- - Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Feds: Ex-lawmaker used charity funds

NEW YORK | A disgraced New York politician who was expelled from the state Senate after a misdemeanor conviction for assaulting his girlfriend was accused Tuesday of funding his 2006 campaign with money that was supposed to go to charity.

An indictment charges Queens Democrat Hiram Monserrate with mail fraud and conspiracy. He was to appear later Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan.

Defense attorney Joseph Tacopina said his client intends to plead not guilty and “vigorously fight the charges.”

The corruption case stems from when Mr. Monserrate was a member of the City Council. In 2006 and 2007, prosecutors say, he directed $300,000 in so-called discretionary funds to a nonprofit called Latino Initiative for Better Resources and Empowerment, or LIBRE.

The indictment alleges that $100,000 was secretly funneled to Mr. Monserrate’s council re-election and Senate primary campaigns.


Union members rally for tunnel

NORTH BERGEN | Several hundred union members have turned out for a rally to support a second rail tunnel from New Jersey into Manhattan.

Democratic Sens. Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez told the crowd in North Bergen that Gov. Chris Christie was shortsighted when it came to the estimated $9 billion project.

Mr. Christie pulled the plug this month and agreed to a two-week review due to end Friday.

The Republican said he will consider restarting the tunnel project if someone else helps pick up the tab. Mr. Christie fears huge cost overruns that he said the state can’t afford.


Obama to visit ‘The Daily Show’

President Obama is taking his campaign message to “The Daily Show,” the faux-news comedy show hosted by Jon Stewart.

White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer confirmed Tuesday that Mr. Obama is taping an appearance on Oct. 27, just days before the Nov. 2 elections. Mr. Stewart is coming to Washington for the “Rally to Restore Sanity” set for Oct. 30 on the national Mall.

The Comedy Central network star has said the rally is for people who think the loudest voices shouldn’t be the only ones people hear. Mr. Obama recently endorsed the event and this will be the president’s first appearance on Mr. Stewart’s program.


Chafee evokes dad’s memory

PROVIDENCE | Rhode Island’s Lincoln Chafee has released a new ad in his independent bid for governor that evokes memories of his father, a longtime and beloved U.S. senator, who he said taught him to “tell the truth and trust the people.”

John Chafee was a Republican governor in the 1960s, secretary of the Navy in the Nixon administration, and a longtime U.S. senator. He died in 1999 and his son succeeded him. Lincoln Chafee, at the time a Republican, lost re-election in 2006.

The TV ad released this week is unusual for Mr. Chafee, who doesn’t typically bring up his father during campaign appearances. It includes old black-and-white news footage of John Chafee with his young son.

In the ad, Mr. Chafee speaks directly to the camera about his father’s loss of the governor’s seat after supporting the creation of a state income tax. His opponent, Democrat Frank Licht, opposed the tax and won the race. Later, Mr. Licht reversed himself and pushed through the state’s first income tax.


Feds offer settlement with Indian farmers

A federal judge will consider a government offer to settle with American Indian farmers who say the Agriculture Department discriminated against them for decades.

The two sides met in U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan’s courtroom Tuesday afternoon to discuss a proposed deal. The government and the plaintiffs both declined to disclose the terms of the would-be settlement ahead of hearing.

The lawsuit filed in 1999 contends Indian farmers and ranchers lost about $500 million because they were denied USDA loans. The government settled a similar lawsuit filed by black farmers more than a decade ago.

American Indian farmers have said that local USDA officials tried to squeeze them out of business by denying them loans that instead went to their white neighbors.


Agencies probing foreclosure woes

The White House said federal agencies are investigating allegations of widespread errors in foreclosure documents.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement that an interagency task force on financial fraud has launched an investigation into the foreclosure process. He said the Federal Housing Administration, a federal agency that guarantees mortgages, is also investigating.

“We remain committed to holding accountable any bank that has violated the law,” Mr. Gibbs said.

Mr. Gibbs said the administration supports an effort by attorneys general in 50 states to investigate the matter. Several administration officials, however, have said over the past week that they don’t back a nationwide halt to foreclosures.

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