said Trump. “It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump. Not Barack Obama. It’s been going on for a long, long time.”

The president said that “what is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives.”

After completing his statement and the bill signing, Trump then walked out of the room. He ignored reporters’ shouted questions, including whether he wanted the support of white nationals who have said they backed him or if the car crash in Virginia were deemed intentional, would it be declared to be terrorism.

The previous two days, Trump took more than 50 questions from a small group of reporters. A White House spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for an explanation as to what Trump mean by “many sides.”

Following Trump’s comment, several Republicans pushed for a more explicit denunciation of white supremacists.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner tweeted “Mr. President – we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism.”

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio wrote “Nothing patriotic about #Nazis,the #KKK or #WhiteSupremacists It’s the direct opposite of what #America seeks to be.”

And even New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a staunch Trump supporter, wrote: “We reject the racism and violence of white nationalists like the ones acting out in Charlottesville. Everyone in leadership must speak out.”

White nationalists had assembled in Charlottesville to vent their frustration against the city’s plans to take down a statue of Confederal Gen. Robert E. Lee. Counter-protesters massed in opposition. A few hours after violent encounters between the two groups, a car drove into a crowd of people peacefully protesting the rally. The driver was later taken into custody.

Alt-right leader Richard Spencer and former Ku Klux Klan member David Duke attended the demonstrations. Duke told reporters that the white nationalists were working to “fulfill the promises of Donald Trump.”

Trump’s speech also drew praise from the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, which wrote: “Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us. … No condemnation at all.”

The website had been promoting the Charlottesville demonstration as part of its “Summer of Hate” edition.

Mayor Michael Signer said he was disgusted that the white nationalists had come to his town and blamed Trump for inflaming racial prejudices with his campaign last year.

“I’m not going to make any bones about it. I place the blame for a lot of what you’re seeing in American today right at the doorstep of the White House and the people around the president,” he said.

Disturbances began Friday night during a torch-lit march through the University of Virginia before escalating Saturday.

The White House was silent for hours except for a tweet from first lady Melania Trump: “Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let’s communicate w/o hate in our hearts.”

Trump later tweeted: “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for.” He also said “there is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!” Trump tweeted condolences about the woman killed the protests Saturday evening, more than five hours after the crash.

Trump, as a candidate, frequently came under scrutiny for being slow to offer his condemnation of white supremacists. His strongest denunciation of the movement has not come voluntarily, only when asked, and he occasionally trafficked in retweets of racist social media posts during his campaign. His chief strategist, Steve Bannon, once declared that his former news site, Breitbart, was “the platform for the alt-right.”

The president’s reluctance to condemn white bigots also stood in stark contrast by his insistence of calling out “radical Islamic terrorism” by name.

“Now, to solve a problem, you have to be able to state what the problem is or at least say the name,” Trump said in a general election debate.

In his remarks Saturday, Trump mentioned the strong economy and “the many incredible things in our country, so when I watch Charlottesville, to me it’s very, very sad.”


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Senate committee wants more information about FBI number 2 Andrew McCabe role in Disclosures about Donald Trump

April 2, 2017


Washington Examiner

Sen. Charles Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has sent a letter to FBI Director James Comey demanding the story behind the FBI’s reported plan to pay the author of a lurid and unsubstantiated dossier on candidate Donald Trump. In particular, Grassley appears to be zeroing in on the FBI’s deputy director, Andrew McCabe, indicating Senate investigators want to learn more about McCabe’s role in a key aspect of the Trump-Russia affair.

Grassley began his investigation after the Washington Post reported on February 28 that the FBI, “a few weeks before the election,” agreed to pay former British spy Christopher Steele to investigate Trump. Prior to that, supporters of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign had paid Steele to gather intelligence on Clinton’s Republican rival. In the end, the FBI did not pay Steele, the Post reported, after the dossier “became the subject of news stories, congressional inquiries and presidential denials.” It is not clear whether Steele worked under agreement with the FBI for any period of time before the payment deal fell through.

“The idea that the FBI and associates of the Clinton campaign would pay Mr. Steele to investigate the Republican nominee for president in the run-up to the election raises further questions about the FBI’s independence from politics, as well as the Obama administration’s use of law enforcement and intelligence agencies for political ends,” Grassley wrote in a letter to Comey dated March 28.

