Monday, August 1, 2011

What part of " conflict of interest" doesn't the VP of the UNITED STATES get ???

Headlines have been recently full of issues involving federal contracting and the waste of federal tax dollars by federal contractors and/or conflicts of interest.

These are serious issues and ones the FEDS don't take lightly because they are violations of Federal law. The law applies to all citizens equally as that is the foundation of our legal system.

For reference :

From the GSA (General Services Administration)

Part 3—Improper Business Practices and Personal Conflicts of Interest

Subpart 3.6—Contracts with Government Employees or Organizations Owned or Controlled by Them
3.601 Policy.
(a) Except as specified in 3.602, a contracting officer shall not knowingly award a contract to a Government employee or to a business concern or other organization owned or substantially owned or controlled by one or more Government employees.
This policy is intended to avoid any conflict of interest that might arise between the employees’ interests and their Government duties, and to avoid the appearance of favoritism or preferential treatment by the Government toward its employees.

For purposes of this subpart, special Government employees (as defined in 18 U.S.C. 202) performing services as experts, advisers, or consultants, or as members of advisory committees, are not considered Government employees unless—

(1) The contract arises directly out of the individual’s activity as a special Government employee;
(2) In the individual’s capacity as a special Government employee, the individual is in a position to influence the award of the contract; or

(3) Another conflict of interest is determined to exist.

Subpart 3.10—Contractor Code of Business Ethics and Conduct
3.1000 Scope of subpart.
This subpart prescribes policies and procedures for the establishment of contractor codes of business ethics and conduct, and display of agency Office of Inspector General (OIG) fraud hotline posters.

3.1003 Requirements.
(a) Contractor requirements

b) Notification of possible contractor violation. If the contracting officer is notified of possible contractor violation of Federal criminal law involving fraud, conflict of interest, bribery, or gratuity violations found in Title 18 U.S.C.; or a violation of the civil False Claims Act, the contracting officer shall—

(1) Coordinate the matter with the agency Office of the Inspector General; or

(2) Take action in accordance with agency procedures.

So you might be wondering what does all this have to do with the price of Tea in China?

President Barack Obama promised to run the most transparent White House in history—disclosing donations, shunning lobbyists, and broadcasting important meetings on C-SPAN.

Well it seems that if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is highly likely it is a duck.

VP Joe Biden is a "vendor" on a Federal Contract to rent a piece of property he owns to the Secret Service.

As the vendor on a fixed-price contract, Mr. Biden technically now is a federal contractor. In this case, we are talking about a huge conflict of interest on the part of the Vice President who cannot be " vendor" and VPOTUS at the same time as being on a government contract as that is a text book case of " Conflict of Interest ".

Any 1st year law student could see it and the fact that it was set up and put in place w/o a bid or review shows a glaring inability of the VP or the Administration to understand that violating Federal Law is NOT acceptable for the holder of the second highest office in the land.

Of course this will be dismissed by the Administration as a "non-issue" but should raise the ire of anyone who expects that the VPOTUS needs to learn that unethical means unethical and that leadership & integrity are non-negotiable. Either you are an ethical leader or you are not - there is no grey area.

In this case, the Administration and the VP are a case of "Classic Failures". And this doesn't surprise me but it should be a prime reason to send him & his buddy the "empty suit in residence" at the White House packing in 2012.

Biden charging Secret Service for cottage rental

The U.S. Secret Service does more than protect Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. — the agency also pays him rent.
By Jim McElhatton
-The Washington Times
Sunday, July 31, 2011

Since April, Mr. Biden has collected more than $13,000 from the agency charged with protecting him and his family for use of a rental cottage adjacent to the waterfront home he owns in a Wilmington, Del., suburb.

Mr. Biden, listed not as vice president in federal purchasing documents but as a “vendor,” is eligible for up to $66,000 by the time the government contract expires in the fall of 2013, the records show.

Officials say the arrangement came about when a previous tenant moved out of the cottage and the Secret Service moved in.

