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Category: topSource: marketwatchJun 23rd, 2022

The Tucker Carlson origin story

Tucker Carlson's journey from prep school provocateur to Fox News flamethrower, according to his friends and former classmates. Tucker Carlson during a CNN National Town Meeting on coverage of the White House sex scandal, on January 28, 1998.Richard Ellis/Getty Images Tucker Carlson is remembered as a provocateur and gleeful contrarian by those who knew him in his early days. His bohemian artist mother abandoned her young family and cut Tucker and his brother out of her will. At a Rhode Island prep school and at Trinity College, classmates remember him as a skilled debater who could both amuse and infuriate his audiences. On Oct. 29, 1984, New York police killed an elderly Black woman named Eleanor Bumpurs in her own home. Bumpers, who lived in a public housing complex in the Bronx, had fallen four months behind on her rent. When officials from the city housing authority tried to evict her, she refused, and they called the police. Five officers responded by storming into her apartment. Bumpurs, who had a history of mental illness, grabbed a butcher knife as two officers pushed her against a wall with their plastic shields and a metal pole. A third officer fired two shots from his 12-gauge shotgun, striking Bumpurs in her hand and chest.Eleanor Bumpurs' death dominated the city's news for two months and led the NYPD to revise its guidelines for responding to emotionally disturbed individuals.At St. George's prep school, some 175 miles away in Rhode Island, the incident deeply haunted Richard Wayner. He was one of the school's few Black students and had grown up in a residential tower not far from where Bumpurs had lived. He earned straight As and was so admired that in 1984 his peers elected him senior prefect, the prep equivalent of student body president, making him the first Black class leader in the school's 125-year history. Harvard soon beckoned.Wayner was frustrated with how the St. George's community seemed to ignore the conversations about racial justice that were happening outside the cloistered confines of Aquidneck Island. It bothered Wayne that almost no one at St. George's seemed to know anything about Bumpurs' killing. "You had your crew, you put your head down, and you tried to get through three or four years of prep school with your psyche intact," Wayner said of those days.As senior prefect, one of the duties was to deliver an address each week at the mandatory Sunday chapel service. One Sunday, perched from the chapel podium, Wayner described the shooting as a sea of white faces stared back at him. He concluded with the words: "Does anyone think that woman deserved to die?"Near the front of the chapel, a single hand went up for a few brief seconds. It was Tucker Carlson.Eleanor Bumpurs was shot and killed by the New York Police Department on October 29, 1984APThen a sophomore, Tucker had a reputation as a gleeful contrarian – an indefatigable debater and verbal jouster who, according to some, could also be a bit of a jerk. "Tucker was just sort of fearless," said Ian Toll, a St. George's alumnus who would go on to be a military historian. "Whether it was a legitimate shooting may have been a point of debate but the fact was that Tucker was an underclassmen and the culture was to defer to the seniors." Wayner himself never saw Tucker's hand go up, and the two kept in touch over the years. (Note on style: Tucker Carlson and the members of his family are referred to here by their first names to avoid confusion.)  Four decades later, glimmers of that prep school provocateur appear on Tucker's Prime Time show on Fox, which garners an average of between 3 to 4 million viewers a night. His furrowed visage and spoiling-for-a-fight demeanor are all too familiar to those who have known him for decades. In the words of Roger Stone, a Republican political operative, frequent guest, and longtime friend of Tucker's: "Tucker Carlson is the single most influential conservative journalist in America… It is his courage and his willingness to talk about issues that no one else is willing to cover that has led to this development."Tucker's name has even been floated as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2024. "I mean, I guess if, like, I was the last person on earth, I could do it. But, I mean, it seems pretty unlikely that I would be that guy." he said on the "Ruthless" podcast in June, dismissing this possibility.Tucker's four decades in Washington, and his transition from conservative magazine writer to right-wing television pundit, have been well documented. But less well known are his early years and how they shaped him: his bohemian artist mother, who abandoned her young family and cut Tucker and his brother out of her will; the Rhode Island prep school where he met his future spouse; and his formation into a contrarian debater who could both amuse and infuriate his audience with his attention-getting tactics.Tucker declined to participate in an interview with Insider, saying in a statement. "Your level of interest in the boring details of my life is creepy as hell, and also pathetic," he wrote. "You owe it to yourself and the country to do something useful with your talents. Please reassess."California roots Tucker Carlson's West Coast roots burrow as deep as a giant redwood. He was born in San Francisco in May 1969 as the excesses of the Sixties peaked and the conservative backlash to the counterculture and the Civil Rights movement started to take shape. Tucker's mother, Lisa McNear Lombardi, born in San Francisco in 1945, came from one of the state's storied frontier families. Lisa's mother, Mary Nickel James, was a cattle baron heiress. Her great-great-grandfather had owned 3 million acres of ranchland, making him among the largest landowners west of the Mississippi. Her father Oliver Lombardi was an insurance broker and descendant of Italian-speaking Swiss immigrants. Lisa enrolled at UC Berkeley, where she majored in architecture. She met Richard Carlson, a San Francisco TV journalist from a considerably less prosperous background, while still in college. Lisa and Richard eloped in Reno, Nevada in 1967. The couple didn't notify Lisa's mother, who was traveling in Europe with her new husband at the time. "Family members have been unable to locate them to reveal the nuptials," a gossip item published in the San Francisco Examiner dished.Tucker arrived two years later. A second son, Buckley, was born two years after that. As Richard's career began to flourish, the family moved first to Los Angeles and then, in 1975, to La Jolla, a moneyed, beach-front enclave about 12 miles north of San Diego. When Lisa and Richard divorced a year later, in 1976, Richard got full custody of their sons, then 6 and 4. According to three of Tucker's childhood classmates, Lisa disappeared from her sons' lives. They don't recall Tucker talking about her, or seeing her at school events. Marc Sterne, Tucker's boarding school roommate who went on to be executive producer of the Tony Kornheiser Show, says the two didn't talk much about Tucker's relationship with his mother and he got the impression that Tucker and Richard were exceptionally close. When Sterne's own parents split up that year, he said Tucker was supportive and understanding. Lisa spent the next two decades as an artist – moving first to Los Angeles, where she befriended the painter David Hockney, and later split her time between France and South Carolina with her husband, British painter Michael Vaughan. In 1979, Richard Carlson married Patricia Swanson, heiress to the Swanson frozen foods empire that perfected the frozen Salisbury steak for hassle-free dinners. She soon legally adopted Tucker and Buckley.  When Lisa died in 2011, her estate was initially divided equally between Tucker, his brother Buckley, and Vaughan. But in 2013, Vaughan's daughter from another marriage found a one-page handwritten document in Lisa's art studio in France that left her assets to her surviving husband with an addendum that stated, "I leave my sons Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson and Buckley Swanson Peck Carlson one dollar each." A protracted battle over Lombardi's estate involving Vaughan and the Carlson brothers wound up in probate court. The Carlsons asserted the will was forged but a forensic witness determined that Lisa had written the note. The case eventually went to the California Appellate Court, which allowed the Carlson brothers to keep their shares in 2019."Lisa was basically sort of a hippie and a free spirit," said one attorney who  represented the Vaughan family and recalled having conversations about the case. "She was very liberal and she did not agree with Tucker's politics. But she stuck the will in the book, everyone forgot about it, and then she passed away."In a 2017 interview with The New Yorker, Tucker described the dissolution of his family as a "totally bizarre situation — which I never talk about, because it was actually not really part of my life at all." Several pieces of art produced by Tucker's mother, Lisa Lombardi, and her then-partner Mo Mcdermott in the home of a California collector.Ted Soqui for InsiderLisa When Lisa left her husband and two young sons, she was escaping suburban family life in favor of the more bohemian existence as an artist. One of Tucker and Buckley's former teachers said their mother's absence "left some sour grapes." "I felt they sided with the father," Rusty Rushton, a former St. George's English teacher said. After the divorce, Lisa returned to Los Angeles and tried to break into the city's thriving contemporary art scene. She befriended Mo McDermott, an LA-based British sculptor, model, and longtime assistant to David Hockney, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. A few years before he met Lisa, the scene was captured in Jack Hazan's 1974 groundbreaking documentary "A Bigger Splash," which followed Hockney and his coterie of gay male friends idly lounging around the pool in his Hollywood Hills home."When love goes wrong, there's more than two people who suffer," said McDermott, playing a slightly exaggerated version of himself, in a voiceover in the documentary.Lisa and McDermott became a couple and Lisa won admission into Hockney's entourage. Hockney lived a far more reclusive lifestyle than his pop art compatriot Andy Warhol but some four dozen or so artists, photographers, and writers regularly passed through his properties."She was more like a hippie, arty kind of person. I couldn't ever imagine her being a mother," said Joan Quinn, the then-West Coast editor of Andy Warhol's Interview Magazine, who knew Lisa during those years and still owns several of her works. "She was very nervous all the time… She was ill-content."The pair were often seen at Hockney's Hollywood Hills home and at Friday night gallery openings on La Cienega Boulevard. They collaborated on playful, large-scale wood sculptures of animals, vegetables, and trees. A handful of their pieces could be seen around Hockney's hillside ranch."Hockney had me over to meet them. He wanted a gallery to handle their work," said Molly Barnes, who owns a gallery in West Hollywood and gave the pair shows in 1983 and 1984. "They were brilliant and David loved Mo. He thought they were the best artists around.""She was quiet and intellectual and somewhat withdrawn," Barnes said. "She had come from a lot of money and that reflected on her personality. She wasn't a snob in any way but she had the manners of a private school girl and someone who was fighting the establishment."A sculpture by Tucker's mother, Lisa Lombardi, and her then-partner Mo Mcdermott in the home of a California collector.Ted Soqui for InsiderNone of them recall Lisa discussing her two sons. McDermott died in 1988. After his death, Hockney discovered that McDermott had been stealing drawings from him and selling them. Hockney said the betrayal helped bring on a heart attack. "I believe I had a broken heart," Hockney told The Guardian in 1995. (Hockney did not answer multiple inquiries about Lisa or McDermott.)In 1987, Lisa met Vaughan, one of Hockney's peers in the British art scene known as the "Bradford Mafia." They married in February 1989 and for years afterward they lived in homes in the Pyrenees of southwest France and South Carolina's Sea Islands.Lisa continued to make art, primarily oversized, wooden sculptures of everyday household items like peeled lemons and dice, but she exhibited her work infrequently. She died of cancer in 2011, at which point Carlson was a decade into his media career and a regular contributor on Fox News. Richard In contrast to Lisa's privileged upbringing, Richard's childhood was full of loss. Richard's mother was a 15-year-old high school girl who had starved herself during her pregnancy, and he was born with a condition called rickets. Six weeks later, his mother left him at an orphanage in Boston called The Home for Little Wanderers. Richard's father, who was 18, tried to convince her to kidnap the infant and marry him, but she refused. He shot and killed himself two blocks from her home.A Massachusetts couple fostered Richard for two years until he was adopted by a wool broker and his wife, which he described in a 2009 reflection for the Washington Post. His adoptive parents died when he was still a teenager and Richard was sent to the Naval Academy Preparatory School. He later enlisted in the Marines and enrolled in an ROTC program at the University of Mississippi to pay for college.In 1962, Richard developed an itch for journalism while working as a cop in Ocean City, Maryland at the age of 21, and the future NBC political correspondent Catherine Mackin, helped him get a copy boy job at the Los Angeles Times. Richard moved to San Francisco three years later and his career blossomed. He started producing television news features with his friend, Lance Brisson, the son of actress Rosalind Russell. They filmed migrant farm workers in the Imperial Valley living in cardboard abodes in 110 degree weather, traipsed the Sierra Nevada mountains to visit a hermit, and covered the Zodiac Killer and Bay Area riots (during one demonstration in 1966, they sent television feeds from their car where they trapped for four hours  and a crowd roughed up Brisson, which required four stitches under his left eye). Another time, they rented a helicopter in search of a Soviet trawler but they had to jump into the Pacific Ocean when the chopper ran low on fuel near the shore and crashed.In 1969, Richard and Brisson co-wrote an article for Look Magazine that claimed San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto had mafia ties. Alioto sued the magazine's owner for libel and won a $350,000 judgment when a judge determined the article's allegations were made with "actual malice" and "reckless disregard for whether they were true or not." (Richard was not a defendant in the case and has stood by his story. Brisson declined an interview.)Richard moved back to Los Angeles to join KABC's investigative team two years later. One series of stories that delved into a three-wheeled sports car called the Dale and the fraudulent marketing practices of its founder, Geraldine Elizabeth Carmichael, won a Peabody award in 1975. The series also outed Carmichael as a transgender woman. (Richard's role in Carmichael's downfall was explored in the HBO documentary "The Lady and the Dale.") Soon after arriving as an anchor for KFMB-TV, San Diego's CBS affiliate, Richard ran a story revealing that tennis pro Renee Richards, who had just won a tournament at the La Jolla Tennis Club, was a transgender woman."I said, 'You can't do this. I am a private person,'" Richards, who years later would advise Caitlyn Jenner about her transition, urged the television journalist to drop his story, according to a 2015 interview. "His reply? 'Dr. Richards, you were a private person until you won that tournament yesterday.'" By the time he left the anchor chair in 1977 to take a public relations job with San Diego Savings and Loan, Richard had soured on journalism. "I have seen a lot of arrogance and hypocrisy in the press and I don't like it," he told San Diego Magazine in 1977. "Television news is insipid, sophomoric, and superficial… There are so many things I think are important and interesting but the media can be counted on to do handstands on that kind of scandal and sexual sensation."Years later, Richard said that he never tried to encourage his eldest son in politics or journalism, but that Tucker had a clear interest in both from an early age. "I never thought he was going to be a reporter or a writer. I never encouraged him to do that," Richard told CSPAN of his eldest son in 2006. "I actually attempted not to encourage him politically, either. I decided those are the things that should be left up to them."A LaJolla, California post card.Found Image Holdings/Corbis via Getty ImagesA La Jolla childhoodAfter the divorce, Richard and his boys stayed in La Jolla in a house overlooking the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. Friends of Tucker's would later say that the trauma of their mother's absence brought the three of them closer together.  "They both really admired their dad. He was a great source of wisdom. He's one of the great raconteurs you'll ever meet. They loved that glow that came from him," said Sterne, Tucker's boarding school roommate. "They both looked up to him, it was clear from my eyes."In an essay included in his book "The Long Slide: Thirty Years in American Journalism," Tucker described Richard as a kind parent who imbued family outings with a deeper message.One of Tucker's earliest memories, he writes, was from just after the divorce, when Tucker was seven and Buckley was five: the brothers gripping the edge of a luggage rack on the roof of his family's 1976 Ford Country Squire station wagon, while their father gunned the engine down a dirt road."I've sometimes wondered what car surfing was meant to teach us," Tucker wrote. "Was he trying to instill in us a proper sense of fatalism, the acknowledgement that there is only so much in life you can control? Or was it a lesson about the importance of risk?... Unless you're willing to ride the roof of a speeding station wagon, in other words, you're probably not going to leave your mark on the world."More often, the boys were left unsupervised and found their own trouble. Tucker once took a supermarket shopping cart and raced it down a hill in front of their house with Buckley in its basket. The cart tipped over, leaving Buckley with a bloody nose. He also recalled building makeshift hand grenades with hydrochloric acid and aluminum foil – using a recipe from their father's copy of "The Anarchist Cookbook"  and tossing them onto a nearby golf course."No one I know had a father like mine," Tucker wrote. "My father was funnier and more outrageous, more creative  and less willing to conform, than anyone I knew or have known since. My brother and I had the best time growing up."Richard sent Tucker to La Jolla Country Day, an upscale, largely white private school with a reputation as one of the best in Southern California, for elementary and middle school. In his book, "Ship of Fools: How a Selfish Ruling Class Is Bringing America to the Brink of Revolution," Tucker described his first grade teacher Marianna Raymond as "a living parody of earth-mother liberalism" who "wore long Indian-print skirts," and sobbed at her desk over the world's unfairness. "As a conservative, I had contempt for the whiny mawkishness of liberals. Stop blubbering and teach us to read. That was my position," he wrote. "Mrs. Raymond never did teach us; my father had to hire a tutor to get me through phonics.""I beg to differ," Raymond countered in an interview, saying that she was also Tucker's tutor during the summer after first grade and was even hired again. "I'm a great teacher. I'm sure he liked me." For her part, she remembered Tucker as a fair-haired tot who was "very sweet" and "very polite." (When The Washington Post reached out her her, she said Carlson's characterization had been "shocking.")  Friends from La Jolla remember that Tucker loved swimming the mile-and-a-half distance between La Jolla Shores Park and La Jolla Cove, jumping off cliffs that jut out into the Pacific Ocean, riffing on the drums, and playing Atari and BB gun games at the mall with his friends. "He was a happy kid. We were young, so we used to go to the beach. We did normal kid stuff," said Richard Borkum, a friend who is now a San Diego-based attorney. When they weren't at the beach or the mall, Borkum and another friend, Javier Susteata, would hang out at the Carlson home listening to The Who, AC/DC, and other classic rock bands. Borkum said the adults at the Carlson household largely left them alone. "I'm Jewish and Javier was Mexican and I'm not sure they were too happy we were going to their house," Borkum said.Another friend, Warren Barrett, remembers jamming with Tucker and going snow camping at Big Bear and snorkeling off Catalina Island with him in middle school."Tucker and I literally ate lunch together every day for two years," Barrett said. "He was completely the opposite of now. He was a cool southern California surfer kid. He was the nicest guy, played drums, and had a bunch of friends. And then something must have happened in his life that turned him into this evil diabolical shithead he is today."LaJolla is a upscale beach community outside of San Diego. Carlson and his family moved their in 1975.Slim Aarons/Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesSan Diego's next mayorRichard, meanwhile, was exploring a second career in public service. By 1980, he had risen to vice president of a bank headed by Gordon Luce, a California Republican power broker and former Reagan cabinet official. The following year, Richard's public profile got a boost when he tangled with another veteran television journalist, CBS's Mike Wallace. The 60 Minutes star had interviewed Richard for a story about low-income Californians who faced foreclosures from the bank after borrowing money to buy air conditioners without realizing they put their homes up for collateral. Richard had his own film crew tape the interview, and caught Wallace saying that people who had been defrauded were "probably too busy eating their watermelon and tacos." The remark made national headlines and Wallace was forced to apologize.Pete Wilson, the U.S. Senator and former San Diego mayor, encouraged Richard to run for office. In 1984, Richard entered the race to challenge San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgecock's re-election. "He was a very well-regarded guy," Hedgecock told Insider. "He had an almost Walter Cronkite-like appearance, but because he was in local news he was all about not offending anybody. He didn't have particularly strong views. He was nice looking, articulate, and made good appearances, but what he had to say was not particularly memorable other than he wanted me out of office."Sometimes Tucker tagged along for campaign events. "He would always show up in a sport coat, slacks and a bowtie and I thought that's really nice clothing for someone who is a kid," Hedgecock remembers. He was a very polite young man who didn't say much."Five days before voters went to the polls, Hedgecock went on trial for 15 counts of conspiracy and perjury, an issue that Richard highlighted in his television campaign ads. Richard still lost to Hedgecock 58 to 42 percent despite pouring nearly $800,000 into the race and outspending Hedgecock two to one. (Hedgecock was found guilty of violating campaign finance laws and resigned from office in 1985 but his convictions were overturned on appeal five years later.)People are seen near a beach in La Jolla, California, on April 15, 2020.Gregory Bull/AP PhotoPrep school In the fall of 1983, a teenaged Tucker traded one idyllic beachfront community for another.At 14, Tucker moved across the country to Middletown, Rhode Island, to attend St. George's School. (Buckley would follow him two years later.) The 125-year-old boarding school sits atop a hill overlooking the majestic Atlantic Ocean, and is on the other side of Aquidneck Island where Richard Carlson went to naval school. The private school was known as a repository for children of wealthy East Coast families who were not as academically inclined as those who attended Exeter or Andover. Its campus had dorms named after titans of industry, verdant athletic fields, and a white-sand beach.Senators Claiborne Pell and Prescott Bush graduated, as did Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, and poet Ogden Nash. Tucker's class included "Modern Family" actor Julie Bowen; Dede Gardner, the two-time Oscar-winning producer of "12 Years a Slave" and "Moonlight"; and former DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson. Billy Bush – "Extra" host, and cousin to George W. Bush – was three years behind him.Tuition at St. George's cost $13,000 per year in the 1980s (it's now up to $67,000 for boarding school students) and student schedules were tightly regimented with breakfast, classes, athletics, dinner, and study hall encompassing each day. Students were required to take religion classes, and attend chapel twice a week. Faculty and staff would canvass the dorms on Thursdays and Sundays to ensure no one skipped the Episcopal service. Tucker impressed his new chums as an hyper-articulate merrymaker who frequently challenged upperclassmen who enforced dorm rules and the school's liberal faculty members."He was kind of a California surfer kid. He was funny, very intelligent, and genuinely well-liked," said Bryce Traister, who was one year ahead of Tucker and is now a professor at the University of British Columbia. "There were people who didn't like Tucker because they thought he was a bullshitter but he was very charming. He was a rascal and a fast-talker, as full of shit as he is today."Back then Tucker was an iconoclast more in the mold of Ferris Bueller than preppy neocon Alex P. Keaton, even if his wardrobe resembled the "Family Ties" star. Students were required to wear jackets, ties, and khakis, although most came to class disheveled. Tucker wore well-tailored coats and chinos, pairing his outfit with a ribbon-banded watch and colorful bowtie which would later become his signature. "He was always a very sharp dresser. He had a great rack of ties. He always knew how to tie a bowtie but he didn't exclusively wear a bowtie," said Sterne, Tucker's freshman year roommate. "He always had great clothes. It was a lot of Brooks Brothers." Their crew crew held court in each others' dorm rooms at Auchincloss, the freshman hall, kicking around a Hacky Sack and playing soccer, talking about Adolph Huxley, George Orwell, and Hemingway, and dancing to Tom Petty, the Grateful Dead, and U2 on the campus lawn. Televisions weren't allowed so students listened to their Sony Walkman swapping cassette recordings of live concerts. Tucker introduced several bands to his friends."He loved classic rock and he was and still is a big fan of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead," said Sterne, who saw a Dead show with Tucker at RFK Stadium in 1986.Sometimes the clique got slices at Aquidneck Pizza and played arcade games in town, hung out in history instructor William Schenck's office, and smoked pot and Marlborough Red cigarettes on a porch in the main building's common room that faced the ocean, according to multiple sources. When the school administrators banned smoking indoors the following year so they congregated behind the dumpster behind the dining hall. Vodka (often the brand Popov) mixed with Kool-Aid was the drink of choice and students stockpiled bottles under their beds.Tucker was an enthusiastic drinker, half a dozen classmates recall. In his book, "The Long Slide," Tucker credits Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" for enticing him to try drugs in 10th grade, The experience gave him "double vision and a headache." By the time he got to college, Tucker writes, "I switched to beer."By the late 1990s Tucker stopped smoking. He eventually cut alcohol too in 2002 after drinking so much while covering George W. Bush in New Hampshire during the 2000 primary that he accidentally got on the wrong plane, according to a friend.Most of Tucker's fellow students remember him best as a skilled speaker."He was always eager to take the less palatable side of the argument and argue that side," said Mahlon Stewart, who attended prep school and college with Tucker and is now a geriatric specialist at Columbia University. "Back then it was comedic. I thought it was an act.""His confidence was just amazing. He could just put out some positions and be willing to argue anything no matter how outlandish," Keller Kimbrough, a former classmate who's now a professor at the University of Colorado. "We were talking about politics and religion one time Tucker pulled this card out of his wallet and said, 'Well actually I'm an ordained minister, I'm an authority on the subject.' This was a stunt. He could literally play the religion card." "When he got the job at Fox I just thought 'Wow that's perfect for him, that's exactly what he can do.'"Their dorm room discourses were never serious. Tucker would pick a side in a debate between whether the color red or blue were better, and the crowd would erupt whenever he made a good point, friends said.  "Even at age 15 he was verbally dexterous and a great debater," Ian Toll said. "His conservative politics was fully formed even back then. He believed in strong defense and minimal government."His teachers saw a pupil who was primed for law school."Language and speaking came naturally to him. He took pleasure in it," said Rusty Rushton, Tucker's former English teacher. Tucker's politics, though, "seemed fluid to me," Rushton said. "I don't think of him as a deeply ensconced ideologue."He ditched soccer after sophomore year to act in a school theater production of Ayn Rand's courtroom thriller "Night of January 16th" (Julie Bowen starred as the prosecuting attorney. Tucker played a juror). But Tucker found his voice in competitive debate when he eventually joined the school's debate club. The team traveled to other private school campuses to compete against schools like Andover, Exeter, and Roxbury Latin in tournaments."He won some debate and basically did a victory lap afterward and got in the face of all the faculty there," one alum from a rival school who debated against Tucker said. "After defeating the student team, he started challenging the faculty, and said, 'Do any of you want to take me on? Are any of you capable of debating me?'"SusieIn the fall of Tucker's sophomore year, a new headmaster arrived at St. George's, Rev. George Andrews II. Andrews' daughter, Susie – who Tucker would eventually marry – was in Tucker's class. According to school tradition, a rotating group of underclassmen was charged with serving their classmates dinner and, one night in late September, Tucker and Susie had the shift at the same time. "They were sitting at a table at the far end of Queen Hall just leaning in, talking to each other," Sterne recalled. "You could see the sparks flying, which was cool."Susie floated between the school's friend groups easily. When she was seen mingling with Tucker, some questioned what she saw in him."People were saying, 'Come on Susie, why are you dating Tucker?' He's such a loser slacker and she was so sweet," Traister said. The pair started dating at the age of 15 and quickly became inseparable. Tucker gained notoriety on campus for repeatedly sneaking into Susie's room on the second floor of Memorial Schoolhouse, the school's stately administrative office that housed the headmaster's quarters. He had less time for his dumpster buddies now that the couple hung out on the campus lawn, attended chapel and an interdenominational campus ministry organization called FOCUS. His senior yearbook included a photo of Tucker squinting in concern to a classmate, with the caption "What do you mean you told Susie?While Susie was universally liked within the St. George's community, her father was polarizing.Andrews led the school during a turbulent period – it was later revealed – when its choirmaster Franklin Coleman was accused of abusing or having inappropriate conduct with at least 10 male students, according to an independent investigation by the law firm Foley Hoag in 2016. (Two attorneys representing several victims said 40 alumni contacted them with credible accounts of molestation and rape accusations at the hands of St. George's employees between 1974 and 2004 after a 2015 school-issued report detailed 26 accounts of abuse in the 1970s and 1980s. (Coleman was never criminally charged and he has not responded to Insider's attempts to reach him.) Over his eight-year tenure as school music director, from 1980 to 1988, Coleman invited groups of boys to his apartment for private parties. Sometimes he shared alcohol and pot with some of them, gave them back and neck rubs, showed pornographic videos, traveled with them on choral trips and stayed in their hotel rooms, and appeared nude around some of them, the report found. Several of Tucker's classmates and former faculty said they had no reason to believe he would have been aware of the accusations. "There were rumors circulating wildly that Coleman was bad news. The idea was he would cultivate relationships with young men," Ian Toll, a St. George's alum, said. "Anyone who was there at that time would have likely been aware of those rumors."Andrews told Foley Hoag investigators he was not aware of any complaints about Coleman until May 1988 (by then, Tucker had finished his freshman year in college) when school psychiatrist Peter Kosseff wrote a report detailing a firsthand account of misconduct. But Andrews acknowledged to investigators the school could have been aware of "prior questionable conduct" before then, the report said. Andrews fired Coleman in May 1988 after the school confronted Coleman with allegations of misconduct and he did not deny them. According to the investigation, Andrews told students Coleman resigned due to "emotional stress" and that he had the "highest regard and respect for him." On the advice of a school attorney, Andrews did not report the music teacher to child protective services. He also knew that his faculty dean wrote Coleman a letter of recommendation for a job at another school, according to investigators. Andrews left the school a few weeks after Coleman departed. By September 1989, he was named headmaster at St. Andrew's School in Boca Raton, Florida which he led for 18 years. (Andrews declined to speak about Tucker or his tenure at either school.) St. George's, meanwhile, reached an undisclosed settlement with up to 30 abuse survivors in 2016. Coleman found work as a choir director at Tampa Preparatory School in Tampa Bay, Florida before he retired in 2008. Tucker Carlson attended St. George’s School, a boarding school starting at age 14.Dina Rudick/The Boston Globe via Getty ImagesTrinity In the fall of 1987, Tucker enrolled at Trinity College in Hartford, CT, where Rev. Andrews had also attended.Nearly two-thirds of Trinity's student body back then originated from private schools and many came from wealthy backgrounds. Tuition in 1987 cost $11,700 plus an additional $3,720 for room and board—around $27,839 in today's dollars."When the Gulf War broke out" in 1990, one Trinity alum who knew Tucker recalled, "there was a big plywood sign in front of the student center that read, 'Blood for Oil,' and someone else threw a bucket of paint on it."The posh campus was situated in the middle of Hartford, Connecticut, the state's capital and one of its poorest cities. Discussions about race and inequality were sometimes at the forefront of campus politics, but many students avoided engaging in them entirely."There were issues about whether black students should only date other black students, that kind of thing," said Kathleen Werthman, a classmate of Tucker's who now works at a Florida nonprofit for people with disabilities. "My sophomore year, for new students, they had a speaker talking about racism, and one of the students said, 'I never met a black student, how are you supposed to talk to them?' And the idea that only white people can be racist was challenged too."Susie was at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee. His brother remained in Rhode Island and other prep school friends had fanned out across the East Coast. Tucker moved into a four-bedroom dormitory overlooking the main quad. One suitemate, Neil Patel, was an economics major from Massachusetts who played intramural softball. (They would co-found the Daily Caller together two decades years later.) Other roommates played on the varsity soccer team and they formed a tight-knit group."I remember being struck by him. He was the same way he is now," said Rev. Billy Cerveny, a college friend of Tucker's who's now a pastor at Redbird Nashville. "He was a force of nature. He had a sense of presence and gravitas. You might get into an argument with him, but you end up loving the guy."Tucker often went out of his way to amuse his friends. Once during the spring semester, several activists set up a podium and microphone beneath his dorm window to protest the CIA's on-campus recruitment visits. The demonstration was open-mic so Tucker went up to the stage and told the crowd of about 15 people, "I think you're all a bunch of greasy chicken fuckers.""I think people laughed. He did," Cerveny said. "There was always a small collection of people any time there was an issue who tried to stir the pot in that way. Some people were dismissive and other people loved it, thinking 'Oh we're getting a fight here.'"As a sophomore, Tucker and his friends moved into a dingy three-story house on Crescent Street on the edge of the campus. He ditched his tailored jackets, khakis, and bowties for oversized Levi jeans, t-shirts, and untucked oxford shirts. Tucker commandeered a low-ceilinged room above the front porch with so many windows he had to hang up tapestries to keep out the sun. The tiny alcove had barely enough space for an eight-foot futon and several bookshelves Tucker built himself stacked with books he collected. Friends remember Tucker receiving an 8-by-10 manilla envelope that his father sent through the mail once or twice a month containing dozens of articles from newspapers and magazines.One of Tucker's friends, Cerveny, remembered stopping by Richard's home in Washington, D.C. and finding evidence of his hobbies, including the world's second largest collection of walking sticks."His house was filled with rare canes he collected from all over the world," Cerveny said. "The hallways had really amazing rows of canes hung on hooks that were specially made to mount these things on the house. One used to be a functional shotgun, another one was made out of a giraffe. His dad would pull out newspaper clippings of WWII Navy aircraft carriers. It changed the way I thought about a lot of things. I had never seen anything like that. Who collects canes?"During sophomore year, Tucker's friends decided to rush Delta Phi, a well-to-do fraternity also known as St. Elmo's. The Greek scene had a large presence on campus — about 20 percent of men joined them even though Trinity was a liberal arts school — and St. Elmo's had a reputation as freewheeling scamps. Once a year, a St. Elmo's brother would ride his motorcycle naked through the campus cafeteria. (Faculty voted in 1992 to abolish Greek life saying they were sexist and racist, and school administrators instead forced fraternities to become co-ed.)But Tucker refused to come aboard. Some classmates thought it was because he didn't want to be hazed."Tucker was not a joiner like that," Mahlon Stewart said. "He wouldn't have set himself up for whatever humiliation would have been involved. He would not have put up with that." But Cerveny, who pledged the fraternity, said it was a matter of faith."I remember explicitly him saying 'Look, I want to focus on what my faith is about and I thought this would be a big distraction,'" Cerveny said. "But he was very much in the mix with us. When we moved to a fraternity house [on Broad Street], we asked him to live with us."Tucker occasionally dropped in on his friends' fraternity events and occasionally brought Susie when she visited or Buckley when he drifted into town. Other times they hung out at Baker's Cafe on New Britain Avenue. Mostly Tucker stayed in his room."He was basically a hermit. It wasn't like he was going to a ton of parties" one Trinity St. Elmo's brother said. "He was not a part of the organizational effort of throwing big parties, or encouraging me to join the fraternity." Susie, who didn't drink or smoke, was a moderating influence. "Tucker and Susie had their moral compass pointing north even back then," Sterne said. "Tucker's faith was not something he was focused on in his early years but when he met Susie and he became close to her family, that started to blossom and grow in him. Now it's a huge part of his life."By the time his crew moved to another house on Broad Street, they each acquired vintage motorcycles and tinkered with them in their garage. Tucker owned a 1968 flathead Harley Davidson that barely ran and relied on a red Jeep 4X4 to transport friends around town (the Volkswagen van he had freshman year blew up). He smoked Camel unfiltered cigarettes, sipped bourbon, and occasionally brewed beer in the basement, including a batch he named "Coal Porter," according to GQ.When he wasn't reading outside of his courses or tinkering with his carburetor, Tucker took classes in the humanities and ultimately majored in history. Tucker dabbled in other fields including Russian history, Jewish history, Women's Studies, and Religious Studies, sitting in the back of lecture halls with his friends. Ron Kiener, who taught an introductory level course in Judaism, recalled Tucker performing "poorly" but earning a credit. "He did not get a stellar grade from me," Kiener said. "Based on what he says now he surely didn't get very much out of my courses."But Leslie Desmangles, who led courses in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Myth, Rite, and Sacrament, said Tucker was engaged and likely did just enough to pass his courses even if he wasn't very studious or vocal in class discussions."He was interested in understanding the nature of religious belief and studying different cultures and religions but I'm not sure if he had an interest in diversity," Desmangles said. "He was genuinely interested in ritual since a lot of the Episcopal church is highly ritualistic."Tucker's fascination with religion extended to his extracurricular activities too. He and several friends joined Christian Fellowship, a Bible study group that met weekly and helped the school chaplain lead Sunday services. Some members even volunteered with ConnPIRG, a student advocacy group on hunger and environmental issues, and traveled to Washington D.C. to protest the Gulf War. But Tucker steered clear of campus activism. He spent his free time reading and seeing Blues Traveler, Widespread Panic, and Sting perform when they came through Connecticut. Sometimes he skipped school to follow his favorite band, the Grateful Dead, on tour.He took an interest in Central American politics too. At the end of freshman year, Tucker and Patel traveled to Nicaragua. "We did not have a place to stay or any set plans," Tucker told the Trinity Tripod, his college paper, in March 1990. "It was very spontaneous. We are both extremely political and we felt that getting to know the country and some of its citizens would give us a better perspective on the situation." In February 1990, Tucker returned with three friends to Managua for 10 days to observe Nicaragua's elections. The National Opposition Union's Violetta Chamoro, which was backed by the U.S. government, defeated the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front Daniel Ortega who had been in power since 1979. A month later Tucker and his classmate Jennifer Barr, who was separately in Nicaragua to observe elections and distribute medical supplies to the Sandinistas, shared their perspectives about their visits to a small crowd at the Faculty Club for the school's Latin America Week. Tucker thought press coverage of the election was too left-leaning and criticized the media for skewing a conservative victory, according to Barr."I don't think it was necessarily true," Barr said. "He was dismissive [about my views]. I did get a sense that he believed in what he was saying, and it was very different from my experience and my understanding of the race."Tucker's stance on U.S. politics at the time was less didactic. As the 1992 presidential election loomed his senior year, Tucker touted the independent candidacy of Ross Perot, a Texas business magnate, to his friends although it did not appear that Tucker was an ardent supporter."Tucker would go on and on about how Ross Perot was the answer to this or that, as a joke, and every one would participate" one St. Elmo's brother said. "He liked the way Ross Perot was basically throwing a wrench into the system. He wasn't a serious Ross Perot proponent. He was cheering on somebody who was screwing up the system."In Tucker's college yearbook, below his tousle-haired, bowtie wearing thumbnail photo, was a list of his extra-curricular activities: "History; Christian Fellowship 1 2 3 4, Jesse Helms Foundation, Dan White Society." Neither of the latter two – named, respectively, after the ultra-conservative North Carolina Senator, and a San Francisco supervisor who assassinated Harvey Milk in 1978 – ever existed. Tucker admired Helms for being a "bull in the china shop" of Congress, one classmate said. Some friends believed Tucker slipped in the off-color references as a lark."It's like a joke you and a friend would put in a series of anagrams that only you and two friends would remember and no one else would," the St. Elmo's friend said. "It's so niche that only someone like Tucker is thinking things like that or would even know the name of the person who killed Harvey Milk. He paid attention to things like that."Others claimed Tucker was the victim of a prank."It would not at all surprise me if one of the other guys in the [fraternity] house filled it in for him, and not just an inside joke, but pegging him with something that he got grief for," another close friend said. Protesters rally against Fox News outside the Fox News headquarters at the News Corporation building, March 13, 2019 in New York City.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesAn outsider among insidersBy the spring of 1991, Tucker's academic performance had caught up with him. He had accumulated a 1.9 grade point average and may have finished with a 2.1 GPA, according to one faculty member who viewed a copy of his transcript. Tucker would eventually graduate from Trinity a year late. Falling behind was not uncommon. About 80 percent of Trinity students completed their degrees in four years, according to Trinity College records. (A Trinity spokeswoman would not comment on Tucker's transcript due to FERPA laws, which protect student privacy.Tucker's post-collegiate plans fell through too. Tucker applied to the CIA that spring. The spy agency passed."He mentioned that he had applied and they rejected him because of his drug use," another college friend said, while declining to be named. "He was too honest on his application. I also probably should say I don't know whether he was telling the truth or not." Once the school year was over, Tucker and Neil Patel hit the road on a cross-country motorcycle ride. After that: Washington DC.  Tucker's family left Southern California for Georgetown after President Reagan named his father head of Voice of America. In June 1991, President George H.W. Bush appointed Richard ambassador to the Seychelles and the Carlson family upgraded to a nicer house in Georgetown with a pool in the basement. That summer, with Tucker's father and stepmother often out of town, the Carlson household was the center of Tucker's social lives, the place they retired to after a night drinking at Georgetown college dive bars like Charing Cross and Third Edition, and pubs like Martin's Tavern and The Tombs, immortalized in St. Elmo's Fire. In August, Tucker and Susie got married in St. George's chapel and held a reception at the Clambake Club of Newport, overlooking the Narragansett Bay. Back in Washington, Tucker's prep school, college, and his father's Washington-based networks began to mesh. Tucker took a $14,000-a-year job as an assistant editor and fact checker of Policy Review, a quarterly journal published at the time by the Heritage Foundation, the nation's leading conservative think tank. For the next three decades, Tucker thrived in the Beltway: He joined The Weekly Standard and wrote for several magazines before appearing on cable news networks as a right-of-center analyst and host at CNN, PBS, and MSNBC. His father embarked on a third career as a television executive where he ran the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and his brother became a political operative and a pollster. By the time Tucker reached the core of the conservative media sphere, a slot on Fox News's primetime opinion lineup, he shed friends from his youth who couldn't grapple with the hard-right turn he veered once he became the face of the network.One friend was not surprised with Tucker's act. In the spring of 2016, during the heat of Donald Trump's presidential campaign against Hilary Clinton and a few months before "Tucker Carlson Tonight" premiered on Fox, Tucker had lunch with his old prep school classmate Richard Wayner who made the speech about Eleanor Bumpurs all those years ago. Wayner believed Tucker's gesture from his pew was never serious. "As a 9th or 10th grader in a chapel full of people in a conversation, he was trying to get attention," Wayner said.The two stayed in touch over the years and Tucker at one point suggested he write a handful of pieces for the Daily Caller, the conservative news and opinion site that Tucker co-founded and ran in the 2010s. As they settled into their table at a Midtown Manhattan steakhouse, the two chatted about Wayner's experience on the board of St. George's (which Susie was about to join) and their respective careers. Tucker was floating around at Fox, and Wayner, now an investor and former Goldman Sachs investment banker, said the conversation drifted toward salaries."He was asking, 'How much do you make on Wall Street' and was like, 'Wow, Wall Street guys make a lot.'" Wayner said. When they left the restaurant and headed back toward the Fox News headquarters, several people recognized Tucker on the street even though he had jettisoned his trademark bowtie years ago. Wayner saw Tucker making the pragmatic decision to follow a business model that has made his conservative media counterparts a lot of money."I don't think he has a mission. I don't think he has a plan," Wayner said. "Where he is right now is about as great as whatever he thought he could be.""Tucker knows better. He does. He can get some attention, money, or both." he added. "To me, that's a shame. Because he knows better." Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 5th, 2022

