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NEW JERSEY’S NEW LAW: THE OUT-OF-NETWORK CONSUMER PROTECTION, TRANSPARENCY, COST CONTAINMENT AND ACCOUNTABILITY ACT

By SHERRI RUGGIERI

New Jersey’s new law entitled “The Out-of-network Consumer Protection, Transparency, Cost Containment and Accountability Act” (A-2039/S-485) was enacted by the legislature and signed by Governor Murphy.  Specifically, the law protects insureds from unanticipated bills after medically necessary emergency or inadvertent out-of-network services. As explained by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex), “Far too many New Jersey families found themselves slammed by outrageous out-of-network health care bills they neither agreed to nor had a chance to even review. We have put patients first. We have made clear that New Jersey stands for transparency when it comes to health care. We are putting families first and foremost.”

Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee Chair Joseph F. Vitale (D-Middlesex) added that “This law empowers the insured as consumers with the right to have the details of in-network and out-of-network services and fees clearly spelled out from the onset of coverage, not once they’re in the emergency room or a hospital bed.  Protecting people at their most vulnerable is government at its very best.  Today, we are at our very best and New Jersey has a lot to celebrate.”

There will be oversight of this new law, and within one year of enactment, the state must report its findings to the Governor and Legislature.  However, it should be noted that health insurance established by the Employee Retirement Insurance Security Act (ERISA) would not be subject to the law unless the decision has been made to opt-in. Assemblyman Coughlin thanked “Governor Murphy for signing this bill and Senator Vitale for his partnership, along with that of Assemblyman Schaer, Senator Singleton and Assemblywoman Lampitt. This bill has been too long in the works, but we finally got it done – and that’s to the benefit of all New Jersey families.”

Sherri Ruggieri is the managing editor of Empire State News. A practicing attorney for over 20 years, Ms. Ruggieri is also chairperson of Edison Township’s Planning Board. Additionally, she has served as a college professor, with nearly a decade of experience in teaching law and political science courses.

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THE MORAL HYPOCRISY IN BLAMING TRUMP FOR ROSEANNE

By TEMPLE LI

Let’s take the 800-pound mouse out of the room. Roseanne Barr’s joke about Valerie Jarrett was distasteful and insensitive. Even she said so.

It’s a free marketplace and ABC had the right to fire Barr.

It’s also a free marketplace where some other network may decide to forgive her, and hire her – and her 200+ crew – for a new show. Obviously, the American audience, in mass numbers, likes her comedy, in general. But the market shall decide such…

In the meantime, why the hell are the mainstream media and special interest groups so transfixed on President Trump’s reaction to Barr’s comments and ABC’s termination of her show? This was Barr’s statement, not Trump’s. But, all know, the mainstream media hardly report the actual story any longer. Instead, they report, with a very biased approach, on the president’s reaction to the story.

Here, there has been no real direct reaction by President Trump. So, the media is now cackling about the following tweet he issued:

“Bob Iger of ABC called Valerie Jarrett to let her know that ‘ABC does not tolerate comments like those’ made by Roseanne Barr. Gee, he never called President Donald J. Trump to apologize for the HORRIBLE statements made and said about me on ABC. Maybe I just didn’t get the call?”

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders thereafter poignantly noted several instances where ABC bosses could equally issue apologies. “Where was Bob Iger’s apology to the White House staff for Jemele Hill calling the president, and anyone associated with him, a white supremacist?” she questioned.

“To Christians around the world for Joy Behar calling Christianity a mental illness?” she further inquired.

“Where was the apology for Kathy Griffin going on a profane rant against the president on ‘The View’ after a photo showed her holding president Trump’s decapitated head? And where was the apology from Bob Iger for ESPN hiring Keith Olbermann after his numerous expletive-laced tweets attacking the president as a Nazi?” Sanders demanded.

But the mainstream media and special interest groups do not care about these very harmful verbal attacks. The hypocrisy is salient.

Also salient is how the press has gone into a frenzy in linking President Trump with Roseanne Barr, as if he is to be blamed for her statements. Of course, on its face, this guilt by association is farcical. President Trump is not at all responsible for distasteful, insensitive, and racist comments  made by others. More so, the president hardly knows Barr.

If the leftists want to go down the guilt by association road, they should revisit a real, super close relationship: the one between former President Barack Obama and the ultra-white-hating racist Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Obama sat in the pews of Wright’s church for several years, soaking up all of Wright’s vile anti-Caucasian diatribe. And Wright wasn’t just Obama’s pastor. He was his named mentor. He married the Obamas and baptized their children.

The hypocrisy of the left is indeed unabashed, and rich in contemporary accounts.