Grassley demanded the FBI turn over all its records relating to Steele and the dossier, in addition to “all FBI policies, procedures, and guidelines applicable when the FBI seeks to fund an investigator associated with a political opposition research firm connected to a political candidate, or with any outside entity.”

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FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe

But the most noteworthy thing about Grassley’s letter is its focus on McCabe. Grassley noted that McCabe is already under investigation by the FBI‘s inspector general for playing a top role in the Hillary Clinton email investigation even though McCabe’s wife accepted nearly $700,000 in political donations arranged by a close Clinton friend, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, for her run for state senate in Virginia.

“While Mr. McCabe recused himself from public corruption cases in Virginia…he failed to recuse himself from the Clinton email investigation,” Grassley wrote, “despite the appearance of a conflict created by his wife’s campaign accepting $700,000 from a close Clinton associate during the investigation.”

Now, Grassley wrote, there could be a problem with McCabe’s participation in the Trump-Russia probe. If McCabe had a conflict being too close to Clinton, how could he then investigate Trump? A key passage from Grassley’s letter:

Mr. McCabe’s appearance of a partisan conflict of interest relating to Clinton associates only magnifies the importance of those questions. That is particularly true if Mr. McCabe was involved in approving or establishing the FBI‘s reported arrangement with Mr. Steele, or if Mr. McCabe vouched for or otherwise relied on the politically-funded dossier in the course of the investigation. Simply put, the American people should know if the FBI’s second-in-command relied on Democrat-funded opposition research to justify an investigation of the Republican presidential campaign.

Grassley followed with a dozen questions, all targeted at McCabe. Has McCabe been involved “in any capacity” in investigating alleged collusion between TrumpWorld and Russia? Has McCabe been involved in surveillance or intercepts of any sort in the case? Has McCabe “made any representations to prosecutors or judges” regarding the Steele dossier? Has McCabe had any interactions with Steele himself? Did McCabe brief anyone in the Obama administration on the Trump-Russia investigation? Was McCabe ever authorized by the FBI to speak to the media about the case? Did he ever do so without authorization? Has anyone in the FBI raised questions about McCabe’s possible Clinton-Trump conflict of interest? Has any complaint been filed about it? Has anyone at the FBI recommended or requested that McCabe recuse himself from the Russia-Trump investigation?

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U.S. Democratic Party confronts its own disarray, disparate factions

January 15, 2017

Updated 5:57 AM ET, Fri January 13, 2017

hoenix (CNN)Democrats are gathering this weekend to begin trying to rebuild their decimated party — and, perhaps, blow off some steam.

The Democratic National Committee will hold its first of four regional forums featuring the candidates to become party chair, ahead of an election in February.
But before Democrats move on, they’re going to revisit 2016.
Bernie Sanders’ supporters are still seething about the DNC’s role in limiting the party’s debate schedule and appearing to favor Hillary Clinton during the primaries. And the former secretary of state’s loss to Donald Trump further angered progressives who saw Sanders successfully court the very working-class voters who abandoned Clinton, costing the party the White House.
The race for DNC chair has turned into a de factoreplay of the presidential primary. The top candidates: Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison in the Sanders role and Labor Secretary Tom Perez from the Clinton camp.
Ellison, like Sanders, has a base of progressives and working to expand beyond that. Perez has the more establishment backing from allies of Clinton and President Barack Obama.
Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is the more moderate, outside, alternative ala Martin O’Malley, and three other candidates are also seeking the job.
Despite the lofty title, the function of the national party chair is fairly limited. Fundraising and helping state and local parties develop the tools they need to operate and target Democratic voters central to the job — and coalition-building and television appearances are big parts of it.
And the chair of the Democratic Party isn’t necessarily the leader of the Democratic Party.
The party’s most important voices long-term are likely to be the candidates Democrats field in governor’s races in Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan — where the party’s loss of white, working-class voters has been most acute.
The Democratic National Committee is also unlikely to be a core driver of the party’s messaging in the era of Trump — when figures including Sanders and Elizabeth Warren galvanize the party’s liberal base in opposition to Trump.
“Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have de factobeen catapulted into top leadership positions of the Democratic Party,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “They are, in many ways, the two top spokespeople for both the Democratic Party and the progressive caucus on the inside of Congress.”
Expecting more from a party chair, some Democrats said, would be to ignore the reality that opposition to Trump is what gels Democrats’ disparate factions — and will continue to do so during his tenure in office.
“In 2010, what was the message? Were Mitch McConnell and John Boehner the most compelling figures in America? No. People were galvanized by anger,” said Neera Tanden, the president of the Democratic think tank Center for American Progress. “That’s what’s happening now.”

