The Buck Stops Here?

- July 13, 2012

Obama Says He Is Responsible For What Happens Under His Watch, But Won't Answer For The Scandals That Have Plauged His Administration

Scandals Are "Generating The Kinds Of Questions That No Administration Wants To Answer This Close To A Re-Election Bid." "Neither Obama nor his top aides have been implicated, but both of those stories are generating the kinds of questions that no administration wants to answer this close to a re-election bid." (David Jackson, "Obama Grapples With Secret Service, GSA Scandles," USA Today , 4/18/12)


Obama: "As President Of The United States, It's Pretty Clear To Me That I'm Responsible For Folks Who Are Working In The Federal Government And You Know, Harry Truman Said The Buck Stops With You." OBAMA: "Well, here's what I know, we were just talking about responsibility and as president of the United States, it's pretty clear to me that I'm responsible for folks who are working in the federal government and you know, Harry Truman said the buck stops with you." ("President Obama Says Romney Should Answer Bain Capital Questions,"WJLA, 7/13/12)

  • Obama: "One Of The Things You Learn Is, You Are Ultimately Responsible For The Conduct Of Your Operations…" OBAMA: "Ultimately Mr. Romney, I think, is going to have to answer those questions, because if he aspires to being president one of the things you learn is, you are ultimately responsible for the conduct of your operations, but again that's probably a question that he's going to have to answer and I think that's a legitimate part of the campaign." ("President Obama Says Romney Should Answer Bain Capital Questions," WJLA, 7/13/12)


The General Services Administration's 2010 Western Region Conference In Las Vegas "Made Headlines When An Inspector General Report Found A Pattern Of Excessive Spending, Waste, And Possible Fraud On The Pricey, Taxpayer-Funded Las Vegas Conference." "The conference made headlines this week when an Inspector General report found a pattern of excessive spending, waste and possible fraud on the pricey, taxpayer-funded Las Vegas conference, where organizers went out of their way to organize a lavish, over-the-top celebration that included a mindreader, a clown, fancy food, and

At A House Oversight And Government Committee Hearing, The GSA Official Who Planned The Conference, Jeff Neely, Pled The Fifth To Avoid Incriminating Himself. "A top General Services Administration official who was in charge of organizing a lavish Las Vegas conference that's drawn congressional and taxpayer fire repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination Monday on Capitol Hill. During Monday's hearing, Jeff Neely, refused to answer several questions from House Oversight and Government Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), including rudimentary questions such as his official title at GSA and whether he was currently employed at the agency." (Seung Min Kim, "GSA Official Pleads Fifth In Conference Scandal," Politico, 4/16/12)

On Top Of The Conference, Neely "Spent Thousands Of Taxpayer Dollars On A Variety Of Wasteful Trips And Events." "The General Services Administration executive who organized an $822,000 conference in Las Vegas in 2010 also spent thousands of taxpayer dollars on a variety of wasteful trips and events, according to lawmakers and GSA's top investigator." (Andy Medici, "Inspector General: GSA Official's Waste Part Of Pattern," USA Today, 4/17/12)

  • Neely's Wife Accompanied Him On Lavish Trips As Taxpayers "Picked Up The Tab." "The senior government executive who organized the lavish Las Vegas conference at the center of a General Services Administration spending scandal took dozens of trips for the agency. The boss's wife accompanied him on some of them - and taxpayers picked up the tab. Deborah Neely wasn't always just sharing husband Jeffrey E. Neely's hotel rooms at resorts from Las Vegas to the Pacific islands. She handled party arrangements, directed event planners to spend government money and arranged lodging for relatives on the GSA trip to Las Vegas in 2010, an unusual role revealed in transcripts of interviews that the agency's inspector general's office conducted with Jeffrey Neely, as well as in congressional hearings." (Lisa Rein, "GSA Official's Wife Accompanied Him On Trips At Taxpayer Expense," The Washington Post , 4/17/12)