Temple Li is the news editor for Empire State News, where she frequently authors who own editorials (just because she feels like it). She graduated at the top of her class at a mediocre college, infuriating her professors with her conservative wit and sultry charm. Empire State News allows Ms. Li to make a living, and to have a platform to tell people what she thinks. What could be better than that?

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GUTS & JUSTICE: THE ONLY WAY TO REMEDY THE ILL OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION

By KENNETH DEL VECCHIO

I was the first Congress candidate in the country to endorse Donald Trump, and I was the chairman of his presidential campaign in New York’s 18th Congressional District and Orange County, NY. I have stood with President Trump on the firm ground of his illegal immigration policies from the get-go, and I stand with him on it today. If you need heart surgery, surely do not see me because you would not do well on the operating table. Similarly, if the engine has failed on your automobile or if you need a house built, it would not be in your best interests to call on me for help as I am not expertised in the required fields. With regard to criminal, constitutional and immigration laws, I am indeed qualified, at the highest level. My qualifications have been provided at the end of this Op Ed, for those whose attention I have sustained.

Following is the only moral, legal, and economically rational plan to cure America’s illegal immigration pandemic:

(1) Break down – and decisively beat – the Fake News outlets, Hollywood boneheads, so-called academic elites, and plastic politicians, and actually educate Americans about the frightening prospects that U.S. citizens will certainly face if we do not eliminate illegal immigration. Simply, we do not have the land, resources or money to pay for illegals’ inhabitation of our nation. We hardly have enough funds to cover the expenses related to our own citizens. The United States will, undoubtedly, be rocked with a cataclysmic economic disaster, in the near future, if illegal entrance is not halted. Such are not the scares of the Boogey Man, but a fiscal reality.

(2) Provide permanent residency – but not citizenship – for the 800,000 DACA group (the “DACAs”). At this stage, it would be immoral to deport these people. They arrived, by no decision of their own, and have since grown families, and developed careers and friendships; many, but not nearly all, have contributed as taxpayers. That said, we cannot reward them with citizenship. And we cannot reward them with the right to vote. Affording the DACAs the aforementioned, in layman’s terms, would send a very bad message…As an aside, I repudiate the notion that they will thank Republicans for the passage of a pro-DACA deal and, my Tarot Cards tell me, that the vast majority of these people will vote Democrat. Every Democrat vote is another ballot cast toward a United States without borders, socialism, and mad redistribution of wealth schemes…As another aside, crafting the term “Dreamers” for these people is condescending and a bit insulting – to U.S. citizens who have “dreams” of the “American Dream” who, in some part, have not reached their “dreams” because of an economy stifled by illegals.

(3) Upon receiving permanent residency, each legal-immigrant-to-be must do the following: pay a $5,000 “permanent residency fee” to the U.S. government to offset the economic costs they have caused (and will continue to cause) American citizens. Given that it is understood that a large portion of the DACAs have no employment or otherwise have very little income, as part of the moral component of this plan, they can pay off the $5,000 over five years. Any who fail to make the $5,000 payment during this term shall be immediately deported; there is a singular exception – the miniscule few who suffer from a physical disability that truly prevents them from working…BTW: $5,000 x 800,000 people = $4 trillion. That’s enough to pay for the Wall and much more (see #5 below).

(4) All DACAs must provide 100 hours of community service yearly (that’s just two hours per week) within the state that they reside—every year, for five years. Any who fail in this regard shall be immediately deported; no exceptions unless a person is in a coma or a paraplegic (and that’s because there are numerous ways to provide community service, even for those physically disabled).

(5) Tie the DACA deal into the building of the Wall. Yes, only provide the DACAs permanent residency if a bill is passed by Congress authorizing the Wall at the Southern border of the U.S. That means one, giant wall along the border, just as President Trump promised during his campaign…Everything in politics – and life – is a weighing process and a balancing test. Will the Democrats hurt the DACAs and refuse to authorize the Wall? I think not.  And not because they are moral champions of these people, but because it is politically necessary for them. Via the balancing test, the DACAs will stay and the Wall be erected. And, thereafter, there will be significantly less illegal immigration.

(6) Other than the DACAs and one other small group of “illegal” immigrants who came here under Temporary Protection Status (people who originally came here legally and have been permitted to remain here far too long too morally deport at this point), all illegal immigrants must be deported. Translation: upon apprehension, they must immediately be deported…Further translation: Deport. Deport. Deport. And then they can try to enter legally…And this goes for any who have visas, which have expired. They must willingly leave upon the expiration of their visas – or be deported at the hands of the U.S. government.