Focus on redistricting and process


Increasingly, Democrats are acknowledging that the most daunting tasks the party faces aren’t in messaging but technical — starting with reversing Republicans’ gains in redistricting and in curbing voting access.
Eric Holder, the former attorney general, kicked off a new initiative called the National Democratic Redistricting Committee on Thursday. It is intended to help the undo the favorable districts Republicans drew after clobbering Democrats in state legislative and governor’s races in 2010 — the year of the last census.
District lines won’t be redrawn until 2020, but Holder argued Democrats need to begin readying their fundraising, court cases and more to fight what he called “the biggest rigged system in America.”
Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, who is leading the redistricting group along with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-New Mexico, acknowledged Democrats nationally have ignored the state-level map-making fights for too long.
“We should have gone to court much more quickly in the states that we eventually went to court in,” he said in an interview, pointing to recent court victories in Virginia and Florida as evidence Democrats can force GOP-held legislatures’ hands.
Malloy argued a focus on governors’ races in the coming years is critical, too — because those statewide races are more winnable than GOP-drawn state legislative districts, giving Democrats a voice or at least a veto in many states headed into 2020.
He said the focus on redistricting is part of the party’s broader need to turn its eyes from Washington to the states.
“I want a less Washington-centric party, quite frankly. I want a party that represents the diversity of Democratic interests and is a 50-state plus territory party,” Malloy said.
“I think that is over-consideration of what’s good for Washington has hurt the party, and listen — I want to control the Senate someday and I want to control the House someday,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean we should be sacrificing governor’s races to do it when the governors are the most important factor in any state to being a vibrant Democratic Party.”

Voting access


The other technical challenge, Democrats said, is voting access — a broad category that includes voter ID laws that many in the party believe unfairly punish older and urban voters, as well as early voting access and the ease of voter registration.
The Center for American Progress urged a focus on those voting access issues in a “Path Forward” report, attempting to steer Democrats’ focus toward that issue as well as combating corruption and opposing Trump when his actions favor the wealthy over the working class.
Attempting to remain upbeat, many Democrats argued recriminations over 2016 and the doom-and-gloom talk of the party’s empty bench is reminiscent of John Kerry’s loss to George W. Bush in 2004 and ignores recent political history.
“If in January 2005, you would have told me that in 2009, the next president of the United States is going to be a man named Barack Obama, who’s African-American and from Illinois,” Tanden said, “I would have been like, ‘you’re high.'”

China’s Crackdown on ‘Vote-Buying’ Likely The Result of Factional Warfare: Analysts

September 16, 2016

Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC), presides over the NPC Standing Committee in Beijing, Sept. 13, 2016. AFP

A decision by China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) to expel 45 members for vote-buying and bribery is more closely linked to factional infighting than a genuine attempt to weed out corruption in the rubber-stamp parliament, analysts said on Wednesday.

The NPC on Tuesday disqualified 45 legislators from the northeastern province of Liaoning, citing “electoral fraud” during 2013 elections to the legislature, official media reported.

More than 500 delegates to the Liaoning Provincial People’s Congress were implicated in the election fraud and have now either resigned or had their qualification as delegates terminated, state news agency Xinhua reported.

But while pro-Beijing media reported the move as an important step in President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign, analysts said the crackdown was more likely the result of power struggle within the ranks of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

“I think that this is the result of factional infighting,” constitutional law expert and former local People’s Congress deputy Yao Lifa told RFA.

“I think that the laws governing the election of People’s Congress delegates must be amended, otherwise the problem of vote-buying isn’t going away.”

Bruce Lui, of the Hong Kong Baptist University’s journalism faculty, said Liaoning was once a political stronghold of jailed former Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai, which might have made it a political target under Xi’s administration.