Understanding what financial advisors do and how they help clients better manage their money

A financial advisor is professional who provides advice for managing finances and reaching specific financial goals. How much a financial advisor costs will depend on what you’re looking for.Ariel Skelley/Getty A financial advisor is a professional who gives advice about managing your money to reach financial goals. Financial advisors are not regulated, though ones who provide investing advice and services must register with their state or federal regulatory bodies. Financial advisors offer a wide variety of services, such as portfolio building, tax and estate planning, budgets, and more. Visit Insider's Investing Reference library for more stories. Do you plan to retire one day? Maybe get married or go to college? How about paying down some debt? These are all reasonable and attainable financial goals. For many of us, however, it's not always clear what we have to do to make these dreams come true. And that's when it might be a good idea to enlist some professional help. A financial advisor can be a valuable asset if you have financial goals you want to reach, but aren't sure how to make that happen. They can also educate you about financial products, tax advantages and insurance options you may not have known could help you build and protect wealth. Here's a closer look at what a financial advisor is and what they can offer you.     What is a financial advisor?A financial advisor is a professional who provides their clients with guidance pertaining to financial goals, mortgages, insurance, retirement, investing, and general financial management. The term is often used interchangeably with "financial planner" and can cover a very broad scope of expertise. While some financial advisors offer a variety of services, many specialize only in making and managing investments. "I became a financial advisor to mentor my clients through all financial aspects of their lives," says John Stoj, investment advisor representative and founder of Verbatim Financial. "This can include investments, but also questions surrounding careers, business ownership, estate planning, insurance, and taxes ... essentially anything that can benefit from planning."Types of financial advisorsThese days, you'll find a variety of types of financial advisors available to you. Some of the most common include:Robo-advisor: A robo-advisor is an automated platform that makes investment recommendations based on information you input to the system. It uses algorithms and often artificial intelligence to determine your risk tolerance and what investments may be good to make. These kinds of services are generally low-cost, but limited in what they can offer. Online financial-planning services: These services go a step further than robo-advisors, often offering a broader scope of options. Online financial-planning services are usually automated and can help you build financial plans and budgets, in addition to portfolio building, goal setting, and reporting.  Traditional financial advisors: These include Certified Financial Planners (CFP), brokers, Registered Investment Advisors (RIA), and wealth managers. Traditional financial advisors usually provide comprehensive, personalized advice regarding your financial life. They can provide product recommendations based on your specific situation and goals, make investments on your behalf, and help ensure you stay on track.  What does a financial advisor do? Financial advisors can offer a wide array of services. Some focus only on investments and portfolio building/management. Others provide comprehensive services for everything from saving for college and retirement to tax strategies and budgeting. "In an ideal world, a financial advisor should look at your overall financial picture and help you build a plan to get to and through retirement," says Mary Lyons, financial advisor and founder of Benchmark Income Group. "That includes investment portfolio management, but it also includes reviewing your insurance coverage, working with your estate attorney, communicating with your CPA, helping you determine the structure of your mortgage, and budgeting. A good financial advisor should be able to answer any questions you have about your finances."There are no specific licenses or certifications that make one a financial advisor. They will usually have some kind of background related to finance, such as a degree in business, economics, or accounting. To trade or advise on investments, financial advisors are required to take and pass the NASAA Investment Advisers Law Examination — also known as the Series 65 exam — and register with state and/or federal regulators. If they want to sell insurance and other financial products, they may have to hold additional licenses to comply with regulations.  If you're in the market for a financial advisor, it's a good idea to shop around to find someone who offers services that are the right fit for your situation. Also take note of how they make money. Working with a fiduciary, such as a CFP or RIA, is often preferred. These financial advisors usually have a fee-only business model, which means they charge clients directly for their services and don't receive any kind of commission.Quick tip: According to the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, a fiduciary is a "professional entrusted to manage assets or wealth while putting the client's best interests first at all times." RIAs are legally bound to act as fiduciaries. All CFPs are obligated to be fiduciaries by their board's Code of Ethics.  On the other hand, financial advisors may work on a commission basis. John Hagensen, founder and managing director of Keystone Wealth Partners, explains that "many financial professionals who will claim to be financial advisors are contracted by insurance companies and/or broker-dealers and thus be compensated to sell products of those companies." This type of compensation can influence the kinds of products such advisors recommend and actions they suggest taking.   Just about anyone can benefit from working with a financial advisor. Some of the more common services they offer include the following:1. Portfolio building Portfolio building is all about ensuring you have a balance of investment assets that are growing efficiently with minimal risk. Financial advisors can help you understand what you already own in assets, what your options may be for making further investments, and what kinds of risks you may face with your investment choices. "A financial advisor should help you determine how much fluctuation you can tolerate in your daily balances as well as during outlying events like 2008 or even the first part of 2020," Lyons explains. "They should address concepts like maximum drawdown and the amount of return you can expect for the risk you are taking."2. Tax planning Many financial advisors provide tax-planning services. This doesn't mean they'll help you file your tax returns or are fully trained in tax law like a certified public accountant (CPA) is. Instead, they can help you manage tax liability that results from your investment strategies and help you build wealth by taking advantage of rules that can lower your tax liability. Not every financial advisor offers or is qualified to offer these kinds of services, but some are also CPAs. At the very least, a financial advisor should be willing to work with your accountant or tax attorney to ensure your financial plan is keeping your tax liability at a minimum and not creating new issues. 3. Estate planning A financial advisor can help you plan for what you want to pass on to your heirs when you die. They may be trained in estate planning or be willing to work with you estate attorney to determine what kind of insurance you need, what kinds of financial products you might want to set up to pass on (such as a trust or giving fund), what should be done with your investments, etc.  "It's critical that all of your team – CPA, attorney, banker, advisor — is communicating at least annually," Lyons says. "If not, they could be working against each other instead of all pulling in the right direction."4. Long and short-term financial planning Financial advisors work with clients to create and execute plans designed to achieve goals both in the short term and over a long period of time. For example, you might work with a financial advisor to review your debt and create a plan to reduce the amount you owe this year. At the same time, you may also want to create a college savings account for your new baby. A financial advisor could work with you to create a month-to-month budget that targets reducing your debt while funneling deposits to a 529 college savings plan.Quick tip: Investing in a life or disability insurance policy can be a good strategy for reaching long-term financial goals. Many financial advisors are licensed to sell insurance. Be sure to ask if your advisor offers this service and how insurance might enhance your long-term financial plan.   7 questions to a financial advisor before you hire themBelow are a few of the most important questions to ask a financial adviser you're considering hiring.1. Are you a fiduciary? First and foremost, you want to ensure your financial planner or investment adviser is a fiduciary. A fiduciary is legally bound to put their client's interests first.If they're not a registered fiduciary, they may follow a loosely monitored "suitability" standard, which allows them to make recommendations for investments and services so long as it's suitable for their client's goals, risk tolerance, and financial situation. Usually this translates to recommendations that will also earn them money.2. How much do you charge?There are two types of financial advisers: fee-based and fee-only.To visit with a fee-only financial adviser, you will pay a flat fee, hourly fee, or if they're handling your investments, an asset under management fee equal to between 1% and 3% of your total assets.If you're meeting once or twice to create a financial plan or get advice, you can expect to pay anywhere between $100 and $300 an hour. If you're looking for access to an adviser on a rolling basis (i.e. you want help implementing and maintaining your financial plan) you may pay a fixed fee, usually between $1,000 and $3,000.3. Do you earn commission?If they answer "yes," they're considered a fee-based financial adviser. Fee-based financial advisers earn commissions based on where you put your money, and also may charge a fee for their time or an asset under management fee.By contrast, fee-only advisers do not receive additional commission when a client invests in a certain fund or financial product. Their only objective is to provide sound financial advice.This doesn't mean a fee-based financial adviser will necessarily work against your best interests. It only means that they may be more inclined to recommend products and services for which they get a commission, which may or may not be the best option for your financial planning needs.4. What services are included?A good financial planner should be able to offer guidance on every aspect of your financial situation, though they may specialize in a certain area, like retirement planning or wealth management. Make sure it's clear from the get-go what the cost includes and whether they'll spend more time focusing on any one area.An investment adviser is usually focused only on managing investments, but they may also provide guidance on other aspects of your financials. Again, make sure you know what exactly is included in their menu of services.5. How often will we communicate?If you want more than a one-time meeting, you'll probably pay your financial adviser a retainer fee. Find out exactly what this fee gets you — for example, maybe it's one face-to-face meeting and one phone call a month — and ask if there are any additional fees that apply for overtime.It can be scary putting your money in someone else's hands, so an open line of communication is essential. Ask the financial adviser how they're best reached — by text, email, or phone — for both urgent and non-urgent matters.  6. Can you describe your typical client?Asking an adviser about their typical client can help you decide whether they're a good fit for you. Some financial planners specialize in helping high-net-worth families or business owners or first-time investors in their 20s and 30s.If you identify with their typical client, chances are they have the tools and expertise to help you, too.7. What is your investment approach?If you're handing over control of your investments, make sure the adviser's approach to investing is aligned with your risk tolerance. For example, an adviser may prefer aggressive growth strategies to preservation. That usually means they'll risk more of your money in order to (hopefully) score a bigger return.Ultimately, a good financial adviser should be as mindful with your investments as they are with their own, taking care to avoid excessive fees, save money on taxes, and be as transparent as possible about your gains and losses.If you're hiring a fee-based adviser, know that their strategy for your investments may include products or services for which they receive a kickback. If this is the case, ask to read over any disclosures.The financial takeawayConsulting with a financial advisor is a smart way to make headway in achieving both short-term and long-term financial goals. You should always research what options are available to you and ask questions about what services are offered and how they are compensated. Since there is no education or experience requirement for someone to be a financial advisor, it's also a good idea to look into the background of anyone you're considering working with regarding your money. Some advisors will focus only on a handful of services, while others offer more comprehensive planning and management options. New technology has also given way to automated financial tools. It's up to you to investigate and determine what's the right fit for your situation.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 15th, 2021

Corporate Lawyers Discuss The Accuracy of Succession and The Roy Family’s Brewing Legal Battle

'Succession' is headed towards legal drama territory. Three corporate lawyers analyze the ongoing action and offer legal advice to the characters The Roy family is lawyering up. The Season 3 premiere of Succession, which aired Sunday night on HBO, picks up in the aftermath of Kendall alleging publicly that his father Logan personally oversaw the decades-long cover-up of sexual exploitation and intimidation at Waystar Royco. As Kendall and Logan organize their own defenses, the rest of the family is sent scrambling to figure out how legally vulnerable they each might be in the impending war. And in the final 10 minutes of the episode, a new character, the high-powered attorney Lisa Arthur (Sanaa Lathan) is introduced, indicating that this season is headed toward the legal drama genre. To analyze the ongoing action and offer legal advice to the characters, TIME interviewed three corporate lawyers and Succession fans: Holly J. Gregory, the co-chair of Sidley Austin LLP’s global Corporate Governance and Executive Compensation Practice; Kai Haakon E. Liekefett, the partner and co-chair of Sidley’s Shareholder Activism Practice; and Louis Pierro, a founding partner of Pierro, Connor & Strauss. Here are excerpts from those conversations. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] What do you think of Succession, and how accurate is it? Liekefett: I watched each season twice because I loved it so much. It’s literally what I do for a living: I’ve represented public companies like AT&T, Box and Fujifilm in proxy battles and similar matters. Gregory: It’s a wonderful show. They’ve done a great job of drawing this dysfunctional family and dysfunctional company just brilliantly. It depicts some real-life situations that happen on real boards, although in the extreme. I’m getting ready to teach an ethics class, and I’m going to base hypotheticals on the show to teach lawyer ethics. It’ll be fun. Pierro: When I saw the first episode, I said, ‘Goodness gracious, there’s our lives.’ Many companies that are dominated by a character like Logan Roy end up with a number of dysfunctional people around them, because that person has 100% of the power in the company and no one else really has empowerment. So they tend to be a bit misfit in their roles as CFO or COO. That is extremely accurate to this type of company. I was a part of a board meeting yesterday where the dad owned the company and died. Mom now owns the company, there’s a buyout agreement for mom—and it was just a hornets nest among the widow and the four children, each of which had their own lawyer there at the table. So those dynamics are real, but I think the characters are just a bit embellished. Read More: Suddenly, Everyone We See on TV Is Very Rich or Very Poor. What Happened? Have there been any parts of the show that have been inaccurate? Liekefett: One of the few cringeworthy moments, in my view, was during the infamous board meeting in episode eight, when the so-called vote of confidence failed. In return, Logan fires half of the board. That is legally impossible as far as I’m concerned. The CEO cannot fire its board, it’s the other way around. How often do you see scenarios of a son and a father vying for control of a company? Pierro: My practice of 37 years has been focused on trusts and estates tax and business planning. Very often, all of those things are woven together, because the estate plan of a business owner has to include their succession plan. In the case of Logan Roy, he just isn’t ready to let go. I do see that all the time—and the impact that has on the kids who are waiting around saying, ‘O.K., when is it my turn?’ But I haven’t seen too many cases where one of the children tried to jump up and pull that business out before dad was ready to let go. Gerri serves as general counsel for Waystar, but also becomes deeply wrapped up in the family’s politics and drama. How do general counsels deal with this kind of situation—in which they may have conflicting loyalties to varying family members as well as the company itself? Liekefett: This is actually not rare. Yesterday, I spoke to a general counsel of a major public company where the board and the CEO may have diverging interests because of a takeover situation. The eternal question for the general counsel of a company in this kind of situation where there’s a power struggle between the board and the CEO, is ‘Who is my client?’ Gregory: There’s only one answer to that: the board is Gerri’s client and the ultimate authority in the company. But it gets more confused when you have a large controlling shareholder on the board, which is what you have here. Counsel has legal responsibility to the board, but with the pragmatic reality that the controlling shareholder can take action to not reelect the board, depending on his level of control. Given Gerri’s allegiance to Logan and other people in the family, she clearly is not thinking of the board as her ultimate client. Pierro: I represent a company which is owned by five siblings. One of them is in the controlling position, but the other four siblings have raised a number of issues. My duty of loyalty, in that case, is to the company, as I am corporate counsel. So when push came to shove, I had to recommend to the CEO that he get personal counsel to represent him individually in what ended up being a shareholder battle. Kai, you deal with proxy battles for a living. What do you think of the show’s depiction of that aspect? Liekefett: In the last 20 years, proxy fights have become very, very common: where insurgent dissident shareholders, hostile bidders, hedge funds or others nominate a competing slate. And then you essentially have an election campaign where you’re trying to win the hearts and minds of shareholders. Like in politics, both sides typically have these election campaigns where they hire private investigators for opposition research. It can get pretty dirty. Succession depicts the proxy fight pretty well, although they made a couple of slight mistakes. In this day and age in America, whenever a company is faced with a hostile takeover through a tender offer, they adopt a so-called poison pill. When the board of Royco was faced with the tender offer from Sandy and Stewy, they could have easily adopted a poison pill by saying, “10% is the maximum that Stewy and co. can acquire.” In which case, then it goes to the proxy fight. So they didn’t do that part well—but when they start to depict the proxy fight in season two, they do that really well. They even have one advisor right: they mention one of the top proxy solicitation firms, called D.F. King. How do Kendall’s public allegations against his father impact Waystar’s proxy battle against Sandy and Stewy? Liekefett: In the proxy fight world, we use a lot of terminology from political elections, and we are always concerned about the so-called ‘October Surprise.’ This is the ultimate October Surprise, and the nightmare of any defense attorney that something like this would happen shortly prior to the annual meeting. If that were to happen in my practice, we’d probably be dead in the water. With that level of dysfunction—where the son of the CEO and chairman goes out and accuses his father of these kinds of wrongdoing—shareholders in 99 out of 100 situations would say, ‘O.K., enough said. I don’t even care who is right, father or son. The level of dysfunction here is so unbearable, that we need some adults in the boardroom. Anything is better than the status quo, we need some fresh faces here as directors.’ It would be the death knell of any proxy fight. Do you think jail time is on the table for the various members of the Roy family? Pierro: If Kendall had gotten convicted, there are a lot of variables. What did he know, when did he know it? As we’ve watched, criminal prosecutions are not always clean and easy. We have some real life examples like the Trump Organization: where companies have been found to violate tax laws, and the CFO has been prosecuted, other people in the company are being investigated, the company itself is being prosecuted—but the CEO of the company has not yet been touched. So you have to build the chain of evidence. From the prosecution side, I think they would have had a tough time pinning Kendall with a serious crime. He wasn’t in a position where he was in charge of that, and there were certainly enough other people involved that his culpability could have been spread around and would have been hard to pin down. In the first episode of the third season, the services of the attorney Lisa Arthur are requested by both Kendall and Logan. If both offers were extended to you, whose business would you take? Pierro: If you look at Logan, he is a flawed character but he has a unified purpose: he has always wanted control, has always crushed other people for that control and stepped on other people, and probably in the course of this, committed crimes. Kendall is probably a more sympathetic character, who was put on the altar of sacrifice by his father. And so certainly my sympathies would lean towards Kendall. But I think if you wanted to back the winner in that race, then it would be Logan. Liekefett: I would go for the client who looks a little bit less guilty, has deeper pockets, and is more likely to pay our bills. But that’s the problem: Logan appears to be way more guilty, but he has way deeper pockets. He’s still the largest shareholder and is extremely influential. It’s tough to choose. I certainly would take a retainer up front. In the episode, Logan debates with Gerri about whether Waystar should cooperate with the feds. How common is it for corporations to refuse to cooperate? Pierro: It’s a strategy of many corporations to obfuscate, deny and hide. With the feds, it depends on who’s doing the investigation and how much of a pitbull they are. But in the corporate world, evidence is disappeared all the time. That is a common practice, unfortunately. And corporations have a shield that no one else has, and an immunization from liability for the individuals in the corporation, for the most part. I mean, if you go back to Enron, for example, when they had the scandal, and all of the workers were grifted out of their pensions, and their stock tumbled. One of the only people that got prosecuted was Ken Lay, who was the Logan Roy of Enron. But most of the other people managed to kind of go out the back door and didn’t get brought into the limelight. So corporations have a great ability to obfuscate and to push blame off into other directions where it’s very difficult to pin down any one person unless you have that smoking gun. Should Tom and Greg use the company lawyers, or should they look for outside counsel? Gregory: They have both undertaken actions that are more than dodgy. They have both engaged in a cover-up: Tom, being the driver of the cover up and Greg, helping him while also trying to protect his own backside by retaining documents. They’ve both taken actions that violate the company’s code of conduct and also likely violate law. They can’t be advised by the company’s counsel at this point, because they have interests that conflict with the company’s interests, with respect to their unethical and potentially unlawful conduct. They need their own counsel, and they need separate counsel from one another. Liekefett: One of the highlights of the show for me was the testimony in the senate. And I don’t think any lawyer would have allowed these two to be in front of congress so unprepared. It becomes abundantly clear these guys have a huge legal problem that is separate and distinct from the company’s legal issues. They need their own counsel and they need to learn how to plead the fifth......»»

Category: topSource: timeOct 18th, 2021

Here are all the famous people Jeffrey Epstein was connected to

Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein's ex-girlfriend and madam, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Tuesday for sex-trafficking girls for the late disgraced financier. American financier Jeffrey Epstein (L) and then-real-estate developer Donald Trump (R) pose together at the Mar-a-Lago estate, Palm Beach, Florida, 1997.Davidoff Studios/Getty Images Jeffrey Epstein was known for jet-setting with the likes of Bill Gates, President Bill Clinton, and Prince Andrew. Wall Street billionaire Leon Black paid Epstein at least $50 million in consulting and other fees, The New York Times reported. Epstein was found dead of an apparent suicide in a Manhattan jail on August 10, 2020, as he awaited trial on charges of sex trafficking minors. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Former L Brands CEO Les Wexner may have been Jeffrey Epstein's only confirmed client, but he was far from the only billionaire paying the convicted sex offender.Epstein, who pleaded guilty to charges of solicitation of prostitution and procurement of minors for prostitution in Florida in 2007, ran a years-long "trafficking pyramid scheme" from the US Virgin Islands, prosecutors alleged in a lawsuit against the former wealth manager's estate in January 2020.Meanwhile, the convicted sex offender maintained a vast social and professional network both on and off the Islands, which even included the wife of the US Virgin Islands' former governor. In October 2020, Wall Street billionaire Leon Black acknowledged to The New York Times through a spokesperson that he hired Epstein as an advisor and paid Epstein at least $50 million in consulting and other fees between 2012 and 2017.Epstein, a former hedge-fund manager, kept his client list under wraps, but he often bragged of his elite social circle that included presidents and Hollywood stars."I invest in people — be it politics or science," Epstein was known to say, according to New York Magazine. "It's what I do."Epstein, 66, died by apparent suicide in a Manhattan jail on August 10, 2020, as he awaited trial on charges of sex trafficking of minors. He had been in police custody since his arrest on July 6, shortly after exiting his private jet in New Jersey's Teterboro Airport. He pleaded not guilty on July 8 and was being held without bail in New York City, where he was already on suicide watch after an earlier reported suicide attempt that had led to his hospitalization, at the time of his death. Here's what we know about the famous people who crossed paths with Epstein.Socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein's ex-girlfriend and madam, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for sex-trafficking young girls for Epstein.Epstein with Maxwell.Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty ImagesMaxwell is a British socialite and the daughter of media tycoon Robert Maxwell.She started dating Epstein shortly after moving to New York in 1991, Business Insider previously reported. After they broke up, court documents allege that Maxwell started recruiting underage girls for him to have sex with.The FBI began investigating Maxwell's relationship with Epstein in 2019 as the British heiress hit out with armed guards in the United States or the United Kingdom.Maxwell was ultimately found in New Hampshire, where she was arrested on charges of sex trafficking and perjury in New Hampshire on July 2, 2020.A federal jury in December 2021 convicted the former socialite of five sex trafficking and conspiracy charges. Prosecutors alleged Maxwell worked with Epstein to "recruit, groom, and ultimately abuse" children. In June 2022, a federal judge sentenced Maxwell to 20 years in prison for trafficking girls to have sex with Epstein and sexually abusing them herself. She was also fined $750,000, the judge said, and will have to remain on probation for five years following her time in prison.  Outgoing L Brands CEO Les Wexner is Epstein's only confirmed client.AP Photo/Matt SullivanEpstein became a trusted confidant of Wexner's while Epstein managed the CEO's fortune, according to Vanity Fair. Wexner has a net worth of $7.15 billion, Bloomberg reported. The magazine reported that Wexner allowed Epstein to take an active role in L Brands, which owns Bath & Body Works, Express, and Victoria's Secret.In 1989, Wexner used a trust to buy an Upper East Side townhouse that is believed to be the largest private residence in Manhattan for $13.2 million, Vanity Fair reported. Epstein moved in after Wexner and his wife, Abigail Koppel, moved to Ohio in 1996. Wexner's trust transferred ownership of the house to Epstein in 2011 for $0, Bloomberg reported.Wexner later fired Epstein as his money manager. "Mr. Wexner severed ties with Mr. Epstein more than a decade ago," an L Brands spokesperson told Forbes in July 2019.In February, L Brands announced that Wexner would step down after nearly six decades as the company's CEO. L Brands also announced that it would sell the majority stake in Victoria's Secret to private equity firm Sycamore Partners and spin-off Bath & Body Works into a separate company. The company has been marred in controversy following reports of the mistreatment of models and plummeting sales.More information about Wexner's relationship with Epstein may soon be revealed after US District Judge Loretta Preska ordered that Wexner's correspondence with Epstein's former lawyer Alan Dershowitz be unsealed as a part of Dershowitz and Giuffre's defamation suits against each other, Business Insider reported on August 11.Former President Donald Trump once considered Epstein a friend.From left, Donald Trump and his girlfriend (and future wife), former model Melania Knauss, financier (and future convicted sex offender) Jeffrey Epstein, and British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell pose together at the Mar-a-Lago club, Palm Beach, Florida, February 12, 2000.Davidoff Studios/Getty ImagesThe future president claimed in 2002 that he had a long friendship with Epstein. "I've known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy," Trump said, according to New York Magazine. "He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life."According to Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, Trump now believes the crimes Epstein was charged with are "completely unconscionable and obviously criminal." She also labeled them "disgusting," according to a July report from the Associated Press."The president told me this morning he hasn't talked to Epstein, he doesn't think he's talked to him or seen him in 10 or 15 years," Conway added.Prince Andrew and Epstein were close friends, the Guardian reported in 2015.WPA Pool / Getty ImagesMaxwell introduced Epstein and the Duke of York in the 1990s, the Guardian reported, and the two became close friends.The Duke is the son of the UK's Queen Elizabeth. He has also been criticized for frequently taking flights on the taxpayer's dime while serving as the country's special representative for international trade. This earned him the nickname "Airmiles Andy," according to the Washington Post.Court documents reviewed by the Guardian allege that Epstein instructed Virginia Roberts Giuffre, a 15-year-old employee at Trump's Mar-a-Largo resort, to have sex with Prince Andrew on three separate occasions. Buckingham Palace said in 2015 that the allegations against Prince Andrew were "false and without any foundation," according to the Guardian.According to a July 22 article from NY Magazine's Intelligencer, a number of royals and royal connections were among Epstein's contacts. That includes Prince Andrew's then-wife, Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York; and Charles Althorp, Princess Diana's brother. According to Intelligencer, all three were named in Epstein's black book; Ferguson and Prince Andrew were also named in his private jet log.In a interview with the BBC in November, Prince Andrew said his relationship with Epstein brought him "opportunities," and that his slowness in ditching Epstein as a friend was because of his tendency to be "too honorable." The interview was widely criticized over Prince Andrew's lack of sympathy with Epstein's victims and his defense of his friendship with the convicted sex offender, Business Insider reported.Prince Andrew resigned from public royal duties in November, Business Insider reported.Former President Bill Clinton traveled with Epstein in 2002 and 2003, a Clinton representative confirmed.Andrew Chin/Getty Images, Rick Friedman Photography/Corbis via Getty ImagesA statement released in July 2019 by Clinton spokesperson Angel Ureña said the former president traveled to Europe, Asia, and twice to Africa on Epstein's private jet. Clinton's staff and Secret Service agents also went on these trips, which were to further the work of the Clinton Foundation, according to the statement.Court documents unsealed on July 31 show Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre testified that Clinton also visited Epstein's island — something the former president has denied.Last year, Clinton told New York Magazine through a spokesperson that Epstein was "both a highly successful financier and a committed philanthropist with a keen sense of global markets and an in-depth knowledge of twenty-first-century science."Ureña also said that Clinton and Epstein hadn't spoken in "well over a decade" and that Clinton "knows nothing about the terrible crimes" Epstein was charged with.Actor Kevin Spacey and comedian Chris Tucker also took trips with Epstein.Kevin Spacey attends the 2017 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 11, 2017 in New York City.Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Tony Awards ProductionsEpstein, Clinton, Spacey, and Tucker spent a week in 2002 touring AIDS project sites in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, and Mozambique for the Clinton Foundation, according to a New York Magazine report.Spacey was also charged with sexual assault, but in December, The New York Times reported that the case had been dropped by the plaintiff's estate. The plaintiff, a 62-year-old massage therapist, had died in September.Former Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta worked with Epstein's legal team to arrange a plea deal after Epstein was charged with solicitation of prostitution and procurement of minors for prostitution in Florida in 2007.Alexander Acosta.Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesAn investigation by the Miami Herald revealed that Acosta, then a US attorney, had enough evidence against Epstein to request a life sentence. Instead, he reportedly met with one of Epstein's lawyers, who happened to be a former colleague of Acosta's.In the resulting plea deal, Epstein served 13 months in a private wing of a county prison, which he was allowed to leave six days a week to work in his office.Business Insider previously reported that Acosta said he was "pleased that NY prosecutors are moving forward with a case based on new evidence," on Twitter.—Secretary Acosta (@SecretaryAcosta) July 9, 2019Acosta resigned on July 12, 2019.Film publicist Peggy Siegal planned a star-studded dinner party for Epstein and Prince Andrew at Epstein's New York mansion in 2010.Evan Agostini/Invision/AP ImagesSiegal, known for hosting events to promote films including "The Big Short," "Argo," and "The Revenant" to Oscar voters, invited Epstein to screenings after he was released from prison in 2010, according to The New York Times."I was a kind of plugged-in girl around town who knew a lot of people," Siegal told The New York Times. "And I think that's what he wanted from me, a kind of social goings-on about New York."Siegal also planned a dinner party for Epstein and Prince Andrew at his Upper East Side home. The event was attended by Katie Couric, George Stephanopoulos, and Chelsea Handler. "The invitation was positioned as, 'Do you want to have dinner with Prince Andrew?'" Siegal said. Many of the guests didn't know who the host was or about his criminal history, The New York Times reported.A spokesperson for Siegal told Business Insider that Siegal's relationship with Epstein was social, not professional. Siegal told The New York Times that she ended her relationship with Epstein at the height of the #MeToo era in 2017.Netflix, FX and Annapurna Pictures severed their ties with Siegal in July 2019 after her connection to Epstein became public, Variety reported.Epstein also told the Times that he spoke often with Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.Saudi Arabia Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the G20 opening ceremony at the Hangzhou International Expo Center on September 4, 2016 in Hangzhou, China. World leaders are gathering for the 11th G20 Summit from September 4-5.Nicolas Asfouri - Pool/Getty ImagesEpstein said that MBS had visited Epstein's Manhattan mansion many times and had a framed photo of the crown prince hanging on the wall, according to New York Times reporter James B. Stewart.Representatives of MBS did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment.According to the New York Times, Epstein claimed to have advised Tesla CEO Elon Musk.Tesla CEO Elon Musk was photographed at a 2014 Oscars after-party next to Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite accused of being Epstein's madam in media reports and legal documents.Kevin Mazur/VF14/Contributor/Getty ImagesIn an interview published in the New York Times on August 12, Epstein claimed that Elon Musk had sought him out to help manage the trouble he had gotten into with the SEC a year earlier, in August 2018.Epstein told reporter James B. Stewart that he had promised to keep his work for Tesla private because of his prior conviction. Epstein also warned that both Musk and Tesla would deny their connection to Epstein if it ever became public, the Times reported. In a statement to Business Insider, a spokesperson for Musk denied Epstein's claims of having served as an adviser to the CEO.Musk and Maxwell were photographed at an Oscars after-party hosted by former Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter on March 2, 2014, in West Hollywood. The same Musk spokesperson told Business Insider that "Ghislaine simply inserted herself behind him in a photo he was posing for without his knowledge."Musk has confirmed crossing paths with Epstein at least once, Business Insider reported. Musk, Epstein, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg were all guests at a dinner hosted by LinkedIn CEO Reid Hoffman sometime after he was released from jail in 2008.MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito quietly worked with Epstein to secure anonymous donations, Vanity Fair reported.Phillip Faraone/Getty ImagesIto worked with other directors and staff at the MIT Media Lab to quietly receive large anonymous donations from Epstein after he was convicted of soliciting underage girls for prostitution, a New Yorker exposé published on September 6 reports. The article contains emails sent between Ito and Epstein.The emails show Epstein also worked as an in-between for other wealthy donors, including Bill Gates and Leon Black, and that Epstein had a role in determining what his donations would be used for at MIT, contradicting previous statements from Ito and the university.Ito resigned from his posts at MIT, The New York Times Company, and the MacArthur Foundation on September 7, Business Insider reported.Epstein worked as a go-between for the MIT Media Lab and Bill Gates to arrange donations, Vanity Fair reported.Bill Gates speaks ahead of former U.S. President Barack Obama at the Gates Foundation Inaugural Goalkeepers event on September 20, 2017 in New York City.Yana Paskova/Getty ImagesEmails obtained and published by The New Yorker show former MIT Media Lab Director Joi Ito wrote that Gates was "directed by" Epstein to donate $2 million to the research lab in October 2014.Gates also met with Epstein at least once in New York in 2013, and flew on one of his private planes to Palm Beach, Business Insider previously reported. "Bill attended a meeting in New York with others focused on philanthropy. While Epstein was present, he never provided services of any type to Bill," a Gates spokesperson told Business Insider.A spokesperson for Gates told Business Insider that "Epstein was introduced to Bill Gates as someone who was interested in helping grow philanthropy. Although Epstein pursued Bill Gates aggressively, any account of a business partnership or personal relationship between the two is simply not true. And any claim that Epstein directed any programmatic or personal grantmaking for Bill Gates is completely false."A New York Times investigation published in October found that Gates met with Epstein multiple times after Epstein's conviction in 2011, including at least three meetings at Epstein's Manhattan townhouse. Following the publication of that story, a spokesperson for Gates said Gates regretted the association, but Gates himself hadn't publicly addressed it until November, Business Insider's Aaron Holmes reported.Gates said at The New York Times' Dealbook Conference in November that he believed "billions of dollars" would come from his meetings with Jeffrey Epstein. "I made a mistake in judgment in thinking those discussions would go to global health," Gates said. "That money never appeared.""I gave him the benefit of my association," Gates said.Reid Hoffman defended Ito after news of Epstein's connections to the MIT Media Lab broke.REUTERS/Brian SnyderA "few years ago," Epstein attended a dinner Hoffman hosted to honor an MIT neuroscientist, Vanity Fair reported in July. Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk were also in attendance. Both denied having had ongoing relationships with Epstein to Vanity Fair through spokespeople.Hoffman also implicated himself in the cover up of Epstein's donations to the MIT Media Lab. As pressure mounted on Media Lab director Joi Ito to resign, Hoffman defended Ito to author and fellow MIT Media Lab Disobedience Award jury member Anand Giridharadas in a private email, Giridharadas tweeted in September. "Hoffman basically hid behind bureaucracy and the old 'ongoing investigation' excuse," Giridharadas said in the now-unavailable tweet. "He said it would be complicated to release the correspondence publicly because other names might get dragged in. Someone should tell him about redaction."According to Giridharadas, Hoffman wrote in a second email that Giridharadas was making the situation "all about you" by threatening to resign. In the end, Giridharadas resigned from the Disobedience Award jury.Hoffman not only sits on the Disobedience Award's jury, but funds it personally, according to the Media Lab's website. In 2017, MIT awarded Epstein and other donors "orbs" to thank them for their support, according to The Boston Globe. The orb looks similar to the trophy given to winners of the Disobedience Award.A lawsuit has also shined light on Epstein's connection to former U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. John P. de Jongh while he was in office.U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. John P. de Jongh participates in a meeting dealing with healthcare at the Southern Governors' Association convention in Little Rock, Ark., Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014.AP Photo/Danny JohnstonGov. John P. de Jongh's wife Cecile de Jongh served on the board of Epstein's Financial Trust Co. for most of her husband's time in office, Business Insider's Becky Peterson and John Cook reported. Cecile de Jongh held the titles of secretary and vice president in her decade-long tenure with the company, even staying on board after Epstein was first charged with sexual assault in 2007.Prosecutors in the US Virgin Islands alleged that Epstein was trafficking women and children through the US territory during that same time, as stated in a January lawsuit. The lawsuit describes one 15-year-old victim who was "forced into sexual acts with Epstein and others and then attempted to escape by swimming off the Little St. James island."In a statement, a lawyer representing Epstein's estate told Business Insider that some of the allegations in the lawsuit were inaccurate — particularly allegations that the estate to this day engages in "a course of conduct aimed at concealing the criminal activities of the Epstein Enterprise.""The Estate is being administered in accordance with the laws of the US Virgin Islands and under the supervision of the Superior Court of the US Virgin Islands," the statement said.Barclays CEO Jes Staley is under investigation by British authorities because of his friendship with Epstein.Jes Staley, CEO Barclays, arrives at Downing Street for a meeting in London on January 11, 2018. Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May mets with business leaders from the financial services sector at Downing Street. / AFP PHOTO / Tolga Akmen (Photo credit should read TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images)TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty ImagesStaley had a "professional relationship" with Epstein that dated back to "early in his career," Barclays said in a statement. "In the summer of 2019, in light of the renewed media interest in the relationship, Mr. Staley volunteered and gave to certain executives, and the Chairman, an explanation of his relationship with Mr. Epstein," Barclays stated. "Mr. Staley also confirmed to the Board that he has had no contact whatsoever with Mr. Epstein at any time since taking up his role as Barclays Group CEO in December 2015."The relationship is the subject of an investigation by the UK's Financial Conduct Authority, according to the bank.Apollo Global Management CEO Leon Black hired Epstein as an advisor.Leon Black.LUCY NICHOLSON/ReutersIn August 2019, Black said that he had only consulted Epstein on financial matters "from time to time" and that his relationship with the convicted sex offender was "limited," Business Insider previously reported.However, Black had engaged Epstein as an advisor and paid him at least $50 million, The New York Times reported on October 12. Two of the Times' sources said the total may actually be closer to $75 million.The two financiers also regularly dined together at Epstein's New York mansion, per the Times report.A spokesperson for Black confirmed that between 2012 and 2017, Black had received "personal trusts and estates planning advice as well as family office philanthropy and investment services from several financial and legal advisors" including Epstein. A spokesperson for Black also told the Times that the relationship ended after a "fee dispute" in 2018.Black "continues to be appalled by the conduct that led to the criminal charges" against Epstein, the spokesperson said, adding that Black "deeply regrets having any involvement" with Epstein.   If you are a survivor of sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or visit their website to receive confidential support.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 28th, 2022

How top banks like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan train young advisors to work with ultra-rich clients

Voicemail training, case studies, and hundreds of hours of lessons: here's what it takes to work at top private banks. Goldman Sachs analysts have to train for two years before working with the bank's wealthiest clients.Kingfisher Productions Private banks cater to the wealthiest clientele, who typically have at least $10 million in assets. The advisor training can take years and spans from case studies to voicemail training. Insider spoke to 4 top banks about how they prepare bankers to work with their most prized clients. See more stories on Insider's business page. America's wealthy continue to get richer, and the world's top banks are fighting for their business. Even banks with household names are competing for talent to service this niche clientele, which often have at least $10 million in assets.But getting hired is just the first step. Wall Street banks put analysts through their paces before letting them work with the most coveted clients. It can take hundreds of hours of lessons, sometimes spread out over years or condensed into a matter of weeks, as well as exams, case studies, and — more exams. Here's our running list of training programs for aspiring private bankers at top US banks.JPMorganDavid Frame, CEO of the private bank, is doubling down on a recruiting push. JPMorgan aims to hire as many as 1,500 new private bank advisors over the next five years, which would double its current headcount.About half these advisors will come from JPMorgan's analyst ranks, who are mostly newly minted college graduates. These young analysts have to complete 250 hours of training over three years with a mix of live lessons and self-study on topics from alternative investments to lending.There aren't any written exams, but analysts are tested on their mastery in role-play sessions with fictional clients, which Frame compares to language labs."We view a lot of these topics as like learning a foreign language. You have to be conversant," Frame said.Read more about JPMorgan's "objection clinics" with fictional clients and voicemail training.Morgan StanleyEvery advisor in the wealth management division has to pass an exam with a live case study in order to work with high-net-worth families.Only some 60% pass on their first try and about 75% eventually pass after retaking it, sometimes multiple times. "We don't have a requisite number that we're looking to put through the program," Alex Chester, who runs the bank's family wealth director program, told Insider. "We want to make sure that the advisors that we're promoting are equipped to work with the very best clients of the firm."In the case study, senior Morgan Stanley employees pretend to be a high-net-worth client and their accountant or attorney. Advisors get one hour to talk to the fictional client, and another three hours to prepare detailed recommendations.See an example of Morgan Stanley's tough case studies here.Goldman SachsAfter three years of working for Goldman Sachs, about 25 to 40 analysts from the bank's private wealth division are handpicked for its advisory program.The focus of the two-year course is to train young graduates to communicate with clients in a relatable way and ditch "business-school speak," Goldman partner David Fox told Insider. Trainees go through near-daily sessions of "verbal dexterity" exercises where they have to answer questions from fictional clients. The course culminates with three case studies that involve portfolio strategy and estate planning, as well as a written and oral exam.Read all the details about the case studies that cap off Goldman's training programBank of AmericaAnalysts at Bank of America complete four department rotations within the private bank, shadowing senior bankers, trust officers, and portfolio managers. This "apprenticeship model" helps young graduates find their specialty before becoming associates, according to Jessica Walsh, who leads employee training for early talent at the private bank. At the end of the two-year program, analysts pick choose one of the bank's 25 specialty groups, such as wealth planning, custom lending, structured credit, philanthropy, or the chief investment office.Case studies are fundamental to the program, including a capstone case study with 15 possible outcomes, but analysts get to interact with clients while they are trainees.Learn more about how young grads train to work with the ultra-rich.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 23rd, 2022