(7) In passing new DACA legislation that will allow the DACAs to permanently reside in America, we are obviously opening the door to a slippery slope. For, what happens when a day after the bill passes, 100 new children illegally enter the U.S.? And what happens to the thousand who enter in the following months? And on and on and on? Will they get the same “amnesty-type” treatment and be given permanent residency like their DACA predecessors? The answer is an affirmative “no”…In the future, under no circumstances, shall there again be a DACA-like group of illegals who gain permanent residency. We have mass communications abilities, at an extraordinary level, in this modern era. Notice shall be hereby provided to all parents from across the world: from this date onward, if you illegally enter the United States with children, of any age, you shall be deported—and your children shall be deported with you. If you pass away and your children are in the U.S. illegally, they shall still be deported, regardless if they have been living in the U.S. for one day or 50 years.

(8) No sanctuary cities…Any city that serves as a sanctuary city shall be cut off from all federal funding. Any elected official who facilitates the perpetuation of a sanctuary city shall be deemed to have committed a felony and immediately removed from his/her office and compelled to serve 500 hours of community service over five years—but not jailed. We do have the 8th Amendment in the U.S., and imprisonment, under this circumstance, would constitutionally constitute “cruel and unusual punishment.”

(9) Of course, no freebies of any kind for illegals. No free education, housing, cell phones, transportation or services of any sort for illegals…Back to morals: if they have an emergency, then our hospitals must care for them. Immediately thereafter, they must be deported—and we will bill the illegals for their medical services. If they cannot pay (which, most likely, they can’t), then we shall bill the governments of the countries from which they hail. And if those governments don’t pay, we shall economically sanction those countries. This leads to:

(10) The United States shall bill foreign countries for all the economic costs that their citizens cause us through their illegal entries and inhabitations in our country. And if those governments don’t pay, we shall economically sanction those countries. This should result in nations from all around the globe enacting internal laws that stifle illegal entry into the U.S…Revisiting morals once again: of course, should any country enact legislation that would amount to “cruel and unusual punishment” against its citizens for illegally entering America, we shall economically sanction those countries for such atrocious laws. Such “cruel and unusual punishment” sanctions shall be in a monetary amount that is far greater than the sanctions that these governments would endure for their failure to pay the costs that their citizens’ cause the U.S. via their illegal immigration. Accordingly, the following should logically result: (a) these countries will pay up to us for their citizens illegal entry into America.; and (b) they will enact laws that greatly limit future illegal immigration onto U.S. soil – and such laws will be not contain penalties that constitute “cruel and unusual punishment” or any human rights violations.

(11) Limit chain migration to spouses and minor children. This simply means that upon immigrants being given legal status, the only people who can legally join them in the U.S. are their spouses and minor children – and not any other family members.

(12) Disband the visa lottery system. Allowing immigrants to randomly gain entry for residency/citizenship via a lottery is foolhardy. Legal immigration should be performed on a case-by-case basis wherein an active review of applications should be conducted. We want the best here – and the best way to accomplish getting the best is by an actual submission evaluation. Not through a haphazard selection process which, undoubtedly, allows in misfits and criminals along with fine people.

Employing all of the above would substantially curtail illegal immigration and its ills which, in turn, would lead to far greater economic prosperity for America and its taxpayers. But will this happen? With strong, gutsy leadership – and the true will of the masses of U.S. citizens – this dream can come true.

Kenneth Del Vecchio, ESN publisher and editor-in-chief, is the author of some of the nation’s best-selling legal books, including a series of criminal codebooks published by Pearson Education/Prentice Hall and ALM/New Jersey & New York Law Journal Books. He is a former judge, a former prosecutor and a practicing criminal/entertainment attorney for 23 years, wherein he has tried over 400 cases.  Mr. Del Vecchio is also an acclaimed filmmaker who has written, produced and directed over 30 movies that star 100+ film and TV stars, including several Academy Award and Emmy winners and nominees. His films are distributed through industry leaders such as Sony Pictures, NBCUniversal, Cinedigm, and E-1 Entertainment. He has starred in numerous movies, as well. A best-selling political thriller novelist, he penned his first published novel at only 24-years-old. Additionally, Mr. Del Vecchio is the founder and chairman of Hoboken International Film Festival, called by FOX, Time Warner, and other major media “One of the 10 Biggest Film Festivals in the World.”  A frequent legal and political  analyst on networks such as Fox News Channel, Mr. Del Vecchio formerly served as the publisher and editorial page editor for a New Jersey daily newspaper. 

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THE FOLLOWING PEOPLE ARE TOTAL ZEROS

By THE OLD BAG

Nancy Pelosi – Isn’t she just about the dumbest politician you have ever seen? She admitted to not reading ObamaCare before she voted on it.

The Vast Majority of People Who Think They DESERVE Hand Outs from the Government – I didn’t even know what a cell phone was when I was growing up, much less thought the government would give me one for free.