“For the whole of the Liaoning People’s Congress to be rounded up and taken away by the central government ahead of the 19th People’s Congress [next year] shows that this must really be a nest of vipers … and that Xi Jinping has the authority to deal with them,” Lui said.

“But it also shows us at some level that the government dictates how deep and how far the anti-corruption campaign goes.”

Political retaliation?

Lui said such moves could also be a form of political retaliation targeting local governments who obstruct the implementation of Xi’s directives.

Sun Wenguang, retired Shandong University lecturer and former local delegate to NPC advisory body the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said if the system is corrupt, then the responsibility lies with the government.

“All of the NPC delegates and the election candidates are in fact chosen by the government,” Sun said. “The elections are just there for show, and people very seldom cast a vote in opposition.”

“There is no real election campaigning, which is why the Liaoning electoral fraud case is a little strange.”

“I think it has to do with internal struggles within the party, with one faction gaining the ascendancy and then using bribery charges to get rid of the other faction,” he said.

Sun called for reform of the NPC system to allow for genuine elections to take place with a slate of different candidates not pre-selected by the government.

“There should be two or three different candidates in a People’s Congress election, and anyone should be allowed to stand as long as they are over 18 and meet the residency requirements,” Sun said.

“Elections should be open, fair and transparent, otherwise they are meaningless,” he said.

No opposition allowed

Overall, there are five levels of hierarchy in the People’s Congress system, with the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing at the top.

China’s electoral guidelines state that candidates may put themselves forward if they receive recommendations from at least 10 local voters in direct elections to district and township level People’s Congresses.

Every three to five years, China “elects” more than two million lawmakers at the county and township levels across the country to local-level People’s Congresses in more than 2,000 counties and 30,000 townships.

But powerful vested interests mean that the majority of local “elections” are a fait accompli, while independent candidates are frequently targeted for persecution, harassment and detention.

Local vested interests have used intimidation and detention, tampering with physical ballot boxes, and paying for extra votes to maintain their grip on the outcome.

Apart from a token group of “democratic parties” that never oppose or criticize the ruling party, opposition political parties are banned in China, and those who set them up are frequently handed lengthy jail terms.

Reported by Lee Lai for RFA’s Cantonese Service, and by Gao Shan for the Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.


Figure in China vote-buying scandal has ties to Clinton Foundation

September 16, 2016

By John Solomon
Global News

A Chinese businessman publicly identified as one of 45 legislators dismissed earlier this week from China’s main legislative body in a vote fraud scandal made a seven-figure donation from his company to the Clinton Foundation three years ago, donor records show.

Wang Wenliang’s Rilin Enterprises contributed between $1 million and $5 million to the foundation tied to Bill and Hillary Clinton in 2013, according to the charity’s public donation records. He serves as chairman of the Chinese-based construction conglomerate.

Wang, a Chinese national with legal U.S. residency, was identified in public reports as one of the 45 lawmakers dismissed by the National People’s Congress as a regional deputy from Liaoning in what China’s official Xinhua news agency called a “vote buying and bribery” scandal in the legislature.

Among the publications identifying Wang as one of the 45 lawmakers was The New York Times and the Taipei Times.

Wang has emerged as an intriguing figure in the U.S. election after CNN and other news media outlets reported earlier this year $122,000 in donations connected to him and given to Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a close friend of the Clintons, was being investigated by the FBI.

The America Rising PAC posted a video purportedly showing Wang entering the home of Hillary Clinton in Washington, D.C. in 2013. McAuliffe has denied any wrongdoing, saying he did not know Wang personally. His lawyers said the FBI investigation wasn’t focused on fundraising but rather foreign lobbying laws.

Even though the Clinton Foundation donation occurred the same year as the meeting at Mrs. Clinton’s home, McAuliffe has insisted there was nothing wrong with the Clinton Foundation. ‘This has nothing to do with the Clinton Foundation,’ McAuliffe said this spring.

Nonetheless, the revelations about Wang are likely to complicate Hillary Clinton’s efforts to put questions about her family foundation’s foreign fundraising to rest before the November election. Mrs. Clinton vowed to not accept foreign donations to the foundation if she becomes president.