Edwin M. Donovan, special agent in charge at the Secret Service's Office of Government and Public Affairs in Washington, said the agency pays $2,200 in rent per-month, the same amount a previous tenant had paid before moving out.

He said the close location provides a level of security for the Biden family the agency might not have had otherwise. Asked if the Secret Service typically pays rent to the people it protects, he said, “It’s a rental property so we pay rent there.”

Taxpayer watchdogs say the Secret Service should do everything it can to protect Mr. Biden, but they wonder whether he should be collecting rent from the agency while it’s doing its job.

“He should be afforded every single protection available to him and his family, as should every vice president and president,” said Leslie Paige, spokeswoman for the Washington-based Citizens Against Government Waste.

“But this arrangement seems bizarre to me,” she added. “You’d think the vice president, who shepherded the deficit committee, would think twice about charging the Secret Service rent. Why would he need the money? I don’t get it.”

According to Mr. Biden’s office, the vice president’s mother lived in the cottage until she died in January 2010. At that time, the Secret Service had been renting properties in the Wilmington area for agents who were providing a protective presence at Mr. Biden’s personal residence.

Mr. Biden later asked the Secret Service if the agency wanted to rent the cottage property, but the Secret Service declined and Mr. Biden rented it instead to a private tenant, according to the vice president's office. But almost a year later, when that tenant moved out, the Secret Service approached Mr. Biden about renting the cottage.

“The cottage was an existing rental property at the time the Secret Service signed its lease,” said Kendra Barkoff, a spokeswoman for Mr. Biden.

Last year, Mr. Biden and his wife, Jill, reported earning $379,178, including $11,000 in income from the cottage, according to the Bidens’ tax return. The Bidens did not list any rental income for 2009.

The Secret Service was the contracting agency on the two purchase orders so far that have paid Mr. Biden $13,200 combined for use of his cottage.

The first purchase order to Mr. Biden, for $2,200, was signed April 1, and the second, for $11,000, was signed June 2. The records both list Mr. Biden by name as the vendor under a section of the purchase order called “contractor information.” The purchase order describes Mr. Biden as a sole proprietor with no employees and no annual revenue.

The Washington Times inquired about the rental arrangement after Mr. Biden’s name appeared as a vendor in federal spending records. As the vendor on a fixed-price contract, Mr. Biden technically now is a federal contractor.

He’s been outspoken in calling for greater accountability in federal contracts. When Mr. Biden and President Obama launched the “Campaign to Cut Waste” last month, Mr. Biden said, “The President and I are committed to changing the way government works and we are stepping up the hunt for misspent dollars.”

During the presidential transition, Mr. Biden and Mr. Obama pledged to end the abuse of no-bid contracting and require competitive bidding on nearly all contract orders for more than $25,000 across the federal government.

Though the overall rental contract has a total value of up to $66,000, the agreement was approved through simplified acquisition procedures that do not require bidding.

“To an outside observer who pays the taxes that help fund protective services, this might seem like an odd arrangement, but apparently there’s some law or administrative procedure that facilitates it,” said Pete Sepp, vice president of the National Taxpayers Union in Alexandria, which monitors federal spending.

Mr. Sepp also had a thought on what Mr. Biden could do with the rent money he collects from the Secret Service: “Every elected official can do the same thing average Americans can, which is to write a check to the Bureau of the Public Debt to bring down the national debt.”

The Secret Service, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security, is required by law to ensure the safety of current and former national leaders and their families, such as the president, past presidents, vice presidents and presidential candidates.


chief torpedoman said...

If the Secret Service think it can better protect the VP by using this cottage instead of a different place, then this should be a non issue.

Just becasue the Secret Service occupies the cottage, does that mean that the VP should not collect rent? He would collect it if someone else was in it, would he not?

Middleboro Jones said...

Yes, but I highly doubt he *needs* to collect rent with his income and status. I would state if he chose to take the "high road", he could donate the use of the cottage to the SS for the length of his time in office....which hopefully will only be until Jan 2013.

Leaders need to take extra caution to avoid impropiety or even the image of impropiety...This is not something VPOTUS understands.