Colonel Sanders – If the rumor is true that Kentucky Fried Chicken isn’t actually chicken, but some weird GMO concoction.

The Guy Who Gave Bruce Springsteen His Nickname – Not because I don’t like Springsteen’s music; I actually love it. But because he heisted President Donald Trump’s nickname. And don’t tell me Springsteen was called The Boss before The Donald was – and if that’s the case, then the nickname-giver was a prognosticator and he’s still guilty of this faux pas.

Al Sharpton – The man is an absolute racist. And what’s going on with his head in proportion to his body?

The Government of Iran – Let’s start with the way they treat women…

Men Who Use the Women’s Bathroom and/or Have Botox – Both are just odd.

Sandra Fluke – Why should we pay for her contraception? And does anyone really want to use it with her?

People Who Smell Like Fish – If they’re not fisherman, why is that?

Those Who Have Pigs for Pets – Can’t we just eat them?

A Subset of Those Who Have Pigs for Pets (Those Who Don’t Eat Bacon) – I just can’t trust someone who doesn’t eat bacon, unless it’s for a religious reason. And if it’s for a religious reason, the person better eat turkey bacon.

Planned Parenthood Employees – Can’t you get a job where you don’t murder babies?

Americans Who Don’t Realize That Israel is One of Our Most Important Allies – Knuckleheads…

Those Who Used Cocaine Yet Oversee Prosecutions of Others Who Snorted It – Oops, that’s exactly what Barack Obama did. He used the white powder in his student years and then, when he was the chief executive officer of the country (including overseeing the Justice Department), where he saw to thousands prosecuted for cocaine endeavors…Hypocrite….BTW: it’s just plain stupid to use coke or any CDS.

Vampires – Not into these weirdos.

The Guy With No Legs from South Africa Who Shot His Girlfriend – If he didn’t do it on purpose, he sure was reckless by firing into a closed bathroom door when he had no idea who was behind it…And I’m not being insensitive by describing him “as the guy with no legs” – it’s just a fact and I forgot his name. Everyone knows who I am talking about.

People Who are Overly Sensitive and Easily Offended – Boo hoo…Go pound salt.

Anyone Who Has a Problem With That I Believe in God – Self-explanatory…

I’m disgusted, grossed out and sickened by these above people.

More to Come…

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REPRESENTATION IN NEW JERSEY’S MUNICIPAL COURT

By SNOR

Most of the torture of municipal court involves the amount of time spent waiting.  However, this week I learned a lesson about communication.  The message was lost in the translation.  When I spoke to the client the night before,  he said, “You represent me.”  I replied, “Yes.”  Then I told him that I would see him at Court before 9:00 a.m.  After waiting a half hour, I called the client to ask why he was not at the Court.  He said he didn’t understand that he needed to be present.  In other words, that I would “represent” him.  He explained to me that he is not a New Jersey resident, but he would back in New Jersey in several weeks.

The Prosecutor recommended use of an Affidavit to close this matter.  However, the Municipal Court Judge said that she wants the client to come to Court so that the proofs could be put on the record.  She asked me if the client would be returning to New Jersey.  To the best of my knowledge, I replied, “Yes.”  The Judge adjourned the matter.  I wondered where the Court Notice would even be sent.  I called the client and told him that his case would be rescheduled.  I asked him if a translator might help.  He said that he speaks and understands English.

I thought to myself, he just didn’t understand that the legal language of municipal court.  His idea of representation was different from mine.  He thought that I would stand in for him (represent him) in Court.  Would it speed up the process if the accused did not need to appear before the Judge? Would this create greater efficiency but decrease justice?

Should the municipal court invest in a flat screen television so that all parties would have something to look at and think about before the Judge enters the courtroom?  Is sitting there with nothing to do the worst punishment of all?  Does mind numbing boredom deter unwanted behavior?  Is justice achieved in Municipal Court?

SNOR is a dreamer and world watcher who has more questions than answers.

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BEFORE WE KNOW WHAT HAPPENED, THE LEFT WASTES NO TIME IN POLITICIZING TRAGEDY

By NATALIA CASTRO

Once again, our country has been struck by tragedy, and the left is using the tragedy as an opportunity to promote an anti-gun agenda. Now more than ever it is important that the American people look to facts and not rhetoric to prevent our rights from being infringed. The reality surrounding the recent school shooting at the Santa Fe High School in Texas is that no gun laws could have prevented this tragedy. Using emotion to enact gun control laws will only limit our rights without solving the real problems at hand.