The U.S. State Department and the Clinton Foundation did not return calls seeking comment Thursday night.

A spokesman for Mr. Wang was quoted in prior media reports that he didn’t do anything improper.



Billionaire businessman at the centre China’s vote-buying scandal — New York University, the Clinton Foundation, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe — 45 Members of China’s Legislature Expelled

September 16, 2016

Billionaire businessman at the centre China’s vote-buying scandal

By Michael Forsythe

Hong Kong: China’s legislature has expelled 45 of its members in a vote-buying scandal that has snared a prominent businessman active in donating to US universities, foundations and political campaigns.

Some of the legislators whose dismissals were announced on Tuesday, all from the economically struggling north-eastern province of Liaoning, had bribed their way into the National People’s Congress by buying votes, according to the state-run news agency Xinhua.

Delegates at National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Forty-five members have been ...

Delegates at National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Forty-five members have been expelled after allegations of vote-buying.  Photo: QILAI SHEN

The nearly 3000 members of the congress, which meets as a full body for less than two weeks each March, ratify laws and government programs, usually with little drama. Members are mostly voted in by lower-ranking organisations, including provincial congresses.

The nearly 3000 members of the congress, which meets as a full body for less than two weeks each March, ratify laws and government programs, usually with little drama. Members are mostly voted in by lower-ranking organisations, including provincial congresses.

The businessman, Wang Wenliang, is a billionaire who made his fortune in the construction business and from operating a strategic port on the North Korean border. Wang has also been linked with entities holding hidden stakes in three condominiums in the Time Warner Center in New York.

Billionaire business man Wang Wenliang.

Billionaire business man Wang Wenliang.  Photo: Liu yuanrui

Through his companies, Wang has donated to US universities, charities, research institutes and political campaigns, including New York University, the Clinton Foundation and the successful 2013 campaign for Virginia governor of Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat. Though Wang is a Chinese citizen, he is also a legal permanent resident of the United States, which entitles him to make campaign contributions.

A woman answering the phone at the China Rilin Construction Group, a company in Liaoning where Wang serves as chairman, said that he was on a business trip and unavailable to comment.

Sig Rogich, an advisor to Wang who is based in Las Vegas, said his client was a philanthropist, an environmentalist and “a man of great integrity”.

Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the National People’s Congress, told legislators on Tuesday that the bribery scandal, which resulted in the expulsion of almost half of the province’s delegation, was unprecedented in the history of the People’s Republic of China, Xinhua reported. He vowed to show “no mercy”.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe at the Democratic National Convention earlier in the year. The  billionaire ...

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe at the Democratic National Convention earlier in the year. The billionaire businessman at the centre China’s vote-buying scandal also donated to McAuliffe’s 2013 campaign.  Photo: CAROLYN KASTER

Often derided as a rubber-stamp legislature, the congress and its companion advisory body have in recent years become a club for some of China’s wealthiest executives, keen to rub elbows with government officials. Holding such high office also brings prestige and, much like a peerage or knighthood in Britain, is seen as a marker of status in the Communist Party-dominated establishment. In China, it is sometimes known as “wearing the red hat”.

“People within the system can trade interests,” said Zhang Ming, a political scientist at Renmin University in Beijing. “Whoever gets elected will have a pass to do so.”

National People's Congress chairman Zhang Dejiang; ''No mercy''.

National People’s Congress chairman Zhang Dejiang; ”No mercy”.  Photo: VINCENT YU

Serving as a legislator has become so attractive to the wealthy that last year, of the 1271 richest Chinese people tracked by the Shanghai-based Hurun Report, a record 203, or more than one in seven, were delegates to the National People’s Congress or its advisory body. The richest person that year among all three branches of the US government,  congressman Darrell Issa of California, would only rank as the 166th richest if he were a Chinese legislator.

“For reasons that don’t make sense to outsiders given the ‘rubber-stamp’ nature of the NPC, membership in any honorary body is coveted by people who see it as a mark of social status, something to add to their resumes,” said Suzanne Pepper, a scholar based in Hong Kong who studies Chinese elections.

Many of the expelled delegates are executives of private businesses or leaders of state-owned companies, rather than career politicians and military officers, who are also well represented on the body.