The "Fast And Furious" Operation Was An ATF Program That Tracked Weapons Sold To Illegal Buyers In Hopes Of Arresting Mexican Drug Cartel Members. "Agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives purposely allowed licensed firearms dealers to sell weapons to illegal straw buyers, hoping to track the guns to Mexican drug cartel leaders and arrest them. But they lost track of more than 2,000 weapons, and the Mexican government says some of them have turned up at about 170 crime scenes there." (Richard A. Serrano, "Emails Show Top Justice Department Officials Knew Of ATF Gun Program," Los Angeles Times, 10/03/11)

  • "But ATF Agents Were Often Told To Abandon Their Surveillance Of The Weapons, Allowing Them - And The Straw Buyers - To Disappear, According To House Testimony From Numerous Agents. The Only Remaining Hope For Agents To Track The Guns Was If Other Agencies Found Them At Crime Scenes Or During Drug Raids And Identified Them By Their Serial Numbers ." (Jordy Yager, "Rep. Issa Threatens Holder With Contempt Over 'Fast And Furious' Operation," The Hill, 1/31/12)
  • Two "Fast And Furious" Weapons Were "Found At The Scene Of The Dec. 14 Shooting Of US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry." "The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is facing criticism of a program that funneled illegal guns into the hands of Mexican gun runners, drug gangs, and other criminals after two of those guns were found at the scene of the Dec. 14 shooting of US border patrol agent Brian Terry by Mexican bandits in Arizona…The Dec. 14 shootout in Peck Canyon, near Nogales, Ariz., occurred after border patrol agents halted a group of armed border bandits and fired at them with bean bag guns. The bandits then opened fire with live bullets from AK-47 submachine guns, killing Mr. Terry." (Patrik Jonsson, "Did Flawed US Policies Play Role In Death Of Border Patrol Agent?," The Christian Science Monitor , 3/4/11)

One Year After Terry's Murder, No Government Officials Responsible For "Fast And Furious" Have Been Held Criminally Liable. "One year ago today, Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry was gunned down in Arizona near the Mexican border by illegal immigrants armed with weapons from the now-infamous ATF 'Fast and Furious' gunwalking operation. Terry's killing has touched off a firestorm that crossed international borders and trigger investigations, Congressional hearings, denials and admissions to the upper levels of the Justice Department. A statement issued today by Terry's family raises the notion that responsible government officials should be prosecuted. 'We now believe that if it can be shown that laws were broken, then all those responsible for Fast and Furious should be held criminally liable,' reads the statement." (Sharyl Attkisson, "Terry Family Marks One Year Anniversary Of Death Of Their Son, Brian Terry, Murdered Border Patrol Agent," CBS News , 12/14/11)

  • The Terry Family: "The Entire Fast And Furious Debacle Could Have Been Avoided." "'One can only imagine that if the FBI, DEA and U.S. Attorney personnel had only shared their information with ATF agents that the Miramontes brothers were FBI informants, [then] the entire Fast and Furious debacle could have been avoided,' the family wrote. 'With this single piece of information, ATF could have chosen not to proceed with Operation Fast and Furious, which ultimately put almost 2,000 assault weapons into the hands of some of the most dangerous criminals in North America. Had this simple piece of information been shared among the different federal law enforcement agencies in Arizona, some 200 Mexican citizens would not have had to lose their lives in needless violence and U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry would still be alive,' they said." (Mackenzie Weinger, "Slain Agent's Family 'Sickened' By Info," Politico, 3/28/12)


In August 2011, Solyndra Announced That It Would File For Bankruptcy, "Immediately Laying Off 1,100 Employees." "Solyndra, a Fremont solar tech manufacturer, announced Wednesday it is suspending operations and immediately laying off 1,100 employees. The company said it will also file for bankruptcy." (George Avalos, "Fremont Solar Tech Firm Solyndra To Shut Down, Lay Off 1,100 Workers," The San Jose Mercury News, 8/31/11)