Who is Greg Abbott: Texa"ss pro-gun, anti-abortion Republican governor who has fielded several crises since 2015

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has overseen six major mass shootings and a slew of other controversies since he took office in 2015. Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks during the Houston Region Business Coalition's monthly meeting on October 27, 2021 in Houston, Texas.Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images The school shooting in Uvalde wasn't the first gun tragedy Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has faced. The Republican lawmaker has overseen six mass shootings throughout his two terms as governor. Insider delved into Abbott's background, beliefs, and tenure as the Lone Star State's leader.  The state of Texas is top of mind this week following a mass shooting at an elementary school in the small town of Uvalde that left 21 people dead, including 19 young children. Amid the chaos of Tuesday's tragedy, it was Gov. Greg Abbott who first reported the unfathomable news that scores of children were gunned down in their classroom by an 18-year-old shooter. The Republican governor has remained visible in the immediate aftermath of the incident, sitting center stage at a Wednesday press conference where he fought off accusations from political rivals and pivoted the conversation away from gun control.Elected in 2014 as a staunch Texas conservative, Abbott has spent the last seven years in near-constant crisis mode, fielding the state's response to several mass shootings, a deadly winter storm, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, his approval ratings suggest that Texans are comfortable, if not satisfied, with his methods. Throughout his two terms, his approval ratings have never dipped below 40% and never peaked beyond 56%.Abbott's backgroundA native of the Lone Star State, Abbott's father, a stockbroker and insurance agent, died from a heart attack while Abbott was in high school, local outlet Honest Austin reported. His mother, who was a stay-at-home mom at the time, then rejoined the workforce in the real estate industry.Abbott earned a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin in 1981 and a Juris Doctorate from Vanderbilt University Law School in 1984. Shortly after his graduation from Vanderbilt, a 26-year-old Abbott was left paralyzed from the waist down after an oak tree fell on him during a jog. He continued his career in the Texas judiciary branch, starting in private practice and then moving to become a state trial judge in 1993.Then-Texas Governor George W. Bush appointed Abbott to the Texas Supreme Court in 1996. His legal career continued as he served as the Texas attorney general from 2002 to 2015 — where he filed over 30 lawsuits against former President Barack Obama. Having been re-elected twice, he was the state's longest-serving attorney general before winning in the 2014 gubernatorial election. Dubbed the "Best Governor in the Nation" in 2020 by Laffer Associates and the American Legislative Exchange Council, Abbott has now served two terms as the state's governor and is seeking a third.Abbott married his wife, Cecilia, in 1981. Cecilia, a former school teacher, is recognized as the first Hispanic First Lady of Texas. The two have a daughter together named Audrey, a 2020 graduate of the University of Southern California.Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in June.Callaghan O'Hare/ReutersPolitical beliefsAbbott holds a host of traditional conservative values — including an unwavering faith in the Second Amendment and a no-exceptions stance toward abortion.The state has loosened its gun laws during Abbott's tenure despite recent mass shootings. "I'm EMBARRASSED: Texas #2 in nation for new gun purchases, behind CALIFORNIA. Let's pick up the pace Texans," Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted in October 2015.The anti-abortion governor also signed one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country — banning the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy (before many individuals realize they're pregnant) and encouraging private citizens to sue abortion providers for up to $10,000.The law's only exception will be for medical emergencies. He vowed to "eliminate all rapists" as the anti-abortion law makes no exception for individuals who were raped.On par with former President Donald Trump, Abbott has sought to eradicate illegal border crossings from Mexico to Texas. He claimed that individuals crossing the border pose "an ongoing and imminent threat of disaster for certain counties and agencies in the State of Texas."Abbott has also aided in the nationwide conservative effort calling for the banning of books that contain "pornography or obscene content." This has resulted in books that focus on race, gender, and sexuality being stripped from shelves in schools. The Republican governor also pushed forward with a directive to allow state authorities to investigate parents providing their trans children with gender-affirming care for child abuse.— seemingly paradoxical to his call for parental rights.Controversies and CrisesThroughout his two terms, Abbott has faced numerous state crises and controversies. Since he was first elected in 2015, Texas has been home to six major mass shootings that have claimed the lives of nearly 100 Texans.In July 2016, five Dallas police officers were killed in an ambush at a Black Lives Matter protest in the deadliest incident for US law enforcement since the September 11 attacks. The incident came just months after Texas loosened its concealed gun laws, allowing license-holders to openly carry handguns in holsters. In November 2017, a 26-year-old gunman killed 26 people and wounded 20 others during a church service at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. The attack remains the deadliest mass shooting in the state's history. Six months later, a 17-year-old killed 10 people, including 8 students at Santa Fe High School. Two more mass shootings in August 2019 shook the state. First, a 21-year-old suspected shooter killed 23 people at a Walmart in El Paso in a self-proclaimed racist attack. Then, just days later, a 36-year-old suspected shooter killed seven people in a shooting spree in Odessa-Midland.Abbott responded to the slew of shootings by renewing school safety plans, strengthening law enforcement protections, and convening committees to discuss the rise in mass violence. Meanwhile, the state's gun laws only continued to get laxer. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R).Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty ImagesThe governor's penchant for guns has played poorly to some in the aftermath of so many attacks. Abbott, along with his Republican ally former President Donald Trump, are both scheduled to address a National Rifle Association conference on Friday — just 72 hours after the Uvalde shooting. During a Wednesday press conference, the governor declined to say whether he still plans to attend. But despite Abbott's pro-gun proclivities, the crises he has faced in office have gone beyond shootings. Abbott's approach to the COVID-19 pandemic was among the most controversial in the country. As the virus ravaged Texas, the governor refused to impose lockdowns or mask mandates and passed an executive order barring government agencies, cities, counties, school districts, and private companies in the state from implementing vaccine mandates. The governor himself is vaccinated against COVID-19 and has encouraged other Texans to get their inoculations. Abbott again came under fire in February 2021 after a powerful winter storm knocked out power across the state and left more than 200 people dead, the majority from hypothermia. The governor called for an investigation into Texas' electric grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and signed a bill requiring that power companies in the state be ready for future extreme weather events.But a year after the storm, a former Texas power official testified that Abbott had ordered power prices to remain as high as possible for multiple days during the storm's blackouts in an effort to prevent further rolling blackouts, even as power plants were already starting to turn back on. And in recent months, the governor has stoked further controversy after he designated gender-affirming care for transgender youth as child abuse. Earlier this year, Abbott called on state agencies to designate the use of gender-affirming care as a form of child abuse, prompting advocates to decry the governors' actions as "monstrous and amoral."After eight years as Texas governor, Abbott will vie for a third term this fall, facing off against Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke. The state has no gubernatorial term limits. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 26th, 2022

Who is Greg Abbott: The pro-gun, anti-abortion Republican governor who has fielded several Texas crises since 2015

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has overseen six major mass shootings and a slew of other controversies since he took office in 2015. Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks during the Houston Region Business Coalition's monthly meeting on October 27, 2021 in Houston, Texas.Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images The school shooting in Uvalde wasn't the first gun tragedy Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has faced. The Republican lawmaker has overseen six mass shootings throughout his two terms as governor. Insider delved into Abbott's background, beliefs, and tenure as the Lone Star State's leader.  The state of Texas is top of mind this week following a mass shooting at an elementary school in the small town of Uvalde that left 21 people dead, including 19 young children. Amid the chaos of Tuesday's tragedy, it was Gov. Greg Abbott who first reported the unfathomable news that scores of children were gunned down in their classroom by an 18-year-old shooter. The Republican governor has remained visible in the immediate aftermath of the incident, sitting center stage at a Wednesday press conference where he fought off accusations from political rivals and pivoted the conversation away from gun control.Elected in 2014 as a staunch Texas conservative, Abbott has spent the last seven years in near-constant crisis mode, fielding the state's response to several mass shootings, a deadly winter storm, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, his approval ratings suggest that Texans are comfortable, if not satisfied, with his methods. Throughout his two terms, his approval ratings have never dipped below 40% and never peaked beyond 56%.Abbott's backgroundA native of the Lone Star State, Abbott's father, a stockbroker and insurance agent, died from a heart attack while Abbott was in high school, local outlet Honest Austin reported. His mother, who was a stay-at-home mom at the time, then rejoined the workforce in the real estate industry.Abbott earned a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin in 1981 and a Juris Doctorate from Vanderbilt University Law School in 1984. Shortly after his graduation from Vanderbilt, a 26-year-old Abbott was left paralyzed from the waist down after an oak tree fell on him during a jog.He continued his career in the Texas judiciary branch, starting in private practice and then moving to become a state trial judge in 1993.Then-Texas Governor George W. Bush appointed Abbott to the Texas Supreme Court in 1996. His legal career continued as he served as the Texas attorney general from 2002 to 2015 — where he filed over 30 lawsuits against former President Barack Obama. Having been re-elected twice, he was the state's longest-serving attorney general before winning in the 2014 gubernatorial election. Dubbed the "Best Governor in the Nation" in 2020 by Laffer Associates and the American Legislative Exchange Council, Abbott has now served two terms as the state's governor and is seeking a third.Abbott married his wife, Cecilia, in 1981. Cecilia, a former school teacher, is recognized as the first Hispanic First Lady of Texas. The two have a daughter together named Audrey, a 2020 graduate of the University of Southern California.Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in June.Callaghan O'Hare/ReutersPolitical beliefsAbbott holds a host of traditional conservative values — including an unwavering faith in the Second Amendment and a no-exceptions stance toward abortion.The state has loosened its gun laws during Abbott's tenure despite recent mass shootings. "I'm EMBARRASSED: Texas #2 in nation for new gun purchases, behind CALIFORNIA. Let's pick up the pace Texans," Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted in October 2015.The anti-abortion governor also signed one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country — banning the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy (before many individuals realize they're pregnant) and encouraging private citizens to sue abortion providers for up to $10,000.The law's only exception will be for medical emergencies. He vowed to "eliminate all rapists" as the anti-abortion law makes no exception for individuals who were raped.On par with former President Donald Trump, Abbott has sought to eradicate illegal border crossings from Mexico to Texas. He claimed that individuals crossing the border pose "an ongoing and imminent threat of disaster for certain counties and agencies in the State of Texas."Abbott has also aided in the nationwide conservative effort calling for the banning of books that contain "pornography or obscene content." This has resulted in books that focus on race, gender, and sexuality being stripped from shelves in schools. The Republican governor also pushed forward with a directive to allow state authorities to investigate parents providing their trans children with gender-affirming care for child abuse.— seemingly paradoxical to his call for parental rights.Controversies and CrisesThroughout his two terms, Abbott has faced numerous state crises and controversies. Since he was first elected in 2015, Texas has been home to six major mass shootings that have claimed the lives of nearly 100 Texans.In July 2016, five Dallas police officers were killed in an ambush at a Black Lives Matter protest in the deadliest incident for US law enforcement since the September 11 attacks. The incident came just months after Texas loosened its concealed gun laws, allowing license-holders to openly carry handguns in holsters. In November 2017, a 26-year-old gunman killed 26 people and wounded 20 others during a church service at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. The attack remains the deadliest mass shooting in the state's history. Six months later, a 17-year-old killed 10 people, including 8 students at Santa Fe High School. Two more mass shootings in August 2019 shook the state. First, a 21-year-old suspected shooter killed 23 people at a Walmart in El Paso in a self-proclaimed racist attack. Then, just days later, a 36-year-old suspected shooter killed seven people in a shooting spree in Odessa-Midland.Abbott responded to the slew of shootings by renewing school safety plans, strengthening law enforcement protections, and convening committees to discuss the rise in mass violence. Meanwhile, the state's gun laws only continued to get laxer. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R).Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty ImagesThe governor's penchant for guns has played poorly to some in the aftermath of so many attacks. Abbott, along with his Republican ally former President Donald Trump, are both scheduled to address a National Rifle Association conference on Friday — just 72 hours after the Uvalde shooting. During a Wednesday press conference, the governor declined to say whether he still plans to attend. But despite Abbott's pro-gun proclivities, the crises he has faced in office have gone beyond shootings. Abbott's approach to the COVID-19 pandemic was among the most controversial in the country. As the virus ravaged Texas, the governor refused to impose lockdowns or mask mandates and passed an executive order barring government agencies, cities, counties, school districts, and private companies in the state from implementing vaccine mandates. The governor himself is vaccinated against COVID-19 and has encouraged other Texans to get their inoculations. Abbott again came under fire in February 2021 after a powerful winter storm knocked out power across the state and left more than 200 people dead, the majority from hypothermia. The governor called for an investigation into Texas' electric grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and signed a bill requiring that power companies in the state be ready for future extreme weather events.But a year after the storm, a former Texas power official testified that Abbott had ordered power prices to remain as high as possible for multiple days during the storm's blackouts in an effort to prevent further rolling blackouts, even as power plants were already starting to turn back on. And in recent months, the governor has stoked further controversy after he designated gender-affirming care for transgender youth as child abuse. Earlier this year, Abbott called on state agencies to designate the use of gender-affirming care as a form of child abuse, prompting advocates to decry the governors' actions as "monstrous and amoral."After eight years as Texas governor, Abbott will vie for a third term this fall, facing off against Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke. The state has no gubernatorial term limits. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 26th, 2022

How top banks like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs train young advisors to work with ultra-rich clients from voicemail training to exams with 40% failure rates

Voicemail training, case studies, and hundreds of hours of lessons: here's what it takes to work at top private banks. Goldman Sachs analysts have to train for two years before working with the bank's wealthiest clients.Kingfisher Productions Private banks cater to the wealthiest clientele, who typically have at least $10 million in assets. The advisor training can take years and spans from case studies to voicemail training. Insider spoke to 4 top banks about how they prepare bankers to work with their most prized clients. See more stories on Insider's business page. America's wealthy continue to get richer, and the world's top banks are fighting for their business. Even banks with household names are competing for talent to service this niche clientele, which often have at least $10 million in assets.But getting hired is just the first step. Wall Street banks put analysts through their paces before letting them work with the most coveted clients. It can take hundreds of hours of lessons, sometimes spread out over years or condensed into a matter of weeks, as well as exams, case studies, and — more exams. Here's our running list of training programs for aspiring private bankers at top US banks.JPMorganDavid Frame, CEO of the private bank, is doubling down on a recruiting push. JPMorgan aims to hire as many as 1,500 new private bank advisors over the next five years, which would double its current headcount.About half these advisors will come from JPMorgan's analyst ranks, who are mostly newly minted college graduates. These young analysts have to complete 250 hours of training over three years with a mix of live lessons and self-study on topics from alternative investments to lending.There aren't any written exams, but analysts are tested on their mastery in role-play sessions with fictional clients, which Frame compares to language labs."We view a lot of these topics as like learning a foreign language. You have to be conversant," Frame said.Read more about JPMorgan's "objection clinics" with fictional clients and voicemail training.Morgan StanleyEvery advisor in the wealth management division has to pass an exam with a live case study in order to work with high-net-worth families.Only some 60% pass on their first try and about 75% eventually pass after retaking it, sometimes multiple times. "We don't have a requisite number that we're looking to put through the program," Alex Chester, who runs the bank's family wealth director program, told Insider. "We want to make sure that the advisors that we're promoting are equipped to work with the very best clients of the firm."In the case study, senior Morgan Stanley employees pretend to be a high-net-worth client and their accountant or attorney. Advisors get one hour to talk to the fictional client, and another three hours to prepare detailed recommendations.See an example of Morgan Stanley's tough case studies here.Goldman SachsAfter three years of working for Goldman Sachs, about 25 to 40 analysts from the bank's private wealth division are handpicked for its advisory program.The focus of the two-year course is to train young graduates to communicate with clients in a relatable way and ditch "business-school speak," Goldman partner David Fox told Insider. Trainees go through near-daily sessions of "verbal dexterity" exercises where they have to answer questions from fictional clients. The course culminates with three case studies that involve portfolio strategy and estate planning, as well as a written and oral exam.Read all the details about the case studies that cap off Goldman's training programBank of AmericaAnalysts at Bank of America complete four department rotations within the private bank, shadowing senior bankers, trust officers, and portfolio managers. This "apprenticeship model" helps young graduates find their specialty before becoming associates, according to Jessica Walsh, who leads employee training for early talent at the private bank. At the end of the two-year program, analysts pick choose one of the bank's 25 specialty groups, such as wealth planning, custom lending, structured credit, philanthropy, or the chief investment office.Case studies are fundamental to the program, including a capstone case study with 15 possible outcomes, but analysts get to interact with clients while they are trainees.Learn more about how young grads train to work with the ultra-rich.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytMay 16th, 2022

The Anatomy Of Big Pharma"s Political Reach

The Anatomy Of Big Pharma's Political Reach Authored by Rebecca Strong via Medium.com, They keep telling us to “trust the science.” But who paid for it? After graduating from Columbia University with a chemical engineering degree, my grandfather went on to work for Pfizer for almost two decades, culminating his career as the company’s Global Director of New Products. I was rather proud of this fact growing up — it felt as if this father figure, who raised me for several years during my childhood, had somehow played a role in saving lives. But in recent years, my perspective on Pfizer — and other companies in its class — has shifted. Blame it on the insidious big pharma corruption laid bare by whistleblowers in recent years. Blame it on the endless string of big pharma lawsuits revealing fraud, deception, and cover-ups. Blame it on the fact that I witnessed some of their most profitable drugs ruin the lives of those I love most. All I know is, that pride I once felt has been overshadowed by a sticky skepticism I just can’t seem to shake. In 1973, my grandpa and his colleagues celebrated as Pfizer crossed a milestone: the one-billion-dollar sales mark. These days, Pfizer rakes in $81 billion a year, making it the 28th most valuable company in the world. Johnson & Johnson ranks 15th, with $93.77 billion. To put things into perspective, that makes said companies wealthier than most countries in the world. And thanks to those astronomical profit margins, the Pharmaceuticals and Health Products industry is able to spend more on lobbying than any other industry in America. While big pharma lobbying can take several different forms, these companies tend to target their contributions to senior legislators in Congress — you know, the ones they need to keep in their corner, because they have the power to draft healthcare laws. Pfizer has outspent its peers in six of the last eight election cycles, coughing up almost $9.7 million. During the 2016 election, pharmaceutical companies gave more than $7 million to 97 senators at an average of $75,000 per member. They also contributed $6.3 million to president Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign. The question is: what did big pharma get in return? When you've got 1,500 Big Pharma lobbyists on Capitol Hill for 535 members of Congress, it's not too hard to figure out why prescription drug prices in this country are, on average, 256% HIGHER than in other major countries. — Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 3, 2022 ALEC’s Off-the-Record Sway To truly grasp big pharma’s power, you need to understand how The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) works. ALEC, which was founded in 1973 by conservative activists working on Ronald Reagan’s campaign, is a super secretive pay-to-play operation where corporate lobbyists — including in the pharma sector — hold confidential meetings about “model” bills. A large portion of these bills is eventually approved and become law. A rundown of ALEC’s greatest hits will tell you everything you need to know about the council’s motives and priorities. In 1995, ALEC promoted a bill that restricts consumers’ rights to sue for damages resulting from taking a particular medication. They also endorsed the Statute of Limitation Reduction Act, which put a time limit on when someone could sue after a medication-induced injury or death. Over the years, ALEC has promoted many other pharma-friendly bills that would: weaken FDA oversight of new drugs and therapies, limit FDA authority over drug advertising, and oppose regulations on financial incentives for doctors to prescribe specific drugs. But what makes these ALEC collaborations feel particularly problematic is that there’s little transparency — all of this happens behind closed doors. Congressional leaders and other committee members involved in ALEC aren’t required to publish any records of their meetings and other communications with pharma lobbyists, and the roster of ALEC members is completely confidential. All we know is that in 2020, more than two-thirds of Congress — 72 senators and 302 House of Representatives members — cashed a campaign check from a pharma company. Big Pharma Funding Research The public typically relies on an endorsement from government agencies to help them decide whether or not a new drug, vaccine, or medical device is safe and effective. And those agencies, like the FDA, count on clinical research. As already established, big pharma is notorious for getting its hooks into influential government officials. Here’s another sobering truth: The majority of scientific research is paid for by — wait for it — the pharmaceutical companies. When the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published 73 studies of new drugs over the course of a single year, they found that a staggering 82% of them had been funded by the pharmaceutical company selling the product, 68% had authors who were employees of that company, and 50% had lead researchers who accepted money from a drug company. According to 2013 research conducted at the University of Arizona College of Law, even when pharma companies aren’t directly funding the research, company stockholders, consultants, directors, and officers are almost always involved in conducting them. A 2017 report by the peer-reviewed journal The BMJ also showed that about half of medical journal editors receive payments from drug companies, with the average payment per editor hovering around $28,000. But these statistics are only accurate if researchers and editors are transparent about payments from pharma. And a 2022 investigative analysis of two of the most influential medical journals found that 81% of study authors failed to disclose millions in payments from drug companies, as they’re required to do. Unfortunately, this trend shows no sign of slowing down. The number of clinical trials funded by the pharmaceutical industry has been climbing every year since 2006, according to a John Hopkins University report, while independent studies have been harder to find. And there are some serious consequences to these conflicts of interest. Take Avandia, for instance, a diabetes drug produced by GlaxoSmithCline (GSK). Avandia was eventually linked to a dramatically increased risk of heart attacks and heart failure. And a BMJ report revealed that almost 90% of scientists who initially wrote glowing articles about Avandia had financial ties to GSK. But here’s the unnerving part: if the pharmaceutical industry is successfully biasing the science, then that means the physicians who rely on the science are biased in their prescribing decisions. Photo credit: UN Women Europe & Central Asia Where the lines get really blurry is with “ghostwriting.” Big pharma execs know citizens are way more likely to trust a report written by a board-certified doctor than one of their representatives. That’s why they pay physicians to list their names as authors — even though the MDs had little to no involvement in the research, and the report was actually written by the drug company. This practice started in the ’50s and ’60s when tobacco execs were clamoring to prove that cigarettes didn’t cause cancer (spoiler alert: they do!), so they commissioned doctors to slap their name on papers undermining the risks of smoking. It’s still a pretty common tactic today: more than one in 10 articles published in the NEJM was co-written by a ghostwriter. While a very small percentage of medical journals have clear policies against ghostwriting, it’s still technically legal —despite the fact that the consequences can be deadly. Case in point: in the late ’90s and early 2000s, Merck paid for 73 ghostwritten articles to play up the benefits of its arthritis drug Vioxx. It was later revealed that Merck failed to report all of the heart attacks experienced by trial participants. In fact, a study published in the NEJM revealed that an estimated 160,000 Americans experienced heart attacks or strokes from taking Vioxx. That research was conducted by Dr. David Graham, Associate Director of the FDA’s Office of Drug Safety, who understandably concluded the drug was not safe. But the FDA’s Office of New Drugs, which not only was responsible for initially approving Vioxx but also regulating it, tried to sweep his findings under the rug. "I was pressured to change my conclusions and recommendations, and basically threatened that if I did not change them, I would not be permitted to present the paper at the conference," he wrote in his 2004 U.S. Senate testimony on Vioxx. "One Drug Safety manager recommended that I should be barred from presenting the poster at the meeting." Eventually, the FDA issued a public health advisory about Vioxx and Merck withdrew this product. But it was a little late for repercussions — 38,000 of those Vioxx-takers who suffered heart attacks had already died. Graham called this a “profound regulatory failure,” adding that scientific standards the FDA apply to drug safety “guarantee that unsafe and deadly drugs will remain on the U.S. market.” This should come as no surprise, but research has also repeatedly shown that a paper written by a pharmaceutical company is more likely to emphasize the benefits of a drug, vaccine, or device while downplaying the dangers. (If you want to understand more about this practice, a former ghostwriter outlines all the ethical reasons why she quit this job in a PLOS Medicine report.) While adverse drug effects appear in 95% of clinical research, only 46% of published reports disclose them. Of course, all of this often ends up misleading doctors into thinking a drug is safer than it actually is. Big Pharma Influence On Doctors Pharmaceutical companies aren’t just paying medical journal editors and authors to make their products look good, either. There’s a long, sordid history of pharmaceutical companies incentivizing doctors to prescribe their products through financial rewards. For instance, Pfizer and AstraZeneca doled out a combined $100 million to doctors in 2018, with some earning anywhere from $6 million to $29 million in a year. And research has shown this strategy works: when doctors accept these gifts and payments, they’re significantly more likely to prescribe those companies’ drugs. Novartis comes to mind — the company famously spent over $100 million paying for doctors’ extravagant meals, golf outings, and more, all while also providing a generous kickback program that made them richer every time they prescribed certain blood pressure and diabetes meds. Side note: the Open Payments portal contains a nifty little database where you can find out if any of your own doctors received money from drug companies. Knowing that my mother was put on a laundry list of meds after a near-fatal car accident, I was curious — so I did a quick search for her providers. While her PCP only banked a modest amount from Pfizer and AstraZeneca, her previous psychiatrist — who prescribed a cocktail of contraindicated medications without treating her in person — collected quadruple-digit payments from pharmaceutical companies. And her pain care specialist, who prescribed her jaw-dropping doses of opioid pain medication for more than 20 years (far longer than the 5-day safety guideline), was raking in thousands from Purdue Pharma, AKA the opioid crisis’ kingpin. Purdue is now infamous for its wildly aggressive OxyContin campaign in the ’90s. At the time, the company billed it as a non-addictive wonder drug for pain sufferers. Internal emails show Pursue sales representatives were instructed to “sell, sell, sell” OxyContin, and the more they were able to push, the more they were rewarded with promotions and bonuses. With the stakes so high, these reps stopped at nothing to get doctors on board — even going so far as to send boxes of doughnuts spelling out “OxyContin” to unconvinced physicians. Purdue had stumbled upon the perfect system for generating tons of profit — off of other people’s pain. Documentation later proved that not only was Purdue aware it was highly addictive and that many people were abusing it, but that they also encouraged doctors to continue prescribing increasingly higher doses of it (and sent them on lavish luxury vacations for some motivation). In testimony to Congress, Purdue exec Paul Goldenheim played dumb about OxyContin addiction and overdose rates, but emails that were later exposed showed that he requested his colleagues remove all mentions of addiction from their correspondence about the drug. Even after it was proven in court that Purdue fraudulently marketed OxyContin while concealing its addictive nature, no one from the company spent a single day behind bars. Instead, the company got a slap on the wrist and a $600 million fine for a misdemeanor, the equivalent of a speeding ticket compared to the $9 billion they made off OxyContin up until 2006. Meanwhile, thanks to Purdue’s recklessness, more than 247,000 people died from prescription opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2009. And that’s not even factoring in all the people who died of heroin overdoses once OxyContin was no longer attainable to them. The NIH reports that 80% of people who use heroin started by misusing prescription opioids. Former sales rep Carol Panara told me in an interview that when she looks back on her time at Purdue, it all feels like a “bad dream.” Panara started working for Purdue in 2008, one year after the company pled guilty to “misbranding” charges for OxyContin. At this point, Purdue was “regrouping and expanding,” says Panara, and to that end, had developed a clever new approach for making money off OxyContin: sales reps were now targeting general practitioners and family doctors, rather than just pain management specialists. On top of that, Purdue soon introduced three new strengths for OxyContin: 15, 30, and 60 milligrams, creating smaller increments Panara believes were aimed at making doctors feel more comfortable increasing their patients’ dosages. According to Panara, there were internal company rankings for sales reps based on the number of prescriptions for each OxyContin dosing strength in their territory. “They were sneaky about it,” she said. “Their plan was to go in and sell these doctors on the idea of starting with 10 milligrams, which is very low, knowing full well that once they get started down that path — that’s all they need. Because eventually, they’re going to build a tolerance and need a higher dose.” Occasionally, doctors expressed concerns about a patient becoming addicted, but Purdue had already developed a way around that. Sales reps like Panara were taught to reassure those doctors that someone in pain might experience addiction-like symptoms called “pseudoaddiction,” but that didn’t mean they were truly addicted. There is no scientific evidence whatsoever to support that this concept is legit, of course. But the most disturbing part? Reps were trained to tell doctors that “pseudoaddiction” signaled the patient’s pain wasn’t being managed well enough, and the solution was simply to prescribe a higher dose of OxyContin. Panara finally quit Purdue in 2013. One of the breaking points was when two pharmacies in her territory were robbed at gunpoint specifically for OxyContin. In 2020, Purdue pled guilty to three criminal charges in an $8.3 billion deal, but the company is now under court protection after filing for bankruptcy. Despite all the damage that’s been done, the FDA’s policies for approving opioids remain essentially unchanged. Photo credit: Jennifer Durban Purdue probably wouldn’t have been able to pull this off if it weren’t for an FDA examiner named Curtis Wright, and his assistant Douglas Kramer. While Purdue was pursuing Wright’s stamp of approval on OxyContin, Wright took an outright sketchy approach to their application, instructing the company to mail documents to his home office rather than the FDA, and enlisting Purdue employees to help him review trials about the safety of the drug. The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires that the FDA have access to at least two randomized controlled trials before deeming a drug as safe and effective, but in the case of OxyContin, it got approved with data from just one measly two-week study — in osteoarthritis patients, no less. When both Wright and Kramer left the FDA, they went on to work for none other than (drumroll, please) Purdue, with Wright earning three times his FDA salary. By the way — this is just one example of the FDA’s notoriously incestuous relationship with big pharma, often referred to as “the revolving door”. In fact, a 2018 Science report revealed that 11 out of 16 FDA reviewers ended up at the same companies they had been regulating products for. While doing an independent investigation, “Empire of Pain” author and New Yorker columnist Patrick Radden Keefe tried to gain access to documentation of Wright’s communications with Purdue during the OxyContin approval process. “The FDA came back and said, ‘Oh, it’s the weirdest thing, but we don’t have anything. It’s all either been lost or destroyed,’” Keefe told Fortune in an interview. “But it’s not just the FDA. It’s Congress, it’s the Department of Justice, it’s big parts of the medical establishment … the sheer amount of money involved, I think, has meant that a lot of the checks that should be in place in society to not just achieve justice, but also to protect us as consumers, were not there because they had been co-opted.” Big pharma may be to blame for creating the opioids that caused this public health catastrophe, but the FDA deserves just as much scrutiny — because its countless failures also played a part in enabling it. And many of those more recent fails happened under the supervision of Dr. Janet Woodcock. Woodcock was named FDA’s acting commissioner mere hours after Joe Biden was inaugurated as president. She would have been a logical choice, being an FDA vet of 35 years, but then again it’s impossible to forget that she played a starring role in the FDA’s perpetuating the opioid epidemic. She’s also known for overruling her own scientific advisors when they vote against approving a drug. Not only did Woodcock approve OxyContin for children as young as 11 years old, but she also gave the green light to several other highly controversial extended-release opioid pain drugs without sufficient evidence of safety or efficacy. One of those was Zohydro: in 2011, the FDA’s advisory committee voted 11:2 against approving it due to safety concerns about inappropriate use, but Woodcock went ahead and pushed it through, anyway. Under Woodcock’s supervision, the FDA also approved Opana, which is twice as powerful as OxyContin — only to then beg the drug maker to take it off the market 10 years later due to “abuse and manipulation.” And then there was Dsuvia, a potent painkiller 1,000 times stronger than morphine and 10 times more powerful than fentanyl. According to a head of one of the FDA’s advisory committees, the U.S. military had helped to develop this particular drug, and Woodcock said there was “pressure from the Pentagon” to push it through approvals. The FBI, members of congress, public health advocates, and patient safety experts alike called this decision into question, pointing out that with hundreds of opioids already on the market there’s no need for another — particularly one that comes with such high risks. Most recently, Woodcock served as the therapeutics lead for Operation Warp Speed, overseeing COVID-19 vaccine development. Big Pharma Lawsuits, Scandals, and Cover-Ups While the OxyContin craze is undoubtedly one of the highest-profile examples of big pharma’s deception, there are dozens of other stories like this. Here are a few standouts: In the 1980s, Bayer continued selling blood clotting products to third-world countries even though they were fully aware those products had been contaminated with HIV. The reason? The “financial investment in the product was considered too high to destroy the inventory.” Predictably, about 20,000 of the hemophiliacs who were infused with these tainted products then tested positive for HIV and eventually developed AIDS, and many later died of it. In 2004, Johnson & Johnson was slapped with a series of lawsuits for illegally promoting off-label use of their heartburn drug Propulsid for children despite internal company emails confirming major safety concerns (as in, deaths during the drug trials). Documentation from the lawsuits showed that dozens of studies sponsored by Johnson & Johnson highlighting the risks of this drug were never published. The FDA estimates that GSK’s Avandia caused 83,000 heart attacks between 1999 and 2007. Internal documents from GSK prove that when they began studying the effects of the drug as early as 1999, they discovered it caused a higher risk of heart attacks than a similar drug it was meant to replace. Rather than publish these findings, they spent a decade illegally concealing them (and meanwhile, banking $3.2 billion annually for this drug by 2006). Finally, a 2007 New England Journal of Medicine study linked Avandia to a 43% increased risk of heart attacks, and a 64% increased risk of death from heart disease. Avandia is still FDA approved and available in the U.S. In 2009, Pfizer was forced to pay $2.3 billion, the largest healthcare fraud settlement in history at that time, for paying illegal kickbacks to doctors and promoting off-label uses of its drugs. Specifically, a former employee revealed that Pfizer reps were encouraged and incentivized to sell Bextra and 12 other drugs for conditions they were never FDA approved for, and at doses up to eight times what’s recommended. “I was expected to increase profits at all costs, even when sales meant endangering lives,” the whistleblower said. When it was discovered that AstraZeneca was promoting the antipsychotic medication Seroquel for uses that were not approved by the FDA as safe and effective, the company was hit with a $520 million fine in 2010. For years, AstraZeneca had been encouraging psychiatrists and other physicians to prescribe Seroquel for a vast range of seemingly unrelated off-label conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, anger management, ADHD, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and sleeplessness. AstraZeneca also violated the federal Anti-Kickback Statute by paying doctors to spread the word about these unapproved uses of Seroquel via promotional lectures and while traveling to resort locations. In 2012, GSK paid a $3 billion fine for bribing doctors by flying them and their spouses to five-star resorts, and for illegally promoting drugs for off-label uses. What’s worse — GSK withheld clinical trial results that showed its antidepressant Paxil not only doesn’t work for adolescents and children but more alarmingly, that it can increase the likelihood of suicidal thoughts in this group. A 1998 GSK internal memo revealed that the company intentionally concealed this data to minimize any “potential negative commercial impact.” In 2021, an ex-AstraZeneca sales rep sued her former employer, claiming they fired her for refusing to promote drugs for uses that weren’t FDA-approved. The employee alleges that on multiple occasions, she expressed concerns to her boss about “misleading” information that didn’t have enough support from medical research, and off-label promotions of certain drugs. Her supervisor reportedly not only ignored these concerns but pressured her to approve statements she didn’t agree with and threatened to remove her from regional and national positions if she didn’t comply. According to the plaintiff, she missed out on a raise and a bonus because she refused to break the law. At the top of 2022, a panel of the D.C. Court of Appeals reinstated a lawsuit against Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Roche, and GE Healthcare, which claims they helped finance terrorist attacks against U.S. service members and other Americans in Iraq. The suit alleges that from 2005–2011, these companies regularly offered bribes (including free drugs and medical devices) totaling millions of dollars annually to Iraq’s Ministry of Health in order to secure drug contracts. These corrupt payments then allegedly funded weapons and training for the Mahdi Army, which until 2008, was largely considered one of the most dangerous groups in Iraq. Another especially worrisome factor is that pharmaceutical companies are conducting an ever-increasing number of clinical trials in third-world countries, where people may be less educated, and there are also far fewer safety regulations. Pfizer’s 1996 experimental trials with Trovan on Nigerian children with meningitis — without informed consent — is just one nauseating example. When a former medical director in Pfizer’s central research division warned the company both before and after the study that their methods in this trial were “improper and unsafe,” he was promptly fired. Families of the Nigerian children who died or were left blind, brain damaged, or paralyzed after the study sued Pfizer, and the company ultimately settled out of court. In 1998, the FDA approved Trovan only for adults. The drug was later banned from European markets due to reports of fatal liver disease and restricted to strictly emergency care in the U.S. Pfizer still denies any wrongdoing. “Nurse prepares to vaccinate children” by World Bank Photo Collection is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 But all that is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’d like to dive a little further down the rabbit hole — and I’ll warn you, it’s a deep one — a quick Google search for “big pharma lawsuits” will reveal the industry’s dark track record of bribery, dishonesty, and fraud. In fact, big pharma happens to be the biggest defrauder of the federal government when it comes to the False Claims Act, otherwise known as the “Lincoln Law.” During our interview, Panara told me she has friends still working for big pharma who would be willing to speak out about crooked activity they’ve observed, but are too afraid of being blacklisted by the industry. A newly proposed update to the False Claims Act would help to protect and support whistleblowers in their efforts to hold pharmaceutical companies liable, by helping to prevent that kind of retaliation and making it harder for the companies charged to dismiss these cases. It should come as no surprise that Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Merck, and a flock of other big pharma firms are currently lobbying to block the update. Naturally, they wouldn’t want to make it any easier for ex-employees to expose their wrongdoings, potentially costing them billions more in fines. Something to keep in mind: these are the same people who produced, marketed, and are profiting from the COVID-19 vaccines. The same people who manipulate research, pay off decision-makers to push their drugs, cover up negative research results to avoid financial losses, and knowingly put innocent citizens in harm’s way. The same people who told America: “Take as much OxyContin as you want around the clock! It’s very safe and not addictive!” (while laughing all the way to the bank). So, ask yourself this: if a partner, friend, or family member repeatedly lied to you — and not just little white lies, but big ones that put your health and safety at risk — would you continue to trust them? Backing the Big Four: Big Pharma and the FDA, WHO, NIH, CDC I know what you’re thinking. Big pharma is amoral and the FDA’s devastating slips are a dime a dozen — old news. But what about agencies and organizations like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), World Health Organization (WHO), and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)? Don’t they have an obligation to provide unbiased guidance to protect citizens? Don’t worry, I’m getting there. The WHO’s guidance is undeniably influential across the globe. For most of this organization’s history, dating back to 1948, it could not receive donations from pharmaceutical companies — only member states. But that changed in 2005 when the WHO updated its financial policy to permit private money into its system. Since then, the WHO has accepted many financial contributions from big pharma. In fact, it’s only 20% financed by member states today, with a whopping 80% of financing coming from private donors. For instance, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is now one of its main contributors, providing up to 13% of its funds — about $250–300 million a year. Nowadays, the BMGF provides more donations to the WHO than the entire United States. Dr. Arata Kochi, former head of WHO’s malaria program, expressed concerns to director-general Dr. Margaret Chan in 2007 that taking the BMGF’s money could have “far-reaching, largely unintended consequences” including “stifling a diversity of views among scientists.” “The big concerns are that the Gates Foundation isn’t fully transparent and accountable,” Lawrence Gostin, director of WHO’s Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law, told Devex in an interview. “By wielding such influence, it could steer WHO priorities … It would enable a single rich philanthropist to set the global health agenda.” Photo credit: National Institutes of Health Take a peek at the WHO’s list of donors and you’ll find a few other familiar names like AstraZeneca, Bayer, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck. The NIH has the same problem, it seems. Science journalist Paul Thacker, who previously examined financial links between physicians and pharma companies as a lead investigator of the United States Senate Committee, wrote in The Washington Post that this agency “often ignored” very “obvious” conflicts of interest. He also claimed that “its industry ties go back decades.” In 2018, it was discovered that a $100 million alcohol consumption study run by NIH scientists was funded mostly by beer and liquor companies. Emails proved that NIH researchers were in frequent contact with those companies while designing the study — which, here’s a shocker — were aimed at highlighting the benefits and not the risks of moderate drinking. So, the NIH ultimately had to squash the trial. And then there’s the CDC. It used to be that this agency couldn’t take contributions from pharmaceutical companies, but in 1992 they found a loophole: new legislation passed by Congress allowed them to accept private funding through a nonprofit called the CDC Foundation. From 2014 through 2018 alone, the CDC Foundation received $79.6 million from corporations like Pfizer, Biogen, and Merck. Of course, if a pharmaceutical company wants to get a drug, vaccine, or other product approved, they really need to cozy up to the FDA. That explains why in 2017, pharma companies paid for a whopping 75% of the FDA’s scientific review budgets, up from 27% in 1993. It wasn’t always like this. But in 1992, an act of Congress changed the FDA’s funding stream, enlisting pharma companies to pay “user fees,” which help the FDA speed up the approval process for their drugs. A 2018 Science investigation found that 40 out of 107 physician advisors on the FDA’s committees received more than $10,000 from big pharma companies trying to get their drugs approved, with some banking up to $1 million or more. The FDA claims it has a well-functioning system to identify and prevent these possible conflicts of interest. Unfortunately, their system only works for spotting payments before advisory panels meet, and the Science investigation showed many FDA panel members get their payments after the fact. It’s a little like “you scratch my back now, and I’ll scratch your back once I get what I want” — drug companies promise FDA employees a future bonus contingent on whether things go their way. Here’s why this dynamic proves problematic: a 2000 investigation revealed that when the FDA approved the rotavirus vaccine in 1998, it didn’t exactly do its due diligence. That probably had something to do with the fact that committee members had financial ties to the manufacturer, Merck — many owned tens of thousands of dollars of stock in the company, or even held patents on the vaccine itself. Later, the Adverse Event Reporting System revealed that the vaccine was causing serious bowel obstructions in some children, and it was finally pulled from the U.S. market in October 1999. Then, in June of 2021, the FDA overruled concerns raised by its very own scientific advisory committee to approve Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm — a move widely criticized by physicians. The drug not only showed very little efficacy but also potentially serious side effects like brain bleeding and swelling, in clinical trials. Dr. Aaron Kesselheim, a Harvard Medical School professor who was on the FDA’s scientific advisory committee, called it the “worst drug approval” in recent history, and noted that meetings between the FDA and Biogen had a “strange dynamic” suggesting an unusually close relationship. Dr. Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, told CNN that he believes the FDA started working in “inappropriately close collaboration with Biogen” back in 2019. “They were not objective, unbiased regulators,” he added in the CNN interview. “It seems as if the decision was preordained.” That brings me to perhaps the biggest conflict of interest yet: Dr. Anthony Fauci’s NIAID is just one of many institutes that comprises the NIH — and the NIH owns half the patent for the Moderna vaccine — as well as thousands more pharma patents to boot. The NIAID is poised to earn millions of dollars from Moderna’s vaccine revenue, with individual officials also receiving up to $150,000 annually. Operation Warp Speed In December of 2020, Pfizer became the first company to receive an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA for a COVID-19 vaccine. EUAs — which allow the distribution of an unapproved drug or other product during a declared public health emergency — are actually a pretty new thing: the first one was issued in 2005 so military personnel could get an anthrax vaccine. To get a full FDA approval, there needs to be substantial evidence that the product is safe and effective. But for an EUA, the FDA just needs to determine that it may be effective. Since EUAs are granted so quickly, the FDA doesn’t have enough time to gather all the information they’d usually need to approve a drug or vaccine. “Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Event” by The White House is licensed under CC PDM 1.0 Pfizer CEO and chairman Albert Bourla has said his company was “operating at the speed of science” to bring a vaccine to market. However, a 2021 report in The BMJ revealed that this speed might have come at the expense of “data integrity and patient safety.” Brook Jackson, regional director for the Ventavia Research Group, which carried out these trials, told The BMJ that her former company “falsified data, unblinded patients, and employed inadequately trained vaccinators” in Pfizer’s pivotal phase 3 trial. Just some of the other concerning events witnessed included: adverse events not being reported correctly or at all, lack of reporting on protocol deviations, informed consent errors, and mislabeling of lab specimens. An audio recording of Ventavia employees from September 2020 revealed that they were so overwhelmed by issues arising during the study that they became unable to “quantify the types and number of errors” when assessing quality control. One Ventavia employee told The BMJ she’d never once seen a research environment as disorderly as Ventavia’s Pfizer vaccine trial, while another called it a “crazy mess.” Over the course of her two-decades-long career, Jackson has worked on hundreds of clinical trials, and two of her areas of expertise happen to be immunology and infectious diseases. She told me that from her first day on the Pfizer trial in September of 2020, she discovered “such egregious misconduct” that she recommended they stop enrolling participants into the study to do an internal audit. “To my complete shock and horror, Ventavia agreed to pause enrollment but then devised a plan to conceal what I found and to keep ICON and Pfizer in the dark,” Jackson said during our interview. “The site was in full clean-up mode. When missing data points were discovered the information was fabricated, including forged signatures on the informed consent forms.” A screenshot Jackson shared with me shows she was invited to a meeting titled “COVID 1001 Clean up Call” on Sept. 21, 2020. She refused to participate in the call. Jackson repeatedly warned her superiors about patient safety concerns and data integrity issues. “I knew that the entire world was counting on clinical researchers to develop a safe and effective vaccine and I did not want to be a part of that failure by not reporting what I saw,” she told me. When her employer failed to act, Jackson filed a complaint with the FDA on Sept. 25, and Ventavia fired her hours later that same day under the pretense that she was “not a good fit.” After reviewing her concerns over the phone, she claims the FDA never followed up or inspected the Ventavia site. Ten weeks later, the FDA authorized the EUA for the vaccine. Meanwhile, Pfizer hired Ventavia to handle the research for four more vaccine clinical trials, including one involving children and young adults, one for pregnant women, and another for the booster. Not only that, but Ventavia handled the clinical trials for Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and Novavax. Jackson is currently pursuing a False Claims Act lawsuit against Pfizer and Ventavia Research Group. Last year, Pfizer banked nearly $37 billion from its COVID vaccine, making it one of the most lucrative products in global history. Its overall revenues doubled in 2021 to reach $81.3 billion, and it’s slated to reach a record-breaking $98-$102 billion this year. “Corporations like Pfizer should never have been put in charge of a global vaccination rollout, because it was inevitable they would make life-and-death decisions based on what’s in the short-term interest of their shareholders,” writes Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now. As previously mentioned, it’s super common for pharmaceutical companies to fund the research on their own products. Here’s why that’s scary. One 1999 meta-analysis showed that industry-funded research is eight times less likely to achieve unfavorable results compared to independent trials. In other words, if a pharmaceutical company wants to prove that a medication, supplement, vaccine, or device is safe and effective, they’ll find a way. With that in mind, I recently examined the 2020 study on Pfizer’s COVID vaccine to see if there were any conflicts of interest. Lo and behold, the lengthy attached disclosure form shows that of the 29 authors, 18 are employees of Pfizer and hold stock in the company, one received a research grant from Pfizer during the study, and two reported being paid “personal fees” by Pfizer. In another 2021 study on the Pfizer vaccine, seven of the 15 authors are employees of and hold stock in Pfizer. The other eight authors received financial support from Pfizer during the study. Photo credit: Prasesh Shiwakoti (Lomash) via Unsplash As of the day I’m writing this, about 64% of Americans are fully vaccinated, and 76% have gotten at least one dose. The FDA has repeatedly promised “full transparency” when it comes to these vaccines. Yet in December of 2021, the FDA asked for permission to wait 75 years before releasing information pertaining to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, including safety data, effectiveness data, and adverse reaction reports. That means no one would see this information until the year 2096 — conveniently, after many of us have departed this crazy world. To recap: the FDA only needed 10 weeks to review the 329,000 pages worth of data before approving the EUA for the vaccine — but apparently, they need three-quarters of a century to publicize it. In response to the FDA’s ludicrous request, PHMPT — a group of over 200 medical and public health experts from Harvard, Yale, Brown, UCLA, and other institutions — filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act demanding that the FDA produce this data sooner. And their efforts paid off: U.S. District Judge Mark T. Pittman issued an order for the FDA to produce 12,000 pages by Jan. 31, and then at least 55,000 pages per month thereafter. In his statement to the FDA, Pittman quoted the late John F. Kennedy: “A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.” As for why the FDA wanted to keep this data hidden, the first batch of documentation revealed that there were more than 1,200 vaccine-related deaths in just the first 90 days after the Pfizer vaccine was introduced. Of 32 pregnancies with a known outcome, 28 resulted in fetal death. The CDC also recently unveiled data showing a total of 1,088,560 reports of adverse events from COVID vaccines were submitted between Dec. 14, 2020, and Jan. 28, 2022. That data included 23,149 reports of deaths and 183,311 reports of serious injuries. There were 4,993 reported adverse events in pregnant women after getting vaccinated, including 1,597 reports of miscarriage or premature birth. A 2022 study published in JAMA, meanwhile, revealed that there have been more than 1,900 reported cases of myocarditis — or inflammation of the heart muscle — mostly in people 30 and under, within 7 days of getting the vaccine. In those cases, 96% of people were hospitalized. “It is understandable that the FDA does not want independent scientists to review the documents it relied upon to license Pfizer’s vaccine given that it is not as effective as the FDA originally claimed, does not prevent transmission, does not prevent against certain emerging variants, can cause serious heart inflammation in younger individuals, and has numerous other undisputed safety issues,” writes Aaron Siri, the attorney representing PHMPT in its lawsuit against the FDA. Siri told me in an email that his office phone has been ringing off the hook in recent months. “We are overwhelmed by inquiries from individuals calling about an injury from a COVID-19 vaccine,” he said. By the way — it’s worth noting that adverse effects caused by COVID-19 vaccinations are still not covered by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Companies like Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are protected under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act, which grants them total immunity from liability with their vaccines. And no matter what happens to you, you can’t sue the FDA for authorizing the EUA, or your employer for requiring you to get it, either. Billions of taxpayer dollars went to fund the research and development of these vaccines, and in Moderna’s case, licensing its vaccine was made possible entirely by public funds. But apparently, that still warrants citizens no insurance. Should something go wrong, you’re basically on your own. Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine business model: government gives them billions, gives them immunity for any injuries or if doesn't work, promotes their products for free, and mandates their products. Sounds crazy? Yes, but it is our current reality. — Aaron Siri (@AaronSiriSG) February 2, 2022 The Hypocrisy of “Misinformation” I find it interesting that “misinformation” has become such a pervasive term lately, but more alarmingly, that it’s become an excuse for blatant censorship on social media and in journalism. It’s impossible not to wonder what’s driving this movement to control the narrative. In a world where we still very clearly don’t have all the answers, why shouldn’t we be open to exploring all the possibilities? And while we’re on the subject, what about all of the COVID-related untruths that have been spread by our leaders and officials? Why should they get a free pass? Photo credit: @upgradeur_life, www.instagram.com/upgradeur_life Fauci, President Biden, and the CDC’s Rochelle Walensky all promised us with total confidence the vaccine would prevent us from getting or spreading COVID, something we now know is a myth. (In fact, the CDC recently had to change its very definition of “vaccine ” to promise “protection” from a disease rather than “immunity”— an important distinction). At one point, the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) and former Governor Andrew Cuomo prepared a social media campaign with misleading messaging that the vaccine was “approved by the FDA” and “went through the same rigorous approval process that all vaccines go through,” when in reality the FDA only authorized the vaccines under an EUA, and the vaccines were still undergoing clinical trials. While the NYS DOH eventually responded to pressures to remove these false claims, a few weeks later the Department posted on Facebook that “no serious side effects related to the vaccines have been reported,” when in actuality, roughly 16,000 reports of adverse events and over 3,000 reports of serious adverse events related to a COVID-19 vaccination had been reported in the first two months of use. One would think we’d hold the people in power to the same level of accountability — if not more — than an average citizen. So, in the interest of avoiding hypocrisy, should we “cancel” all these experts and leaders for their “misinformation,” too? Vaccine-hesitant people have been fired from their jobs, refused from restaurants, denied the right to travel and see their families, banned from social media channels, and blatantly shamed and villainized in the media. Some have even lost custody of their children. These people are frequently labeled “anti-vax,” which is misleading given that many (like the NBA’s Jonathan Isaac) have made it repeatedly clear they are not against all vaccines, but simply making a personal choice not to get this one. (As such, I’ll suggest switching to a more accurate label: “pro-choice.”) Fauci has repeatedly said federally mandating the vaccine would not be “appropriate” or “enforceable” and doing so would be “encroaching upon a person’s freedom to make their own choice.” So it’s remarkable that still, some individual employers and U.S. states, like my beloved Massachusetts, have taken it upon themselves to enforce some of these mandates, anyway. Meanwhile, a Feb. 7 bulletin posted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security indicates that if you spread information that undermines public trust in a government institution (like the CDC or FDA), you could be considered a terrorist. In case you were wondering about the current state of free speech. The definition of institutional oppression is “the systematic mistreatment of people within a social identity group, supported and enforced by the society and its institutions, solely based on the person’s membership in the social identity group.” It is defined as occurring when established laws and practices “systematically reflect and produce inequities based on one’s membership in targeted social identity groups.” Sound familiar? As you continue to watch the persecution of the unvaccinated unfold, remember this. Historically, when society has oppressed a particular group of people whether due to their gender, race, social class, religious beliefs, or sexuality, it’s always been because they pose some kind of threat to the status quo. The same is true for today’s unvaccinated. Since we know the vaccine doesn’t prevent the spread of COVID, however, this much is clear: the unvaccinated don’t pose a threat to the health and safety of their fellow citizens — but rather, to the bottom line of powerful pharmaceutical giants and the many global organizations they finance. And with more than $100 billion on the line in 2021 alone, I can understand the motivation to silence them. The unvaccinated have been called selfish. Stupid. Fauci has said it’s “almost inexplicable” that they are still resisting. But is it? What if these people aren’t crazy or uncaring, but rather have — unsurprisingly so — lost their faith in the agencies that are supposed to protect them? Can you blame them? Citizens are being bullied into getting a vaccine that was created, evaluated, and authorized in under a year, with no access to the bulk of the safety data for said vaccine, and no rights whatsoever to pursue legal action if they experience adverse effects from it. What these people need right now is to know they can depend on their fellow citizens to respect their choices, not fuel the segregation by launching a full-fledged witch hunt. Instead, for some inexplicable reason I imagine stems from fear, many continue rallying around big pharma rather than each other. A 2022 Heartland Institute and Rasmussen Reports survey of Democratic voters found that 59% of respondents support a government policy requiring unvaccinated individuals to remain confined in their home at all times, 55% support handing a fine to anyone who won’t get the vaccine, and 48% think the government should flat out imprison people who publicly question the efficacy of the vaccines on social media, TV, or online in digital publications. Even Orwell couldn’t make this stuff up. Photo credit: DJ Paine on Unsplash Let me be very clear. While there are a lot of bad actors out there — there are also a lot of well-meaning people in the science and medical industries, too. I’m lucky enough to know some of them. There are doctors who fend off pharma reps’ influence and take an extremely cautious approach to prescribing. Medical journal authors who fiercely pursue transparency and truth — as is evident in “The Influence of Money on Medical Science,” a report by the first female editor of JAMA. Pharmacists, like Dan Schneider, who refuse to fill prescriptions they deem risky or irresponsible. Whistleblowers, like Graham and Jackson, who tenaciously call attention to safety issues for pharma products in the approval pipeline. And I’m certain there are many people in the pharmaceutical industry, like Panara and my grandfather, who pursued this field with the goal of helping others, not just earning a six- or seven-figure salary. We need more of these people. Sadly, it seems they are outliers who exist in a corrupt, deep-rooted system of quid-pro-quo relationships. They can only do so much. I’m not here to tell you whether or not you should get the vaccine or booster doses. What you put in your body is not for me — or anyone else — to decide. It’s not a simple choice, but rather one that may depend on your physical condition, medical history, age, religious beliefs, and level of risk tolerance. My grandfather passed away in 2008, and lately, I find myself missing him more than ever, wishing I could talk to him about the pandemic and hear what he makes of all this madness. I don’t really know how he’d feel about the COVID vaccine, or whether he would have gotten it or encouraged me to. What I do know is that he’d listen to my concerns, and he’d carefully consider them. He would remind me my feelings are valid. His eyes would light up and he’d grin with amusement as I fervidly expressed my frustration. He’d tell me to keep pushing forward, digging deeper, asking questions. In his endearing Bronx accent, he used to always say: “go get ‘em, kid.” If I stop typing for a moment and listen hard enough, I can almost hear him saying it now. People keep saying “trust the science.” But when trust is broken, it must be earned back. And as long as our legislative system, public health agencies, physicians, and research journals keep accepting pharmaceutical money (with strings attached) — and our justice system keeps letting these companies off the hook when their negligence causes harm, there’s no reason for big pharma to change. They’re holding the bag, and money is power. I have a dream that one day, we’ll live in a world where we are armed with all the thorough, unbiased data necessary to make informed decisions about our health. Alas, we’re not even close. What that means is that it’s up to you to educate yourself as much as possible, and remain ever-vigilant in evaluating information before forming an opinion. You can start by reading clinical trials yourself, rather than relying on the media to translate them for you. Scroll to the bottom of every single study to the “conflicts of interest” section and find out who funded it. Look at how many subjects were involved. Confirm whether or not blinding was used to eliminate bias. You may also choose to follow Public Citizen’s Health Research Group’s rule whenever possible: that means avoiding a new drug until five years after an FDA approval (not an EUA, an actual approval) — when there’s enough data on the long-term safety and effectiveness to establish that the benefits outweigh the risks. When it comes to the news, you can seek out independent, nonprofit outlets, which are less likely to be biased due to pharma funding. And most importantly, when it appears an organization is making concerted efforts to conceal information from you — like the FDA recently did with the COVID vaccine — it’s time to ask yourself: why? What are they trying to hide? In the 2019 film “Dark Waters” — which is based on the true story of one of the greatest corporate cover-ups in American history — Mark Ruffalo as attorney Rob Bilott says: “The system is rigged. They want us to think it’ll protect us, but that’s a lie. We protect us. We do. Nobody else. Not the companies. Not the scientists. Not the government. Us.” Words to live by. Tyler Durden Sat, 04/09/2022 - 22:30.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytApr 9th, 2022