The vote-buying scandal in Liaoning has been brewing for at least five years, with hundreds of officials in its provincial bodies accused of engaging in the bribery, according to a report in Caixin, a well-regarded Chinese news magazine. The report, posted online Tuesday, has since been taken off the internet.

In 2013, in the southern province of Hunan, 56 provincial legislators in one city had offered more than 110 million renminbi ($22 million) in vote-related bribes to lower-ranking officials there, Xinhua reported at the time.

Delegates to the National People’s Congress are elected for five-year terms. The current term began in 2013.

News that China faced new accusations of election fraud has drawn some tart comments on social media from people who are not accustomed to what for some in other countries can be an all-consuming obsession with following electoral politics.

“When I saw the news about the vote-buying scandal in Liaoning, I was shocked,” wrote one user on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform. “I didn’t know there were elections in the motherland!”

The scandal came as journalists were attacked and forced out of a fishing village where China has suppressed protests five years after the village received international attention for demonstrations against land seizures.

Wukan remains under siege two days after police arrested 13 protesters in an early-morning raid on allegations that they incited violence and arrest.

Reporters from two Hong Kong newspapers, the South China Morning Post and the Chinese-language Ming Pao, were assaulted on Wednesday night while conducting interviews and later detained for several hours, both newspapers reported.

The BBC also reported that its journalists in Wukan were stopped from entering the village.

AP reported Chinese state media saying that life in the village was back to normal on Thursday.

The Global Times, a state-run newspaper, accused journalists of trying to visit Wukan to “wait for conflicts”.

“Even though some foreign media have been unscrupulously inciting, planning, and directing chaos, local police have not resorted to violence to solve the issue,” its column said.

The Hong Kong Journalists’ Association told AP it “strongly condemns” violence against reporters in Wukan and called on the Hong Kong government to “take effective measures to protect the rights and safety of Hong Kong journalists working in the mainland”.

New York Times, AP–including-one-with-us-clinton-links–over-fraud-20160915-grgzc6.html

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe Subject of FBI Investigation

May 23, 2016

Clinton Charity Aided Clinton Friends

May 12, 2016

A $2 million commitment arranged by the nonprofit Clinton Global Initiative in 2010 went to a for-profit company part-owned by friends of the Clintons

The Clinton Global Initiative acts as a matchmaker to arrange monetary commitments, often to nonprofits, that address global challenges. Here, former President Bill Clinton speaks at its February meeting in New York.
The Clinton Global Initiative acts as a matchmaker to arrange monetary commitments, often to nonprofits, that address global challenges. Here, former President Bill Clinton speaks at its February meeting in New York. PHOTO: BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS

May 12, 2016 4:53 p.m. ET

HASTINGS, Neb.—The Clinton Global Initiative, which arranges donations to help solve the world’s problems, set up a financial commitment that benefited a for-profit company part-owned by people with ties to the Clintons, including a current and a former Democratic official and a close friend of former President Bill Clinton.

The $2 million commitment was placed on the agenda for a September 2010 conference of the Clinton Global Initiative at Mr. Clinton’s urging, according to a document from the period and people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Clinton also personally endorsed the company, Energy Pioneer Solutions Inc., to then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu for a federal grant that year, said people with knowledge of the endorsement.

The company, whose business plan was to insulate people’s homes and let them pay via their utility bills, received an $812,000 Energy Department grant. Mr. Chu, now a professor at Stanford University, said he didn’t remember the conversation.

The Clinton Global Initiative is a program of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. The foundation has been a focus of criticism this political season over donations received from governments and corporations that had business before Mrs. Clinton when she was secretary of state and that could be affected by decisions she would make as president. The foundation has said it “has strong donor integrity and transparency practices.”
The Clinton Global Initiative’s help for a for-profit company part-owned by Clinton friends poses a different issue. Under federal law, tax-exempt charitable organizations aren’t supposed to act in anyone’s private interest but instead in the public interest, on broad issues such as education or poverty.

“The organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests,” the Internal Revenue Service says on its website.