On Friday, an active shooter claimed the lives of at least ten individuals in a Texas high school. Within hours, the tragedy was being politicized, with the Parkland students and the March for Our Lives organization, which Parkland students created to advocate for gun control, calling for greater restrictions on gun ownership and criticizing lawmakers failure to act.

Similarly, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders gave a passionate speech on NBC News “Meet the Press” slamming a lack of congressional action on gun control and blaming the National Rifle Association.

While these students and liberal lawmakers would like us to believe there are currently no restrictions on gun ownership in place which could have prevented this tragedy, that is simply untrue. In fact, to commit this act of terror, the shooter, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, had to show a complete disregard for existing laws.

Texas already prevents the purchase of a shotgun or rifle by anyone under the age of 18 and handguns may not be purchased by anyone under the age of 21. School properties in Texas are already gun free zones unless districts apple for authorized employees to be allowed to carry, and anyone who allows a minor to gain excessive access to a readily dischargeable firearm can be charged with criminal negligence.

Pagourtzis used two firearms: a shotgun and a .38 caliber revolver, both of which he took from his father. The shooter also left a number of homemade explosive devices inside and outside of the school.

Essentially, laws already exist to prevent what Pagourtzis did, but they failed because Pagourtzis was acting with complete disrespect for the law as school shooter shooters often do.

It makes no sense to enact further gun control, which limits the rights of law-abiding citizens when these criminals consistently find ways around these laws. Especially when the Crime Prevention Research Center concluded in a May 2018 report 97.3 percent of mass public shootings since 1950 occurred in gun free zones.

Existing gun control measures could not have prevented the events that took place at Santa Fe High School last week, and more gun control laws will not prevent future attacks, no matter what liberals claim.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has demanded swift justice for the gunman and has assembled a panel to discuss solutions. Abbot has already suggested metal detectors on school campuses and mental health screenings rather than gun control, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Americans must remember to look to facts rather than emotions following this horrific event. While the left attempts to use this as an opportunity to propel an anti-gun narrative, it is more important than ever that law-abiding citizens stand up for their constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

Natalia Castro is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government.

Americans for Limited Government is a non-partisan, nationwide network committed to advancing free market reforms, private property rights and core American liberties.  For more information on ALG please visit the website at www.GetLiberty.org.  You can also read more articles at www.dailytorch.com.

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NEW JERSEY’S “MOVE OVER” TRAFFIC LAW

By SHERRI RUGGIERI

This Memorial Day Weekend it is expected that more than one million New Jersey residents will using the roadways (as reported by AAA).

“Changing lanes and slowing down may seem like a small thing, but moving over for a police officer, a maintenance worker or an emergency responder can save lives. It’s so simple. Slow down, move over and be mindful. If you are driving this holiday weekend, please, mind the Move Over Law. The consequences for violating it could be life and death,” said Donna Setaro, the mother of late-New Jersey State Trooper Marc Castellano, who was struck and killed while standing on the shoulder of Route 195.  In memory of her son, Ms. Setaro initiated a “Move Over Awareness Campaign (MARC) to educate people about the Move Over law and to protect against the danger that cost her son his life.  

Under New Jersey’s current “Move Over” law, drivers must slow down and change lanes if they see the flashing lights of any emergency vehicles (police cars, firetrucks, and tow trucks) on the side of the road.  Right now, drivers who violate this law receive a fine between $100 and $500.  However, New Jersey Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey are sponsoring bill (A-3890) that strengthen the punishment for a violation.  If enacted, this law would assess two (2) motor vehicle points for violation of the “Move Over” law along with the fines. “No one wants points on their driving records. Toughening the penalty will send a clear message to motorists about the importance of the law and serve as a better deterrent against distracted driving, which is the main cause of crashes in the state,” stated Downey.

As explained by Wayne Blanchard, President of the New Jersey State Troopers Union:  “The Move Over Law is a simple yet vital traffic law that we expect all drivers to adhere to. If you see an emergency responder, a police officer, a maintenance worker or any other professional responding to an incident on the side of the road, safely change lanes. If you are unable to do so in a safe manner, please slow down as you pass. We want to make sure everyone has a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day Weekend. Please do you part in ensuring our police officers and emergency responders do as well.”

Sherri Ruggieri is the managing editor of Empire State News. A practicing attorney for over 20 years, Ms. Ruggieri is also chairperson of Edison Township’s Planning Board. Additionally, she has served as a college professor, with nearly a decade of experience in teaching law and political science courses.

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TIME TO END SPECIAL COUNSEL INVESTIGATION THAT NEVER SHOULD HAVE BEGUN IN FIRST PLACE

By KENNETH DEL VECCHIO

The Robert Mueller special counsel investigation is rotten at its core, given that it was initiated with a specious cause: to investigate alleged illegal collusion between the Donald Trump presidential campaign and “Russians” to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. While Mueller, his staff, Rod Rosenstein and others may have had a good faith belief in rumors that personnel from the Trump campaign had such dealings (and therefore believed an investigation was warranted), the rumors were riddled with wild innuendo, substantial ambiguity, and political animus.