Jeff Bezos turns 58 today. Here are 14 things you might not know about the Amazon founder.

Bezos, who celebrates his birthday on January 12, started his first business when he was in high school. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images You might not know that Jeff Bezos almost named Amazon "Cadabra." He survived a helicopter crash in Texas in 2003. In August 2020, he became the first person to accumulate a fortune of over $200 billion. His mother, Jacklyn Bezos, gave birth to him when she was a teenager.Jeff Bezos in 1997.Paul Souders/Getty ImagesAccording to CNBC, Bezos, then Jacklyn Gise Jorgensen, was barely 17 years old and a junior in high school when she gave birth to her son in 1964. At the time, her high school administrators told her she would not be permitted to finish her education there. After she was allowed to return under strict conditions, Jacklyn Bezos graduated and later divorced from Jeff Bezos' biological father, Ted Jorgensen, after less than a year of marriage. Jeff Bezos was just over a year old at the time. She struggled to make ends meet while working as a secretary and, at one point, didn't even have enough income to afford a phone, CNBC reported.Determined to make life better for her and her son, Bezos enrolled in college classes with professors who permitted her to bring her infant along. It was there she met her future husband, Mike Bezos, a Cuban immigrant who would give Jeff Bezos his last name and step in as his father.Bezos' biological father was once a circus performer.A circus performer on a unicycle.giulia186/Getty ImagesAccording to the 2013 biography of Jeff Bezos by Brad Stone, "The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon," the now-billionaire's biological father was a unicyclist and circus performer.When Stone tracked down Jorgensen to interview him for his biography, he had reportedly not seen his son in decades and hadn't realized he was his biological father. Jorgensen reached out to his son and the two made amends, with Bezos telling him "he harbored no ill will towards Jorgensen at all," according to Stone.Ted Jorgensen died March 16, 2015, at the age of 71.Bezos was interested in how things work and engineering even as a child.Jeff Bezos.Chris Carroll/Corbis/Getty ImagesWhen Bezos was a toddler, he reportedly felt he was "too old" to sleep in a crib and managed to take it apart with a screwdriver by himself. By the time he entered high school, Bezos had transformed his home garage into a laboratory for his own inventions, Harvard Business School wrote, citing Angela Duckworth's "Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance."He started his first business when he was in high school.Jeff Bezos.Chris Carroll/Corbis/Getty ImagesWhile he was in high school, Bezos launched his very first business, an educational summer camp for fourth, fifth, and sixth graders called the Dream Institute. According to Insider, Bezos and his girlfriend at the time both worked on the camp and charged its six attendees $600 per person.Prior to starting the camp, Bezos also worked at McDonald's for a summer.Bezos worked on Wall Street in the early 1990s.Wall Street.Matteo Colombo/Getty ImagesAfter graduating from Princeton University with a degree in computer science and electrical engineering, Bezos worked at several financial firms on Wall Street in New York City, including Fitel and investment firm D.E. Shaw, Insider previously reported.Bezos worked his way up to become D.E. Shaw's youngest vice president in 1990 but left four years later to launch an online bookstore.Bezos founded Amazon in his garage.Jeff Bezos' home where he started Amazon.Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post/Getty ImagesAfter launching a prototype of the Amazon website and asking 300 friends to beta test it, Bezos and a few early employees began developing software for the site in Bezos' garage. The space was so small that Bezos was forced to hold meetings at a local Barnes & Noble, according to Insider. The small team later expanded its operations and began working out of a two-bedroom house.Jeff Bezos' former wife, MacKenzie Bezos, also played a large role in the founding of Amazon during the company's early years. After the couple divorced in 2019 after 25 years of marriage, MacKenzie Bezos received 25% of the couple's stock in Amazon, which was worth about $38 billion at the time.Jeff Bezos almost named his company "Cadabra" instead of Amazon.An Amazon logistics center.Pascal Rossignol/ReutersJeff Bezos originally wanted to give his company the more magical-sounding name but was warned against doing so by Amazon's first lawyer, Todd Tarbert, according to a previous article by Insider.Tarbert explained that the name "Cadabra" sounded a little too similar to "cadaver," especially over the phone. In the end, the founder and future billionaire went with Amazon, named after the largest river in the world because he was building the largest bookstore in the world.Bezos was a passenger in a helicopter crash in 2003.Jeff Bezos speaks at an event in Washington.REUTERS/Joshua RobertsWhile onboard an Aérospatiale Gazelle helicopter with his attorney, guide Ty Holland, and pilot Charles Bella, Bezos was involved in a serious helicopter crash in west Texas after wind blew the helicopter off course.According to Insider, the helicopter landed upside-down in a creek and partially filled with water. Bella, Bezos, and Holland all escaped the wreck with only minor injuries. However, Bezos' attorney, Elizabeth Korrell, suffered a broken vertebra from the accident."Avoid helicopters whenever possible," Bezos told Fast Company in 2004. "They're not as reliable as fixed-wing aircraft."Bezos had a cameo role in "Star Trek Beyond."Jeff Bezos attends the premiere of "Star Trek Beyond" in 2016.Kevin Winter/Getty ImagesBezos played an alien in the 2016 movie reboot, and he reportedly made quite an impression on set, with movie star Chris Pine saying Bezos arrived to set with three limousines and accompanied by nine bodyguards. "For years, I have been begging Paramount, which is owned by Viacom, to let me be in a 'Star Trek' movie. I was very persistent, and you can imagine the poor director who got the call, you know, 'You have to let Bezos be in your "Star Trek" movie,'" Bezos said at the 2016 Pathfinder Awards at Seattle's Museum of Flight. "It was super fun for me. It was a bucket list item."Bezos is the owner of the Washington Post.The Washington Post headquarters.ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty ImagesBezos purchased the newspaper company in 2013 for $250 million. At the time, Bezos' net worth was estimated to be over $25 billion. Immediately following the purchase, The Post Company shares rose 5.5% in after-hours trading. Under Bezos' ownership, the once-struggling newspaper turned a profit in 2016, 2017, and 2018, according to CNN.The billionaire also runs his own privately funded rocket ship company, Blue Origin.Jeff Bezos at a Blue Origin presentation.Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty ImagesThe aerospace manufacturer and sub-orbital spaceflight services company was founded in 2000 and is headquartered in Kent, Washington, which is also Bezos' home state. "Blue Origin believes that in order to preserve Earth, our home, for our grandchildren's grandchildren, we must go to space to tap its unlimited resources and energy," the company's mission statement reads.On June 20, 2021, Bezos and three companions successfully journeyed to the edge of space before returning back to Earth just minutes later.He became a self-made billionaire in 1999 at 35 years old.Jeff Bezos appears on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" in 1999.NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal/Getty ImagesThe same year that Bezos first registered on the Forbes Billionaires list, Amazon's headquarters was on the same street as a pawn shop and an adult film store, according to CNBC.Since, Bezos' net worth has drastically grown ...In August 2020, Bezos became the first person in modern history to accumulate a fortune of over $200 billion.Kim Kardashian West, Kylie Jenner, Kendall Jenner, and Jeff Bezos attend the 2019 Met Gala.Kevin Mazur/MG19/Getty ImagesIn February 2021, at the time Amazon announced he would be stepping down as CEO, Bezos was worth $196.2 billion.He is now worth $191.5 billion, according to Forbes.Also that year, he bought a massive Beverly Hills compound for $165 million, in what was the most expensive home sale in California history at the time.A Google Maps satellite view of the Jack Warner Estate.Google MapsIn February 2020, Bezos broke a California record when he bought the Warner estate, which had belonged to billionaire David Geffen. The $165 million sale was the most expensive home sale in state history, Business Insider reported at the time.The estate, which was built by Warner Bros. co-founder Jack Warner in 1937, spans 8 acres and has an eight-bedroom, 13,600-square-foot Georgian-style mansion, as well as two guest houses.The purchase came after Bezos and his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, had reportedly been house hunting in Los Angeles for a few weeks.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 13th, 2022

Former Georgia Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson dies at 76

"He was a great man and I will miss him," Johnny Isakson's son, John, said in a statement. Isakson's cause of death was not immediately clear. Former Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Republican from Georgia, died at 76.J. Scott Applewhite/AP Former Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson, a Republican, died on Sunday at age 76. Isakson's son, John, told the Associated Press that his father died in his sleep in his Atlanta home.  Although Isakson had Parkinson's disease, his cause of death was not immediately clear. Johnny Isakson, an affable Georgia Republican politician who rose from the ranks of the state legislature to become a U.S. senator known as an effective, behind-the-scenes consensus builder, died Sunday. He was 76.Isakson's son John Isakson told The Associated Press that his father died in his sleep before dawn at his home in Atlanta. John Isakson said that although his father had Parkinson's disease, the cause of death was not immediately apparent."He was a great man and I will miss him," John Isakson said.Johnny Isakson, whose real estate business made him a millionaire, spent more than four decades in Georgia political life. In the Senate, he was the architect of a popular tax credit for first-time home buyers that he said would help invigorate the struggling housing market. As chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, he worked to expand programs offering more private health care choices for veterans.Isakson's famous motto was, "There are two types of people in this world: friends and future friends." That approach made him exceedingly popular among colleagues."Johnny was one of my very best friends in the Senate," Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said Sunday. "But the amazing thing about him was that at any given time, approximately 98 other Senators felt the same way. His infectious warmth and charisma, his generosity, and his integrity made Johnny one of the most admired and beloved people in the Capitol."In 2015, while gearing up to seek a third term in the Senate, Isakson disclosed that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's, a chronic and progressive movement disorder that had left him with a noticeably slower, shuffling gait. Soon after winning reelection in 2016, he underwent a scheduled surgery on his back to address spinal deterioration. He frequently depended on a cane or wheelchair in later years.In August 2019, not long after fracturing four ribs in a fall at his Washington apartment, Isakson announced he would retire at year's end with two years remaining in his term.In a farewell Senate speech, he pleaded for bipartisanship at a time of bitter divisions between Republicans and Democrats. He cited his long friendship with U.S. Rep. John Lewis, an Atlanta Democrat and civil rights hero, as an example of two men willing to put party aside to work on common problems."Let's solve the problem and then see what happens," Isakson said. "Most people who call people names and point fingers are people who don't have a solution themselves."Lewis, who died last year, saluted Isakson on the House floor in 2019, saying, "We always found a way to get along and do the work the people deserve."After the speech, Lewis walked over to hug a hobbling Isakson, saying, "I will come over to meet you, brother."An Atlanta native, Isakson failed in his first bid for elected office: a seat on the Cobb County Commission in 1974. Two years later, he was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives, becoming the only Republican to beat a Democratic incumbent in Georgia the same year Jimmy Carter was elected president. Isakson served 17 years in the state House and Senate. Always in the minority in Georgia's General Assembly, he helped blaze the path toward the GOP ascendancy of the 2000s, fueled by Atlanta's suburban boom. By the end of Isakson's career, some of those same suburbs were swinging back toward Democrats."As a businessman and a gifted retail politician, Johnny paved the way for the modern Republican Party in Georgia, but he never let partisan politics get in the way of doing what was right," Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said in a statement.Isakson suffered humbling setbacks before ascending to the Senate. In 1990, he lost the race for governor to Democrat Zell Miller. In 1996, Guy Millner defeated him in a Republican primary for Senate before Millner lost to Democrat Max Cleland.Many observers chalked up the loss to Isakson not being tough enough on abortion. In the primary race, Isakson ran a television advertisement in which he said that while he was against the government funding or promoting abortion, he would "not vote to amend the Constitution to make criminals of women and their doctors.""I trust my wife, my daughter and the women of Georgia to make the right choice," he said.He later changed his mind on the contentious issue.Isakson's jump to Congress came about in 1998, when U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich decided not to seek reelection. Isakson won a 1999 special election to fill the suburban Atlanta seat.He finally made it to the U.S. Senate in 2004 when he defeated Democrat Denise Majette with 58% of the vote. He served with Georgia senior Sen. Saxby Chambliss, a close friend and classmate from the University of Georgia.Isakson was viewed as a prohibitive early favorite to succeed Republican Sonny Perdue in the governor's mansion in 2010. But he opted instead to seek a second term in the Senate. While there, he developed a reputation as a moderate, although he rarely split with his party on key votes.He was a lead negotiator in 2007 on immigration legislation that President George W. Bush backed but ultimately abandoned after it met strong resistance from the right. Chambliss and Isakson were booed at a Georgia Republican Party convention that year over their immigration stance.Isakson supported limited school vouchers and played a major role in crafting Bush's signature education plan, the No Child Left Behind Act. He also pushed an unsuccessful compromise bill on the politically charged issue of stem cell research that would have expanded research funding while also ensuring that human embryos weren't harmed.That deal-making approach has fallen out of favor for many voters, but Isakson's lineage remains a presence in Georgia politics. State Attorney General Chris Carr was the former senator's chief of staff. "When I was a young man just getting started in politics, I wanted to be like Johnny Isakson," Carr said Sunday.Democratic Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock said "all of Georgia" grieves Isakson's death. Warnock, who took over Isakson's old seat after defeating Republican Kelly Loeffler in a January runoff, had a special connection to Isakson, who attended an annual service in honor of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. The church's pulpit was King's and later became Warnock's. Warnock also has continued Isakson's tradition of an annual barbecue lunch for all senators.Isakson's "model of public service is an example to future generations of leaders on how to stand on principle and make progress while also governing with compassion and a heart for compromise," Warnock said Sunday.Isakson graduated from the University of Georgia in 1966 and joined his family-owned company, Northside Realty in Cobb County, a year later. It grew to one of the largest independent residential real estate brokerage companies in the country during his more than 20 years at the helm. Isakson also served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966 to 1972.He is survived by his wife, Diane, whom he married in 1968; three children and nine grandchildren.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 19th, 2021

The life and lawsuits of Lucas Wall, a frequent flier who"s made it his mission to fight Biden"s mask mandate

Lucas Wall, a resident of Washington, DC, who says he's stranded in Florida, has become a leader of a group of anti-mask litigants. Frequent flier Lucas Wall outside his mom's place in The Villages, Florida, where he's been stuck since the Biden mask mandate was put in place. Wall, a leader of a coordinated group of anti-maskers, would often say, "I'm still at mom's."Octavio Jones for Insider Lucas Wall is in a legal battle with the Biden administration over mask mandates for travelers. Dozens of anti-maskers have joined him to argue that the mandates are unconstitutional. The administration has rebuked him. JetBlue has said he's "no longer welcome to fly" with it. A few months after federal mask mandates for US travelers went into effect, a frequent flier named Lucas Wall walked up to a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at Orlando International Airport without a mask.Moments earlier, Wall had pressed record on a video that he would later file as an exhibit in a pair of lawsuits against the Biden administration and seven US airlines. The video began with a shot of his COVID-19 vaccination card. He told the camera that it had been about three weeks since he was considered fully vaccinated. He held up a boarding pass for a 10 a.m. Southwest Airlines flight to Fort Lauderdale."I am not traveling to another state today. Thus, the federal government has no jurisdiction to force me to cover my face," he said before approaching the checkpoint.A TSA agent pulled a mask out of a box. "To get in, you need a mask," the agent said. Wall declined. He said he was already vaccinated. The agent called for backup.For the next hour or so, Wall spoke with TSA and airport officials, along with Southwest staff members. They inspected his boarding pass and travel documents. They asked him whether he'd filed for a medical exemption. Nobody raised their voice; the resulting videos didn't feature the yelling, screaming, or kicking that has become common on planes during the pandemic. Wall was laying the groundwork for his legal arguments.The incident at the TSA booth on that Wednesday in June was the beginning of a months-long crusade in which Wall has filed thousands of pages of legal arguments and exhibits in federal court in Orlando. In July, Wall tried to take his argument directly to the Supreme Court. In August, the Biden administration filed a blistering response that amounted to its most robust legal defense of its mask mandate for travelers so far.This month, 26 states sued the administration over another mandate — a vaccination requirement for large businesses — using arguments that were very similar to Wall's. The states also argued that President Joe Biden did not have a constitutional grounding to require pandemic safety measures for most Americans.Surveys have suggested that a majority of Americans favor wearing masks as a safety measure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization both say that wearing masks helps stop the spread of COVID-19.But face coverings have become polarizing, with surveys finding opposition from groups including conservatives, the wealthy, and men.Wall's lawsuits have attracted vocal promoters and detractors. Some have sent him emails or texts — a few of which he shared with Insider — accusing him of not taking the pandemic seriously. At least one email referred to him as an "inconsiderate piece of shit.""Sometimes the messages are just so vile that I just block the person and don't even bother responding," Wall said in a recent phone call from Florida. "If anything, they give me more motivation, because I know how wrong they are and I want to prove it to them by winning."Stuck 'at Mom's' in FloridaEarly this year, Wall flew from Washington, DC, where he lives, down to Florida to visit his mom, Lorraine Wall, who lives in The Villages, a sprawling retirement community. He'd been visiting regularly during the pandemic, making sure she was OK.He'd planned to fly back after he was fully vaccinated. But while he was there, Biden signed an executive order to mandate masks for travelers. The CDC and the TSA followed with federal mandates. Airlines also put in place their own requirements.Wall has generalized anxiety disorder, medical documents filed alongside his lawsuits say; he says it prevents him from wearing a mask. Wall, who has made it a goal to travel to every country and territory in the world — he's also been to every state, state capitol building, and national park — said he was grounded without an exemption from the carriers.In a series of phone conversations over the past few months, Wall told Insider about his battle against the government and airlines. He said he didn't have much to do at The Villages, a retirement community with 130,000 residents, but he was busy working on his lawsuits anyway. "Yeah, still at Mom's," he would say each time we spoke. But he was always cheerful about it.Residents dance in the square of The Villages in 2016.Rhona Whise/AFP via Getty Images"He's good company," Lorraine Wall said in an interview. "And he does a certain amount of chores."Lucas Wall credits his mother with his longtime love of travel. She retired from an airline, and they've seen the world using her travel benefits. She said she was "100%" supportive of his effort to end federal mask mandates for travelers, in part because she doesn't much like wearing masks either. ("They don't stay on my ears — they just keep popping off," she said.) Her son took over a wing of her house and immersed himself in legal studies. He'd pop in for dinner some nights when he wasn't too busy.In June, Wall filed two lawsuits in US District Court in Orlando. One was against the government, naming among its defendants Biden and the CDC. The other was against seven US airlines: Southwest, Alaska, Allegiant, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, and Spirit."He's very persistent," Wall's mother said, "and he's not going to stop until he wins."Those filings amounted to about 300 pages packed with dense legalese and citations of other cases and precedent. Growing up in northern Virginia in the '80s and '90s, Wall learned about the law from his father, William Wall, a former fighter pilot who became a lawyer. His father served as his attorney on his first case.Wall at The Villages last month.Octavio Jones for Insider"When he was in high school, he had a lawsuit against the school board," Wall's mother said a few weeks ago. "I think he may have told you about that."In the mid-1990s, Wall sued his high-school principal and other officials after they wouldn't hand over vote totals of a student election. It was his first big lawsuit against people in power. (He'd later spend three years in a legal battle with Virginia over whether he had to renew his driver's license.)He lost the suit against his principal. A local-news clip shot outside the Virginia courthouse showed Wall, in a suit and tie, surrounded by reporters, their microphones jammed in his face."One of the most important things I've learned in high school has been learning how to deal with defeat," he told the crowd. He'd later appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court, which heard the case but upheld the lower court's decision.He's had a few setbacks with his mask lawsuits, too. Wall has a brother and a sister-in-law in Germany whom he's looking forward to visiting again. He had a ticket to see them in July, which was the reason for his emergency Supreme Court petition. (Wall listed $769.89 in flight-related costs as part of his argument about "irreparable harm.") But Justice Clarence Thomas declined to review the petition with the full court.A growing followingWall's lawsuits attracted media attention in part because they were among the first of their kind, but also because he was representing himself. "I'm not a wealthy person, I don't have tens of thousands of dollars to hire an attorney, so that's why I've been working on this on my own," Wall said when we first spoke on the phone. After stories about his lawsuits were published, he heard from other people who also thought mask mandates were unjust or illegal, he said.In Chicago, there was Justin Mahwikizi, a driver for ride-hailing services. "I saw some coverage of his lawsuit while I was researching and drafting mine," Mahwikizi told me. "So I reached out to better understand the federal rules and procedures." After they spoke, Mahwikizi filed his own lawsuit against the CDC.Since then, Wall's anti-mask entourage has grown steadily. In August, more than 30 passengers and flight attendants filed declarations in support of Wall's lawsuit against the Biden administration. When Wall filed an amended complaint against the airlines in September, he added a dozen new plaintiffs. In October, other members of the group filed petitions in six federal circuit courts, with each filing referencing Wall's lawsuit. In an interview last month, Wall told Insider he was preparing a third lawsuit, this time against Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.Several people who've joined him in filing a series of lawsuits and petitions described him to Insider as a leader of sorts.In Kentucky, Shannon Greer Cila was browsing GoFundMe when she came across Wall's fundraiser and reached out to him. "He's a little terse. He's very focused. He's very directed," Cila said in a call recently. But he was hard-working, she said, and she signed on as a co-plaintiff against the airlines.Biden and Fauci in February.Evan Vucci/AP PhotoIn Florida, Leonardo McDonnell offered Wall his help after hearing about his lawsuits. "This is good versus evil, and I don't believe in defeating evil with kindness," McDonnell told Insider in an email.In Israel, Uriel ben-Mordechai found himself drawn into Wall's orbit via a Google search for people who felt similarly about mandates for masks, which he called "face diapers." He and his wife, Adi, donated to Wall's fundraiser, then joined his airline lawsuit."He's like me — he's not a lawyer, but he knows the system," ben-Mordechai said in a call recently. "This guy knows what he's doing."Outside of Wall's group of co-petitioners and supporters, views were different. On Villages-News.com, a community publication following Wall's lawsuits, a commenter dubbed Wall a "mommy's boy.""My eleven year-old nephew has a better understanding of the Constitution than you do," the commenter said. "I feel sorry for your mommy. She must loooove you lots to be embarrassed by your constant public statements."People who emailed Wall directly were just as blunt, he said. "People talk about what they do to help others or what they would do for their country but you can't even wear a mask," one email he shared with Insider said. "It's sad and speaks volumes about the type of person you are."The Biden administration's defenseIn early October, the Biden administration's lawyers tried to poke holes in Wall's complaint. He had bought his plane ticket on May 31, just two days before he planned to fly, they said.The lawyers said that instead of filling out Southwest's form to request a medical exemption from the mask mandate, Wall wrote on the form that he thought the request itself was illegal. They said that because he had booked the flight with such short notice, Southwest could not have granted an exemption, and TSA officials acted accordingly. They said the complaint "is due to be dismissed as a shotgun pleading," a term for legal filings that are stuffed with facts but have little organization. They'd taken issue with the first 182 pages, or 960 paragraphs, of Wall's initial 206-page filing, saying they were "replete with conclusory, vague, and immaterial facts."A US district courthouse.Cliff Owen/AP PhotoAs such, it was difficult to say which of those 960 paragraphs related to each of the 23 charges Wall had levied at the government, the lawyers wrote."It is not the Court's responsibility to cobble together portions of the Complaint to create a comprehensible pleading," they said.In late October, Wall replied with a 22-point objection, adding 55 pages of arguments. He said he'd filled out Southwest's "illegal mask-exemption-request form" immediately after booking."Even if it were permitted by law, it would have been impossible for me to send in the form any sooner," Wall wrote.Wall told the court that his claim was "long and detailed" but that "short and plain" statements of fact made up the 960 paragraphs the government had mentioned. He said his arguments were "simple, concise, and direct."A canceled ticketAs Wall continued his legal battle, members of his coalition of anti-maskers began running into difficulties of their own.In late September, Wall convened a group of 13 fliers who opposed masks for medical reasons. In one day, they filed petitions in six federal circuit courts, with each referencing Wall's suit. In the weeks that followed, they and Wall began running into issues with the TSA and airlines.One of the petitioners, Michael Faris, a helicopter technician from Kentucky, booked a flight on United but was denied boarding after he declined to wear a mask, then put one on at the gate, then had "a panic attack and collapse in the jetway," he said in a court filing. He rebooked with American but found that his boarding pass had been marked "SSSS," a TSA category meaning "Secondary Security Screening Selection," which required extensive searching before boarding.A boarding pass marked "SSSS," a TSA code for Secondary Security Screening Selection.Jim Urquhart/ReutersFaris wrote in an emergency petition that he "submitted a complaint to the Department of Homeland Security, TSA's parent agency, regarding his placement on the terrorist watchlist." A few days later, Faris said in a statement that he'd since been removed from the list. The TSA didn't respond to Insider's request for comment.Faris last week filed another emergency petition, again asking the court to invalidate the mask mandate. Dept. of Justice lawyers responded by saying that "any harm suffered by [Faris] is plainly outweighed by the need to protect the public from unsafe air operations." On Friday, three federal circuit judges denied the motion. A few weeks ago, Wall said in an email to Insider that he'd been barred from flying on JetBlue. He'd finally booked a flight to Washington, DC, and requested a mask waiver from the airline. But his ticket was canceled "with no explanation," he said. Later, an airline customer-service supervisor told him that the company's security department had canceled his ticket, Wall said."JetBlue's action banning me from flying because I sued over its unlawful mask policy constitutes illegal retaliation for asserting my rights under the Air Carrier Access Act to be free from discrimination," Wall said in his email.He sent similar emails to the media for each person in the group of 13 who'd been removed from a flight or prevented from flying. But behind the scenes, Wall was planning something bigger: a media event that would, he believed, bring further attention to his cause.A 'silent & peaceful' protestOn August 1, a private Facebook group called Americans Against Mask Mandates was created. The group, which said it opposed any government order that "muzzled" people, attracted hundreds of Facebook users.Weeks before Wall booked his flight from Orlando to Washington, he posted in that group looking for volunteers who wanted to make a statement against the mask mandate through "Operation Freedom to Breathe Flights" and to help launch his lawsuit against Fauci. (A person with access to the group shared the post with Insider.)The post said Wall was looking for people from around the country to book flights to Washington. On each flight, those volunteers would "remove their mask when the seatbelt sign is turned off and refuse to put it back on," the post said, adding, "All fliers will be given legal documents to hand to the flight attendants who come around demanding the muzzles be put back on."Wall wanted his volunteers to "agree to a SILENT & PEACEFUL" protest, with "no yelling, chanting, arguing with FAs and/or other passengers, etc.," it said.Wall in The Villages in October.Octavio Jones for InsiderJetBlue told Insider that Wall had been barred because of social-media posts that had been shared with the airline, not because of the lawsuit he'd filed against the airlines."We continue to comply with the federal mask mandate and offer a process for exemptions in limited cases. The safety of our crewmembers and customers is our top priority," a spokesperson, Derek Dombrowski, said in an email."This customer has publicly announced efforts to recruit and organize other customers to collectively disrupt flights on commercial aircraft heading to Washington, D.C., this month by refusing to wear their masks during flights. It's for this reason, not his current litigation, that he is no longer welcome to fly JetBlue."Wall had planned for the protesters to meet up in the baggage claim at Dulles Airport in Washington for a press conference. Then they'd "all ride maskless" on the subway to the federal courthouse near the Capitol, the post said. He pictured a media event with the plaintiffs going in the courthouse to file while others "yell and chant outside.""After we come out with the stamped 'FILED' copy of the complaint, we'll hold another media availability to talk about the lawsuit against Dr. Fauci et al," he said.As of mid-November, Wall hadn't yet filed that complaint.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 18th, 2021