Obama Was Personally Warned About The DOE's Loan Guarantee Program's Financial And Political Risks. "Long before the politically connected California solar firm Solyndra went bankrupt, President Obama was warned by his top economic advisors about the financial and political risks of the Energy Department loan guarantee program that boosted the company's rapid ascent." (Tom Hamburger, Kim Geiger and Matea Gold, "Obama Advisors Raised Warning Flags Before Solyndra Bankruptcy," Los Angeles Times, 9/26/11)

  • The Solyndra Scandal "Shows How Wealthy People Who Help Fund A President's Election Campaign Get Special Access To The White House." "The scandal at base is about how taxpayer money is used, or misused, by government. It shows how the White House uses companies for its own purposes and how companies try to use the White House to serve their aims. It shows how far political appointees, and particularly the senior-most aides in the West Wing, will go to push the chief executive's agenda on a sometimes slow but generally conscientious federal bureaucracy. And it shows how wealthy people who help fund a president's election campaign get special access to the White House." (Patrick B. Pexton, "Post Reporters, Shining A Light On The Solyndra Scandal," The Washington Post , 11/25/11)
  • The Solyndra Scandal Shows How Despite Obama's Promises To Be "Transparent, Accountable, And Responsible," He "Often Isn't." "The reporters have used these documents to push the story further and tie it to fundraisers. They have also consulted forensic accountants to help analyze how sick Solyndra was when its executives, and Obama officials, were publicly touting the company's rosy future. And they have shown that an administration that promised to be transparent, accountable and responsible often isn't." (Patrick B. Pexton, "Post Reporters, Shining A Light On The Solyndra Scandal," The Washington Post , 11/25/11)

In September 2011, "The Federal Bureau Of Investigation Executed A Search Warrant At Solyndra, Bureau Spokeswoman Julie Sohn Said In An Interview." (Jim Snyder, "FBI Raids Bankrupt Solyndra as Lawmakers Question Panel Maker's Finances,"Bloomberg , 9/9/11)

  • The Raids Suggest The Justice Department Is Investigating Whether Solyndra Misled The Government When Securing Its Loans. "The raid and visits come amid increasing evidence the Justice Department and Inspector General are exploring whether Solyndra mislead the government in securing its $535 million loan in 2009 - and landing a vital refinancing of that loan earlier this year." (Ronnie Greene and Matthew Mosk, "Solyndra Investigation Expands With Raid Of Executives' Homes And Files," iWatch News, 9/9/11)


Jon Corzine Played A "Central Role" In Obama's Wall Street Fundraising Efforts. "His new legal troubles, sparked by the bankruptcy filing of his investment firm, MF Global, could complicate the president's efforts to raise money from the financial community given Corzine's central role in those efforts." (Michael Isikoff, "Corzine, Top Obama Fundraiser, Under FBI Investigation," MSNBC, 11/2/11)

  • Obama: Corzine Is "Our Wall Street Guy." " The rollout also provided a showcase for Corzine, the former Goldman Sachs CEO whom Obama referred to as 'our Wall Street guy' at a meeting of Democratic governors in Chicago on Friday." (Claire Heininger, "Corzine Profile Rises In Obama Camp," The Star-Ledger (NJ), 6/23/08)

In November 2011, Jon Corzine, One Of Obama's "Leading Wall Street Fundraisers," Became "The Center Of An FBI Investigation" Due To $1.6 Billion Missing From Customer Accounts. "Jon Corzine, now the center of an FBI investigation into the handling of hundreds of millions of dollars invested in his securities firm, was one of the leading Wall Street fundraisers for President Obama's campaign and suggested to investors that he might take a top administration post if the president were re-elected." (Michael Isikoff, "Corzine, Top Obama Fundraiser, Under FBI Investigation," MSNBC, 11/2/11)

