The Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk, 54, has courted the Clintons for at least nine years – in the United States, the Alps and Ukraine, states Newsweek.
Earlier this year, he was confirmed as the largest individual contributor to the Clinton Foundation, whose aims include the creation of “economic opportunity and growth.”
Pinchuck also has connections to the Tony Blair Foundation and was its biggest single donor in 2013.
He is the fourth richest man in Ukraine and owns Interpipe Group, a Cyprus-incorporated manufacturer of seamless pipes used in oil and gas sectors.
Newsweek has seen declarations and documents from Ukraine that show a series of shipments from Interpipe to Iran in 2011 and 2012, including railway parts and products commonly used in the oil and gas sectors.
Among a number of invoices for products related to rail or oil and gas, one shipment for $1.8m (1.7m) in May 2012 was for “seamless hot-worked steel pipes for pipelines” and destined for a city near the Caspian Sea.
Clinton’s political enemies are likely to seize on news that Pinchuck is a major benefactor to the Clinton Foundation and has been trading with Iran and may be in breach of U.S. sanctions imposed on the country, according to Newsweek.
Newsweek states that U.S. sanctions laws are complex and, in certain areas, ill-defined. Interpipe may qualify for penalties due to the mere presence on American soil of North American Interpipe Inc, its United States subsidiary.
The US authorities can also penalize non-American subsidiaries with no base in the US at all which it judges to be working counter to its foreign policy, as happened to Zhuhai Zhenrong, a Chinese oil company, in 2012.
So be sure to watch for the new “scandal” on FOX !
A number of Republican-led states are considering tax changes that in many cases would have the effect of cutting taxes on the rich and raising them on the poor, according to the New York Times.
The Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen discusses plans in several Republican gubernatorial mansions to raise taxes… on the poor! Benen:
“Republicans are not, strictly speaking, a party obsessed with cutting taxes. The caricature is rooted in fact, but it’s incomplete – Republicans are actually a party committed to cutting taxes on the wealthy.
“This has been an underappreciated aspect of the GOP vision for several years. Indeed, it was part of Mitt Romney’s ’47 percent’ problem a few years ago – the Republican presidential hopeful complained, among other things, about the millions of families who ‘pay no income tax.’ A wide variety of GOP officeholders, candidates, and pundits have made related complaints about the poor not having “skin in the game” because their tax burdens simply aren’t significant enough.”
Of the 10 or so Republican governors who have proposed tax increases, nearly all have called for increases in consumption taxes, which hit the poor and middle class harder than the rich, according to the New York Times.
Favorite targets for the new taxes include gas, e-cigarettes, and goods and services in general. Gov. Paul R. LePage of Maine wants to start taxing movie tickets and haircuts, but is also proposing a tax break for the lowest-income families to relieve some of the pressure.
The Nation and other sources have obtained an audio recording of Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell’s remarks at a Koch Brothers’ sponsored meeting between politicians and donors at the St. Regis Monarch Bay Resort in Dana Point, CA.
The Nation claims that the resort was rented by the Koch brothers for $870,000 for the meeting on June 15th.
In the question-and-answer period following his session titled “Free Speech: Defending First Amendment Rights,” McConnell says:
“So in the House and Senate, we own the budget. So what does that mean? That means that we can pass the spending bill. And I assure you that in the spending bill, we will be pushing back against this bureaucracy by doing what’s called placing riders in the bill. No money can be spent to do this or to do that. We’re going to go after them on healthcare, on financial services, on the Environmental Protection Agency, across the board [inaudible]. All across the federal government, we’re going to go after it.”
McConnell’s pledge to “go after” Democrats on financial services was apparently a reference to changing or getting rid of Dodd-Frank regulation. Dodd-Frank, of course, was legislation passed in 2010 in response to the under-regulation of the financial industry that led to the Great Recession.
McConnell has also been a vocal opponent of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in particular, and presumably under his Senate leadership funding for the CFPB would be high on the list for appropriations cuts.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Wall Street was the number-one contributor to McConnell’s campaign committee from 2009 to 2014.
McConnell is running against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in a close contest that could determine which party controls the Senate. Total spending in the race is expected to exceed $100 million, which would make it the most expensive Senate election in history.
As of July 21, PACs and individuals affiliated with Koch Industries have given at least $41,800 to McConnell’s campaign committee in this election cycle—a figure that does not include any funding to outside groups that could spend heavily in the race’s closing weeks.
Recently, Grimes has been airing ads that criticize McConnell for “voting seventeen times against raising the minimum wage” and “twelve times against extending unemployment benefits for laid-off workers.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, McConnell himself seems quite proud of this legislative record, at least in front of an audience of wealthy donors. After he lays out his agenda to shrink the federal government “across the board.”
“And we’re not going to be debating all these gosh darn proposals,” said Mitch. “That’s all we do in the Senate is vote on things like raising the minimum wage [inaudible]—cost the country 500,000 new jobs; extending unemployment—that’s a great message for retirees; uh, the student loan package the other day, that’s just going to make things worse, uh. These people believe in all the wrong things.”
In late April, Senate Republicans, led by McConnell, successfully filibustered a bill to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
Earlier in the year, McConnell also led a filibuster of a three-month extension of unemployment insurance to some 1.7 million Americans. At one point in the negotiations, he offered a deal to extend unemployment only if Democrats agreed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, even though the ACA does not add to the federal deficit.
Just days before he addressed the Koch brothers’ billionaire donor summit, McConnell was instrumental in blocking Senator Elizabeth Warren’s proposal to help Americans refinance their growing student loan debt.
Warren’s plan would have been funded by a new minimum tax on America’s wealthiest. In response, McConnell has said that “not everybody needs to go to Yale” and that cash-strapped students should look into for-profit colleges. That seemed to be an odd response, considering that for-profit colleges are more expensive than state colleges.
The main thrust of McConnell’s remarks to the Koch conference were about his favorite issue, campaign finance, which he regards as a matter of free speech.