Babies are increasingly dying of syphilis in the US - but it"s 100% preventable

Babies with syphilis may have deformed bones, damaged brains, and struggle to hear, see, or breathe. A newborn baby rests at the Ana Betancourt de Mora Hospital in Camaguey, Cuba, on June 19, 2015. Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters The number of US babies born with syphilis quadrupled from 2015 to 2019. Babies with syphilis may have deformed bones, damaged brains, and struggle to hear, see, or breathe. Routine testing and penicillin shots for pregnant women could prevent these cases. This story was originally published by ProPublica, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom, in collaboration with NPR News. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.When Mai Yang is looking for a patient, she travels light. She dresses deliberately - not too formal, so she won't be mistaken for a police officer; not too casual, so people will look past her tiny 4-foot-10 stature and youthful face and trust her with sensitive health information. Always, she wears closed-toed shoes, "just in case I need to run."Yang carries a stack of cards issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that show what happens when the Treponema pallidum bacteria invades a patient's body. There's a photo of an angry red sore on a penis. There's one of a tongue, marred by mucus-lined lesions. And there's one of a newborn baby, its belly, torso and thighs dotted in a rash, its mouth open, as if caught midcry.It was because of the prospect of one such baby that Yang found herself walking through a homeless encampment on a blazing July day in Huron, California, an hour's drive southwest of her office at the Fresno County Department of Public Health. She was looking for a pregnant woman named Angelica, whose visit to a community clinic had triggered a report to the health department's sexually transmitted disease program. Angelica had tested positive for syphilis. If she was not treated, her baby could end up like the one in the picture or worse - there was a 40% chance the baby would die.Yang knew, though, that if she helped Angelica get treated with three weekly shots of penicillin at least 30 days before she gave birth, it was likely that the infection would be wiped out and her baby would be born without any symptoms at all. Every case of congenital syphilis, when a baby is born with the disease, is avoidable. Each is considered a "sentinel event," a warning that the public health system is failing.The alarms are now clamoring. In the United States, more than 129,800 syphilis cases were recorded in 2019, double the case count of five years prior. In the same time period, cases of congenital syphilis quadrupled: 1,870 babies were born with the disease; 128 died. Case counts from 2020 are still being finalized, but the CDC has said that reported cases of congenital syphilis have already exceeded the prior year. Black, Hispanic, and Native American babies are disproportionately at risk.There was a time, not too long ago, when CDC officials thought they could eliminate the centuries-old scourge from the United States, for adults and babies. But the effort lost steam and cases soon crept up again. Syphilis is not an outlier. The United States goes through what former CDC director Tom Frieden calls "a deadly cycle of panic and neglect" in which emergencies propel officials to scramble and throw money at a problem - whether that's Ebola, Zika, or COVID-19. Then, as fear ebbs, so does the attention and motivation to finish the task.The last fraction of cases can be the hardest to solve, whether that's eradicating a bug or getting vaccines into arms, yet too often, that's exactly when political attention gets diverted to the next alarm. The result: The hardest to reach and most vulnerable populations are the ones left suffering, after everyone else looks away.Yang first received Angelica's lab report on June 17. The address listed was a P.O. box, and the phone number belonged to her sister, who said Angelica was living in Huron. That was a piece of luck: Huron is tiny; the city spans just 1.6 square miles. On her first visit, a worker at the Alamo Motel said she knew Angelica and directed Yang to a nearby homeless encampment. Angelica wasn't there, so Yang returned a second time, bringing one of the health department nurses who could serve as an interpreter.They made their way to the barren patch of land behind Huron Valley Foods, the local grocery store, where people took shelter in makeshift lean-tos composed of cardboard boxes, scrap wood, and scavenged furniture, draped with sheets that served as ceilings and curtains. Yang stopped outside one of the structures, calling a greeting."Hi, I'm from the health department, I'm looking for Angelica."The nurse echoed her in Spanish.Angelica emerged, squinting in the sunlight. Yang couldn't tell if she was visibly pregnant yet, as her body was obscured by an oversized shirt. The two women were about the same age: Yang 26 and Angelica 27. Yang led her away from the tent, so they could speak privately. Angelica seemed reticent, surprised by the sudden appearance of the two health officers. "You're not in trouble," Yang said, before revealing the results of her blood test.Angelica had never heard of syphilis."Have you been to prenatal care?"Angelica shook her head. The local clinic had referred her to an obstetrician in Hanford, a 30-minute drive away. She had no car. She also mentioned that she didn't intend to raise her baby; her two oldest children lived with her mother, and this one likely would, too.Yang pulled out the CDC cards, showing them to Angelica and asking if she had experienced any of the symptoms illustrated. No, Angelica said, her lips pursed with disgust."Right now you still feel healthy, but this bacteria is still in your body," Yang pressed. "You need to get the infection treated to prevent further health complications to yourself and your baby."The community clinic was just across the street. "Can we walk you over to the clinic and make sure you get seen so we can get this taken care of?"Angelica demurred. She said she hadn't showered for a week and wanted to wash up first. She said she'd go later.Yang tried once more to extract a promise: "What time do you think you'll go?""Today, for sure."The CDC tried and failed to eradicate syphilis - twiceSyphilis is called The Great Imitator: It can look like any number of diseases. In its first stage, the only evidence of infection is a painless sore at the bacteria's point of entry. Weeks later, as the bacteria multiplies, skin rashes bloom on the palms of the hands and bottoms of the feet. Other traits of this stage include fever, headaches, muscle aches, sore throat, and fatigue. These symptoms eventually disappear and the patient progresses into the latent phase, which betrays no external signs. But if left untreated, after a decade or more, syphilis will reemerge in up to 30% of patients, capable of wreaking horror on a wide range of organ systems. Marion Sims, president of the American Medical Association in 1876, called it a "terrible scourge, which begins with lamb-like mildness and ends with lion-like rage that ruthlessly destroys everything in its way."The corkscrew-shaped bacteria can infiltrate the nervous system at any stage of the infection. Yang is haunted by her memory of interviewing a young man whose dementia was so severe that he didn't know why he was in the hospital or how old he was. And regardless of symptoms or stage, the bacteria can penetrate the placenta to infect a fetus. Even in these cases the infection is unpredictable: Many babies are born with normal physical features, but others can have deformed bones or damaged brains, and they can struggle to hear, see, or breathe.From its earliest days, syphilis has been shrouded in stigma. The first recorded outbreak was in the late 15th century, when Charles VIII led the French army to invade Naples. Italian physicians described French soldiers covered with pustules, dying from a sexually transmitted disease. As the affliction spread, Italians called it the French Disease. The French blamed the Neopolitans. It was also called the German, Polish, or Spanish disease, depending on which neighbor one wanted to blame. Even its name bears the taint of divine judgement: It comes from a 16th-century poem that tells of a shepherd, Syphilus, who offended the god Apollo and was punished with a hideous disease.By 1937 in America, when former Surgeon General Thomas Parran wrote the book "Shadow on the Land," he estimated some 680,000 people were under treatment for syphilis; about 60,000 babies were being born annually with congenital syphilis. There was no cure, and the stigma was so strong that public-health officials feared even properly documenting cases.Thanks to Parran's ardent advocacy, Congress in 1938 passed the National Venereal Disease Control Act, which created grants for states to set up clinics and support testing and treatment. Other than a short-lived funding effort during World War I, this was the first coordinated federal push to respond to the disease.Around the same time, the Public Health Service launched an effort to record the natural history of syphilis. Situated in Tuskegee, Alabama, the infamous study recruited 600 black men. By the early 1940s, penicillin became widely available and was found to be a reliable cure, but the treatment was withheld from the study participants. Outrage over the ethical violations would cast a stain across syphilis research for decades to come and fuel generations of mistrust in the medical system among Black Americans that continues to this day. People attend a ceremony near Tuskegee, Alabama, on April 3, 2017, to commemorate the roughly 600 men who were subjects in the Tuskegee syphilis study. Jay Reeves/AP Photo With the introduction of penicillin, cases began to plummet. Twice, the CDC has announced efforts to wipe out the disease - once in the 1960s and again in 1999.In the latest effort, the CDC announced that the United States had "a unique opportunity to eliminate syphilis within its borders," thanks to historically low rates, with 80% of counties reporting zero cases. The concentration of cases in the South "identifies communities in which there is a fundamental failure of public health capacity," the agency noted, adding that elimination - which it defined as fewer than 1,000 cases a year - would "decrease one of our most glaring racial disparities in health."Two years after the campaign began, cases started climbing, first among gay men and, later, heterosexuals. Cases in women started accelerating in 2013, followed shortly by increasing numbers of babies born with syphilis. The reasons for failure are complex: People relaxed safer sex practices after the advent of potent HIV combination therapies, increased methamphetamine use drove riskier behavior, and an explosion of online dating made it hard to track and test sexual partners, according to Ina Park, medical director of the California Prevention Training Center at the University of California San Francisco.But federal and state public-health efforts were hamstrung from the get-go. In 1999, the CDC said it would need about $35 million to $39 million in new federal funds annually for at least five years to eliminate syphilis. The agency got less than half of what it asked for, according to Jo Valentine, former program coordinator of the CDC's Syphilis Elimination Effort. As cases rose, the CDC modified its goals in 2006 from 0.4 primary and secondary syphilis cases per 100,000 in population to 2.2 cases per 100,000. By 2013, as elimination seemed less and less viable, the CDC changed its focus to ending congenital syphilis only.Since then, funding has remained anemic. From 2015 to 2020, the CDC's budget for preventing sexually transmitted infections grew by 2.2%. Taking inflation into account, that's a 7.4% reduction in purchasing power. In the same period, cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia - the three STDs that have federally funded control programs - increased by nearly 30%."We have a long history of nearly eradicating something, then changing our attention, and seeing a resurgence in numbers," David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, said. "We have more congenital syphilis cases today in America than we ever had pediatric AIDS at the height of the AIDS epidemic. It's heartbreaking."Adriane Casalotti, chief of government and public affairs at the National Association of County and City Health Officials, warns that the US should not be surprised to see case counts continue to climb."The bugs don't go away," she said. "They're just waiting for the next opportunity, when you're not paying attention."Syphilis has fewer poster children than HIV or cancerYang waited until the end of the day, then called the clinic to see if Angelica had gone for her shot. She had not. Yang would have to block off another half day to visit Huron again, but she had three dozen other cases to deal with.States in the South and West have seen the highest syphilis rates in recent years. In 2017, 64 babies in Fresno County were born with syphilis at a rate of 440 babies per 100,000 live births - about 19 times the national rate. While the county had managed to lower case counts in the two years that followed, the pandemic threatened to unravel that progress, forcing STD staffers to do COVID-19 contact tracing, pausing field visits to find infected people, and scaring patients from seeking care. Yang's colleague handled three cases of stillbirth in 2020; in each, the woman was never diagnosed with syphilis because she feared catching the coronavirus and skipped prenatal care.Yang, whose caseload peaked at 70 during a COVID-19 surge, knew she would not be able handle them all as thoroughly as she'd like to."When I was being mentored by another investigator, he said: 'You're not a superhero. You can't save everybody,'" she said.She prioritizes men who have sex with men, because there's a higher prevalence of syphilis in that population, and pregnant people, because of the horrific consequences for babies.The job of a disease intervention specialist isn't for everyone: It means meeting patients whenever and wherever they are available - in the mop closet of a bus station, in a quiet parking lot - to inform them about the disease, to extract names of sex partners, and to encourage treatment. Patients are often reluctant to talk. They can get belligerent, upset that "the government" has their personal information, or shattered at the thought that a partner is likely cheating on them. Salaries typically start in the low $40,000s.Jena Adams, Yang's supervisor, has eight investigators working on HIV and syphilis. In the middle of 2020, she lost two and replaced them only recently."It's been exhausting," Adams said.She has only one specialist who is trained to take blood samples in the field, crucial for guaranteeing that the partners of those who test positive for syphilis also get tested. Adams wants to get phlebotomy training for the rest of her staff, but it's $2,000 per person. The department also doesn't have anyone who can administer penicillin injections in the field; that would have been key when Yang met Angelica. For a while, a nurse who worked in the tuberculosis program would ride along to give penicillin shots on a volunteer basis. Then he, too, left the health department.Much of the resources in public health trickle down from the CDC, which distributes money to states, which then parcel it out to counties. The CDC gets its budget from Congress, which tells the agency, by line item, exactly how much money it can spend to fight a disease or virus, in an uncommonly specific manner not seen in many other agencies. The decisions are often politically driven and can be detached from actual health needs.When the House and Senate appropriations committees meet to decide how much the CDC will get for each line item, they are barraged by lobbyists for individual disease interests. Stephanie Arnold Pang, senior director of policy and government relations at the National Coalition of STD Directors, can pick out the groups by sight: breast cancer wears pink, Alzheimer's goes in purple, multiple sclerosis comes in orange, HIV in red. STD prevention advocates, like herself, don a green ribbon, but they're far outnumbered.And unlike diseases that might already be familiar to lawmakers, or have patient and family spokespeople who can tell their own powerful stories, syphilis doesn't have many willing poster children. Breast Cancer survivors hold up a check for the amount raised at The Congressional Womens Softball Game at Watkins Recreation Center in Capitol Hill on June 20, 2018. Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call "Congressmen don't wake up one day and say, 'Oh hey, there's congenital syphilis in my jurisdiction.' You have to raise awareness," Arnold Pang said. It can be hard jockeying for a meeting. "Some offices might say, 'I don't have time for you because we've just seen HIV.' ... Sometimes, it feels like you're talking into a void."The consequences of the political nature of public-health funding have become more obvious during the coronavirus pandemic. The 2014 Ebola epidemic was seen as a "global wakeup call" that the world wasn't prepared for a major pandemic, yet in 2018, the CDC scaled back its epidemic prevention work as money ran out."If you've got to choose between Alzheimer's research and stopping an outbreak that may not happen? Stopping an outbreak that might not happen doesn't do well," Frieden, the former CDC director, said. "The CDC needs to have more money and more flexible money. Otherwise, we're going to be in this situation long term."In May 2021, President Joe Biden's administration announced it would set aside $7.4 billion over the next five years to hire and train public health workers, including $1.1 billion for more disease intervention specialists like Yang. Public health officials are thrilled to have the chance to expand their workforce, but some worry the time horizon may be too short."We've seen this movie before, right?" Frieden said. "Everyone gets concerned when there's an outbreak, and when that outbreak stops, the headlines stop, and an economic downturn happens, the budget gets cut."Fresno's STD clinic was shuttered in 2010 amid the Great Recession. Many others have vanished since the passage of the Affordable Care Act.Health leaders thought "by magically beefing up the primary care system, that we would do a better job of catching STIs and treating them," Harvey, the executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, said.That hasn't worked out; people want access to anonymous services, and primary care doctors often don't have STDs top of mind. The coalition is lobbying Congress for funding to support STD clinical services, proposing a three-year demonstration project funded at $600 million.It's one of Adams' dreams to see Fresno's STD clinic restored as it was."You could come in for an HIV test and get other STDs checked," she said. "And if a patient is positive, you can give a first injection on the spot."'I've seen people's families ripped apart and I've seen beautiful babies die'On August 12, Yang set out for Huron again, speeding past groves of almond trees and fields of grapes in the department's white Chevy Cruze. She brought along a colleague, Jorge Sevilla, who had recently transferred to the STD program from COVID-19 contact tracing. Yang was anxious to find Angelica again."She's probably in her second trimester now," she said.They found her outside of a pale yellow house a few blocks from the homeless encampment; the owner was letting her stay in a shed tucked in the corner of the dirt yard. This time, it was evident that she was pregnant. Yang noted that Angelica was wearing a wig; hair loss is a symptom of syphilis."Do you remember me?" Yang asked.Angelica nodded. She didn't seem surprised to see Yang again. (I came along, and Sevilla explained who I was and that I was writing about syphilis and the people affected by it. Angelica signed a release for me to report about her case, and she said she had no problem with me writing about her or even using her full name. ProPublica chose to only print her first name.)"How are you doing? How's the baby?""Bien.""So the last time we talked, we were going to have you go to United Healthcare Center to get treatment. Have you gone since?"Angelica shook her head."We brought some gift cards..." Sevilla started in Spanish. The department uses them as incentives for completing injections. But Angelica was already shaking her head. The nearest Walmart was the next town over.Yang turned to her partner. "Tell her: So the reason why we're coming out here again is because we really need her to go in for treatment. [...] We really are concerned for the baby's health especially since she's had the infection for quite a while."Angelica listened while Sevilla interpreted, her eyes on the ground. Then she looked up. "Orita?" she asked. Right now?"I'll walk with you," Yang offered. Angelica shook her head."She said she wants to shower first before she goes over there," Sevilla said.Yang made a face. "She said that to me last time." Yang offered to wait, but Angelica didn't want the health officers to linger by the house. She said she would meet them by the clinic in 15 minutes.Yang was reluctant to let her go but again had no other option. She and Sevilla drove to the clinic, then stood on the corner of the parking lot, staring down the road.Talk to the pediatricians, obstetricians, and families on the front lines of the congenital syphilis surge and it becomes clear why Yang and others are trying so desperately to prevent cases. J.B. Cantey, associate professor in pediatrics at UT Health San Antonio, remembers a baby girl born at 25 weeks gestation who weighed a pound and a half. Syphilis had spread through her bones and lungs. She spent five months in the neonatal intensive care unit, breathing through a ventilator, and was still eating through a tube when she was discharged.Then, there are the miscarriages, the stillbirths, and the inconsolable parents. Irene Stafford, an associate professor and maternal-fetal medicine specialist at UT Health in Houston, cannot forget a patient who came in at 36 weeks for a routine checkup, pregnant with her first child. Stafford realized that there was no heartbeat."She could see on my face that something was really wrong," Stafford recalled. She had to let the patient know that syphilis had killed her baby."She was hysterical, just bawling," Stafford said. "I've seen people's families ripped apart and I've seen beautiful babies die." Fewer than 10% of patients who experience a stillbirth are tested for syphilis, suggesting that cases are underdiagnosed.A Texas grandmother named Solidad Odunuga offers a glimpse into what the future could hold for Angelica's mother, who may wind up raising her baby.In February of last year, Odunuga got a call from the Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital in Houston. A nurse told her that her daughter was about to give birth and that child protective services had been called. Odunuga had lost contact with her daughter, who struggled with homelessness and substance abuse. She arrived in time to see her grandson delivered, premature at 30 weeks old, weighing 2.7 pounds. He tested positive for syphilis.When a child protective worker asked Odunuga to take custody of the infant, she felt a wave of dread."I was in denial," she recalled. "I did not plan to be a mom again." The baby's medical problems were daunting: "Global developmental delays [...] concerns for visual impairments [...] high risk of cerebral palsy," read a note from the doctor at the time.Still, Odunuga visited her grandson every day for three months, driving to the NICU from her job at the University of Houston. "I'd put him in my shirt to keep him warm and hold him there." She fell in love. She named him Emmanuel.Once Emmanuel was discharged, Odunuga realized she had no choice but to quit her job. While Medicaid covered the costs of Emmanuel's treatment, it was on her to care for him. From infancy, Emmanuel's life has been a whirlwind of constant therapy. Today, at 20 months old, Odunuga brings him to physical, occupational, speech, and developmental therapy, each a different appointment on a different day of the week.Emmanuel has thrived beyond what his doctors predicted, toddling so fast that Odunuga can't look away for a minute and beaming as he waves his favorite toy phone. Yet he still suffers from gagging issues, which means Odunuga can't feed him any solid foods. Liquid gets into his lungs when he aspirates; it has led to pneumonia three times. Emmanuel has a special stroller that helps keep his head in a position that won't aggravate his persistent reflux, but Odunuga said she still has to pull over on the side of the road sometimes when she hears him projectile vomiting from the backseat.The days are endless. Once she puts Emmanuel to bed, Odunuga starts planning the next day's appointments."I've had to cry alone, scream out alone," she said. "Sometimes I wake up and think, 'Is this real?' And then I hear him in the next room."There's no vaccine for syphilis A health worker tests a migrant from Haiti for HIV and syphilis to in Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, on September 25, 2021. Daniel Becerril/Reuters Putting aside the challenge of eliminating syphilis entirely, everyone agrees it's both doable and necessary to prevent newborn cases."There was a crisis in perinatal HIV almost 30 years ago and people stood up and said this is not OK - it's not acceptable for babies to be born in that condition. [...We] brought it down from 1,700 babies born each year with perinatal HIV to less than 40 per year today," Virginia Bowen, an epidemiologist at the CDC, said. "Now here we are with a slightly different condition. We can also stand up and say, 'This is not acceptable.'" Belarus, Bermuda, Cuba, Malaysia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka are among countries recognized by the World Health Organization for eliminating congenital syphilis.Success starts with filling gaps across the health care system.For almost a century, public health experts have advocated for testing pregnant patients more than once for syphilis in order to catch the infection. But policies nationwide still don't reflect this best practice. Six states have no prenatal screening requirement at all. Even in states that require three tests, public-health officials say that many physicians aren't aware of the requirements. Stafford, the maternal-fetal medicine specialist in Houston, says she's tired of hearing her own peers in medicine tell her, "Oh, syphilis is a problem?"It costs public health departments less than 25 cents a dose to buy penicillin, but for a private practice, it's more than $1,000, according to Park of the University of California San Francisco."There's no incentive for a private physician to stock a dose that could expire before it's used, so they often don't have it," she said. "So a woman comes in, they say, 'We'll send you to the emergency department or health department to get it,' then [the patients] don't show up."A vaccine would be invaluable for preventing spread among people at high risk for reinfection. But there is none. Scientists only recently figured out how to grow the bacteria in the lab, prompting grants from the National Institutes of Health to fund research into a vaccine. Justin Radolf, a researcher at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, said he hopes his team will have a vaccine candidate by the end of its five-year grant. But it'll likely take years more to find a manufacturer and run human trials.Public-health agencies also need to recognize that many of the hurdles to getting pregnant people treated involve access to care, economic stability, safe housing, and transportation. In Fresno, Adams has been working on ways her department can collaborate with mental health services. Recently, one of her disease intervention specialists managed to get a pregnant woman treated with penicillin shots and, at the patient's request, connected her with an addiction treatment center.Gaining a patient's cooperation means seeing them as complex humans instead of just a case to solve."There may be past traumas with the healthcare system," Cynthia Deverson, project manager of the Houston Fetal Infant Morbidity Review, said. "There's the fear of being discovered if she's doing something illegal to survive. [...] She may need to be in a certain place at a certain time so she can get something to eat, or maybe it's the only time of the day that's safe for her to sleep. They're not going to tell you that. Yes, they understand there's a problem, but it's not an immediate threat, maybe they don't feel bad yet, so obviously this is not urgent.""What helps to gain trust is consistency," she added. "Literally, it's seeing that [disease specialist] constantly, daily. [...] The woman can see that you're not going to harm her, you're saying, 'I'm here at this time if you need me.'"Yang stood outside the clinic, waiting for Angelica to show up, baking in the 90-degree heat. Her feelings ranged from irritation - Why didn't she just go? I'd have more energy for other cases - to an appreciation for the parts of Angelica's story that she didn't know - She's in survival mode. I need to be more patient.Fifteen minutes ticked by, then 20."OK," Yang announced. "We're going back."She asked Sevilla if he would be OK if they drove Angelica to the clinic; they technically weren't supposed to because of coronavirus precautions, but Yang wasn't sure she could convince Angelica to walk. Sevilla gave her the thumbs up.When they pulled up, they saw Angelica sitting in the backyard, chatting with a friend. She now wore a fresh T-shirt and had shoes on her feet. Angelica sat silently in the back seat as Yang drove to the clinic. A few minutes later, they pulled up to the parking lot.Finally, Yang thought. We got her here.The clinic was packed with people waiting for COVID-19 tests and vaccinations. A worker there had previously told Yang that a walk-in would be fine, but a receptionist now said they were too busy to treat Angelica. She would have to return.Yang felt a surge of frustration, sensing that her hard-fought opportunity was slipping away. She tried to talk to the nurse supervisor, but he wasn't available. She tried to leave the gift cards at the office to reward Angelica if she came, but the receptionist said she couldn't hold them. While Yang negotiated, Sevilla sat with Angelica in the car, waiting.Finally, Yang accepted this was yet another thing she couldn't control.She drove Angelica back to the yellow house. As they arrived, she tried once more to impress on her just how important it was to get treated, asking Sevilla to interpret. "We don't want it to get any more serious, because she can go blind, she could go deaf, she could lose her baby."Angelica already had the door halfway open."So on a scale from one to 10, how important is this to get treated?" Yang asked."Ten," Angelica said. Yang reminded her of the appointment that afternoon. Then Angelica stepped out and returned to the dusty yard.Yang lingered for a moment, watching Angelica go. Then she turned the car back onto the highway and set off toward Fresno, knowing, already, that she'd be back.Postscript: A reporter visited Huron twice more in the months that followed, including once independently to try to interview Angelica, but she wasn't in town. Yang has visited Huron twice more as well - six times in total thus far. In October, a couple of men at the yellow house said Angelica was still in town, still pregnant. Yang and Sevilla spent an hour driving around, talking to residents, hoping to catch Angelica. But she was nowhere to be found.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 2nd, 2021

Democrats are set to unveil a new billionaire"s tax and some of the wealthiest Americans are glad. Here are some of the ultrawealthy who want higher taxes.

The group includes Mark Cuban, George Soros, Ray Dalio, Abigail Disney, members of the Pritzker and Gund families, and a Facebook cofounder. 'Shark Tank' star Mark Cuban Christopher Willard/ABC via Getty Images To pay for Biden's social spending agenda, Democrats are considering a new tax targeting billionaires. Billionaires including Mark Cuban, Marc Benioff, Ray Dalio, and George Soros have publicly called for higher taxes on the wealthy. A wealth tax would make ultrawealthy Americans pay the government a small percentage of their net worth each year. In 2020, Bill Gates' New Year's resolution was to get the federal government to raise taxes on the ultrawealthy - including himself. Now, that wish might come true, as Democrats eye higher taxes on America's billionaires."We've updated our tax system before to keep up with changing times, and we need to do it again, starting with raising taxes on people like me," Gates wrote on his blog at the time.That's exactly what Democrats are planning to propose this week. A plan authored by Sen. Ron Wyden would target the unrealized gains - value that assets like stock accrue - of billionaires every year. It's not quite an outright wealth tax, but it comes close. And it would pay for the social safety net bill Democrats hope to vote on this week that includes expansions to healthcare and childcare for Americans.While Elon Musk ripped the plan on Twitter, other billionaires from Warren Buffett to George Soros have proposed a wealth tax as a way to combat America's growing wealth gap and fund healthcare and education initiatives. In the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, a group of 18 ultrawealthy Americans, including Abigail Disney and members of the Pritzker and Gund families, published an open letter asking presidential candidates to support a moderate wealth tax.Politicians, too, rolled out proposals on this front: A wealth tax like the one proposed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren would make ultrawealthy Americans pay the federal government a small percentage of their net worth each year. Bernie Sanders unveiled a wealth-tax plan that is even more aggressive than Warren's.Inequality exacerbated by the pandemic has more strenuously renewed calls for a wealth tax, as America's billionaires added $2.1 trillion to their fortunes as millions dealt with with pandemic-induced unemployment and poverty. Mounting inequality isn't a new issue: In 2018, income inequality in the US reached its highest level in more than half a century. The ultrawealthy actually paid a smaller portion of their income in taxes than average Americans in 2018, an analysis of tax data by the University of California at Berkeley's Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman found.While the idea of using a wealth tax to solve America's inequality problem has gained traction in recent years, proposals have been hampered by questions over the effectiveness and the constitutionality of such a tax, Business Insider previously reported.Keep reading to learn more about some of the most high-profile billionaires and multimillionaires who have publicly supported raising taxes on the 1%, listed in chronological order. The founder of Jimmy John's says it's "bullshit" that wealthy people are taking out loans to live on that are free of taxes. Irene Jiang / Business Insider Jimmy John Liautaud told The Daily Beast that he knows a lot of people have "accumulated massive, massive wealth" — and then borrow money. As ProPublica reported, taking out loans against large fortunes is one method that the ultra-wealthy employ to reduce how much they owe in taxes, since loans aren't taxed."That's tax free. And I think it's bullshit," Liautaud told the Daily Beast.When it comes to gains for assets, he said: "Warren Buffett or Bill Gates, every year this shit's compounding. I paid more tax than Warren Buffett. And I'm worth 2 billion fucking dollars." Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban proposed taxing the wealthy to offset cutting payroll taxes in a November 2017 tweet. Getty/Michael Kovac —Mark Cuban (@mcuban) November 24, 2017Now best known for his appearances on ABC's "Shark Tank," Cuban built a $4.5 billion fortune through a lifetime of business deals, including the $5.7 billion sale of Broadcast.com, and his ownership of the Dallas Mavericks, Business Insider reported. Bill Gates has said he's paid over $10 billion in taxes over his lifetime - but he doesn't think that's enough. Bill Gates speaks ahead of former U.S. President Barack Obama at the Gates Foundation Inaugural Goalkeepers event on September 20, 2017 in New York City. Yana Paskova/Getty Images "I need to pay higher taxes," Gates said in a 2018 interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria. "I've paid more taxes, over $10 billion, than anyone else, but the government should require people in my position to pay significantly higher taxes."In a December 30, 2019, post on his blog, Gates Notes, Gates proposed raising the estate tax and removing the cap on the amount of income subject to Medicare taxes. He also suggested closing the carried interest loophole that allows fund managers to pay lower capital gains rates on their incomes and making state and local taxes fairer, Market Insider's Theron Mohamed previously reported."That's why I'm for a tax system in which, if you have more money, you pay a higher percentage in taxes," Gates wrote. "And I think the rich should pay more than they currently do, and that includes Melinda and me." On CNBC's Squawk Box, Warren Buffett said raising billionaires' taxes is the best way to help "a guy who is a wonderful citizen" but "just doesn't have market skills." Bill Pugliano/Getty "The wealthy are definitely undertaxed relative to the general population," Buffett said on CNBC's "Squawk Box" in February 2019. Buffett has suggested that Congress expand income tax credits for low-income Americans, raising taxes on high earners in the process, CNBC reported. Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said he "should be paying higher taxes" at a CNN town hall in February, but called Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's proposed 70% marginal tax rate for millionaires "punitive." Howard Schultz. Owen Hoffmann / Contributor / Getty Images Schultz built a $3.8 billion fortune running the coffee chain, Business Insider previously reported. While Schultz left Starbucks in 2018, he still held onto more than 37.7 million shares — or roughly 3% — of the company's stock. When asked if the wealthy should pay more in taxes on "60 Minutes," billionaire hedge-fund manager Ray Dalio replied: "Of course." Hollis Johnson/Business Insider In the "60 Minutes" segment, Dalio said he thinks the American dream is lost and referred to the wealth gap as a "national emergency." Dalio, 70, founded his hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, in his apartment in 1975, Business Insider reported. It now has $150 billion in assets under management. Dalio has a net worth of $20 billion, Forbes estimates. Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of The Walt Disney Company cofounder Roy Disney, has made a name for herself as one of the biggest advocates for closing America's wealth gap. Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images The granddaughter of The Walt Disney Co. cofounder Roy Disney has made a name for herself as one of the company's most outspoken critics. The 59-year-old heiress has criticized the salary of Disney CEO Bob Iger and defended Meryl Streep after she called Walt Disney a "bigot," according to CNN Business.Disney has a net worth of $120 million, she said in July 2019. "The internet says I have half a billion dollars and I might have something close to that if I'd been investing aggressively," Disney told the Financial Times.She testified in support of Elizabeth Warren's proposed wealth tax in April 2021, and called out the methods the ultra-wealthy use to evade taxes in a June essay for the Atlantic.Disney was one of 18 ultrawealthy Americas to sign an open letter in June asking presidential candidates to support a moderate wealth tax. The letter isn't the first time that Disney has spoken out about tax reform. Disney criticized the 2017 Republican tax bill in a NowThis video, saying the bill unfairly benefited the wealthy. Heiress Agnes Gund and her daughter Catherine Gund also signed the wealth tax letter. Catherine Gund, left, with her mother, Agnes Gund, and Stanley Whitney Getty Images / Sean Zanni / Contributor In 2015, Forbes estimated that the Gund family had a net worth of $3.4 billion and ranked them among the 100 wealthiest families in America.Agnes Gund, 83, used the fortune she inherited from her father, the president of an Ohio-based bank, to become a philanthropist in arts and social justice, according to The New York Times. Agnes Gund received the National Medal of the Arts in 1997 from President Bill Clinton for her work, which included serving as the president of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.Catherine Gund, 56, is an Emmy-winning film director and producer. Gund founded nonprofit production studio Aubin Pictures in 1996, according to her previous biography on the studio's website. The Gunds weren't the only family who signed the letter together. So did Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes and his husband, political activist Sean Eldridge. Chris Hughes Facebook Page Hughes is a cofounder of Facebook. He left the social network in 2007 to become the online organizer for Barack Obama's first presidential campaign. Despite calling for Facebook to be broken up in May 2019, Hughes had a stake in the company worth $850 million, Newsweek reports. In 2016, Forbes put Hughes' net worth at $430 million.In April 2021, Hughes told CNBC that Americans are "throwing out the idea that markets were ever free" and that it's time for a new capitalism.Eldridge is a political activist and former congressional candidate in New York, according to Vanity Fair. Eldridge was born in Canada. Ian and Liesel Pritzker Simmons signed the letter together. Ian Simmons, Co-Founder and Principal of Blue Haven Initiative, poses at his office in Cambridge, Mass., Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. A handful of billionaires and multimillionaires are making a renewed push for the government to raise their taxes and siphon away some of their holdings. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer "This is really a conservative position about increasing the stability of the economy in the long term and having an efficient source of taxation," Simmons told the Associated Press.Simmons, 44, serves as the cofounder and principal of impact investing firm Blue Haven Initiative alongside his wife and fellow signatory, Liesel Pritzker Simmons, according to the firm's website. Simmons is the heir to a family fortune that stems from the construction of locks on the Erie Canal, according to Forbes.Pritzker Simmons, an heir to the Pritzker family fortune, has a net worth of $600 million, according to a 2013 Forbes article. Simmons, now 35, is also a cofounder and principal of Blue Haven Initiative.As a child, she starred in several big-name Hollywood productions, including "A Little Princess" and "Air Force One," alongside Harrison Ford. In 2002, Forbes reports, she sued her father and the Pritzker family and came away from it with a $500 million payout. Simmons called retired Massachusetts real-estate developer Robert Bowditch and convinced him to sign the letter, too. Shutterstock "Charitable giving by itself simply cannot provide enough money to support public goods and services, such as public education, roads and bridges, clean air," Bowditch told the Associated Press in October 2019. "It has to be done by taxes."Bowditch has previously advocated for raising taxes on the wealthy: In 2010, he signed an open letter to President Obama asking him to allow tax cuts for millionaires to expire, according to a CBS affiliate in Boston. Billionaire financier George Soros signed the letter with his son, Alexander Soros. Manny Carabel/WireImage According to his personal website, Alexander Soros, 35, serves as deputy chair of the Open Society Foundations, a nonprofit founded by his father. George Soros told The New York Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin he supports a wealth tax even though it creates "a moral problem" for him. Yunus Kaymaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images "I am in favor of taxing the rich," George Soros, 89, told The New York Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin in October 2019, "including a wealth tax. A financier makes people suspicious ... and it does create a moral problem for me. As I became so successful, it basically put a self-imposed constraint on me that actually interfered with making money."The philanthropist made his fortune running Quantum Fund, which was once the largest hedge fund in the world. Soros has a net worth of $8.3 billion, Business Insider reported. Investor Nick Hanauer believes a wealth tax would be good for America's economy. Courtesy of Nick Hanauer "A wealth tax would not just be fair — it would be pro-growth," Hanauer wrote in an essay advocating for a wealth tax published on Business Insider. "And don't let the trickle-downers tell you otherwise."Hanauer, 62, was an early investor in Amazon, according to his personal website. Business Insider previously reported that Hanauer is a longtime critic of America's income inequality.Business Insider's Rich Feloni reported that Hanauer has said he's not a billionaire, but that, as both he and his wife have signed The Giving Pledge, their combined net worth at least approaches the $1 billion threshold. Heiress and attorney Molly Munger told the Associated Press that seeing empty Newport Beach mansions from her family's boat on Memorial Day made her consider a wealth tax. Lacy O'Toole/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images "It's just too much to watch that happen at the top and see what is happening at the bottom," Munger told the Associated Press in October 2019. "Isn't it a waste when beautiful homes on the beach are empty for most of the summer?"Munger, 71, is the oldest daughter of Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman Charlie Munger. Munger is a Harvard Law graduate who works as a civil rights attorney in Pasadena, California, according to the Los Angeles Times. In 2012, she advocated for a tax hike in California to boost funding for the state's public schools. Billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad wrote an op-ed in The New York Times in June 2019 advocating for a wealth tax, saying American capitalism "isn't working." AP Broad doesn't believe that his philanthropic work and other policies including a $15 minimum wage, expanding access to health care, and reforming public education are doing enough to help low-income Americans, he wrote in The New York Times."It's time to start talking seriously about a wealth tax," Broad wrote in The Times. "I simply believe it's time for those of us with great wealth to commit to reducing income inequality, starting with the demand to be taxed at a higher rate than everyone else."Broad built a $6.9 billion fortune after cofounding home builder Kaufman & Broad, according to Forbes. Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff proposed a wealth tax in an October New York Times essay. Kimberley White/Getty Images "Local efforts — like the tax I supported last year on San Francisco's largest companies to address our city's urgent homelessness crisis — will help," Benioff wrote in The New York Times in October 2019. "Nationally, increasing taxes on high-income individuals like myself would help generate the trillions of dollars that we desperately need to improve education and health care and fight climate change."Benioff built a $6.5 billion fortune after founding software developer Salesforce. Benioff currently serves as the company's CEO. Michael Bloomberg has made raising taxes on the wealthy a key part of his 2020 presidential campaign. FILE PHOTO: Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg addresses a news conference after launching his presidential bid in Norfolk, Virginia Reuters Bloomberg has included promises to support "taxing wealthy people like me" in ads since launching his campaign in November, Bloomberg News reported at the time.As Politico reported, Bloomberg ultimately proposed a 5% surtax for people earning over $5 million annually — as well as an increase to the capital gains rate and corporate tax rate. But Bloomberg said during his campaign that he believes that Warren and Sanders' wealth tax "just doesn't work," he said at campaign stop in Phoenix in November. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 26th, 2021

Democrats are set to unveil a new billionaire"s tax. Here"s a look at the wealthiest Americans who want to pay more.