Energy Pioneer Solutions was founded in 2009 by Scott Kleeb, a Democrat who twice ran for Congress from Nebraska. An internal document from that year showed it as owned 29% by Mr. Kleeb; 29% by Jane Eckert, the owner of an art gallery in Pine Plains, N.Y.; and 29% by Julie Tauber McMahon of Chappaqua, N.Y., a close friend of Mr. Clinton, who also lives in Chappaqua.

Owning 5% each were Democratic National Committee treasurer Andrew Tobias and Mark Weiner, a supplier to political campaigns and former Rhode Island Democratic chairman, both longtime friends of the Clintons.

The Clinton Global Initiative holds an annual conference at which it announces monetary commitments from corporations, individuals or nonprofit organizations to address global challenges—commitments on which it has acted in a matchmaking role. Typically, the commitments go to charities and nongovernmental organizations. The commitment to Energy Pioneer Solutions was atypical because it originated from a private individual who was making a personal financial investment in a for-profit company.
Asked about the commitment, foundation officials said, “President Clinton has forged an amazing universe of relationships and friendships throughout his life that endure to this day, and many of those individuals and friends are involved in CGI Commitments because they share a passion for making a positive impact in the world. As opposed to a conflict of interest, they share a common interest.”

A spokesman for Mr. Clinton, Angel Urena, said, “President Clinton counts many CGI participants as friends.” Mrs. Clinton’s campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment.

A Clinton Foundation spokesman, Craig Minassian, called the commitment an instance of “mission-driven investing…in and by for-profit companies,” which he said “is a common practice in the broader philanthropic space, as well as among CGI commitments.” Of thousands of CGI commitments, Mr. Minassian cited three other examples of what he described as mission-driven investing involving a private party and a for-profit company such as Energy Pioneer Solutions.

Ms. Eckert, one of those identified as a 29% owner of Energy Pioneer Solutions in 2009, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Ms. McMahon, listed as another co-owner, said in an interview she didn’t know how the commitment to the company came to be made as she wasn’t involved. Ms. McMahon, 56 years old, described Mr. Clinton as “a family friend.”

Mr. Kleeb, who is the company’s chief executive as well as founder, said Ms. McMahon recruited Mr. Weiner as an investor. Mr. Weiner has a company, Financial Innovations Inc., that makes campaign souvenir items such as coffee mugs and pens. Mrs. Clinton’s current and 2008 presidential runs have paid Mr. Weiner’s firm about $4.2 million, federal reports show.

Mr. Weiner was among the first state Democratic officials to endorse Mr. Clinton for the presidency some 25 years ago. He has been a major donor to the Clinton Foundation and also to the campaign of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, another Clinton friend, foundation and Virginia records show. Mr. Weiner declined to be interviewed.

The other 5% investor, Mr. Tobias, has been the Democratic National Committee treasurer since 1999. He said he spent $450,000 for equity in Energy Pioneer Solutions and lent it $650,000.

“With my modest initial investment, I wound up owning a small percentage of the company,” Mr. Tobias said in an email. “It grew, because ultimately, between loans and equity investments, I’ve wound up putting a little more than $1 million into this effort.”

Mr. Tobias, a best-selling personal-finance writer and long-standing Clinton Global Initiative member, said he invested “because I would love to see the world more energy-efficient and hoped to make some money doing that.” Records of the Clinton Foundation show he has given it between $250,000 and $500,000, the same donation level shown for Mr. Weiner.

The company’s Mr. Kleeb said he knew the DNC treasurer from his own runs for office and invited him to invest. Mr. Kleeb won Democratic nominations in Nebraska for the U.S. House in 2006 and the Senate in 2008, but lost. His wife, Jane Kleeb, led opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline and now heads a group called Bold Alliance opposing large fossil-fuel projects.

The Clinton Global Initiative, at a Sept. 23, 2010, gathering in New York, announced a $2 million commitment to Energy Pioneer Solutions from Kim Samuel, a Canadian academic, philanthropist and a director and owner of the Samuel Group of Companies, which includes steel businesses. She appeared on stage.


Julie Tauber McMahon, shown at an event in New York in 2014, owned 29% of Energy Pioneer Solutions.
Julie Tauber McMahon, shown at an event in New York in 2014, owned 29% of Energy Pioneer Solutions. PHOTO: NICHOLAS HUNT/PATRICK MCMULLAN

A spokesman for Ms. Samuel, a longtime member of the Clinton Global Initiative, said she ultimately chose not to give the full $2 million.