The totality of these distasteful issues, coupled with wholly insufficient evidence, should have resulted in a decision to stop the special counsel investigation before it started. The investigation is not only a gross misuse of tens of millions of tax dollars, but it has damaged many innocent persons lives. And it has been a persistent, unnecessary albatross wrapped around the neck of America and its international reputation.

Wrongful legal conclusions have abounded, causing a daytime TV-like melodrama which, daily, delivers one silly pundit analysis after another. There has been a serious misunderstanding of the law – by not only the media and politicos, but also by many purported legal minds – regarding the core of the special counsel investigation. Here is the legal truth:

There is nothing illegal in American companies doing business in Russia, with Russian citizens, and/or the Russian government.

There is nothing illegal in American political candidates receiving campaign contributions from Russians.

There is nothing illegal in American political candidates colluding with Russians to defeat an opposing American political candidate. The act of “collusion”, meaning “working together”, is not unlawful – unless the parties are colluding to commit a crime, such as bank fraud, identity theft, computer hacking and/or one of hundreds of criminal offenses.

Special Counsel Mueller understands all of this. The man is both highly intelligent and highly experienced.

The massive flaw with the investigation, beyond the fact that it never should have begun, is that it clearly appears that there has no been no credible evidence whatsoever found to demonstrate that Donald Trump and/or any person associated with his campaign colluded to commit a crime with any Russian national.  Given such, the investigation should be terminated immediately, as substantial time has passed with no results corroborating the dubious basis for its launch.

More so, there has only been minimal information regarding Trump campaign personnel dealings with Russians in any matters. If a prosecutor is scratching to find criminal conduct, he may look to lawful dealings to determine if there may have been illicit conduct beneath the legal activity. Such prosecutorial investigations, in layman’s terms, are unfair, but in some cases are permissible. It appears that Mueller has been looking at lawful dealings in an effort to attempt to locate unlawful acts. These lawful acts, according to all publicly available information, have not germinated into any evidence of illegal collusion between Trump and/or Trump staffers and Russians to influence the 2016 presidential election. Given such, at this stage, those who felt they had a good faith rationale for this special prosecutor investigation to occur, must realize that, in the interests of justice, the investigation should be immediately terminated.

Mueller and his team know that the Donald Trump Jr et al meeting with the Russian lawyer did not involve any acts of illegal collusion. They also know that Trump’s purported desire to build a hotel in Russia – and all of the dealings that may have been involved with same – do not amount to any unlawful collusion whatsoever. They, of course, also are well aware of the Carter Page/FISA Warrant debacle, and that there obviously was no illegal activity connected to that matter—except, perhaps, by members of law enforcement. In totality, per their substantial legal acumen and experiences, they must realize that all roads do not lead to Trump and, in fact, none do; they must realize that there is no credible evidence that Trump and/or his campaign staff illegally colluded with Russians to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

A caveat to the above is that media and, therefore, the public, may not know everything that Mueller Special Counsel investigators know. If there is credible evidence of unlawful collusion, the investigation has a just reason to continue. However, per the public information available (which is extensive, if not all-inclusive), it does not appear so. Accordingly, if such is the case, the warrant for Trump Organization documents should not have been issued, and the continuation of the investigation should cease immediately – to relieve taxpayers of this undue economic burden and to relieve America of the frustrating soap opera angst that travels daily with the investigation.

Notwithstanding the specious basis for the special counsel investigation, Rod Rosenstein and Robert Mueller indeed had the lawful authority to initiate it and carry forward with it. A few ancillary good indictments have flowed from it (the Russian nationals who committed identity theft and bank fraud). And now, they indeed have the authority to end the investigation. And, indeed, that is exactly what they should do.

Kenneth Del Vecchio, ESN publisher and editor-in-chief, is the author of some of the nation’s best-selling legal books, including a series of criminal codebooks published by Pearson Education/Prentice Hall and ALM/New Jersey & New York Law Journal Books. He is a former judge, a former prosecutor and a practicing criminal/entertainment attorney for 23 years, wherein he has tried over 400 cases.  Mr. Del Vecchio is also an acclaimed filmmaker who has written, produced and directed over 30 movies that star 100+ film and TV stars, including several Academy Award and Emmy winners and nominees. His films are distributed through industry leaders such as Sony Pictures, NBCUniversal, Cinedigm, and E-1 Entertainment. He has starred in numerous movies, as well. A best-selling political thriller novelist, he penned his first published novel at only 24-years-old. Additionally, Mr. Del Vecchio is the founder and chairman of Hoboken International Film Festival, called by FOX, Time Warner, and other major media “One of the 10 Biggest Film Festivals in the World.”  A frequent legal and political  analyst on networks such as Fox News Channel, Mr. Del Vecchio formerly served as the publisher and editorial page editor for a New Jersey daily newspaper. 

