Imagine you’re a Fleet Street reporter at a British tabloid with a pocketful of cash. You meet a trusted source at a pub, a police officer who tells you about the royal family’s confidential schedule in exchange for a small gratuity. You hand over a few quid and rush off with a photographer to stake out a health club where Camilla Parker-Bowles is toning her abs. Guess what: If you work for Rupert Murdoch, you may have violated U.S. law.
Former Georgia Congressmen Jim Marshall and John Linder paid hefty, six-figure bonuses to their staffs before leaving Washington, a newly released analysis has found. Marshall, defeated last year for re-election, paid more than twice as much in staff salaries in the fourth quarter of 2010 as in the previous three, the analysis showed. Linder, who retired after nine terms, paid his staff 86 percent more. Those increased payments ranked fifth and seventh, respectively, in Congress.
When regulators at the Minerals Management Service had concerns about the safety equipment for offshore oil rigs, the agency did not impose stronger regulations and instead allowed industry to police itself, according to two pieces in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal today. The agency has been scrutinized for its role in the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, particularly for failing to follow up on concerns it had — several years before the BP incident — about equipment that should have stopped the spill but did not.
The Wall Street Journal tracked down homeowners whose home mortgages were part of the CDO (collateralized debt obligation) that forms the basis of the SEC’s lawsuit against Goldman Sachs.
By PAUL KIEL, ProPublica
Among the crowd of government agencies that have rushed to aid the economy, the Federal Housing Administration often gets overlooked. And yet, along with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the FHA has played a huge role in preventing a complete housing collapse. All together, those three currently buy or guarantee more than 90 percent of mortgages. But the FHA is facing mounting losses and, The Wall Street Journal reports, it may soon be forced to notify Congress that its reserves have slipped below the mandated level. What will happen at that point, nobody seems to know.
By PAUL KIEL, ProPublica
Starting with this post, we’ll be updating you every month on the status of the taxpayer-funded bailouts we track in our database — namely the TARP and government rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Recent reports by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have drawn attention to the billions in revenue that the Treasury Department has collected from companies early in returning their TARP investments. While those returns have been encouraging, there’s no question that the taxpayer remains deep in the red.