JOHN EDWARDS' FORTRESS

The bulk of John Edwards' wealth is invested in, his recent income derives from, and his biggest contributors are employed by Fortress Investment Group. Fortress, which paid Edwards almost half a million dollars to advise them, deals in hedge funds and private equity. Its private equity holdings have not been reported on. (Where is journalism when there's no sex involved?) Its hedge funds invest in, among other things, publicly traded companies. Those are reported to the SEC, most recently on May 15th in this filing:

The list of companies invested in is large, but presumably well known to Edwards as a result of his well-paid advising and his massive investment in Fortress. It includes companies from a variety of industries, creating all sorts of conflicts of interest for a would-be public official. Just in the 'A's in the list we find: Advanced Medical Optics Inc., and Applera Corp. (medical); Aetna Inc., Amerigroup Corp., and Assurant Inc. (health insurance); Abbott Labs, Alpharma Inc., and Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (pharmaceuticals); Altria Group (parent of Phillip Morris, cigarettes); American International Group (insurance); Amgen Inc. (biotech); Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Apache Corp., Arena Resources Inc., Atlas America Inc., Atmos Energy Corp., and Avista Corp. (oil and gas); Autonation Inc. (cars); Anheuser Busch Cos. Inc. (beer), and many others.

Glancing through the full alphabet of companies, it is immediately apparent that Fortress represents the polar opposite of an ethical investment opportunity. Some names jump out at you as surprising companies for a Democratic presidential candidate to sink his fortune into, such as Wal Mart Stores Inc. There are a lot of telecom companies, like Verizon, in the list, lots of oil companies like Exxon Mobil, weapons companies like Lockheed Martin, big agricultural companies like Monsanto, a great many lending companies including several well known for predatory lending practices such as Wells Fargo, and numerous media corporations including Clear Channel.

Edwards has refused to take part in a debate run by Fox News, but has sunk his money into Clear Channel.

Fortress has also been a leading investor in companies privatizing prisons: http://www.secinfo.com/dsVsf.6eZq.b.htm

Fortress's 2006 Annual Report (http://tinyurl.com/36g54o) lists numerous subsidiaries as well, most of them based in Delaware or the Cayman Islands, a popular destination for the avoidance of regulations and taxes.

But Fortress has apparently decided to clean up its act. If Edwards is going to be president, and Fortress is going to become the new Halliburton, so to speak, Fortress wants to project the proper image. So it's decided to invest heavily in casinos and horse racing. In June, Fortress announced that it and a partner would buy Penn National Gaming for $6.1 billion.

It's not clear, however, that this move will outweigh the bad PR from Fortress's investment in Humana, the ruthless private health insurance company so pointedly criticized in Michael Moore's movie "Sicko." With the media ignoring Edwards' investment in Humana, the main concern Edwards' supporters have about "Sicko" is that it argues against the sort of health coverage plan their man supports. "Sicko" makes a powerful case for getting rid of private insurance companies and using a single-payer system of health coverage of the sort used by most wealthy nations in the world. That's the sort of system Congressman Dennis Kucinich advocates.

So, Edwards volunteers have been passing out flyers outside movie theaters showing "Sicko." The flyers include a chart comparing Edwards' health coverage plan with Kucinich's. (The flyer begins by dismissing Obama and Clinton as not having offered "universal" health coverage plans.)

The flyers, which say they are "designed and printed by a John Edwards volunteer" and include the John Edwards 08 logo, claim that Edwards will get everyone health coverage by 2012, whereas it will take Kucinich 15 years. But the bill Kucinich supports (HR 676) says it will go into effect in 1 year. It may take years to get fully up to speed, but because it uses a simple system used successfully by many other countries, we know it can work. Edwards' proposed system would keep the private insurance companies involved and expect the government to be able to control them, something Hillary Clinton famously failed at miserably. She was unable even to get her plan through Congress. Kucinich's plan already has 75 cosponsors in the House.