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SURRENDER REPUBLICANS PUSHING DISCHARGE PETITION FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION AMNESTY ARE TRYING TO LOSE MAJORITY

By ROBERT ROMANO

Moderate Republicans appear intent on throwing away the House majority in Nov. 2018 when the midterm elections and are now reportedly five signatures away from a discharge petition bringing immigration amnesty legislation to the House floor for a vote.

What are they thinking?

The so-called Queen of the Hill debate will bring legislation by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) to the floor, but not to pass. Instead, the plan is to allow for four bills in the nature of a substitute come to the floor. The plan is to defeat the Goodlatte bill and offer up an immigration amnesty bill to pass instead with Democrats and few Republicans voting in favor.

The idea is to embarrass President Donald Trump, who ran explicitly against amnesty or any other accommodation without building a wall, ending chain migration and moves to a merit-based system.

The Goodlatte bill fits those specs but the House is not going to pass the Goodlatte bill. If the point was to pass the Goodlatte bill, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) would bring it to the floor and House Republicans would pass it.

Instead, Ryan is standing against the effort. “I can guarantee you a discharge petition will not make law,” he said at a press conference after speaking against the effort while Republicans were in conference, hinting that President Trump would veto anything that does not match his priorities on immigration.

And he’d be right.

Again, the purpose of this exercise is not to enact the Trump agenda or anything Republicans ran on in 2016.

It’s to not enact the Trump agenda, and to defy Republican leaders who are pleading with their members not to embrace what amounts to political suicide for the House majority.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) McCarthy has similarly come out against the discharge petition stating, “If election is today we win. Will we continue to grow. But few things can disrupt us. We cannot disrupt ourselves. Intensity levels are still not there, and discharge petitions release the power of the floor that the American people gave us the responsibly to hold. When you release that power the majority goes to Nancy. If you want to depress intensity this is [the] number one way to do it. We can debate internally but don’t let someone else like Nancy decide our future.”

McCarthy is right, this is how Republicans could lose in November. And if he and Ryan are committed to preserving the majority, they have to begin acting punitively against these faithless representatives who no longer represent what their party stood for in the last election.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government. You can read more of his articles at www.dailytorch.com.

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pic - VA

FEDERAL CIVIL SERVICE ABUSES BIGGER THAN JUST THE VA

By NATLIA CASTRO

When news broke of employees at the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) putting the lives of veterans at risk with waiting lists to die, the country was outraged. When it became clear that these employees were not being terminated for their failures and mismanagement, Florida Senator Marco Rubio led bipartisan legislation that protected whistleblowers and provided management the authority to remove bad employees. Unfortunately, the VA is not the only department allowing bad employees to stay on the job despite grotesque violations of employee guidelines and even the law. Here we highlight some of the worst stories of civil service abuse in recent years and how they have been allowed to occur.

Department of Veteran Affairs

Some stories of abuse are obvious, like the Washington Times of April 2016 which reported on two senior VA officials who were responsible for the death of nearly 300 veterans on waiting lists, yet took over two years to even be proposed to be terminated. But as Senator Rubio argued in a May 2017 press release, this large-scale abuse flourished because of a culture of mismanagement.

Rubio explained, “To list just a few examples, one VA employee was arrested and spent time in jail for armed robbery. Another employee was caught watching pornography on the job. In my home state of Florida, there have been several instances of prescription drugs being diverted, gone missing from VA facilities… In all of these cases, the employees involved were ultimately allowed to keep their jobs, or resign with their benefits intact… It is clear that under existing civil service rules and pressure from unions and others, VA leaders have not been able to hold individuals accountable for their actions. Over and over again, we’ve seen the VA attempt to take disciplinary action against an employee, only to see the appeals process prove so complex, lengthy and lenient that real accountability was virtually impossible to achieve.”

To combat this problem, the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act reduced the burden of proof required for removal under Title 5 of the Civil Service Reform Act Chapter 75 from a preponderance of evidence standard to substantial evidence for removal and expedited the removal process. As a result, firings for cause from the VA has increased by 26 percent since the bill’s passage, according to data retrieved from the Office of Personnel Management’s FedScope. So far, the law has improved employee accountability within the VA, but other departments need the same accountability standards.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The EPA has been in need of employee accountability reforms for years. A March 2018 Heritage Foundation panel discussion revealed several ridiculous stories of abuse which have gone nearly completely unaddressed. In one case a GS-12 Public Affairs Specialist from Atlanta stole a video camera from her work and attempted to pawn the item. After being arrested and convicted of a felony, the employee was placed on a 30-day suspension and returned to her office. Similarly, another EPA employee was arrested for growing marijuana plants in her home and received seven months of paid leave for her time absent the office.