The group includes Mark Cuban, George Soros, Ray Dalio, Abigail Disney, members of the Pritzker and Gund families, and a Facebook cofounder. 'Shark Tank' star Mark Cuban Christopher Willard/ABC via Getty Images To pay for Biden's social spending agenda, Democrats are considering a new tax targeting billionaires. Billionaires including Mark Cuban, Marc Benioff, Ray Dalio, and George Soros have publicly called for higher taxes on the wealthy. A wealth tax would make ultrawealthy Americans pay the government a small percentage of their net worth each year. In 2020, Bill Gates' New Year's resolution was to get the federal government to raise taxes on the ultrawealthy - including himself. Now, that wish might come true, as Democrats eye higher taxes on America's billionaires."We've updated our tax system before to keep up with changing times, and we need to do it again, starting with raising taxes on people like me," Gates wrote on his blog at the time.That's exactly what Democrats are planning to propose this week. A plan authored by Sen. Ron Wyden would target the unrealized gains - value that assets like stock accrue - of billionaires every year. It's not quite an outright wealth tax, but it comes close. And it would pay for the social safety net bill Democrats hope to vote on this week that includes expansions to healthcare and childcare for Americans.While Elon Musk ripped the plan on Twitter, other billionaires from Warren Buffett to George Soros have proposed a wealth tax as a way to combat America's growing wealth gap and fund healthcare and education initiatives. In the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, a group of 18 ultrawealthy Americans, including Abigail Disney and members of the Pritzker and Gund families, published an open letter asking presidential candidates to support a moderate wealth tax.Politicians, too, rolled out proposals on this front: A wealth tax like the one proposed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren would make ultrawealthy Americans pay the federal government a small percentage of their net worth each year. Bernie Sanders unveiled a wealth-tax plan that is even more aggressive than Warren's.Inequality exacerbated by the pandemic has more strenuously renewed calls for a wealth tax, as America's billionaires added $2.1 trillion to their fortunes as millions dealt with with pandemic-induced unemployment and poverty. Mounting inequality isn't a new issue: In 2018, income inequality in the US reached its highest level in more than half a century. The ultrawealthy actually paid a smaller portion of their income in taxes than average Americans in 2018, an analysis of tax data by the University of California at Berkeley's Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman found.While the idea of using a wealth tax to solve America's inequality problem has gained traction in recent years, proposals have been hampered by questions over the effectiveness and the constitutionality of such a tax, Business Insider previously reported.Keep reading to learn more about some of the most high-profile billionaires and multimillionaires who have publicly supported raising taxes on the 1%, listed in chronological order. The founder of Jimmy John's says it's "bullshit" that wealthy people are taking out loans to live on that are free of taxes. Irene Jiang / Business Insider Jimmy John Liautaud told The Daily Beast that he knows a lot of people have "accumulated massive, massive wealth" — and then borrow money. As ProPublica reported, taking out loans against large fortunes is one method that the ultra-wealthy employ to reduce how much they owe in taxes, since loans aren't taxed."That's tax free. And I think it's bullshit," Liautaud told the Daily Beast.When it comes to gains for assets, he said: "Warren Buffett or Bill Gates, every year this shit's compounding. I paid more tax than Warren Buffett. And I'm worth 2 billion fucking dollars." Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban proposed taxing the wealthy to offset cutting payroll taxes in a November 2017 tweet. Getty/Michael Kovac —Mark Cuban (@mcuban) November 24, 2017Now best known for his appearances on ABC's "Shark Tank," Cuban built a $4.5 billion fortune through a lifetime of business deals, including the $5.7 billion sale of Broadcast.com, and his ownership of the Dallas Mavericks, Business Insider reported. Bill Gates has said he's paid over $10 billion in taxes over his lifetime - but he doesn't think that's enough. Bill Gates speaks ahead of former U.S. President Barack Obama at the Gates Foundation Inaugural Goalkeepers event on September 20, 2017 in New York City. Yana Paskova/Getty Images "I need to pay higher taxes," Gates said in a 2018 interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria. "I've paid more taxes, over $10 billion, than anyone else, but the government should require people in my position to pay significantly higher taxes."In a December 30, 2019, post on his blog, Gates Notes, Gates proposed raising the estate tax and removing the cap on the amount of income subject to Medicare taxes. He also suggested closing the carried interest loophole that allows fund managers to pay lower capital gains rates on their incomes and making state and local taxes fairer, Market Insider's Theron Mohamed previously reported."That's why I'm for a tax system in which, if you have more money, you pay a higher percentage in taxes," Gates wrote. "And I think the rich should pay more than they currently do, and that includes Melinda and me." On CNBC's Squawk Box, Warren Buffett said raising billionaires' taxes is the best way to help "a guy who is a wonderful citizen" but "just doesn't have market skills." Bill Pugliano/Getty "The wealthy are definitely undertaxed relative to the general population," Buffett said on CNBC's "Squawk Box" in February 2019. Buffett has suggested that Congress expand income tax credits for low-income Americans, raising taxes on high earners in the process, CNBC reported. Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said he "should be paying higher taxes" at a CNN town hall in February, but called Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's proposed 70% marginal tax rate for millionaires "punitive." Howard Schultz. Owen Hoffmann / Contributor / Getty Images Schultz built a $3.8 billion fortune running the coffee chain, Business Insider previously reported. While Schultz left Starbucks in 2018, he still held onto more than 37.7 million shares — or roughly 3% — of the company's stock. When asked if the wealthy should pay more in taxes on "60 Minutes," billionaire hedge-fund manager Ray Dalio replied: "Of course." Hollis Johnson/Business Insider In the "60 Minutes" segment, Dalio said he thinks the American dream is lost and referred to the wealth gap as a "national emergency." Dalio, 70, founded his hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, in his apartment in 1975, Business Insider reported. It now has $150 billion in assets under management. Dalio has a net worth of $20 billion, Forbes estimates. Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of The Walt Disney Company cofounder Roy Disney, has made a name for herself as one of the biggest advocates for closing America's wealth gap. Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images The granddaughter of The Walt Disney Co. cofounder Roy Disney has made a name for herself as one of the company's most outspoken critics. The 59-year-old heiress has criticized the salary of Disney CEO Bob Iger and defended Meryl Streep after she called Walt Disney a "bigot," according to CNN Business.Disney has a net worth of $120 million, she said in July 2019. "The internet says I have half a billion dollars and I might have something close to that if I'd been investing aggressively," Disney told the Financial Times.She testified in support of Elizabeth Warren's proposed wealth tax in April 2021, and called out the methods the ultra-wealthy use to evade taxes in a June essay for the Atlantic.Disney was one of 18 ultrawealthy Americas to sign an open letter in June asking presidential candidates to support a moderate wealth tax. The letter isn't the first time that Disney has spoken out about tax reform. Disney criticized the 2017 Republican tax bill in a NowThis video, saying the bill unfairly benefited the wealthy. Heiress Agnes Gund and her daughter Catherine Gund also signed the wealth tax letter. Catherine Gund, left, with her mother, Agnes Gund, and Stanley Whitney Getty Images / Sean Zanni / Contributor In 2015, Forbes estimated that the Gund family had a net worth of $3.4 billion and ranked them among the 100 wealthiest families in America.Agnes Gund, 83, used the fortune she inherited from her father, the president of an Ohio-based bank, to become a philanthropist in arts and social justice, according to The New York Times. Agnes Gund received the National Medal of the Arts in 1997 from President Bill Clinton for her work, which included serving as the president of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.Catherine Gund, 56, is an Emmy-winning film director and producer. Gund founded nonprofit production studio Aubin Pictures in 1996, according to her previous biography on the studio's website. The Gunds weren't the only family who signed the letter together. So did Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes and his husband, political activist Sean Eldridge. Chris Hughes Facebook Page Hughes is a cofounder of Facebook. He left the social network in 2007 to become the online organizer for Barack Obama's first presidential campaign. Despite calling for Facebook to be broken up in May 2019, Hughes had a stake in the company worth $850 million, Newsweek reports. In 2016, Forbes put Hughes' net worth at $430 million.In April 2021, Hughes told CNBC that Americans are "throwing out the idea that markets were ever free" and that it's time for a new capitalism.Eldridge is a political activist and former congressional candidate in New York, according to Vanity Fair. Eldridge was born in Canada. Ian and Liesel Pritzker Simmons signed the letter together. Ian Simmons, Co-Founder and Principal of Blue Haven Initiative, poses at his office in Cambridge, Mass., Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. A handful of billionaires and multimillionaires are making a renewed push for the government to raise their taxes and siphon away some of their holdings. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer "This is really a conservative position about increasing the stability of the economy in the long term and having an efficient source of taxation," Simmons told the Associated Press.Simmons, 44, serves as the cofounder and principal of impact investing firm Blue Haven Initiative alongside his wife and fellow signatory, Liesel Pritzker Simmons, according to the firm's website. Simmons is the heir to a family fortune that stems from the construction of locks on the Erie Canal, according to Forbes.Pritzker Simmons, an heir to the Pritzker family fortune, has a net worth of $600 million, according to a 2013 Forbes article. Simmons, now 35, is also a cofounder and principal of Blue Haven Initiative.As a child, she starred in several big-name Hollywood productions, including "A Little Princess" and "Air Force One," alongside Harrison Ford. In 2002, Forbes reports, she sued her father and the Pritzker family and came away from it with a $500 million payout. Simmons called retired Massachusetts real-estate developer Robert Bowditch and convinced him to sign the letter, too. Shutterstock "Charitable giving by itself simply cannot provide enough money to support public goods and services, such as public education, roads and bridges, clean air," Bowditch told the Associated Press in October 2019. "It has to be done by taxes."Bowditch has previously advocated for raising taxes on the wealthy: In 2010, he signed an open letter to President Obama asking him to allow tax cuts for millionaires to expire, according to a CBS affiliate in Boston. Billionaire financier George Soros signed the letter with his son, Alexander Soros. Manny Carabel/WireImage According to his personal website, Alexander Soros, 35, serves as deputy chair of the Open Society Foundations, a nonprofit founded by his father. George Soros told The New York Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin he supports a wealth tax even though it creates "a moral problem" for him. Yunus Kaymaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images "I am in favor of taxing the rich," George Soros, 89, told The New York Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin in October 2019, "including a wealth tax. A financier makes people suspicious ... and it does create a moral problem for me. As I became so successful, it basically put a self-imposed constraint on me that actually interfered with making money."The philanthropist made his fortune running Quantum Fund, which was once the largest hedge fund in the world. Soros has a net worth of $8.3 billion, Business Insider reported. Investor Nick Hanauer believes a wealth tax would be good for America's economy. Courtesy of Nick Hanauer "A wealth tax would not just be fair — it would be pro-growth," Hanauer wrote in an essay advocating for a wealth tax published on Business Insider. "And don't let the trickle-downers tell you otherwise."Hanauer, 62, was an early investor in Amazon, according to his personal website. Business Insider previously reported that Hanauer is a longtime critic of America's income inequality.Business Insider's Rich Feloni reported that Hanauer has said he's not a billionaire, but that, as both he and his wife have signed The Giving Pledge, their combined net worth at least approaches the $1 billion threshold. Heiress and attorney Molly Munger told the Associated Press that seeing empty Newport Beach mansions from her family's boat on Memorial Day made her consider a wealth tax. Lacy O'Toole/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images "It's just too much to watch that happen at the top and see what is happening at the bottom," Munger told the Associated Press in October 2019. "Isn't it a waste when beautiful homes on the beach are empty for most of the summer?"Munger, 71, is the oldest daughter of Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman Charlie Munger. Munger is a Harvard Law graduate who works as a civil rights attorney in Pasadena, California, according to the Los Angeles Times. In 2012, she advocated for a tax hike in California to boost funding for the state's public schools. Billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad wrote an op-ed in The New York Times in June 2019 advocating for a wealth tax, saying American capitalism "isn't working." AP Broad doesn't believe that his philanthropic work and other policies including a $15 minimum wage, expanding access to health care, and reforming public education are doing enough to help low-income Americans, he wrote in The New York Times."It's time to start talking seriously about a wealth tax," Broad wrote in The Times. "I simply believe it's time for those of us with great wealth to commit to reducing income inequality, starting with the demand to be taxed at a higher rate than everyone else."Broad built a $6.9 billion fortune after cofounding home builder Kaufman & Broad, according to Forbes. Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff proposed a wealth tax in an October New York Times essay. Kimberley White/Getty Images "Local efforts — like the tax I supported last year on San Francisco's largest companies to address our city's urgent homelessness crisis — will help," Benioff wrote in The New York Times in October 2019. "Nationally, increasing taxes on high-income individuals like myself would help generate the trillions of dollars that we desperately need to improve education and health care and fight climate change."Benioff built a $6.5 billion fortune after founding software developer Salesforce. Benioff currently serves as the company's CEO. Michael Bloomberg has made raising taxes on the wealthy a key part of his 2020 presidential campaign. FILE PHOTO: Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg addresses a news conference after launching his presidential bid in Norfolk, Virginia Reuters Bloomberg has included promises to support "taxing wealthy people like me" in ads since launching his campaign in November, Bloomberg News reported at the time.As Politico reported, Bloomberg ultimately proposed a 5% surtax for people earning over $5 million annually — as well as an increase to the capital gains rate and corporate tax rate. But Bloomberg said during his campaign that he believes that Warren and Sanders' wealth tax "just doesn't work," he said at campaign stop in Phoenix in November. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 26th, 2021

Camber Energy: What If They Made a Whole Company Out of Red Flags? – Kerrisdale

Kerrisdale Capital is short shares of Camber Energy Inc (NYSEAMERICAN:CEI). Camber is a defunct oil producer that has failed to file financial statements with the SEC since September 2020, is in danger of having its stock delisted next month, and just fired its accounting firm in September. Its only real asset is a 73% stake […] Kerrisdale Capital is short shares of Camber Energy Inc (NYSEAMERICAN:CEI). Camber is a defunct oil producer that has failed to file financial statements with the SEC since September 2020, is in danger of having its stock delisted next month, and just fired its accounting firm in September. Its only real asset is a 73% stake in Viking Energy Group Inc (OTCMKTS:VKIN), an OTC-traded company with negative book value and a going-concern warning that recently violated the maximum-leverage covenant on one of its loans. (For a time, it also had a fake CFO – long story.) Nonetheless, Camber’s stock price has increased by 6x over the past month; last week, astonishingly, an average of $1.9 billion worth of Camber shares changed hands every day. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q2 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Is there any logic to this bizarre frenzy? Camber pumpers have seized upon the notion that the company is now a play on carbon capture and clean energy, citing a license agreement recently entered into by Viking. But the “ESG Clean Energy” technology license is a joke. Not only is it tiny relative to Camber’s market cap (costing only $5 million and granting exclusivity only in Canada), but it has embroiled Camber in the long-running escapades of a western Massachusetts family that once claimed to have created a revolutionary new combustion engine, only to wind up being penalized by the SEC for raising $80 million in unregistered securities offerings, often to unaccredited investors, and spending much of it on themselves. But the most fascinating part of the CEI boondoggle actually has to do with something far more basic: how many shares are there, and why has dilution been spiraling out of control? We believe the market is badly mistaken about Camber’s share count and ignorant of its terrifying capital structure. In fact, we estimate its fully diluted share count is roughly triple the widely reported number, bringing its true, fully diluted market cap, absurdly, to nearly $900 million. Since Camber is delinquent on its financials, investors have failed to fully appreciate the impact of its ongoing issuance of an unusual, highly dilutive class of convertible preferred stock. As a result of this “death spiral” preferred, Camber has already seen its share count increase 50- million-fold from early 2016 to July 2021 – and we believe it isn’t over yet, as preferred holders can and will continue to convert their securities and sell the resulting common shares. Even at the much lower valuation that investors incorrectly think Camber trades for, it’s still overvalued. The core Viking assets are low-quality and dangerously levered, while any near- term benefits from higher commodity prices will be muted by hedges established in 2020. The recent clean-energy license is nearly worthless. It’s ridiculous to have to say this, but Camber isn’t worth $900 million. If it looks like a penny stock, and it acts like a penny stock, it is a penny stock. Camber has been a penny stock before – no more than a month ago, in fact – and we expect that it will be once again. Company Background Founded in 2004, Camber was originally called Lucas Energy Resources. It went public via a reverse merger in 2006 with the plan of “capitaliz[ing] on the increasing availability of opportunistic acquisitions in the energy sector.”1 But after years of bad investments and a nearly 100% decline in its stock price, the company, which renamed itself Camber in 2017, found itself with little economic value left; faced with the prospect of losing its NYSE American listing, it cast about for new acquisitions beginning in early 2019. That’s when Viking entered the picture. Jim Miller, a member of Camber’s board, had served on the board of a micro-cap company called Guardian 8 that was working on “a proprietary new class of enhanced non-lethal weapons”; Guardian 8’s CEO, Steve Cochennet, happened to also be part owner of a Kansas-based company that operated some of Viking’s oil and gas assets and knew that Viking, whose shares traded over the counter, was interested in moving up to a national exchange.2 (In case you’re wondering, under Miller and Cochennet’s watch, Guardian 8’s stock saw its price drop to ~$0; it was delisted in 2019.3) Viking itself also had a checkered past. Previously a shell company, it was repurposed by a corporate lawyer and investment banker named Tom Simeo to create SinoCubate, “an incubator of and investor in privately held companies mainly in P.R. China.” But this business model went nowhere. In 2012, SinoCubate changed its name to Viking Investments but continued to achieve little. In 2014, Simeo brought in James A. Doris, a Canadian lawyer, as a member of the board of directors and then as president and CEO, tasked with executing on Viking’s new strategy of “acquir[ing] income-producing assets throughout North America in various sectors, including energy and real estate.” In a series of transactions, Doris gradually built up a portfolio of oil wells and other energy assets in the United States, relying on large amounts of high-cost debt to get deals done. But Viking has never achieved consistent GAAP profitability; indeed, under Doris’s leadership, from 2015 to the first half of 2021, Viking’s cumulative net income has totaled negative $105 million, and its financial statements warn of “substantial doubt regarding the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”4 At first, despite the Guardian 8 crew’s match-making, Camber showed little interest in Viking and pursued another acquisition instead. But, when that deal fell apart, Camber re-engaged with Viking and, in February 2020, announced an all-stock acquisition – effectively a reverse merger in which Viking would end up as the surviving company but transfer some value to incumbent Camber shareholders in exchange for the national listing. For reasons that remain somewhat unclear, this original deal structure was beset with delays, and in December 2020 (after months of insisting that deal closing was just around the corner) Camber announced that it would instead directly purchase a 51% stake in Viking; at the same time, Doris, Viking’s CEO, officially took over Camber as well. Subsequent transactions through July 2021 have brough Camber’s Viking stake up to 69.9 million shares (73% of Viking’s total common shares), in exchange for consideration in the form of a mixture of cash, debt forgiveness,5 and debt assumption, valued in the aggregate by Viking at only $50.7 million: Camber and Viking announced a new merger agreement in February 2021, aiming to take out the remaining Viking shares not owned by Camber and thus fully combine the two companies, but that plan is on hold because Camber has failed to file its last 10-K (as well as two subsequent 10-Qs) and is thus in danger of being delisted unless it catches up by November. Today, then, Camber’s absurd equity valuation rests entirely on its majority stake in a small, unprofitable oil-and-gas roll-up cobbled together by a Canadian lawyer. An Opaque Capital Structure Has Concealed the True Insanity of Camber’s Valuation What actually is Camber’s equity valuation? It sounds like a simple question, and sources like Bloomberg and Yahoo Finance supply what looks like a simple answer: 104.2 million shares outstanding times a $3.09 closing price (as of October 4, 2021) equals a market cap of $322 million – absurd enough, given what Camber owns. But these figures only tell part of the story. We estimate that the correct fully diluted market cap is actually a staggering $882 million, including the impact of both Camber’s unusual, highly dilutive Series C convertible preferred stock and its convertible debt. Because Camber is delinquent on its SEC filings, it’s difficult to assemble an up-to-date picture of its balance sheet and capital structure. The widely used 104.2-million-share figure comes from an 8-K filed in July that states, in part: As of July 9, 2021, the Company had 104,195,295 shares of common stock issued and outstanding. The increase in our outstanding shares of common stock from the date of the Company’s February 23, 2021 increase in authorized shares of common stock (from 25 million shares to 250 million shares), is primarily due to conversions of shares of Series C Preferred Stock of the Company into common stock, and conversion premiums due thereon, which are payable in shares of common stock. This bland language belies the stunning magnitude of the dilution that has already taken place. Indeed, we estimate that, of the 104.2 million common shares outstanding on July 9th, 99.7% were created via the conversion of Series C preferred in the past few years – and there’s more where that came from. The terms of Camber’s preferreds are complex but boil down to the following: they accrue non- cash dividends at the sky-high rate of 24.95% per year for a notional seven years but can be converted into common shares at any time. The face value of the preferred shares converts into common shares at a fixed conversion price of $162.50 per share, far higher than the current trading price – so far, so good (from a Camber-shareholder perspective). The problem is the additional “conversion premium,” which is equal to the full seven years’ worth of dividends, or 7 x 24.95% ≈ 175% of face value, all at once, and is converted at a far lower conversion price that “will never be above approximately $0.3985 per share…regardless of the actual trading price of Camber’s common stock” (but could in principle go lower if the price crashes to new lows).6 The upshot of all this is that one share of Series C preferred is now convertible into ~43,885 shares of common stock.7 Historically, all of Camber’s Series C preferred was held by one investor: Discover Growth Fund. The terms of the preferred agreement cap Discover’s ownership of Camber’s common shares at 9.99% of the total, but nothing stops Discover from converting preferred into common up to that cap, selling off the resulting shares, converting additional preferred shares into common up to the cap, selling those common shares, etc., as Camber has stated explicitly (and as Discover has in fact done over the years) (emphasis added): Although Discover may not receive shares of common stock exceeding 9.99% of its outstanding shares of common stock immediately after affecting such conversion, this restriction does not prevent Discover from receiving shares up to the 9.99% limit, selling those shares, and then receiving the rest of the shares it is due, in one or more tranches, while still staying below the 9.99% limit. If Discover chooses to do this, it will cause substantial dilution to the then holders of its common stock. Additionally, the continued sale of shares issuable upon successive conversions will likely create significant downward pressure on the price of its common stock as Discover sells material amounts of Camber’s common stock over time and/or in a short period of time. This could place further downward pressure on the price of its common stock and in turn result in Discover receiving an ever increasing number of additional shares of common stock upon conversion of its securities, and adjustments thereof, which in turn will likely lead to further dilution, reductions in the exercise/conversion price of Discover’s securities and even more downward pressure on its common stock, which could lead to its common stock becoming devalued or worthless.8 In 2017, soon after Discover began to convert some of its first preferred shares, Camber’s then- management claimed to be shocked by the results and sued Discover for fraud, arguing that “[t]he catastrophic effect of the Discover Documents [i.e. the terms of the preferred] is so devastating that the Discover Documents are prima facie unconscionable” because “they will permit Discover to strip Camber of its value and business well beyond the simple repayment of its debt.” Camber called the documents “extremely difficult to understand” and insisted that they “were drafted in such a way as to obscure the true terms of such documents and the total number of shares of common stock that could be issuable by Camber thereunder. … Only after signing the documents did Camber and [its then CEO]…learn that Discover’s reading of the Discover Documents was that the terms that applied were the strictest and most Camber unfriendly interpretation possible.”9 But the judge wasn’t impressed, suggesting that it was Camber’s own fault for failing to read the fine print, and the case was dismissed. With no better options, Camber then repeatedly came crawling back to Discover for additional tranches of funding via preferred sales. While the recent spike in common share count to 104.2 million as of early July includes some of the impact of ongoing preferred conversion, we believe it fails to include all of it. In addition to Discover’s 2,093 shares of Series C preferred held as of February 2021, Camber issued additional shares to EMC Capital Partners, a creditor of Viking’s, as part of a January agreement to reduce Viking’s debt.10 Then, in July, Camber issued another block of preferred shares – also to Discover, we believe – to help fund Viking’s recent deals.11 We speculate that many of these preferred shares have already been converted into common shares that have subsequently been sold into a frenzied retail bid. Beyond the Series C preferred, there is one additional source of potential dilution: debt issued to Discover in three transactions from December 2020 to April 2021, totaling $20.5 million in face value, and amended in July to be convertible at a fixed price of $1.25 per share.12 We summarize our estimates of all of these sources of potential common share issuance below: Might we be wrong about this math? Absolutely – the mechanics of the Series C preferreds are so convoluted that prior Camber management sued Discover complaining that the legal documents governing them “were drafted in such a way as to obscure the true terms of such documents and the total number of shares of common stock that could be issuable by Camber thereunder.” Camber management could easily set the record straight by revealing the most up- to-date share count via an SEC filing, along with any additional clarifications about the expected future share count upon conversion of all outstanding convertible securities. But we're confident that the current share count reported in financial databases like Bloomberg and Yahoo Finance significantly understates the true, fully diluted figure. An additional indication that Camber expects massive future dilution relates to the total authorized shares of common stock under its official articles of incorporation. It was only a few months ago, in February, that Camber had to hold a special shareholder meeting to increase its maximum authorized share count from 25 million to 250 million in order to accommodate all the shares to be issued because of preferred conversions. But under Camber’s July agreement to sell additional preferred shares to Discover, the company (emphasis added) agreed to include proposals relating to the approval of the July 2021 Purchase Agreement and the issuance of the shares of common stock upon conversion of the Series C Preferred Stock sold pursuant to the July 2021 Purchase Agreement, as well as an increase in authorized common stock to fulfill our obligations to issue such shares, at the Company’s next Annual Meeting, the meeting held to approve the Merger or a separate meeting in the event the Merger is terminated prior to shareholder approval, and to use commercially reasonable best efforts to obtain such approvals as soon as possible and in any event prior to January 1, 2022.13 In other words, Camber can already see that 250 million shares will soon not be enough, consistent with our estimate of ~285 million fully diluted shares above. In sum, Camber’s true overvaluation is dramatically worse than it initially appears because of the massive number of common shares that its preferred and other securities can convert into, leading to a fully diluted share count that is nearly triple the figure found in standard information sources used by investors. This enormous latent dilution, impossible to discern without combing through numerous scattered filings made by a company with no up-to-date financial statements in the public domain, means that the market is – perhaps out of ignorance – attributing close to one billion dollars of value to a very weak business. Camber’s Stake in Viking Has Little Real Value In light of Camber’s gargantuan valuation, it’s worth dwelling on some basic facts about its sole meaningful asset, a 73% stake in Viking Energy. As of 6/30/21: Viking had negative $15 million in shareholder equity/book Its financial statements noted “substantial doubt regarding the Company’s ability to continue as a going ” Of its $101.3 million in outstanding debt (at face value), nearly half (48%) was scheduled to mature and come due over the following 12 months. Viking noted that it “does not currently maintain controls and procedures that are designed to ensure that information required to be disclosed by the Company in the reports it files or submits under the Exchange Act are recorded, processed, summarized, and reported within the time periods specified by the Commission’s rules and forms.” Viking’s CEO “has concluded that these [disclosure] controls and procedures are not effective in providing reasonable assurance of compliance.” Viking disclosed that a key subsidiary, Elysium Energy, was “in default of the maximum leverage ratio covenant under the term loan agreement at June 30, 2021”; this covenant caps the entity’s total secured debt to EBITDA at 75 to 1.14 This is hardly a healthy operation. Indeed, even according to Viking’s own black-box estimates, the present value of its total proved reserves of oil and gas, using a 10% discount rate (likely generous given the company’s high debt costs), was $120 million as of 12/31/20,15 while its outstanding debt, as stated above, is $101 million – perhaps implying a sliver of residual economic value to equity holders, but not much. And while some market observers have recently gotten excited about how increases in commodity prices could benefit Camber/Viking, any near-term impact will be blunted by hedges put on by Viking in early 2020, which cover, with respect to its Elysium properties, “60% of the estimated production for 2021 and 50% of the estimated production for the period between January, 2022 to July, 2022. Theses hedges have a floor of $45 and a ceiling ranging from $52.70 to $56.00 for oil, and a floor of $2.00 and a ceiling of $2.425 for natural gas” – cutting into the benefit of any price spikes above those ceiling levels.16 Sharing our dreary view of Viking’s prospects is one of Viking’s own financial advisors, a firm called Scalar, LLC, that Viking hired to prepare a fairness opinion under the original all-stock merger agreement with Camber. Combining Viking’s own internal projections with data on comparable-company valuation multiples, Scalar concluded in October 2020 that Viking’s equity was worth somewhere between $0 and $20 million, depending on the methodology used, with the “purest” methodology – a true, full-blown DCF – yielding the lowest estimate of $0-1 million: Camber’s advisor, Mercer Capital, came to a similar conclusion: its “analysis indicated an implied equity value of Viking of $0 to $34.3 million.”17 It’s inconceivable that a majority stake in this company, deemed potentially worthless by multiple experts and clearly experiencing financial strains, could somehow justify a near-billion-dollar valuation. Instead of dwelling on the unpleasant realities of Viking’s oil and gas business, Camber has drawn investor attention to two recent transactions conducted by Viking with Camber funding: a license agreement with “ESG Clean Energy,” discussed in further detail below, and the acquisition of a 60.3% stake in Simson-Maxwell, described as “a leading manufacturer and supplier of industrial engines, power generation products, services and custom energy solutions.” But Viking paid just $8 million for its Simson-Maxwell shares,18 and the company has just 125 employees; it defies belief to think that this purchase was such a bargain as to make a material dent in Camber’s overvaluation. And what does Simson-Maxwell actually do? One of its key officers, Daryl Kruper (identified as its chairman in Camber’s press release), describes the company a bit less grandly and more concretely on his LinkedIn page: Simson Maxwell is a power systems specialist. The company assembles and sells generator sets, industrial engines, power control systems and switchgear. Simson Maxwell has service and parts facilities in Edmonton, Calgary, Prince George, Vancouver, Nanaimo and Terrace. The company has provided its western Canadian customers with exceptional service for over 70 years. In other words, Simson-Maxwell acts as a sort of distributor/consultant, packaging industrial- strength generators and engines manufactured by companies like GE and Mitsubishi into systems that can provide electrical power, often in remote areas in western Canada; Simson- Maxwell employees then drive around in vans maintaining and repairing these systems. There’s nothing obviously wrong with this business, but it’s small, regional (not just Canada – western Canada specifically), likely driven by an unpredictable flow of new large projects, and unlikely to garner a high standalone valuation. Indeed, buried in one of Viking’s agreements with Simson- Maxwell’s selling shareholders (see p. 23) are clauses giving Viking the right to purchase the rest of the company between July 2024 and July 2026 at a price of at least 8x trailing EBITDA and giving the selling shareholders the right to sell the rest of their shares during the same time frame at a price of at least 7x trailing EBITDA – the kind of multiples associated with sleepy industrial distributors, not fast-growing retail darlings. Since Simon-Maxwell has nothing to do with Viking’s pre-existing assets or (alleged) expertise in oil and gas, and Viking and Camber are hardly flush with cash, why did they make the purchase? We speculate that management is concerned about the combined company’s ability to maintain its listing on the NYSE American. For example, when describing its restruck merger agreement with Viking, Camber noted: Additional closing conditions to the Merger include that in the event the NYSE American determines that the Merger constitutes, or will constitute, a “back-door listing”/“reverse merger”, Camber (and its common stock) is required to qualify for initial listing on the NYSE American, pursuant to the applicable guidance and requirements of the NYSE as of the Effective Time. What does it take to qualify for initial listing on the NYSE American? There are several ways, but three require at least $4 million of positive stockholders’ equity, which Viking, the intended surviving company, doesn’t have today; another requires a market cap of greater than $75 million, which management might (quite reasonably) be concerned about achieving sustainably. That leaves a standard that requires a listed company to have $75 million in assets and revenue. With Viking running at only ~$40 million of annualized revenue, we believe management is attempting to buy up more via acquisition. In fact, if the goal is simply to “buy” GAAP revenue, the most efficient way to do it is by acquiring a stake in a low-margin, slow- growing business – little earnings power, hence a low purchase price, but plenty of revenue. And by buying a majority stake instead of the whole thing, the acquirer can further reduce the capital outlay while still being able to consolidate all of the operation’s revenue under GAAP accounting. Buying 60.3% of Simson-Maxwell seems to fit the bill, but it’s a placeholder, not a real value-creator. Camber’s Partners in the Laughable “ESG Clean Energy” Deal Have a Long History of Broken Promises and Alleged Securities Fraud The “catalyst” most commonly cited by Camber Energy bulls for the recent massive increase in the company’s stock price is an August 24th press release, “Camber Energy Secures Exclusive IP License for Patented Carbon-Capture System,” announcing that the company, via Viking, “entered into an Exclusive Intellectual Property License Agreement with ESG Clean Energy, LLC (‘ESG’) regarding ESG’s patent rights and know-how related to stationary electric power generation, including methods to utilize heat and capture carbon dioxide.” Our research suggests that the “intellectual property” in question amounts to very little: in essence, the concept of collecting the exhaust gases emitted by a natural-gas–fueled electric generator, cooling it down to distill out the water vapor, and isolating the remaining carbon dioxide. But what happens to the carbon dioxide then? The clearest answer ESG Clean Energy has given is that it “can be sold to…cannabis producers”19 to help their plants grow faster, though the vast majority of the carbon dioxide would still end up escaping into the atmosphere over time, and additional greenhouse gases would be generated in compressing and shipping this carbon dioxide to the cannabis producers, likely leading to a net worsening of carbon emissions.20 And what is Viking – which primarily extracts oil and gas from the ground, as opposed to running generators and selling electrical power – supposed to do with this technology anyway? The idea seems to be that the newly acquired Simson-Maxwell business will attempt to sell the “technology” as a value-add to customers who are buying generators in western Canada. Indeed, while Camber’s press-release headline emphasized the “exclusive” nature of the license, the license is only exclusive in Canada plus “up to twenty-five locations in the United States” – making the much vaunted deal even more trivial than it might first appear. Viking paid an upfront royalty of $1.5 million in cash in August, with additional installments of $1.5 and $2 million due by January and April 2022, respectively, for a total of $5 million. In addition, Viking “shall pay to ESG continuing royalties of not more than 15% of the net revenues of Viking generated using the Intellectual Property, with the continuing royalty percentage to be jointly determined by the parties collaboratively based on the parties’ development of realistic cashflow models resulting from initial projects utilizing the Intellectual Property, and with the parties utilizing mediation if they cannot jointly agree to the continuing royalty percentage”21 – a strangely open-ended, perhaps rushed, way of setting a royalty rate. Overall, then, Viking is paying $5 million for roughly 85% of the economics of a technology that might conceivably help “capture” CO2 emitted by electric generators in Canada (and up to 25 locations in the United States!) but then probably just re-emit it again. This is the great advance that has driven Camber to a nearly billion-dollar market cap. It’s with good reason that on ESG Clean Energy’s web site (as of early October), the list of “press releases that show that ESG Clean Energy is making waves in the distributive power industry” is blank: If the ESG Clean Energy license deal were just another trivial bit of vaporware hyped up by a promotional company and its over-eager shareholders, it would be problematic but unremarkable; things like that happen all the time. But it’s the nature and history of Camber/Viking’s counterparty in the ESG deal that truly makes the situation sublime. ESG Clean Energy is in fact an offshoot of the Scuderi Group, a family business in western Massachusetts created to develop the now deceased Carmelo Scuderi’s idea for a revolutionary new type of engine. (In a 2005 AP article entitled “Engine design draws skepticism,” an MIT professor “said the creation is almost certain to fail.”) Two of Carmelo’s children, Nick and Sal, appeared in a recent ESG Clean Energy video with Camber’s CEO, who called Sal “more of the brains behind the operation” but didn’t state his official role – interesting since documents associated with ESG Clean Energy’s recent small-scale capital raises don’t mention Sal at all. Buried in Viking’s contract with ESG Clean Energy is the following section, indicating that the patents and technology underlying the deal actually belong in the first instance to the Scuderi Group, Inc.: 2.6 Demonstration of ESG’s Exclusive License with Scuderi Group and Right to Grant Licenses in this Agreement. ESG shall provide necessary documentation to Viking which demonstrates ESG’s right to grant the licenses in this Section 2 of this Agreement. For the avoidance of doubt, ESG shall provide necessary documentation that verifies the terms and conditions of ESG’s exclusive license with the Scuderi Group, Inc., a Delaware USA corporation, having an address of 1111 Elm Street, Suite 33, West Springfield, MA 01089 USA (“Scuderi Group”), and that nothing within ESG’s exclusive license with the Scuderi Group is inconsistent with the terms of this Agreement. In fact, the ESG Clean Energy entity itself was originally called Scuderi Clean Energy but changed its name in 2019; its subsidiary ESG-H1, LLC, which presides over a long-delayed power-generation project in the small city of Holyoke, Massachusetts (discussed further below), used to be called Scuderi Holyoke Power LLC but also changed its name in 2019.22 The SEC provided a good summary of the Scuderi Group’s history in a 2013 cease-and-desist order that imposed a $100,000 civil money penalty on Sal Scuderi (emphasis added): Founded in 2002, Scuderi Group has been in the business of developing a new internal combustion engine design. Scuderi Group’s business plan is to develop, patent, and license its engine technology to automobile companies and other large engine manufacturers. Scuderi Group, which considers itself a development stage company, has not generated any revenue… …These proceedings arise out of unregistered, non-exempt stock offerings and misleading disclosures regarding the use of offering proceeds by Scuderi Group and Mr. Scuderi, the company’s president. Between 2004 and 2011, Scuderi Group sold more than $80 million worth of securities through offerings that were not registered with the Commission and did not qualify for any of the exemptions from the Securities Act’s registration requirement. The company’s private placement memoranda informed investors that Scuderi Group intended to use the proceeds from its offerings for “general corporate purposes, including working capital.” In fact, the company was making significant payments to Scuderi family members for non-corporate purposes, including, large, ad hoc bonus payments to Scuderi family employees to cover personal expenses; payments to family members who provided no services to Scuderi; loans to Scuderi family members that were undocumented, with no written interest and repayment terms; large loans to fund $20 million personal insurance policies for six of the Scuderi siblings for which the company has not been, and will not be, repaid; and personal estate planning services for the Scuderi family. Between 2008 and 2011, a period when Scuderi Group sold more than $75 million in securities despite not obtaining any revenue, Mr. Scuderi authorized more than $3.2 million in Scuderi Group spending on such purposes. …In connection with these offerings [of stock], Scuderi Group disseminated more than 3,000 PPMs [private placement memoranda] to potential investors, directly and through third parties. Scuderi Group found these potential investors by, among other things, conducting hundreds of roadshows across the U.S.; hiring a registered broker-dealer to find investors; and paying numerous intermediaries to encourage people to attend meetings that Scuderi Group arranged for potential investors. …Scuderi Group’s own documents reflect that, in total, over 90 of the company’s investors were non-accredited investors… The Scuderi Group and Sal Scuderi neither admitted nor denied the SEC’s findings but agreed to stop violating securities law. Contemporary local news coverage of the regulatory action added color to the SEC’s description of the Scuderis’ fund-raising tactics (emphasis added): Here on Long Island, folks like HVAC specialist Bill Constantine were early investors, hoping to earn a windfall from Scuderi licensing the idea to every engine manufacturer in the world. Constantine said he was familiar with the Scuderis because he worked at an Islandia company that distributed an oil-less compressor for a refrigerant recovery system designed by the family patriarch. Constantine told [Long Island Business News] he began investing in the engine in 2007, getting many of his friends and family to put their money in, too. The company held an invitation-only sales pitch at the Marriott in Islandia in February 2011. Commercial real estate broker George Tsunis said he was asked to recruit investors for the Scuderi Group, but declined after hearing the pitch. “They were talking about doing business with Volkswagen and Mercedes, but everything was on the come,” Tsunis said. “They were having a party and nobody came.” Hot on the heels of the SEC action, an individual investor who had purchased $197,000 of Scuderi Group preferred units sued the Scuderi Group as well as Sal, Nick, Deborah, Stephen, and Ruth Scuderi individually, alleging, among other things, securities fraud (e.g. “untrue statements of material fact” in offering memoranda). This case was settled out of court in 2016 after the judge reportedly “said from the bench that he was likely to grant summary judgement for [the] plaintiff. … That ruling would have clear the way for other investors in Scuderi to claim at least part of a monetary settlement.” (Two other investors filed a similar lawsuit in 2017 but had it dismissed in 2018 because they ran afoul of the statute of limitations.23) The Scuderi Group put on a brave face, saying publicly, “The company is very pleased to put the SEC matter behind it and return focus to its technology.” In fact, in December 2013, just months after the SEC news broke, the company entered into a “Cooperative Consortium Agreement” with Hino Motors, a Japanese manufacturer, creating an “engineering research group” to further develop the Scuderi engine concept. “Hino paid Scuderi an initial fee of $150,000 to join the Consortium Group, which was to be refunded if Scuderi was unable to raise the funding necessary to start the Project by the Commencement Date,” in the words of Hino’s later lawsuit.24 Sure enough, the Scuderi Group ended up canceling the project in early October 2014 “due to funding and participant issues” – but it didn’t pay back the $150,000. Hino’s lawsuit documents Stephen Scuderi’s long series of emailed excuses: 10/31/14: “I must apologize, but we are going to be a little late in our refund of the Consortium Fee of $150,000. I am sure you have been able to deduce that we have a fair amount of challenging financial problems that we are working through. I am counting on financing for our current backlog of Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) projects to provide the capital to refund the Consortium Fee. Though we are very optimistic that the financial package for our PPA projects will be completed successfully, the process is taking a little longer than I originally expected to complete (approximately 3 months longer).” 11/25/14: “I am confident that we can pay Hino back its refund by the end of January. … The reason I have been slow to respond is because I was waiting for feedback from a few large cornerstone investors that we have been negotiating with. The negotiations have been progressing very well and we are close to a comprehensive financing deal, but (as often happens) the back and forth of the negotiating process takes ” 1/12/15: “We have given a proposal to the potential high-end investors that is most interested in investing a large sum of money into Scuderi Group. That investor has done his due-diligence on our company and has communicated to us that he likes our proposal but wants to give us a counter ” 1/31/15: “The individual I spoke of last month is one of several high net worth individuals that are currently evaluating investing a significant amount of equity capital into our That particular individual has not yet responded with a counter proposal, because he wishes to complete a study on the power generation market as part of his due diligence effort first. Though we learned of the study only recently, we believe that his enthusiasm for investing in Scuderi Group remains as strong as ever and steady progress is being made with the other high net worth individuals as well. … I ask only that you be patient for a short while longer as we make every effort possible to raise the monies need[ed] to refund Hino its consortium fee.” Fed up, Hino sued instead of waiting for the next excuse – but ended up discovering that the Scuderi bank account to which it had wired the $150,000 now contained only about $64,000. Hino and the Scuderi Group then entered into a settlement in which that account balance was supposed to be immediately handed over to Hino, with the remainder plus interest to be paid back later – but Scuderi didn’t even comply with its own settlement, forcing Hino to re-initiate its lawsuit and obtain an official court judgment against Scuderi. Pursuant to that judgment, Hino formally requested an array of documents like tax returns and bank statements, but Scuderi simply ignored these requests, using the following brazen logic:25 Though as of this date, the execution has not been satisfied, Scuderi continues to operate in the ordinary course of business and reasonably expects to have money available to satisfy the execution in full in the near future. … Responding to the post- judgment discovery requests, as a practical matter, will not enable Scuderi to pay Hino any faster than can be achieved by Scuderi using all of its resources and efforts to conduct its day-to-day business operations and will only serve to impose additional and unnecessary costs on both parties. Scuderi has offered and is willing to make payments every 30 days to Hino in amounts not less than $10,000 until the execution is satisfied in full. Shortly thereafter, in March 2016, Hino dropped its case, perhaps having chosen to take the $10,000 per month rather than continue to tangle in court with the Scuderis (though we don’t know for sure). With its name tarnished by disgruntled investors and the SEC, and at least one of its bank accounts wiped out by Hino Motors, the Scuderi Group didn’t appear to have a bright future. But then, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, a new business was born: Scuderi Clean Energy, “a wholly owned subsidiary of Scuderi Group, Inc. … formed in October 2015 to market Scuderi Engine Technology to the power generation industry.” (Over time, references to the troubled “Scuderi Engine Technology” have faded away; today ESG Clean Energy is purportedly planning to use standard, off-the-shelf Caterpillar engines. And while an early press release described Scuderi Clean Energy as “a wholly owned subsidiary of Scuderi Group,” the current Scuderi/ESG Clean Energy, LLC, appears to have been created later as its own (nominally) independent entity, led by Nick Scuderi.) As the emailed excuses in the Hino dispute suggested, this pivot to “clean energy” and electric power generation had been in the works for some time, enabling Scuderi Clean Energy to hit the ground running by signing a deal with Holyoke Gas and Electric, a small utility company owned by the city of Holyoke, Massachusetts (population 38,238) in December 2015. The basic idea was that Scuderi Clean Energy would install a large natural-gas generator and associated equipment on a vacant lot and use it to supply Holyoke Gas and Electric with supplemental electric power, especially during “peak demand periods in the summer.”26 But it appears that, from day one, Holyoke had its doubts. In its 2015 annual report (p. 80), the company wrote (emphasis added): In December 2015, the Department contracted with Scuderi Clean Energy, LLC under a twenty (20) year [power purchase agreement] for a 4.375 MW [megawatt] natural gas generator. Uncertain if this project will move forward; however Department mitigated market and development risk by ensuring interconnection costs are born by other party and that rates under PPA are discounted to full wholesale energy and resulting load reduction cost savings (where and if applicable). Holyoke was right to be uncertain. Though its 2017 annual report optimistically said, “Expected Commercial Operation date is April 1, 2018” (p. 90), the 2018 annual report changed to “Expected Commercial Operation is unknown at this time” – language that had to be repeated verbatim in the 2019 and 2020 annual reports. Six years after the contract was signed, the Scuderi Clean Energy, now ESG Clean Energy, project still hasn’t produced one iota of power, let alone one dollar of revenue. What it has produced, however, is funding from retail investors, though perhaps not as much as the Scuderis could have hoped. Beginning in 2017, Scuderi Clean Energy managed to sell roughly $1.3 million27 in 5-year “TIGRcub” bonds (Top-Line Income Generation Rights Certificates) on the small online Entrex platform by advertising a 12% “minimum yield” and 16.72% “projected IRR” (based on 18.84% “revenue participation”) over a 5-year term. While we don’t know the exact terms of these bonds, we believe that, at least early on, interest payments were covered by some sort of prepaid insurance policy, while later payments depend on (so far nonexistent) revenue from the Holyoke project. But Scuderi Clean Energy had been aiming to raise $6 million to complete the project, not $1 million; indeed, this was only supposed to be the first component of a whole empire of “Scuderi power plants”28 that would require over $100 million to build but were supposedly already under contract.29 So far, however, nothing has come of these other projects, and, seemingly suffering from insufficient funding, the Holyoke effort languished. (Of course, it might have been more investor-friendly if Scuderi Clean Energy had only accepted funding on the condition that there was enough to actually complete construction.) Under the new ESG Clean Energy name, the Scuderis tried in 2019 to raise capital again, this time in the form of $5 million of preferred units marketed as a “5 year tax free Investment with 18% cash-on-cash return,” but, based on an SEC filing, it appears that the offering didn’t go well, raising just $150,000. With funding still limited and the Holyoke project far from finished, the clock is ticking: the $1.3 million of bonds will begin to mature in early 2022. It was thus fortunate that Viking came along when it did to pay ESG Clean Energy a $1.5 million upfront royalty for its incredible technology. Interestingly, ESG Clean Energy began in late 2020 to provide extremely detailed updates on its Holyoke construction progress, including items as prosaic as “Throughout the week, ESG had met with and continued to exchange numerous e-mails with our mechanical engineering firm.” With frequent references to the “very fluid environment,” the tone is unmistakably defensive. Consider the September update (emphasis not added): Reading between the lines, we believe the intended message is this: “We didn’t just take your money and run – honest! We’re working hard!” Nonetheless, someone appears to be unhappy, as indicated by the FINRA BrokerCheck report for one Eric Willer, a former employee of Fusion Analytics, which was listed as a recipient of sales compensation in connection with the Scuderi Clean Energy bond offerings. Willer may now be in hot water: a disclosure notice dated 3/31/2021 reads: “Wells Notice received as a preliminary determination to recommend disciplinary action of fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and recommendation without due diligence in the sale of bonds issued by Scuderi Holyoke,” with a further investigation still pending. We wait eagerly for additional updates. Why does the saga of the Scuderis matter? Many Camber investors seem to have convinced themselves that the ESG Clean Energy “carbon capture” IP licensed by Viking has enormous value and can plausibly justify hundreds of millions of dollars of incremental market cap. As we explained above, we find this thoroughly implausible even without getting into Scuderi family history: in the end, the “technology” will at best add a smidgen of value to some generators in Canada. But track records matter too, and the Scuderi track record of failed R&D, delays, excuses, and alleged misuse of funds is worth considering. These people have spent six years trying and failing to sell power to a single municipally owned utility company in a single small city in western Massachusetts. Are they really about to end climate change? The Case of the Fictitious CFO Since Camber is effectively a bet on Viking, and Viking, in its current form, has been assembled by James Doris, it’s important to assess Doris’s probity and good judgment. In that connection, it’s noteworthy that, from December 2014 to July 2016, at the very start of Doris’s reign as Viking’s CEO and president, the company’s CFO, Guangfang “Cecile” Yang, was apparently fictitious. (Covering the case in 2019, Dealbreaker used the headline “Possibly Imaginary CFO Grounds For Very Real Fraud Lawsuit.”) This strange situation was brought to light by an SEC lawsuit against Viking’s founder, Tom Simeo; just last month, a US district court granted summary judgment in favor of the SEC against Simeo, but Simeo’s penalties have yet to be determined.30 The court’s opinion provided a good overview of the facts (references omitted, emphasis added): In 2013, Simeo hired Yang, who lives in Shanghai, China, to be Viking’s CFO. Yang served in that position until she purportedly resigned in July 2016. When Yang joined the company, Simeo fabricated a standing resignation letter, in which Yang purported to “irrevocably” resign her position with Viking “at any time desired by the Company” and “[u]pon notification that the Company accepted [her] resignation”…Simeo forged Yang’s signature on this document. This letter allowed Simeo to remove Yang from the position of CFO whenever he pleased. Simeo also fabricated a power of attorney purportedly signed by Yang that allowed Simeo to “affix Yang’s signature to any and all documents,” including documents that Viking had to file with the SEC. Viking represented to the public that Yang was the company’s CFO and a member of its Board of Directors. But “Yang never actually functioned as Viking’s CFO.” She “was not involved in the financial and strategic decisions” of Viking during the Relevant Period. Nor did she play any role in “preparing Viking’s financial statements or public filings.” Indeed, at least as of April 3, 2015, Yang did not do “any work” on Viking’s financial statements and did not speak with anyone who was preparing them. She also did not “review or evaluate Viking’s internal controls over financial reporting.” Further, during most or all of the Relevant Period, Viking did not compensate Yang despite the fact that she was the company’s highest ranking financial employee. Nevertheless, Simeo says that he personally paid her in cash. Yang’s “sole point of contact” at Viking was Simeo. Indeed Simeo was “the only person at Viking who communicated with Yang.” Thus many people at Viking never interacted with Yang. Despite the fact that Doris has served as Viking’s CEO since December 2014, he “has never met or spoken to Yang either in person or through any other means, and he has never communicated with Yang in writing.” … To think Yang served as CFO during this time, but the CEO and other individuals involved with Viking’s SEC filings never once spoke with her, strains all logical credulity. It remains unclear whether Yang is even a real person. When the SEC asked Simeo directly (“Is it the case that you made up the existence of Ms. Yang?”) he responded by “invoking the Fifth Amendment.”31 While the SEC’s efforts thus far have focused on Simeo, the case clearly raises the question of what Doris knew and when he knew it. Indeed, though many of the required Sarbanes-Oxley certifications of Viking’s financial statements during the Yang period were signed by Simeo in his role as chairman, Doris did personally sign off on an amended 2015 10-K that refers to Yang as CFO through July 2016 and includes her complete, apparently fictitious, biography. Viking has also disclosed the following, which we believe pertains to the Yang affair (emphasis added): In April of 2019, the staff (the “Staff”) of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement notified the Company that the Staff had made a preliminary determination to recommend that the SEC file an enforcement action against the Company, as well as against its CEO and its CFO, for alleged violations of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 thereunder [laws that pertain to securities fraud] during the period from early 2014 through late 2016. The Staff’s notice is not a formal allegation or a finding of wrongdoing by the Company, and the Company has communicated with the Staff regarding its preliminary determination. The Company believes it has adequate defenses and intends to vigorously defend any enforcement action that may be initiated by the SEC.32 Perhaps the SEC has moved on from this matter and will let Doris and Viking off the hook, but the fact pattern is eyebrow-raising nonetheless. A similarly troubling incident came soon after the time of Yang’s “resignation,” when Viking’s auditing firm resigned, withdrew its recent audit report, and wrote a letter “advising the Company that it believed an illegal act may have occurred” – because of concerns that had nothing to do with Yang. First, Viking accounted for the timing of a grant of shares to a consultant in apparent contradiction of the terms of the written agreement with the consultant – a seemingly minor issue. But, under scrutiny from the auditor, Viking “produced a letter… (the version which was provided to us was unsigned), from the consultant stating that the Agreement was invalidated verbally.” Reading between the lines, the “uncomfortable” auditor suspected that this letter was a fake, created just to get him off Viking’s back. In another incident, the auditor “became aware that seven of the company’s loans…were due to be repaid” in August 2016 but hadn’t been, creating a default that would in turn “trigger[] a cross-default clause contained in 17 additional loans” – but Viking claimed it “had secured an oral extension to the loans from the broker-dealer representing the lenders by September 6, 2016” – after the loans’ maturity dates – “so the Company did not need to disclose ‘the defaults under these loans’ after such time since the loans were not in default.” It’s easy to see why an auditor would object to this attitude toward financial disclosure – no need to mention a default in August as long as you can secure a verbal agreement resolving it by September! Against this backdrop of disturbing behavior, the fact that Camber just dismissed its auditing firm three weeks ago on September 16th, even with delisting looming if the company can’t become current again with its SEC filings by November, seems even more unsettling. Have Camber and Viking management earned investors’ trust? Conclusion It’s not clear why, back in 2017, Lucas Energy changed its name to “Camber” specifically, but we’d like to think the inspiration was England’s Camber Castle. According to Atlas Obscura, the castle was supposed to help defend the English coast, but it took so long to build that its “advanced design was obsolete by the time of its completion,” and changes in the local environment meant that “the sea had receded so far that cannons fired from the fort would no longer be able to reach any invading ships.” Still, the useless castle was “manned and serviced” for nearly a century before being officially decommissioned. Today, Camber “lies derelict and almost unheard of.” But what’s in a name? Article by Kerrisdale Capital Management Updated on Oct 5, 2021, 12:06 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkOct 5th, 2021

