Senate Democrats muscle big Obama donors into ambassadorships

In one of their final acts before losing their majority to Republicans, Senate Democrats confirmed as ambassadors on Tuesday two big donors to President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, despite a controversy over their qualifications. David Bryson Mamet won confirmation as envoy to Argentina in a 50-43 vote, while senators agreed 52-42 to send Colleen Bell on her way to Hungary. No Republicans voted for either nominee, and several senators missed both ballots. Before the votes, Sen. John McCain, R.-Ariz., passionately urged his colleagues to reject Bell’s nomination. He argued that whatever her talents for scooping up campaign cash and for producing Read More

USAID tamped down internal criticism over Egypt work: report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Auditors and employees at the U.S. Agency for International Development say critical assessments of the agency’s work in Egypt were removed from a report before it was released by the agency’s inspector general, the Washington Post reported on Thursday. The 21-page report was trimmed to nine pages and among the details cut was the payment of $4.6 million in what was described as bail money to the Egyptian government in 2012 to free 16 American non-government workers who had been arrested, the newspaper said. The Americans were from organizations that USAID had hired to promote democratic programs Read More

New England Compounding Center Supervising Pharmacist Arrested at Logan International Airport

A Canton, Massachusetts, man was arrested today at Boston’s Logan International Airport in connection with the ongoing criminal investigation of New England Compounding Center (NECC) by the Justice Department’s Civil Division and U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts.   Glenn Adam Chin, 46, was attempting to board a plane to Hong Kong when he was arrested by federal authorities on one count of mail fraud.  He is scheduled to appear before Chief Magistrate Judge Jennifer C. Boal in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts later today.  The maximum sentence under the statute is 20 Read More

U.S. veterans health probe says cannot link deaths to broken system

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A probe into long waits for medical treatment at Veterans Affairs facilities in Phoenix found cover-ups of delays and a break-down in ethics but could not conclude that anyone died as a result of “unacceptable and troubling lapses” in care. The Department of Veterans Affairs’ inspector general, an internal watchdog, released a final report on Tuesday documenting how Phoenix officials masked months-long wait times to try to achieve two-week targets used for salary and bonus awards. The watchdog has found that manipulation of appointment data is a “systemic problem” around the country, and has since opened up Read More

SunTrust Mortgage Agrees to $320 Million Settlement

The Department of Justice today announced an agreement with SunTrust Mortgage Inc. that resolves a criminal investigation of SunTrust’s administration of the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP).   As detailed in documents filed today, SunTrust misled numerous mortgage servicing customers who sought mortgage relief through HAMP.  Specifically, SunTrust made material misrepresentations and omissions to borrowers in HAMP solicitations, and failed to process HAMP applications in a timely fashion.  As a result of SunTrust’s mismanagement of HAMP, thousands of homeowners who applied for a HAMP modification with SunTrust suffered serious financial harms.  SunTrust has Read More