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Political Scene

- - Monday, January 10, 2011

SEC

Fund co-founder faces insider-trading charges

Federal regulators have charged the co-founder of a New York hedge fund and three other individuals with insider trading, the latest action in what the government has called the biggest insider-trading case in U.S. history.

The Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday announced it filed a civil lawsuit against hedge fund Trivium Capital Management, its co-founder Robert Feinblatt and analyst Jeffrey Yokuty. The SEC also filed charges against Sunil Bhalla, a senior executive of Polycom, and Shammara Hussain, an employee at a consulting firm that did work for Google. The agency said they provided confidential information to Mr. Feinblatt and Mr. Yokuty that enabled them to make about $15 million from trading on the information.

So far, the SEC has charged 27 people in the case.

GEORGIA

Deal sworn in as governor

ATLANTA | Georgia's new Republican governor is urging self-reliance in tough economic times.

In his inaugural address Monday, Nathan Deal said state government cannot and should not be expected to provide for people what they can provide for themselves.

The former congressman from Gainesville also says he will fight the Democratic-backed federal health reform law. He argues that government cannot make or keep people healthy.

Georgia Republicans won every statewide elected office in November's general elections.

A rare snowstorm in the South forced the ceremony from the steps of the Capitol to the shelter of the House chamber.

CALIFORNIA

Brown seeks tax extension

SACRAMENTO | Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a budget Monday that would slash funding to most areas of state government and maintain a series of tax increases for five years to close California's huge budget deficit.

The Democratic governor released his first budget proposal since winning election last fall. He called for $12.5 billion in spending cuts, including reductions in welfare, social services, health care for the poor and a combined $1 billion cut to the University of California and California State University systems.

Mr. Brown also wants the Legislature to call a special election in June to give voters an opportunity to continue increases in the income, sales and vehicle taxes for five years. His proposal relies on new revenues of $12 billion.

The governor's office says the only area of state spending he would protect is K-12 education.

Mr. Brown said his recommendations will close an 18-month budget gap estimated at $25.4 billion and require sacrifice from all Californians.

"For 10 years, we've had budget gimmicks and tricks that pushed us deep into debt. We must now return California to fiscal responsibility and get our state on the road to economic recovery and job growth," he said in a statement.

COLORADO

Man accused of staff threats

DENVER | A Colorado man is accused of threatening to set fire around U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet's local office and shoot members of his staff.

John Troy Davis faces a charge of assault on a federal employee and was scheduled to be in court in Denver on Monday afternoon.

According to an arrest affidavit, Mr. Davis called Mr. Bennet's office Thursday to complain about his Social Security benefits. The affidavit says at one point, Mr. Davis told a Bennet staffer he is schizophrenic and that he "may go to terrorism."

The purported threat happened two days before six people were fatally shot at a grocery store in Tucson, Ariz., where U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was meeting with constituents.

KANSAS

Governor vows focus on 'basics'

TOPEKA | Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is promising to focus on the basics of government as the state wrestles with a big budget shortfall.

In his inaugural address on Monday, the Republican said he wants Kansas to renew the nation's optimism and become known as "a state of Hope."

Mr. Brownback also acknowledged the difficulties facing the state. The budget shortfall is projected at $550 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Much of Mr. Brownback's speech after his swearing-in touched on the state's history as it approaches the 150th anniversary of its admission to the union on Jan. 29.

He and other statewide officials took their oaths of office in the Kansas House chamber after a winter storm forced his staff to move it from the south steps of the Statehouse.

ILLINOIS

Governor sworn in amid fiscal crisis

SPRINGFIELD | Democrat Pat Quinn has been sworn in to a full term as Illinois governor, two years after he got the job when his predecessor was kicked out of office and left behind an immense budget crisis.

Mr. Quinn began his inaugural address on Monday by calling for unity. He also offered promises to solve the state's fiscal crisis, but no firm details of how it would be done.

Mr. Quinn takes the reins as the budget deficit could hit $15 billion. He and other Democratic leaders are trying to pass a major income-tax increase that would boost the 3 percent income tax rate to 5.25 percent for four years.

Mr. Quinn was lieutenant governor until January 2009, when he took over from then-Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, who was arrested on federal corruption charges and who was impeached and removed from office.