The Bull$hit

The Bull$hit Authored by Walter Kirn via Unbound substack (h/t Glenn Greenwald) I used to like to read the news, the middlebrow mass-market weekly news. I also used to like to write it.  Some. This was back in the 90s at Time magazine, a publication which still exists in name but whose original, defining mission – grounding the American mind in a moderate, shared reality – is dead. The whole concept seems strange now – the American mind; a cloud of ideas, opinions, and sentiments floating somewhere above the Mississippi – but at Time, in the 90s, before the internet made its approach seem sluggish and slashed its readership, it was still possible to regard our product as unifying and, in its way, definitive. Sometimes I covered tangible events such as drug epidemics and forest fires, but much of the time I stitched together interviews conducted by local stringers and reporters into feature stories on such topics as “The New Science of Happiness” and “Children of Divorce.” It was an article of faith at Time that the findings of social scientists, simplified for popular consumption, ranked with hard news as a source of public enlightenment. Until business began to suffer, requiring cut-backs, the magazine kept an in-house research library, the better for checking even the smallest facts. The burden of accuracy lay heavy on Time. Its mighty name required nothing less. Things are different now. Every morning, there it is, waiting for me on my phone. The bullshit. It resembles, in its use of phrases such as “knowledgeable sources” and “experts differ,” what I used to think of as the news, but it isn’t the news and it hasn’t been for ages. It consists of its decomposed remains in a news-shaped coffin. It does impart information, strictly speaking, but not always information about our world. Or not good information, because it’s so often wrong, particularly on matters of great import and invariably to the advantage of the same interests, which suggests it should be presumed wrong as a rule. The information it imparts, if one bothers to sift through it, is information about itself; about the purposes, beliefs, and loyalties of those who produce it: the informing class. They’re not the ruling class — not quite — but often they’re married to it or share therapists or drink with it at Yale Bowl football games. They’re cozy, these tribal cousins. They cavort. They always have. What has changed is that the press used to maintain certain boundaries in the relationship, observing the incest taboo. It kept its pants zipped, at least in public. It didn’t hire ex-CIA directors, top FBI men, NSA brass, or other past and future sources to sit beside its anchors at spot-lit news-desks that blocked our view of their lower extremities. But it gave in.  I’m stipulating these points, I’m not debating them, so log off if you find them too extreme. Go read more bullshit. Immerse yourself in news of Russian plots to counterfeit presidential children’s laptops, viruses spawned in Wuhan market stalls, vast secret legions of domestic terrorists flashing one another the OK sign in shadowy parking lots behind Bass Pro Shops experiencing “temporary” inflation, and patriotic tech conglomerates purging the commons of untruths. Comfort yourself with the thoughts that the same fortunes engaged in the building of amusement parks, the production and distribution of TV comedies, and the provision of computing services to the defense and intelligence establishments, have allied to protect your family’s health, advance the causes of equity and justice, and safeguard our democratic institutions. Dismiss as cynical the notion that you, the reader, are not their client but their product. Your data for their bullshit, that’s the deal. And Build Back Better. That’s the sermon. Pious bullshit, unceasing. But what to do?  One option, more popular each day, is to retreat to the anti-bullshit universe of alternative media sources. These are the podcasts, videos, Twitter threads, newsletters, and Facebook pages that regularly vanish from circulation for violating “community standards” and other ineffable codes of conduct, oft-times after failing “fact-checks” by the friendly people at Good Thoughtkeeping. Some of these rebel outfits are engrossing, some dull and churchy, many quite bizarre, and some, despite small staffs and tiny budgets, remarkably good and getting better. Some are Substack pages owned by writers who severed ties with established publications, drawing charges of being Russian agents, crypto-anarchists, or free-speech “absolutists.” I won’t bother to give a list. Readers who hunt and choose among such sources have their own lists, which they fiercely curate, loudly pushing their favorites on the world while accusing those they disagree with of being “controlled opposition” and running cons. It resembles the old punk-rock scene, but after it was discovered, not early on. Some of the upstart outlets earn serious money, garnering higher ratings and more page-views than the regime-approved brands Apple features on the News screen of my iPhone. (A screen I’ve disabled and don’t miss.) This wilderness of “contrarianism” – a designation easily earned these days; you merely have to mention Orwell or reside in Florida -- requires a measure of vigilance and effort from those who seek the truth there. As opposed to those who go there to relax, because they prefer alt-bullshit to mainstream bullshit. They can just kick their shoes off and wade in.  One reason to stick with the premium name-brand bullshit is to deconstruct it. What lines are the propagandists pushing now? Where will they lead? How blatant will they get? Why are the authors so weirdly fearless? The other day when Cuba erupted in protests, numerous stories explained the riots, confidently, instantly, as demands for COVID vaccines. The accompanying photos didn’t support this claim; they featured ragged American flags and homemade signs demanding freedom. One wire-service headline used the protests to raise concerns about viral spread in crowds. A puzzling message. It wasn’t meant for the defiant Cubans, who weren’t at liberty to read it and whose anger at their rulers clearly outweighed their concerns about contagion. It had to be aimed at English-speaking Americans. But to what end? American protests of the previous summer hadn’t raised such cautions from the press. To the contrary. Our riots, if one could call them that (and one could not at many companies) were framed as transcendent cries for justice whose risks to public health were negligible, almost as though moral passion enhances immunity. And maybe it does, but why not in Cuba, too? To me, the headline only made sense in the context of the offensive against domestic “vaccine hesitancy” and its alleged fascist-bumpkin leaders. The Reuters writer had seen in Cuba’s revolt a chance to glancingly editorialize against rebelliousness of another type. The type its staff abhors day in, day out, no matter what’s happening in Cuba, or, for that matter, in America. The bullshit is consistent in this way, reducing stories of every kind into nitrogen-rich soil for the same views. These views feel unusually ferocious now, reflecting the convictions of those on high that they should determine the fates of those on low with minimal backtalk and no laughter. Because science. Because Putin. Democracy. Because we’re inside your phones and know your names.  Engaging with the bullshit news-stream for defensive, deconstructive reasons has been my personal program for a while now. The game can be intellectually amusing and it confers a sense of brave revulsion. I was conditioned to seek this feeling in school, during units on “current events,” when my classmates and I were invited to deplore poverty, pollution, and prejudice. Behind these exercises was the notion that our little lives were isolated, vulnerable affairs loomed over by colossal, distant “trends.” Like bad weather, these trends might sneak up on us and harm us, especially if we ignored them, but unlike bad weather, which came from nature, these grim enormities were human-made and therefore partly our responsibility. This idea promoted magical thinking. Take our sixth-grade war on “smog,” which worsened children’s asthma and killed trees. Smog didn’t bother our Minnesota town but it smothered Los Angeles and other cities, as we learned from mock-newspapers and film strips. We cast spells against it from our desks by drawing pictures of smoky traffic jams. Our teacher called this “showing awareness” and implied it helped. I must have bought this. It explains why I thought being conscious of the bullshit actually accomplished something. The idea of ignoring it entirely raised superstitious fears in me. Unnoticed bad trends might whack me from behind. Also, dropping out seemed immature. Well-adjusted grown-up read the news, if only to curse the news. They read it because other grown-ups read it, creating a common model of the world that might be bullshit but forms a frame of reference for public debate. Then I considered the state of public debate. Judging by Twitter, it wasn’t high. One problem was no matter how well you argued, no matter how strong your evidence and logic, your foes almost never recognized they’d lost. No judges to arbitrate the matches, no rules to guide them, and no trusted sources of facts to balance them. Mostly you just called bullshit on each other, and sometimes you wondered if both of you were right.  Such arguments were sink holes. They never advanced past their own premises.  At times in my life, by happenstance, I’ve dwelled in oblivion, thoroughly news-free. In college in the early 80s I went four years without turning on TV or opening a paper. I learned that President Reagan had been shot from a pilot’s announcement on a plane, then gathered more details when I landed, from a stranger in a cowboy hat. My sense of the wider world derived from classes, books, conversations, works of art, and glimpses of newsstands and magazine racks. I don’t remember feeling deprived. Then, last year, at the height of the pandemic, when everyone else was merging with their screens, I turned my back on the bullshit for two whole months. My father was dying of ALS in his retirement cabin in Montana, out of range of cell-phone towers. It was an overwhelming situation. Disregarding all the latest rules, friends had brought him there in a motorhome from his seniors’ community near Tucson. I needed help lifting him, so I hired a health aid who flew in from Miami, another breach of quarantine. This hazard required the local hospice workers to visit wearing full protective gear and stay outside the cabin in the driveway when passing me my father’s meds and pamphlets on the stages of death. They stuck to this protocol for the first week, then abandoned it so they could see their patient’s face. I lost track of the rules, the days, the virus. I sat at his bedside before his big TV watching reruns of Murder She Wrote, his favorite show, he told me, “Because there’s never any blood.” A former patent attorney with a degree in chemical engineering, a Republican who’d ofted voted Democrat, he’d tuned out the news a few years ago, he said, because it gave him stomach aches. He forbade me to handle the remote lest I land for a moment on CNN while changing channels. He talked about family history, old friends, and had me place phone calls to banks and credit card firms, which he seemed to take pleasure in informing of his any-minute-now demise. I turned on my computer exactly once, to research a narcotic he’d been prescribed, and I peeked at a rundown of election news that curdled my brain with its lazy tropes and buzzwords. To think that people wore out their precious lives consuming and reacting to such bullshit, cycling through the emotions it unleashed, sweating out its bulletins and updates, believing, disputing, and decrying it. And ultimately, in my father’s case, avoiding it. Maybe he should have ignored it all along. Once time grew short, he didn’t mention a bit of it, with one exception: the day John F. Kennedy was shot. He spoke of it three days before he died. He said he was in Washington DC then, working as a law clerk in the same building that housed the Associated Press. He ran to its offices when he heard the news and watched paper spill from the teletype machines and pile on the floor. He told me he regretted not snatching some; those first dispatches might be worth a lot now. I thought about this. One-of-a-kind original paper documents, not identical, infinitely reproducible electronic files. No wonder there was so much bullshit now. It was content. Mere content. Ones and zeros. Lots of zeros, not so many ones. “I’ve always wondered who killed him,” my father said. “It wasn’t Oswald. Not Oswald on his own.” “Who do you think?” It seemed he’d studied the matter. New side of him. Should have spent more time together. “Maybe the Mafia, maybe LBJ. There may have been certain Cubans in the mix. All I know is we didn’t get the truth.” I’m fairly sure we often don’t. Still, it’s hard to give up hope, and today I blew half an hour on the bullshit, under which the truth lies buried. Maybe. Maybe it’s bullshit the whole way down. How much time do you have for finding out? Less than you had this morning. Fact. Tyler Durden Thu, 09/30/2021 - 16:21.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 30th, 2021

These 46 pitch decks helped fintechs disrupting trading, investing, and banking raise millions in funding