The flyers claim that under Edwards' plan tax credits to low-income citizens will create universal coverage. But that money will, of course, go to private insurance companies, including those Edwards' own personal finances depend on. In contrast, the flyers claim, Kucinich's plan would cover everyone "only after a long process of creating a national healthcare bureaucracy from scratch". The same flyer contradicts this by calling Kucinich's plan "Medicare for All" and by claiming that Edwards, too, would expand Medicare to cover most Americans. But Edwards would add to this the bureaucracy needed to keep track of who is covered in what way, who needs a tax credit, who has private insurance, who does not, and how good that private insurance is. Hospitals and doctors would have to keep in place all the bureaucracy needed to determine who was covered in what way and where their bill should go. And insurance companies would continue to waste American health care dollars on advertising and lobbying. Clearly Edwards wins in the bureaucracy promotion department.

The flyers try to turn this around and criticize Kucinich for wanting to "tear down much of the existing health structure," but that's exactly what any viewer of "Sicko" comes out of the theater wanting. Many people handed a flyer like this one are likely to wonder what Edwards' motivation could possibly be for not simply supporting single-payer health coverage.

Edwards may honestly believe that his plan is the best way to help sick Americans. His own financial interest in keeping private insurance companies in existence and boosting their profits may have nothing to do with his motivations. But why should Americans have to take that on faith? Shouldn't a presidential candidate avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest?

David Swanson was press secretary for Kucinich for President 2004 and briefly consulted for Kucinich's 08 campaign.
_______
http://www.davidswanson.org

About author David Swanson is a co-founder of After Downing Street, a writer and activist, and the Washington Director of Democrats.com.

Originally by David Swanson from The Smirking Chimp - News And Commentary from the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy on July 16, 2007, 6:39am

Donate


The following should appear at the end of every post:

According to the IRS, "Know the law: Avoid political campaign intervention":

Tax-exempt section 501(c)(3) organizations like churches, universities, and hospitals must follow the law regarding political campaigns. Unfortunately, some don't know the law.

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from participating in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to campaigns at the federal, state and local level.

Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes. Section 501(c)(3) private foundations are subject to additional restrictions.

Political Campaign Intervention

Political campaign intervention includes any activities that favor or oppose one or more candidates for public office. The prohibition extends beyond candidate endorsements.

Contributions to political campaign funds, public statements of support or opposition (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of an organization, and the distribution of materials prepared by others that support or oppose any candidate for public office all violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention.

Factors in determining whether a communication results in political campaign intervention include the following:

  • Whether the statement identifies one or more candidates for a given public office
  • Whether the statement expresses approval or disapproval of one or more candidates' positions and/or actions
  • Whether the statement is delivered close in time to the election
  • Whether the statement makes reference to voting or an election
  • Whether the issue addressed distinguishes candidates for a given office

Many religious organizations believe, as we do, that the above constitutes a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

That said, we make the following absolutely clear here:

  • The Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project not only do not endorse any candidate for any secular office, we say that Christianity forbids voting in such elections.
  • Furthermore, when we discuss any public-office holder's position, policy, action or inaction, we definitely are not encouraging anyone to vote for that office holder's position.
  • We are not trying to influence secular elections but rather want people to come out from that entire fallen system.
  • When we analyze or discuss what is termed "public policy," we do it entirely from a theological standpoint with an eye to educating professing Christians and those to whom we are openly always proselytizing to convert to authentic Christianity.
  • It is impossible for us to fully evangelize and proselytize without directly discussing the pros and cons of public policy and the positions of secular-office holders, hence the unconstitutionality of the IRS code on the matter.
  • We are not rich and wouldn't be looking for a fight regardless. What we cannot do is compromise our faith (which seeks to harm nobody, quite the contrary).
  • We render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. We render unto God what is God's.
  • When Caesar says to us that unless we shut up about the unrighteousness of Caesar's policies and practices, we will lose the ability of people who donate to us to declare their donations as deductions on their federal and state income-tax returns, we say to Caesar that we cannot shut up while exercising our religion in a very reasonable way.
  • We consider the IRS code on this matter as deliberate economic duress (a form of coercion) and a direct attempt by the federal government to censor dissenting, free political and religious speech.
  • It's not freedom of religion if they tax it.

And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:24-26)

  • Subscribe


  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
    This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.