As Rubio highlighted, the difficulties associated with the appeal process protect poor performing employees.

May 2016 Office of the Inspector General (OIG) Investigation sheds light onto a 10-year battle between the EPA and a Dallas GS-13 EPA employee. The report explains, “In March 2006, the OIG Dallas Field Office was informed that a GS-13 EPA Enforcement Officer was cited by the Dallas Police Department for the improper use of emergency lights on his personal vehicle while also being a registered sex offender… The EPA employee also possessed a make-shift badge which accompanied his administrative EPA Enforcement Officer credentials, which were displayed by the employee to the police officer. This led the police officer to believe that the employee was an EPA law enforcement officer. The EPA employee also used emergency lights affixed to his personal vehicle at an accident scene.”

A subsequent OIG investigation uncovered that the EPA employee had designed and purchased 20 similar “EPA enforcement badges”, a bullet proof vest, and installed emergency lights on his personal vehicle. This marked the second time the employee had been counseled by EPA officials for using emergency lights on his personal vehicle. Still in April, the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute the employee for false personation of an officer and possession of counterfeit badges. Instead, the employee was moved to an administrative position within the office.

It was in August 2013 that the same employee was arrested again for violation of his parole, as a result of his arrest the OIG retrieved information that the employee may have viewed and possessed child pornography on his EPA issued computer. Finally, the employee was indefinitely suspended and, in January 2014, terminated.

That was until the decision was overturned on appeal and the EPA was forced to re-hire the employee. The employee worked at the EPA from September 2014 until January 2015 when the employee reached a settlement in which he agreed to resign from the EPA in exchange for certain consideration.

It is clear these employees should not be allowed to continue working or receive benefits from the federal government after abusing the law, but a poor and convoluted accountability system serves more to protect bad employees than serve good ones.

Department of Interior

Perhaps one of the most egregious incidents of failed employee accountability arises from the National Park Service (NPS). An October 2017 report the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform uncovered decades of mismanaged sexual misconduct allegations.

The report explains, “On June 14, 2016, the Committee held a hearing on oversight of the NPS… The investigation followed complaints from 13 current and former NPS employees from the River District. They wrote to then-Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and submitted declarations describing incidents taking place over a period of 15 years, which they believed showed evidence of ‘discrimination, retaliation, and a sexually hostile work environment.’ The OIG investigation corroborated the claims of the complainants and found evidence of a long-term pattern of sexual harassment and a hostile work environment in the [Grand Canyon National Park’s] River District. It also identified an additional 22 other individuals who reported experiencing or witnessing sexual harassment and hostile work environments while working in the River District.”

After the misconduct was discovered several employees were forced to resign, seemingly marking a win for the accountability standards within the Department. Unfortunately, the Committee report continues to explain, that the Department of Interior OIG found in 2016 that the NPS River District has re-hired an employee who was forced to resign and, in contrast, did not renew employment of the complainant who sent the letter to Secretary Jewell.

During a second hearing regarding sexual harassment, misconduct, and a lack of accountability within the NPS, the committee discovered several employees originally forced to resign instead simply switched parks. One employee was moved to several parks, with several allegations of sexual misconduct made against him at each one, before being able to retire having served full career with the NPS.

Rep. Loudermilk proposes reform

While we might want to believe these stories are unique, U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk reminds us via his Twitter that these are actual common. With the #MeritMonday, Loudermilk has also told the story of an Auditor at the Department of Housing and Urban Development who was investigated for running a trucking business from his government office yet never faced criminal charges and was allowed to keep his job.

Loudermilk has introduced the MERIT Act of 2017, which aims at expanding the accountability reforms outlined in the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act to all government agencies.

It is no surprise FedScope data reveals that only 0.53 percent of federal employees are terminated for cause each year. Employees have a 99.5 percent chance — of not being fired.

That is, no matter how corrupt, incompetent or insane they act.

We must pass legislation like the MERIT Act to enable leadership to remove poor performing employees and empower employees to speak up against misconduct. Rep. Loudermilk has introduced the MERIT Act to do just this.

Because at the end of the day, this is not merely a problem within the VA, so for the protection of all federal employees all department wide civil service reform must be passed.

Natalia Castro is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government. You can read more of her articles at www.dailytorch.com. 

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