This is a “personal financial matter and a personal investment,” said her spokesman, Alan Peck. “Following the initial September 2010 announcement and subsequent due diligence, the actual investment was $500,000 made by Ms. Samuel to Energy Pioneer Solutions on July 25, 2011.”

Mr. Tobias, the Democrats’ treasurer, said in an email a day after a Journal interview that he, too, contributed to the commitment. The 2010 announcement of it cited only Ms. Samuel.

Mr. Kleeb said the commitment announced was achieved, and he raised $2 million. He didn’t specify where the money came from.

The commitment was a late addition to the agenda for the September 2010 conference, internal Clinton Foundation documents reviewed by the Journal show.

According to one document, about two weeks before the conference, Ms. Samuel contacted an official in the Clinton Foundation’s commitments office and said Mr. Clinton wanted to feature her commitment to Energy Pioneer Solutions at that month’s gathering. Ms. Samuel’s spokesman didn’t respond to a question about that.

One of Mr. Clinton’s top advisers at the time, Doug Band, tried to prevent the commitment from being added to the agenda as an onstage event in the weeks prior to the conference, according to a document reviewed by the Journal.

The commitment was entered into a database on the Clinton Global Initiative website. A few months later, it was removed.

The reason was to avoid calling attention to Mr. Clinton’s friendship with one company co-owner, Ms. McMahon, and to protect the integrity of Mr. Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Clinton Foundation spokesman said the information was withheld at the request of Ms. Samuel, the announced provider of the commitment. Her spokesman didn’t respond to a question on that.

After the Journal asked about the absence from the database, the Clinton Foundation said it was making a policy change and would publish all previously unpublished commitments and all future ones.

Scott Kleeb, shown in 2008, founded Energy Pioneer Solutions.
Scott Kleeb, shown in 2008, founded Energy Pioneer Solutions. PHOTO: NATI HARNIK/ASSOCIATED PRESS


At the U.S. Energy Department, which had a grant program to encourage innovative approaches to weatherizing low-income people’s homes, giving a grant to a for-profit company was rare but permitted, said T.J. Hansell, a former contractor to the agency who worked on the program. An Energy Department spokeswoman declined to comment.

An Energy Department news release in 2010 announcing a grant to Energy Pioneer Solutions called it “a women-owned small business,” repeating language in the company’s application, which the Journal obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Mr. Kleeb, the company’s founder and 29% owner, didn’t respond to a question on why it described itself as women-owned.

On occasion, Mr. Clinton has trumpeted the company’s work. Speaking in 2011 to an Omaha-based syndicated radio show called The Todd-N-Tyler Radio Empire, Mr. Clinton said: “There’s a group there called Pioneer Energy Solutions that retrofits housing—they’re in and out in a day…Eight hours and they’re out of there.”
Mr. Clinton also cited the operation, without naming the company, in his 2011 book “Back to Work.”

Mr. Tobias, the Democratic treasurer, said he discussed Energy Pioneer Solutions frequently with Mr. Clinton. “I wasn’t surprised that President Clinton was psyched about the potential for EPS and making America’s housing stock more efficient, cutting CO2 emissions and lowering consumers’ energy bills,” Mr. Tobias said.

Energy Pioneer Solutions has struggled to operate profitably. It lost more than $300,000 in 2010 and another $300,000 in the first half of 2011, said records submitted for an Energy Department audit. Mr. Kleeb noted that losses are common at startups.

The audit found deficiencies in how the company accounted for expenses paid with federal grant money, Energy Department records show. The company addressed the deficiencies, and a revised cost proposal was approved in 2011, said an Energy Department spokeswoman, Joshunda Sanders.

Recently, Mr. Kleeb laid off most of his staff, closed his offices, sold a fleet of trucks and changed his business strategy, promising to launch a national effort instead. “We are right now gearing up to start under this new model,” he said.

Asked if Energy Pioneer Solutions has ever broken even, Mr. Kleeb said, “We’re at that stage…We are expanding and doing well. We have partnerships, and it’s good.”

—Rebecca Ballhaus and Peter Nicholas contributed to this article.