  • In December 2011, Jon Corzine Testified Before The House Of Representatives, Saying: "I Simply Do Not Know Where The Money Is, Or Why The Accounts Have Not Been Reconciled To Date." (Jon S. Corzine, Committee On Agriculture, U.S. House Of Representatives, Testimony, 12/8/11)

MF Global Trustee James Giddens "Sees Possible Civil Claims Against Former Chief Executive Jon Corzine." "The trustee liquidating MF Global Holdings Ltd broker-dealer said on Monday he sees possible civil claims against former Chief Executive Jon Corzine and other top executives for breach of duties to customers." ("Ex-MF Global CEO Jon Corzine Could Face Civil Claims, Trustee Says," Reuters, 6/4/12)


Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Cost The Pentagon As Much As $860,000, About $32,000 Every Trip, As He Commutes Home For The Weekend Using A Military Gulfstream Jet. "Before accepting the job as defense secretary, Mr. Panetta negotiated his right to commute home to California nearly every weekend using a military equivalent of a Gulfstream jet, as his job as Pentagon chief requires him to do. The trips cost the government as much as $860,000, and Mr. Panetta paid about $630 per trip for a roundtrip flight that costs the Pentagon about $32,000, defense officials told the Associated Press." (Susan Crabtree, "Panetta Paid $17k For $860K Commute To California," The Washington Times, 4/6/12)

As The Pentagon Advocated For Deep Cuts In The Defense Budget, Mr. Panetta Was "Cross-Country Commuting" Even Though "The President Singled Out Travel As An Area Ripe For Savings." "Mr. Panetta's cross-country commuting was first reported by the Los Angeles Times in September, although that report did not detail the extent of the trips. The expenses involved with the commute drew another look after President Obama issued marching orders in November calling for all Cabinet agencies to cut back on everything - from out-of-town conferences to cellphone use and officials gifts such as pencils and mugs. The president singled out travel as an area ripe for savings." (Susan Crabtree, "Panetta Paid $17k For $860K Commute To California," The Washington Times, 4/6/12)

The Dubuque Telegraph Herald : "When Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Looks For Ways To Cut The Pentagon's Proposed $614 Billion Budget, He Might Start By Examining His Own Expense Account." (Editorial, Feds Should Look At Travel Expenses," Telegraph Herald, 4/9/12)


Politico : "Senior Administration Officials Begin Interactions With Reporters These Days By Saying They Won't Answer Questions About The Secret Service…" "Senior administration officials begin interactions with reporters these days by saying they won't answer questions about the Secret Service - a story that is more alluring for reporter but ultimately less dangerous for Obama." (Byron Tau and Glenn Thrush, "Obama Scandal Forecast: Slightly Hazy," Politico, 4/19/12)

The Secret Service Prostitution Scandal Threatened To Eclipse Obama's "Charm Offensive To Latin America." "A prostitution scandal involving U.S. security personnel in Colombia and an unprecedented regional push to end the isolation of Cuba threatened on Saturday to eclipse President Barack Obama's charm offensive to Latin America." (Andrew Cawthorne and Brian Ellsworth, "Scandal Mars Obama's Wooing Of Latin America," Reuters, 4/17/12)

"As If The General Services Administration Flap Wasn't Bad Enough -- An $820,000 Conference/Party In Las Vegas -- Now The Secret Service Prostitution Scandal Is Giving Headaches To The Obama Administration." (David Jackson, "Obama Grapples With Secret Service, GSA Scandles," USA Today , 4/18/12)

Scandal "Generating The Kinds Of Questions That No Administration Wants To Answer This Close To A Re-Election Bid." "Neither Obama nor his top aides have been implicated, but both of those stories are generating the kinds of questions that no administration wants to answer this close to a re-election bid." (David Jackson, "Obama Grapples With Secret Service, GSA Scandles," USA Today , 4/18/12)

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