Looking for examples of real fintech pitch decks? Check out pitch decks that Qolo, Lance, and other startups used to raise money from VCs. Check out these pitch decks for examples of fintech founders sold their vision.Yulia Reznikov/Getty Images Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech.  Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders sold their vision. See more stories on Insider's business page. Fintech funding has been on a tear.In 2021, fintech funding hit a record $132 billion globally, according to CB Insights, more than double 2020's mark.Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech. Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders are selling their vision and nabbing big bucks in the process. You'll see new financial tech geared at freelancers, fresh twists on digital banking, and innovation aimed at streamlining customer onboarding. New twists on digital bankingZach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradleyHMBradleyConsumers are getting used to the idea of branch-less banking, a trend that startup digital-only banks like Chime, N26, and Varo have benefited from. The majority of these fintechs target those who are underbanked, and rely on usage of their debit cards to make money off interchange. But fellow startup HMBradley has a different business model. "Our thesis going in was that we don't swipe our debit cards all that often, and we don't think the customer base that we're focusing on does either," Zach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradley, told Insider. "A lot of our customer base uses credit cards on a daily basis."Instead, the startup is aiming to build clientele with stable deposits. As a result, the bank is offering interest-rate tiers depending on how much a customer saves of their direct deposit.Notably, the rate tiers are dependent on the percentage of savings, not the net amount. "We'll pay you more when you save more of what comes in," Bruhnke said. "We didn't want to segment customers by how much money they had. So it was always going to be about a percentage of income. That was really important to us."Check out the 14-page pitch deck fintech HMBradley, a neobank offering interest rates as high as 3%, used to raise an $18.25 million Series APersonal finance is only a text awayYinon Ravid, the chief executive and cofounder of Albert.AlbertThe COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the growing preference of mobile banking as customers get comfortable managing their finances online.The financial app Albert has seen a similar jump in activity. Currently counting more than six million members, deposits in Albert's savings offering doubled from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to May of this year, from $350 million to $700 million, according to new numbers released by the company. Founded in 2015, Albert offers automated budgeting and savings tools alongside guided investment portfolios. It's looked to differentiate itself through personalized features, like the ability for customers to text human financial experts.Budgeting and saving features are free on Albert. But for more tailored financial advice, customers pay a subscription fee that's a pay-what-you-can model, between $4 and $14 a month. And Albert's now banking on a new tool to bring together its investing, savings, and budgeting tools.Fintech Albert used this 10-page pitch deck to raise a $100 million Series C from General Atlantic and CapitalG 'A bank for immigrants'Priyank Singh and Rohit Mittal are the cofounders of Stilt.StiltRohit Mittal remembers the difficulties he faced when he first arrived in the United States a decade ago as a master's student at Columbia University.As an immigrant from India, Mittal had no credit score in the US and had difficulty integrating into the financial system. Mittal even struggled to get approved to rent an apartment and couch-surfed until he found a roommate willing to offer him space in his apartment in the New York neighborhood Morningside Heights.That roommate was Priyank Singh, who would go on to become Mittal's cofounder when the two started Stilt, a financial-technology company designed to address the problems Mittal faced when he arrived in the US.Stilt, which calls itself "a bank for immigrants," does not require a social security number or credit history to access its offerings, including unsecured personal loans.Instead of relying on traditional metrics like a credit score, Stilt uses data such as education and employment to predict an individual's future income stability and cash flow before issuing a loan. Stilt has seen its loan volume grow by 500% in the past 12 months, and the startup has loaned to immigrants from 160 countries since its launch. Here are the 15 slides Stilt, which calls itself 'a bank for immigrants,' used to raise a $14 million Series AAn IRA for alternativesHenry Yoshida is the co-founder and CEO of retirement fintech startup Rocket Dollar.Rocket DollarFintech startup Rocket Dollar, which helps users invest their individual retirement account (IRA) dollars into alternative assets, just raised $8 million for its Series A round, the company announced on Thursday.Park West Asset Management led the round, with participation from investors including Hyphen Capital, which focuses on backing Asian American entrepreneurs, and crypto exchange Kraken's venture arm. Co-founded in 2018 by CEO Henry Yoshida, CTO Rick Dude, and VP of marketing Thomas Young, Rocket Dollar now has over $350 million in assets under management on its platform. Yoshida sold his first startup, a roboadvisor called Honest Dollar, to Goldman Sachs' investment management division for an estimated $20 million.Yoshida told Insider that while ultra-high net worth investors have been investing self-directed retirement account dollars into alternative assets like real estate, private equity, and cryptocurrency, average investors have not historically been able to access the same opportunities to invest IRA dollars in alternative assets through traditional platforms.Here's the 34-page pitch deck a fintech that helps users invest their retirement savings in crypto and real estate assets used to nab $8 millionA trading app for activismAntoine Argouges, CEO and founder of TulipshareTulipshareAn up-and-coming fintech is taking aim at some of the world's largest corporations by empowering retail investors to push for social and environmental change by pooling their shareholder rights.London-based Tulipshare lets individuals in the UK invest as little as one pound in publicly-traded company stocks. The upstart combines individuals' shareholder rights with other like-minded investors to advocate for environmental, social, and corporate governance change at firms like JPMorgan, Apple, and Amazon.The goal is to achieve a higher number of shares to maximize the number of votes that can be submitted at shareholder meetings. Already a regulated broker-dealer in the UK, Tulipshare recently applied for registration as a broker-dealer in the US. "If you ask your friends and family if they've ever voted on shareholder resolutions, the answer will probably be close to zero," CEO and founder Antoine Argouges told Insider. "I started Tulipshare to utilize shareholder rights to bring about positive corporate change that has an impact on people's lives and our planet — what's more powerful than money to change the system we live in?"Check out the 14-page pitch deck from Tulipshare, a trading app that lets users pool their shareholder votes for activism campaignsDigital tools for independent financial advisorsJason Wenk, founder and CEO of AltruistAltruistJason Wenk started his career at Morgan Stanley in investment research over 20 years ago. Now, he's running a company that is hoping to broaden access to financial advice for less-wealthy individuals. The startup raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Insight Partners with participation from investors Vanguard and Venrock. The round brings the Los Angeles-based startup's total funding to just under $67 million.Founded in 2018, Altruist is a digital brokerage built for independent financial advisors, intended to be an "all-in-one" platform that unites custodial functions, portfolio accounting, and a client-facing portal. It allows advisors to open accounts, invest, build models, report, trade (including fractional shares), and bill clients through an interface that can advisors time by eliminating mundane operational tasks.Altruist aims to make personalized financial advice less expensive, more efficient, and more inclusive through the platform, which is designed for registered investment advisors (RIAs), a growing segment of the wealth management industry. Here's the pitch deck for Altruist, a wealth tech challenging custodians Fidelity and Charles Schwab, that raised $50 million from Vanguard and InsightRethinking debt collection Jason Saltzman, founder and CEO of ReliefReliefFor lenders, debt collection is largely automated. But for people who owe money on their credit cards, it can be a confusing and stressful process.  Relief is looking to change that. Its app automates the credit-card debt collection process for users, negotiating with lenders and collectors to settle outstanding balances on their behalf. The fintech just launched and closed a $2 million seed round led by Collaborative Ventures. Relief's fundraising experience was a bit different to most. Its pitch deck, which it shared with one investor via Google Slides, went viral. It set out to raise a $1 million seed round, but ended up doubling that and giving some investors money back to make room for others.Check out a 15-page pitch deck that went viral and helped a credit-card debt collection startup land a $2 million seed roundHelping small banks lendTKCollateralEdgeFor large corporations with a track record of tapping the credit markets, taking out debt is a well-structured and clear process handled by the nation's biggest investment banks and teams of accountants. But smaller, middle-market companies — typically those with annual revenues ranging up to $1 billion — are typically served by regional and community banks that don't always have the capacity to adequately measure the risk of loans or price them competitively. Per the National Center for the Middle Market, 200,000 companies fall into this range, accounting for roughly 33% of US private sector GDP and employment.Dallas-based fintech CollateralEdge works with these banks — typically those with between $1 billion and $50 billion in assets — to help analyze and price slices of commercial and industrial loans that previously might have gone unserved by smaller lenders.On October 20th, CollateralEdge announced a $3.5 million seed round led by Dallas venture fund Perot Jain with participation from Kneeland Youngblood (a founder of the healthcare-focused private-equity firm Pharos Capital) and other individual investors.Here's the 10-page deck CollateralEdge, a fintech streamlining how small banks lend to businesses, used to raise a $3.5 million seed roundA new way to assess creditworthinessPinwheel founders Curtis Lee, Kurt Lin, and Anish Basu.PinwheelGrowing up, Kurt Lin never saw his father get frustrated. A "traditional, stoic figure," Lin said his father immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. Becoming part of the financial system proved even more difficult than assimilating into a new culture.Lin recalled visiting bank after bank with his father as a child, watching as his father's applications for a mortgage were denied due to his lack of credit history. "That was the first time in my life I really saw him crack," Lin told Insider. "The system doesn't work for a lot of people — including my dad," he added. Lin would find a solution to his father's problem years later while working with Anish Basu, and Curtis Lee on an automated health savings account. The trio realized the payroll data integrations they were working on could be the basis of a product that would help lenders work with consumers without strong credit histories."That's when the lightbulb hit," said Lin, Pinwheel's CEO.In 2018, Lin, Basu, and Lee founded Pinwheel, an application-programming interface that shares payroll data to help both fintechs and traditional lenders serve consumers with limited or poor credit, who have historically struggled to access financial products. Here's the 9-page deck that Pinwheel, a fintech helping lenders tap into payroll data to serve consumers with little to no credit, used to raise a $50 million Series BAn alternative auto lenderTricolorAn alternative auto lender that caters to thin- and no-credit Hispanic borrowers is planning a national expansion after scoring a $90 million investment from BlackRock-managed funds. Tricolor is a Dallas-based auto lender that is a community development financial institution. It uses a proprietary artificial-intelligence engine that decisions each customer based on more than 100 data points, such as proof of income. Half of Tricolor's customers have a FICO score, and less than 12% have scores above 650, yet the average customer has lived in the US for 15 years, according to the deck.A 2017 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation found 31.5% of Hispanic households had no mainstream credit compared to 14.4% of white households. "For decades, the deck has been stacked against low income or credit invisible Hispanics in the United States when it comes to the purchase and financing of a used vehicle," Daniel Chu, founder and CEO of Tricolor, said in a statement announcing the raise.An auto lender that caters to underbanked Hispanics used this 25-page deck to raise $90 million from BlackRock investors A new way to access credit The TomoCredit teamTomoCreditKristy Kim knows first-hand the challenge of obtaining credit in the US without an established credit history. Kim, who came to the US from South Korea, couldn't initially get access to credit despite having a job in investment banking after graduating college. "I was in my early twenties, I had a good income, my job was in investment banking but I could not get approved for anything," Kim told Insider. "Many young professionals like me, we deserve an opportunity to be considered but just because we didn't have a Fico, we weren't given a chance to even apply," she added.Kim started TomoCredit in 2018 to help others like herself gain access to consumer credit. TomoCredit spent three years building an internal algorithm to underwrite customers based on cash flow, rather than a credit score.TomoCredit, a fintech that lends to thin- and no-credit borrowers, used this 17-page pitch deck to raise its $10 million Series AHelping streamline how debts are repaidMethod Financial cofounders Jose Bethancourt and Marco del Carmen.Method FinancialWhen Jose Bethancourt graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2019, he faced the same question that confronts over 43 million Americans: How would he repay his student loans?The problem led Bethancourt on a nearly two-year journey that culminated in the creation of a startup aimed at making it easier for consumers to more seamlessly pay off all kinds of debt.  Initially, Bethancourt and fellow UT grad Marco del Carmen built GradJoy, an app that helped users better understand how to manage student loan repayment and other financial habits. GradJoy was accepted into Y Combinator in the summer of 2019. But the duo quickly realized the real benefit to users would be helping them move money to make payments instead of simply offering recommendations."When we started GradJoy, we thought, 'Oh, we'll just give advice — we don't think people are comfortable with us touching their student loans,' and then we realized that people were saying, 'Hey, just move the money — if you think I should pay extra, then I'll pay extra.' So that's kind of the movement that we've seen, just, everybody's more comfortable with fintechs doing what's best for them," Bethancourt told Insider. Here is the 11-slide pitch deck Method Financial, a Y Combinator-backed fintech making debt repayment easier, used to raise $2.5 million in pre-seed fundingQuantum computing made easyQC Ware CEO Matt Johnson.QC WareEven though banks and hedge funds are still several years out from adding quantum computing to their tech arsenals, that hasn't stopped Wall Street giants from investing time and money into the emerging technology class. And momentum for QC Ware, a startup looking to cut the time and resources it takes to use quantum computing, is accelerating. The fintech secured a $25 million Series B on September 29 co-led by Koch Disruptive Technologies and Covestro with participation from D.E. Shaw, Citi, and Samsung Ventures.QC Ware, founded in 2014, builds quantum algorithms for the likes of Goldman Sachs (which led the fintech's Series A), Airbus, and BMW Group. The algorithms, which are effectively code bases that include quantum processing elements, can run on any of the four main public-cloud providers.Quantum computing allows companies to do complex calculations faster than traditional computers by using a form of physics that runs on quantum bits as opposed to the traditional 1s and 0s that computers use. This is especially helpful in banking for risk analytics or algorithmic trading, where executing calculations milliseconds faster than the competition can give firms a leg up. Here's the 20-page deck QC Ware, a fintech making quantum computing more accessible, used to raised its $25 million Series BSimplifying quant modelsKirat Singh and Mark Higgins, Beacon's cofounders.BeaconA fintech that helps financial institutions use quantitative models to streamline their businesses and improve risk management is catching the attention, and capital, of some of the country's biggest investment managers.Beacon Platform, founded in 2014, is a fintech that builds applications and tools to help banks, asset managers, and trading firms quickly integrate quantitative models that can help with analyzing risk, ensuring compliance, and improving operational efficiency. The company raised its Series C on Wednesday, scoring a $56 million investment led by Warburg Pincus with support from Blackstone Innovations Investments, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic. Blackstone, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic are also users of Beacon's tech, as are the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Shell New Energies, a division of Royal Dutch Shell, among others.The fintech provides a shortcut for firms looking to use quantitative modelling and data science across various aspects of their businesses, a process that can often take considerable resources if done solo.Here's the 20-page pitch deck Beacon, a fintech helping Wall Street better analyze risk and data, used to raise $56 million from Warburg Pincus, Blackstone, and PIMCOSussing out bad actorsFrom left to right: Cofounders CTO David Movshovitz, CEO Doron Hendler, and chief architect Adi DeGaniRevealSecurityAn encounter with an impersonation hacker led Doron Hendler to found RevealSecurity, a Tel Aviv-based cybersecurity startup that monitors for insider threats.Two years ago, a woman impersonating an insurance-agency representative called Hendler and convinced him that he made a mistake with his recent health insurance policy upgrade. She got him to share his login information for his insurer's website, even getting him to give the one-time passcode sent to his phone. Once the hacker got what she needed, she disconnected the call, prompting Hendler to call back. When no one picked up the phone, he realized he had been conned.He immediately called his insurance company to check on his account. Nothing seemed out of place to the representative. But Hendler, who was previously a vice president of a software company, suspected something intangible could have been collected, so he reset his credentials."The chief of information security, who was on the call, he asked me, 'So, how do you want me to identify you? You gave your credentials; you gave your ID; you gave the one time password. How the hell can I identify that it's not you?' And I told him, 'But I never behave like this,'" Hendler recalled of the conversation.RevealSecurity, a Tel Aviv-based cyber startup that tracks user behavior for abnormalities, used this 27-page deck to raise its Series AA new data feed for bond tradingMark Lennihan/APFor years, the only way investors could figure out the going price of a corporate bond was calling up a dealer on the phone. The rise of electronic trading has streamlined that process, but data can still be hard to come by sometimes. A startup founded by a former Goldman Sachs exec has big plans to change that. BondCliQ is a fintech that provides a data feed of pre-trade pricing quotes for the corporate bond market. Founded by Chris White, the creator of Goldman Sachs' defunct corporate-bond-trading system, BondCliQ strives to bring transparency to a market that has traditionally kept such data close to the vest. Banks, which typically serve as the dealers of corporate bonds, have historically kept pre-trade quotes hidden from other dealers to maintain a competitive advantage.But tech advancements and the rise of electronic marketplaces have shifted power dynamics into the hands of buy-side firms, like hedge funds and asset managers. The investors are now able to get a fuller picture of the market by aggregating price quotes directly from dealers or via vendors.Here's the 9-page pitch deck that BondCliQ, a fintech looking to bring more data and transparency to bond trading, used to raise its Series AFraud prevention for lenders and insurersFiordaliso/Getty ImagesOnboarding new customers with ease is key for any financial institution or retailer. The more friction you add, the more likely consumers are to abandon the entire process.But preventing fraud is also a priority, and that's where Neuro-ID comes in. The startup analyzes what it calls "digital body language," or, the way users scroll, type, and tap. Using that data, Neuro-ID can identify fraudulent users before they create an account. It's built for banks, lenders, insurers, and e-commerce players."The train has left the station for digital transformation, but there's a massive opportunity to try to replicate all those communications that we used to have when we did business in-person, all those tells that we would get verbally and non-verbally on whether or not someone was trustworthy," Neuro-ID CEO Jack Alton told Insider.Founded in 2014, the startup's pitch is twofold: Neuro-ID can save companies money by identifying fraud early, and help increase user conversion by making the onboarding process more seamless. In December Neuro-ID closed a $7 million Series A, co-led by Fin VC and TTV Capital, with participation from Canapi Ventures. With 30 employees, Neuro-ID is using the fresh funding to grow its team and create additional tools to be more self-serving for customers.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that analyzes consumers' digital behavior to fight fraud used to raise a $7 million Series AAI-powered tools to spot phony online reviews FakespotMarketplaces like Amazon and eBay host millions of third-party sellers, and their algorithms will often boost items in search based on consumer sentiment, which is largely based on reviews. But many third-party sellers use fake reviews often bought from click farms to boost their items, some of which are counterfeit or misrepresented to consumers.That's where Fakespot comes in. With its Chrome extension, it warns users of sellers using potentially fake reviews to boost sales and can identify fraudulent sellers. Fakespot is currently compatible with Amazon, BestBuy, eBay, Sephora, Steam, and Walmart."There are promotional reviews written by humans and bot-generated reviews written by robots or review farms," Fakespot founder and CEO Saoud Khalifah told Insider. "Our AI system has been built to detect both categories with very high accuracy."Fakespot's AI learns via reviews data available on marketplace websites, and uses natural-language processing to identify if reviews are genuine. Fakespot also looks at things like whether the number of positive reviews are plausible given how long a seller has been active.Fakespot, a startup that helps shoppers detect robot-generated reviews and phony sellers on Amazon and Shopify, used this pitch deck to nab a $4 million Series AHelping fintechs manage dataProper Finance co-founders Travis Gibson (left) and Kyle MaloneyProper FinanceAs the flow of data becomes evermore crucial for fintechs, from the strappy startup to the established powerhouse, a thorny issue in the back office is becoming increasingly complex.Even though fintechs are known for their sleek front ends, the back end is often quite the opposite. Behind that streamlined interface can be a mosaic of different partner integrations — be it with banks, payments players and networks, or software vendors — with a channel of data running between them. Two people who know that better than the average are Kyle Maloney and Travis Gibson, two former employees of Marqeta, a fintech that provides other fintechs with payments processing and card issuance. "Take an established neobank for example. They'll likely have one or two card issuers, two to three bank partners, ACH processing for direct deposits and payouts, mobile check deposits, peer-to-peer payments, and lending," Gibson told Insider. Here's the 12-page pitch deck a startup helping fintechs manage their data used to score a $4.3 million seed from investors like Redpoint Ventures and Y CombinatorE-commerce focused business bankingMichael Rangel, cofounder and CEO, and Tyler McIntyre, cofounder and CTO of Novo.Kristelle Boulos PhotographyBusiness banking is a hot market in fintech. And it seems investors can't get enough.Novo, the digital banking fintech aimed at small e-commerce businesses, raised a $40.7 million Series A led by Valar Ventures in June. Since its launch in 2018, Novo has signed up 100,000 small businesses. Beyond bank accounts, it offers expense management, a corporate card, and integrates with e-commerce infrastructure players like Shopify, Stripe, and Wise.Founded in 2018, Novo was based in New York City, but has since moved its headquarters to Miami. Here's the 12-page pitch deck e-commerce banking startup Novo used to raise its $40 million Series AShopify for embedded financeProductfy CEO and founder, Duy VoProductfyProductfy is looking to break into embedded finance by becoming the Shopify of back-end banking services.Embedded finance — integrating banking services in non-financial settings — has taken hold in the e-commerce world. But Productfy is going after a different kind of customer in churches, universities, and nonprofits.The San Jose, Calif.-based upstart aims to help non-finance companies offer their own banking products. Productfy can help customers launch finance features in as little as a week and without additional engineering resources or background knowledge of banking compliance or legal requirements, Productfy founder and CEO Duy Vo told Insider. "You don't need an engineer to stand up Shopify, right? You can be someone who's just creating art and you can use Shopify to build your own online store," Vo said, adding that Productfy is looking to take that user experience and replicate it for banking services.Here's the 15-page pitch deck Productfy, a fintech looking to be the Shopify of embedded finance, used to nab a $16 million Series ADeploying algorithms and automation to small-business financingJustin Straight and Bernard Worthy, LoanWell co-foundersLoanWellBernard Worthy and Justin Straight, the founders of LoanWell, want to break down barriers to financing for small and medium-size businesses — and they've got algorithms and automation in their tech arsenals that they hope will do it.Worthy, the company's CEO, and Straight, its chief operating and financial officer, are powering community-focused lenders to fill a gap in the SMB financing world by boosting access to loans under $100,000. And the upstart is known for catching the attention, and dollars, of mission-driven investors. LoanWell closed a $3 million seed financing round in December led by Impact America Fund with participation from SoftBank's SB Opportunity Fund and Collab Capital.LoanWell automates the financing process — from underwriting and origination, to money movement and servicing — which shaves down an up-to-90-day process to 30 days or even same-day with some LoanWell lenders, Worthy said. SMBs rely on these loans to process quickly after two years of financial uncertainty. But the pandemic illustrated how time-consuming and expensive SMB financing can be, highlighted by efforts like the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program.Community banks, once the lifeline to capital for many local businesses, continue to shutter. And demands for smaller loan amounts remain largely unmet. More than half of business-loan applicants sought $100,000 or less, according to 2018 data from the Federal Reserve. But the average small-business bank loan was closer to six times that amount, according to the latest data from a now discontinued Federal Reserve survey.Here's the 14-page pitch deck LoanWell used to raise $3 million from investors like SoftBank.Branded cards for SMBsJennifer Glaspie-Lundstrom is the cofounder and CEO of Tandym.TandymJennifer Glaspie-Lundstrom is no stranger to the private-label credit-card business. As a former Capital One exec, she worked in both the card giant's co-brand partnerships division and its tech organization during her seven years at the company.Now, Glaspie-Lundstrom is hoping to use that experience to innovate a sector that was initially created in malls decades ago.Glaspie-Lundstrom is the cofounder and CEO of Tandym, which offers private-label digital credit cards to merchants. Store and private-label credit cards aren't a new concept, but Tandym is targeting small- and medium-sized merchants with less than $1 billion in annual revenue. Glaspie-Lundstrom said that group often struggles to offer private-label credit due to the expense of working with legacy players."What you have is this example of a very valuable product type that merchants love and their customers love, but a huge, untapped market that has heretofore been unserved, and so that's what we're doing with Tandym," Glaspi-Lundstrom told Insider.A former Capital One exec used this deck to raise $60 million for a startup helping SMBs launch their own branded credit cardsCatering to 'micro businesses'Stefanie Sample is the founder and CEO of FundidFundidStartups aiming to simplify the often-complex world of corporate cards have boomed in recent years.Business-finance management startup Brex was last valued at $12.3 billion after raising $300 million last year. Startup card provider Ramp announced an $8.1 billion valuation in March after growing its revenue nearly 10x in 2021. Divvy, a small business card provider, was acquired by Bill.com in May 2021 for approximately $2.5 billion.But despite how hot the market has gotten, Stefanie Sample said she ended up working in the space by accident. Sample is the founder and CEO of Fundid, a new fintech that provides credit and lending products to small businesses.This May, Fundid announced a $3.25 million seed round led by Nevcaut Ventures. Additional investors include the Artemis Fund and Builders and Backers. The funding announcement capped off the company's first year: Sample introduced the Fundid concept in April 2021, launched its website in May, and began raising capital in August."I never meant to do Fundid," Sample told Insider. "I never meant to do something that was venture-backed."Read the 12-page deck used by Fundid, a fintech offering credit and lending tools for 'micro businesses'Embedded payments for SMBsThe Highnote teamHighnoteBranded cards have long been a way for merchants with the appropriate bank relationships to create additional revenue and build customer loyalty. The rise of embedded payments, or the ability to shop and pay in a seamless experience within a single app, has broadened the number of companies looking to launch branded cards.Highnote is a startup that helps small to mid-sized merchants roll out their own debit and pre-paid digital cards. The fintech emerged from stealth on Tuesday to announce it raised $54 million in seed and Series A funding.Here's the 12-page deck Highnote, a startup helping SMBs embed payments, used to raise $54 million in seed and Series A fundingSpeeding up loans for government contractors OppZo cofounders Warren Reed and Randy GarrettOppZoThe massive market for federal government contracts approached $700 billion in 2020, and it's likely to grow as spending accelerates amid an ongoing push for investment in the nation's infrastructure. Many of those dollars flow to small-and-medium sized businesses, even though larger corporations are awarded the bulk of contracts by volume. Of the roughly $680 billion in federal contracts awarded in 2020, roughly a quarter, according to federal guidelines, or some $146 billion that year, went to smaller businesses.But peeking under the hood of the procurement process, the cofounders of OppZo — Randy Garrett and Warren Reed — saw an opportunity to streamline how smaller-sized businesses can leverage those contracts to tap in to capital.  Securing a deal is "a government contractor's best day and their worst day," as Garrett, OppZo's president, likes to put it."At that point they need to pay vendors and hire folks to start the contract. And they may not get their first contract payment from the government for as long as 120 days," Reed, the startup's CEO,  told Insider. Check out the 12-page pitch deck OppZo, a fintech that has figured out how to speed up loans to small government contractors, used to raise $260 million in equity and debtHelping small businesses manage their taxesComplYant's founder Shiloh Jackson wants to help people be present in their bookkeeping.ComplYantAfter 14 years in tax accounting, Shiloh Johnson had formed a core philosophy around corporate accounting: everyone deserves to understand their business's money and business owners need to be present in their bookkeeping process.She wanted to help small businesses understand "this is why you need to do what you're doing and why you have to change the way you think about tax and be present in your bookkeeping process," she told Insider. The Los Angeles native wanted small businesses to not only understand business tax no matter their size but also to find the tools they needed to prepare their taxes in one spot. So Johnson developed a software platform that provides just that.The 13-page pitch deck ComplYant used to nab $4 million that details the tax startup's plan to be Turbotax, Quickbooks, and Xero rolled into one for small business ownersAutomating accounting ops for SMBsDecimal CEO Matt Tait.DecimalSmall- and medium-sized businesses can rely on any number of payroll, expense management, bill pay, and corporate-card startups promising to automate parts of their financial workflow. Smaller firms have adopted this corporate-financial software en masse, boosting growth throughout the pandemic for relatively new entrants like Ramp and massive, industry stalwarts like Intuit. But it's no easy task to connect all of those tools into one, seamless process. And while accounting operations might be far from where many startup founders want to focus their time, having efficient back-end finances does mean time — and capital — freed up to spend elsewhere. For Decimal CEO Matt Tait, there's ample opportunity in "the boring stuff you have to do to survive as a company," he told Insider. Launched in 2020, Decimal provides a back-end tech layer that small- and medium-sized businesses can use to integrate their accounting and business-management software tools in one place.On Wednesday, Decimal announced a $9 million seed fundraising round led by Minneapolis-based Arthur Ventures, alongside Service Providers Capital and other angel investors. See the 13-page pitch deck for Decimal, a startup automating accounting ops for small businessesInvoice financing for SMBsStacey Abrams and Lara Hodgson, Now co-foundersNowAbout a decade ago, politician Stacey Abrams and entrepreneur Lara Hodgson were forced to fold their startup because of a kink in the supply chain — but not in the traditional sense.Nourish, which made spill-proof bottled water for children, had grown quickly from selling to small retailers to national ones. And while that may sound like a feather in the small business' cap, there was a hang-up."It was taking longer and longer to get paid, and as you can imagine, you deliver the product and then you wait and you wait, but meanwhile you have to pay your employees and you have to pay your vendors," Hodgson told Insider. "Waiting to get paid was constraining our ability to grow."While it's not unusual for small businesses to grapple with working capital issues, the dust was still settling from the Great Recession. Abrams and Hodgson couldn't secure a line of credit or use financing tools like factoring to solve their problem. The two entrepreneurs were forced to close Nourish in 2012, but along the way they recognized a disconnect in the system.  "Why are we the ones borrowing money, when in fact we're the lender here because every time you send an invoice to a customer, you've essentially extended a free loan to that customer by letting them pay later," Hodgson said. "And the only reason why we were going to need to possibly borrow money was because we had just given ours away for free to Whole Foods," she added.Check out the 7-page deck that Now, Stacey Abrams' fintech that wants to help small businesses 'grow fearlessly', used to raise $29 millionCheckout made easyRyan Breslow.Ryan BreslowAmazon has long dominated e-commerce with its one-click checkout flows, offering easier ways for consumers to shop online than its small-business competitors.Bolt gives small merchants tools to offer the same easy checkouts so they can compete with the likes of Amazon.The startup raised its $393 million Series D to continue adding its one-click checkout feature to merchants' own websites in October.Bolt markets to merchants themselves. But a big part of Bolt's pitch is its growing network of consumers — currently over 5.6 million — that use its features across multiple Bolt merchant customers. Roughly 5% of Bolt's transactions were network-driven in May, meaning users that signed up for a Bolt account on another retailer's website used it elsewhere. The network effects were even more pronounced in verticals like furniture, where 49% of transactions were driven by the Bolt network."The network effect is now unleashed with Bolt in full fury, and that triggered the raise," Bolt's founder and CEO Ryan Breslow told Insider.Here's the 12-page deck that one-click checkout Bolt used to outline its network of 5.6 million consumers and raise its Series DPayments infrastructure for fintechsQolo CEO and co-founder Patricia MontesiQoloThree years ago, Patricia Montesi realized there was a disconnect in the payments world. "A lot of new economy companies or fintech companies were looking to mesh up a lot of payment modalities that they weren't able to," Montesi, CEO and co-founder of Qolo, told Insider.Integrating various payment capabilities often meant tapping several different providers that had specializations in one product or service, she added, like debit card issuance or cross-border payments. "The way people were getting around that was that they were creating this spider web of fintech," she said, adding that "at the end of it all, they had this mess of suppliers and integrations and bank accounts."The 20-year payments veteran rounded up a group of three other co-founders — who together had more than a century of combined industry experience — to start Qolo, a business-to-business fintech that sought out to bundle back-end payment rails for other fintechs.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that provides payments infrastructure for other fintechs used to raise a $15 million Series ABetter use of payroll dataAtomic's Head of Markets, Lindsay DavisAtomicEmployees at companies large and small know the importance — and limitations — of how firms manage their payrolls. A new crop of startups are building the API pipes that connect companies and their employees to offer a greater level of visibility and flexibility when it comes to payroll data and employee verification. On Thursday, one of those names, Atomic, announced a $40 million Series B fundraising round co-led by Mercato Partners and Greylock, alongside Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and ATX Capital. The round follows Atomic's Series A round announced in October, when the startup raised a $22 million Series A from investors including Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and Greylock.Payroll startup Atomic just raised a $40 million Series B. Here's an internal deck detailing the fintech's approach to the red-hot payments space.Saving on vendor invoicesHoward Katzenberg, Glean's CEO and cofounderGleanWhen it comes to high-flying tech startups, headlines and investors typically tend to focus on industry "disruption" and the total addressable market a company is hoping to reach. Expense cutting as a way to boost growth typically isn't part of the conversation early on, and finance teams are viewed as cost centers relative to sales teams. But one fast-growing area of business payments has turned its focus to managing those costs. Startups like Ramp and established names like Bill.com have made their name offering automated expense-management systems. Now, one new fintech competitor, Glean, is looking to take that further by offering both automated payment services and tailored line-item accounts-payable insights driven by machine-learning models. Glean's CFO and founder, Howard Katzenberg, told Insider that the genesis of Glean was driven by his own personal experience managing the finance teams of startups, including mortgage lender Better.com, which Katzenberg left in 2019, and online small-business lender OnDeck. "As a CFO of high-growth companies, I spent a lot of time focused on revenue and I had amazing dashboards in real time where I could see what is going on top of the funnel, what's going on with conversion rates, what's going on in terms of pricing and attrition," Katzenberg told Insider. See the 15-slide pitch deck Glean, a startup using machine learning to find savings in vendor invoices, used to raise $10.8 million in seed fundingReal-estate management made easyAgora founders Noam Kahan, CTO, Bar Mor, CEO, and Lior Dolinski, CPOAgoraFor alternative asset managers of any type, the operations underpinning sales and investor communications are a crucial but often overlooked part of the business. Fund managers love to make bets on markets, not coordinate hundreds of wire transfers to clients each quarter or organize customer-relationship-management databases.Within the $10.6 trillion global market for professionally managed real-estate investing, that's where Tel Aviv and New York-based startup Agora hopes to make its mark.Founded in 2019, Agora offers a set of back-office, investor relations, and sales software tools that real-estate investment managers can plug into their workflows. On Wednesday, Agora announced a $9 million seed round, led by Israel-based venture firm Aleph, with participation from River Park Ventures and Maccabee Ventures. The funding comes on the heels of an October 2020 pre-seed fund raise worth $890,000, in which Maccabee also participated.Here's the 15-slide pitch deck that Agora, a startup helping real-estate investors manage communications and sales with their clients, used to raise a $9 million seed roundAccess to commercial real-estate investing LEX Markets cofounders and co-CEOs Drew Sterrett and Jesse Daugherty.LEX MarketsDrew Sterrett was structuring real-estate deals while working in private equity when he realized the inefficiencies that existed in the market. Only high-net worth individuals or accredited investors could participate in commercial real-estate deals. If they ever wanted to leave a partnership or sell their stake in a property, it was difficult to find another investor to replace them. Owners also struggled to sell minority stakes in their properties and didn't have many good options to recapitalize an asset if necessary.In short, the market had a high barrier to entry despite the fact it didn't always have enough participants to get deals done quickly. "Most investors don't have access to high-quality commercial real-estate investments. How do we have the oldest and largest asset class in the world and one of the largest wealth creators with no public and liquid market?" Sterrett told Insider. "It sort of seems like a no-brainer, and that this should have existed 50 or 60 years ago."This 15-page pitch deck helped LEX Markets, a startup making investing in commercial real estate more accessible, raise $15 millionInsurance goes digitalJamie Hale, CEO and cofounder of LadderLadderFintechs looking to transform how insurance policies are underwritten, issued, and experienced by customers have grown as new technology driven by digital trends and artificial intelligence shape the market. And while verticals like auto, homeowner's, and renter's insurance have seen their fair share of innovation from forward-thinking fintechs, one company has taken on the massive life-insurance market. Founded in 2017, Ladder uses a tech-driven approach to offer life insurance with a digital, end-to-end service that it says is more flexible, faster, and cost-effective than incumbent players.Life, annuity, and accident and health insurance within the US comprise a big chunk of the broader market. In 2020, premiums written on those policies totaled some $767 billion, compared to $144 billion for auto policies and $97 billion for homeowner's insurance.Here's the 12-page deck that Ladder, a startup disrupting the 'crown jewel' of the insurance market, used to nab $100 millionData science for commercial insuranceTanner Hackett, founder and CEO of CounterpartCounterpartThere's been no shortage of funds flowing into insurance-technology companies over the past few years. Private-market funding to insurtechs soared to $15.4 billion in 2021, a 90% increase compared to 2020. Some of the most well-known consumer insurtech names — from Oscar (which focuses on health insurance) to Metromile (which focuses on auto) — launched on the public markets last year, only to fall over time or be acquired as investors questioned the sustainability of their business models. In the commercial arena, however, the head of one insurtech company thinks there is still room to grow — especially for those catering to small businesses operating in an entirely new, pandemic-defined environment. "The bigger opportunity is in commercial lines," Tanner Hackett, the CEO of management liability insurer Counterpart, told Insider."Everywhere I poke, I'm like, 'Oh my goodness, we're still in 1.0, and all the other businesses I've built were on version three.' Insurance is still in 1.0, still managing from spreadsheets and PDFs," added Hackett, who also previously co-founded Button, which focuses on mobile marketing. See the 8-page pitch deck Counterpart, a startup disrupting commercial insurance with data science, used to raise a $30 million Series BSmarter insurance for multifamily propertiesItai Ben-Zaken, cofounder and CEO of Honeycomb.HoneycombA veteran of the online-insurance world is looking to revolutionize the way the industry prices risk for commercial properties with the help of artificial intelligence.Insurance companies typically send inspectors to properties before issuing policies to better understand how the building is maintained and identify potential risks or issues with it. It's a process that can be time-consuming, expensive, and inefficient, making it hard to justify for smaller commercial properties, like apartment and condo buildings.Insurtech Honeycomb is looking to fix that by using AI to analyze a combination of third-party data and photos submitted by customers through the startup's app to quickly identify any potential risks at a property and more accurately price policies."That whole physical inspection thing had really good things in it, but it wasn't really something that is scalable and, it's also expensive," Itai Ben-Zaken, Honeycomb's cofounder and CEO, told Insider. "The best way to see a property right now is Google street view. Google street view is usually two years old."Here's the 10-page Series A pitch deck used by Honeycomb, a startup that wants to revolutionize the $26 billion market for multifamily property insuranceHelping freelancers with their taxesJaideep Singh is the CEO and co-founder of FlyFin, an AI-driven tax preparation software program for freelancers.FlyFinSome people, particularly those with families or freelancing businesses, spend days searching for receipts for tax season, making tax preparation a time consuming and, at times, taxing experience. That's why in 2020 Jaideep Singh founded FlyFin, an artificial-intelligence tax preparation program for freelancers that helps people, as he puts it, "fly through their finances." FlyFin is set up to connect to a person's bank accounts, allowing the AI program to help users monitor for certain expenses that can be claimed on their taxes like business expenditures, the interest on mortgages, property taxes, or whatever else that might apply. "For most individuals, people have expenses distributed over multiple financial institutions. So we built an AI platform that is able to look at expenses, understand the individual, understand your profession, understand the freelance population at large, and start the categorization," Singh told Insider.Check out the 7-page pitch deck a startup helping freelancers manage their taxes used to nab $8 million in fundingDigital banking for freelancersJGalione/Getty ImagesLance is a new digital bank hoping to simplify the life of those workers by offering what it calls an "active" approach to business banking. "We found that every time we sat down with the existing tools and resources of our accountants and QuickBooks and spreadsheets, we just ended up getting tangled up in the whole experience of it," Lance cofounder and CEO Oona Rokyta told Insider. Lance offers subaccounts for personal salaries, withholdings, and savings to which freelancers can automatically allocate funds according to custom preset levels. It also offers an expense balance that's connected to automated tax withholdings.In May, Lance announced the closing of a $2.8 million seed round that saw participation from Barclays, BDMI, Great Oaks Capital, Imagination Capital, Techstars, DFJ Frontier, and others.Here's the 21-page pitch deck Lance, a digital bank for freelancers, used to raise a $2.8 million seed round from investors including BarclaysSoftware for managing freelancersWorksome cofounder and CEO Morten Petersen.WorksomeThe way people work has fundamentally changed over the past year, with more flexibility and many workers opting to freelance to maintain their work-from-home lifestyles.But managing a freelance or contractor workforce is often an administrative headache for employers. Worksome is a startup looking to eliminate all the extra work required for employers to adapt to more flexible working norms.Worksome started as a freelancer marketplace automating the process of matching qualified workers with the right jobs. But the team ultimately pivoted to a full suite of workforce management software, automating administrative burdens required to hire, pay, and account for contract workers.In May, Worksome closed a $13 million Series A backed by European angel investor Tommy Ahlers and Danish firm Lind & Risør.Here's the 21-slide pitch deck used by a startup that helps firms like Carlsberg and Deloitte manage freelancersPayments and operations support HoneyBook cofounders Dror Shimoni, Oz Alon, and Naama Alon.HoneyBookWhile countless small businesses have been harmed by the pandemic, self-employment and entrepreneurship have found ways to blossom as Americans started new ventures.Half of the US population may be freelance by 2027, according to a study commissioned by remote-work hiring platform Upwork. HoneyBook, a fintech startup that provides payment and operations support for freelancers, in May raised $155 million in funding and achieved unicorn status with its $1 billion-plus valuation.Durable Capital Partners led the Series D funding with other new investors including renowned hedge fund Tiger Global, Battery Ventures, Zeev Ventures, and 01 Advisors. Citi Ventures, Citigroup's startup investment arm that also backs fintech robo-advisor Betterment, participated as an existing investor in the round alongside Norwest Venture partners. The latest round brings the company's fundraising total to $227 million to date.Here's the 21-page pitch deck a Citi-backed fintech for freelancers used to raise $155 million from investors like hedge fund Tiger GlobalPay-as-you-go compliance for banks, fintechs, and crypto startupsNeepa Patel, Themis' founder and CEOThemisWhen Themis founder and CEO Neepa Patel set out to build a new compliance tool for banks, fintech startups, and crypto companies, she tapped into her own experience managing risk at some of the nation's biggest financial firms. Having worked as a bank regulator at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and in compliance at Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, and the enterprise blockchain company R3, Patel was well-placed to assess the shortcomings in financial compliance software. But Patel, who left the corporate world to begin work on Themis in 2020, drew on more than just her own experience and frustrations to build the startup."It's not just me building a tool based on my personal pain points. I reached out to regulators. I reached out to bank compliance officers and members in the fintech community just to make sure that we're building it exactly how they do their work," Patel told Insider. "That was the biggest problem: No one built a tool that was reflective of how people do their work."Check out the 9-page pitch deck Themis, which offers pay-as-you-go compliance for banks, fintechs, and crypto startups, used to raise $9 million in seed fundingConnecting startups and investorsHum Capital cofounder and CEO Blair SilverbergHum CapitalBlair Silverberg is no stranger to fundraising.For six years, Silverberg was a venture capitalist at Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Private Credit Investments making bets on startups."I was meeting with thousands of founders in person each year, watching them one at a time go through this friction where they're meeting a ton of investors, and the investors are all asking the same questions," Silverberg told Insider. He switched gears about three years ago, moving to the opposite side of the metaphorical table, to start Hum Capital, which uses artificial intelligence to match investors with startups looking to fundraise.On August 31, the New York-based fintech announced its $9 million Series A. The round was led by Future Ventures with participation from Webb Investment Network, Wavemaker Partners, and Partech. This 11-page pitch deck helped Hum Capital, a fintech using AI to match investors with startups, raise a $9 million Series A.Helping LatAm startups get up to speedKamino cofounders Gut Fragoso, Rodrigo Perenha, Benjamin Gleason, and Gonzalo ParejoKaminoThere's more venture capital flowing into Latin America than ever before, but getting the funds in founders' hands is not exactly a simple process.In 2021, investors funneled $15.3 billion into Latin American companies, more than tripling the previous record of $4.9 billion in 2019. Fintech and e-commerce sectors drove funding, accounting for 39% and 25% of total funding, respectively.  However, for many startup founders in the region who have successfully sold their ideas and gotten investors on board, there's a patchwork of corporate structuring that's needed to access the funds, according to Benjamin Gleason, who was the chief financial officer at Groupon LatAm prior to cofounding Brazil-based fintech Kamino.It's a process Gleason and his three fellow Kamino cofounders have been through before as entrepreneurs and startup execs themselves. Most often, startups have to set up offshore financial accounts outside of Brazil, which "entails creating a Cayman [Islands] holding company, a Delaware LLC, and then connecting it to a local entity here and also opening US bank accounts for the Cayman entity, which is not trivial from a KYC perspective," said Gleason, who founded open-banking fintech Guiabolso in Sao Paulo. His partner, Gonzalo Parejo, experienced the same toils when he founded insurtech Bidu."Pretty much any international investor will usually ask for that," Gleason said, adding that investors typically cite liability issues."It's just a massive amount of bureaucracy, complexity, a lot of time from the founders. All of this just to get the money from the investor that wants to give them the money," he added.Here's the 8-page pitch deck Kamino, a fintech helping LatAm startups with everything from financing to corporate credit cards, used to raise a $6.1M pre-seed roundThe back-end tech for beautyDanielle Cohen-Shohet, CEO and founder of GlossGeniusGlossGeniusDanielle Cohen-Shohet might have started as a Goldman Sachs investment analyst, but at her core she was always a coder.After about three years at Goldman Sachs, Cohen-Shohet left the world of traditional finance to code her way into starting her own company in 2016. "There was a period of time where I did nothing, but eat, sleep, and code for a few weeks," Cohen-Shohet told Insider. Her technical edge and knowledge of the point-of-sale payment space led her to launch a software company focused on providing behind-the-scenes tech for beauty and wellness small businesses.Cohen-Shohet launched GlossGenius in 2017 to provide payments tech for hair stylists, nail technicians, blow-out bars, and other small businesses in the space.Here's the 11-page deck GlossGenius, a startup that provides back-end tech for the beauty industry, used to raise $16 millionRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider4 hr. 32 min. ago

Ghislaine Maxwell was sentenced to 20 years in prison for sex-trafficking girls for Jeffrey Epstein. Here"s what we know about the British socialite"s finances and assets.

Ghislaine Maxwell lived in an NYC mansion with links to Jeffrey Epstein and ran a foundation that donated to a charity for victims of sex trafficking. Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell at an event in New York on June 13, 1995.Patrick McMullan via Getty Images The British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was sentenced to 20 years in prison after her conviction in December 2021. Maxwell is said to have been in the inner circle of the late disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. She was found guilty of recruiting victims and abusing them alongside the convicted sex offender. Ghislaine Maxwell was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in prison for trafficking girls to have sex with financier Jeffrey Epstein.The British socialite was one of the most prominent and mysterious figures linked to Epstein, who died by apparent suicide in prison in 2019 while awaiting trial on charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy.In December, she was convicted for acting as Epstein's madam, recruiting and abusing underage victims alongside the convicted sex offender. Maxwell previously denied these allegations.Born in France, Maxwell, 60, is the daughter of Robert Maxwell, the British media mogul who mysteriously drowned after falling or jumping from his yacht near the Canary Islands in 1991. Maxwell moved to New York City from England in 1991, reportedly living off a $100,000-a-year trust fund.Maxwell integrated herself into the city's high society, attending parties, charity galas, and other events with celebrities, presidents, CEOs, and other members of the city's wealthy and powerful elite. For seven years she ran an ocean-conservation nonprofit, which abruptly shut down in July 2019.Until 2016, Maxwell lived in a 7,000-square-foot Manhattan townhouse with links to Epstein. It was sold in 2016 for $15 million.Here's what we know about how Maxwell's finances.The British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell became one of the most prominent and mysterious figures linked to the financier Jeffrey Epstein, who died by apparent suicide in a Manhattan prison in August 2019.Marc Dimov/Patrick McMullan via Getty ImagesMaxwell was sentenced to 20 years in prison for acting as Epstein's madam, recruiting and abusing underage victims alongside the convicted sex offender. Maxwell previously denied any wrongdoing.Born in France, Maxwell is the daughter of the British media mogul Robert Maxwell.Robert and Ghislaine Maxwell watch an Oxford-Brighton football match in October 1984.Staff/Mirrorpix/Getty ImagesRobert Maxwell was a member of Parliament from 1966 to 1970 and the owner of the British tabloid the Daily Mirror.In March 1991, months before his death, he bought the New York Daily News.In England, Maxwell was an Oxford-educated socialite.Ghislaine Maxwell in 1986.Bob Thomas Sports Photography via Getty ImagesMaxwell attended one of England's top private boarding schools and later graduated from Oxford University. She went on to found a social club for women in London.In 1991, Robert Maxwell died while cruising on his yacht, called the Lady Ghislaine after his daughter.The Lady Ghislaine in Spain in 1991.Bruno Bachelet/Paris Match via Getty ImagesHis body was found floating in the Atlantic Ocean after he disappeared from his private yacht. According to The Guardian, it was ruled that he died from a heart attack combined with accidental drowning, but his daughter reportedly believed her father was murdered.After his death, his yacht was sold to an American buyer and is now known as Lady Mona K. The 190-foot-yacht sleeps up to 12 guests in six cabins.Maxwell moved to the US in 1991, reportedly living off a $100,000-a-year trust fund set up by her father.Maxwell at a party at her New York City home on March 13, 2007.Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty ImagesHer father's business was more than $4 billion in debt following his death, so Maxwell didn't move to the US as a lavishly wealthy heiress.The British socialite, about 30 years old at the time, quickly became a staple of the city's high society, rubbing shoulders with celebrities, presidents, CEOs, and other members of the city's wealthy and powerful elite.According to a 2000 article by the New York Post, she started out in New York working in real estate and living off about $100,000 a year from a trust fund set up by her father.Soon after she moved to New York, Maxwell reportedly began a relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.Jeffrey Epstein and Maxwell at a 2005 benefit for Wall Street Rising at Cipriani Wall Street on March 15, 2005.Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty ImagesAccording to the Post, Maxwell started dating Epstein around 1992.Maxwell is said to have introduced Epstein to many of her high-flying friends.Donald Trump, Melania Trump (then Melania Knauss), Epstein, and Maxwell at the Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, in February 2000.Davidoff Studios/Getty ImagesMaxwell reportedly socialized with high-profile people including John F. Kennedy Jr., Donald Trump, Prince Andrew, and the Clinton family.Maxwell introduced Epstein to Bill and Hillary Clinton, whom she knew through their daughter, Chelsea, according to Politico. Maxwell was a guest at Chelsea Clinton's wedding in July 2010.Bill and Chelsea Clinton.GettyAccording to Politico, Maxwell grew close with Chelsea Clinton after her father left office."Ghislaine was the contact between Epstein and Clinton," a person familiar with the relationship told Politico in July. "She ended up being close to the family because she and Chelsea ended up becoming close."When reached for comment by Business Insider, Bari Lurie, Clinton's chief of staff, said Clinton and her husband, Marc Mezvinsky, were not aware of the allegations against Maxwell until 2015."Chelsea and Marc were friendly with her because of her relationship with a dear friend of theirs," Lurie said. "When that relationship ended, Chelsea and Marc's friendship with her ended as well."A person close to Clinton told Business Insider that she and her husband knew Maxwell through a close family friend, Ted Waitt, and that Clinton and Maxwell were never "close."Maxwell was at Clinton's wedding only because she was Waitt's girlfriend at the time, the person said.Waitt cofounded the personal-computing company Gateway in 1985 and is now chairman of the Waitt Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the oceans.Maxwell's social life wasn't confined to New York City.Calvin Klein, Aby Rosen, and Maxwell at a dinner on December 3, 2009, in Miami Beach, Florida.BILLY FARRELL/Patrick McMullan via Getty ImageShe attended events like a dinner in Miami Beach, Florida, hosted by the New York real-estate tycoon Aby Rosen, where guests included the fashion designer Calvin Klein.Maxwell is accused of approaching and recruiting girls to visit Epstein in his mansion in Palm Beach, Florida.Until 2016, Maxwell lived in a $5 million New York townhouse bought by a company with the same address as Epstein's business office.A Google Maps street view of Maxwell's former home.Google MapsTax records reviewed by Business Insider show that the Manhattan townhouse was purchased for $4.95 million in October 2000 by an anonymous corporation with the same address as Epstein's finance office on Madison Avenue.The seller was Lynn Forester.Business Insider was unable to confirm that the seller of the home is the same Lynn Forester who has been linked to Epstein. Lynn Forester de Rothschild, the chair of the E. L. Rothschild family investment office and the wife of the British billionaire financier Sir Evelyn Robert Adrian de Rothschild, was one of the names on Epstein's private-jet log. In October 2000, she was not yet married to de Rothschild.Forester sold the mansion for about $8.5 million less than its assessed market value, which was more than $13.4 million. Forester bought the home in 1997 for $4.475 million, according to tax documents.The 7,000-square-foot home on Manhattan's Upper East Side has 12 rooms, eight fireplaces, and an elevator.Lynn Forester de Rothschild did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.The townhouse Maxwell lived in is about six blocks from Epstein's former home on 71st Street.Google MapsThe home was sold in the spring of 2016 for $15 million.For seven years Maxwell operated an ocean-conservation nonprofit organization, which was abruptly shut down in July.Westchester Digital Summit/YoutubeMaxwell founded the TerraMar Project in 2012 to promote conservancy of the world's oceans.Days after Epstein was arrested on charges of sex trafficking, the organization's website was shut down and now includes only a statement announcing its closure: "The TerraMar Project is sad to announce that it will cease all operations. The web site will be closed ... TerraMar wants to thank all its supporters, partners and fellow ocean lovers."Business Insider's Áine Cain reviewed the nonprofit's tax documents and found that it was a relatively small enterprise. No employee was ever paid more than $100,000, and most of its funds went into website development, office expenses, travel, phone and utilities fees, merchant fees, contractor fees, professional fundraising services, and insurance policies.Maxwell reported working 60-hour weeks and pouring thousands into the organization, but by 2017 TerraMar was $550,546 in the hole in terms of revenue.INSIDER's Ellen Cranley recently reported that investigators were looking into the nonprofit for possible connections to Epstein.Tax documents reviewed by Business Insider show that Epstein donated $57,000 to the organization in the tax year ending in January 2013.Through a private foundation, Maxwell has donated to various charitable organizations — including a charity for victims of sex trafficking.Maxwell in New York in September 2005.Scott Rudd/Patrick McMullan via Getty ImagesAccording to tax filings published by ProPublica and reviewed by Business Insider, Maxwell is the trustee of a philanthropic organization called Max Foundation Tr.Tax filings show that in 2008, Maxwell's foundation donated $350 to Girls Educational & Mentoring Services, a charity whose stated mission is to end the commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of children and young women.When reached by email, Rachel Lloyd, GEMS's founder and CEO, told Business Insider they could not find a record of the donation, noting that it was for less than $500 and that they had changed donor databases since 2008."We would never knowingly accept monies from anyone who was working against [our] mission," Lloyd said. "We fully support all the victims who have been brave enough to come forward against Jeffrey Epstein and hope that they will still be able to find a measure of justice from those [who] perpetuated his crimes."Maxwell's other donations through her foundation include $275 in 2011 to the Madison Square Boys & Girls Club, a chapter of Boys & Girls Clubs of America that provides after-school programs for under-resourced youth in New York City.In 2007, she donated $300 to Hale House, a New York charity that took in homeless infants and toddlers. In 2008, Hale House ended its residential program and became a daycare service known as the Mother Hale Learning Center.The tax filings also show that Maxwell donated $2,500 to the Clinton Library and Foundation in 2003, as well as at least $1,625 from 2003 to 2008 to the Wayuu Taya Foundation, a nonprofit focused on improving the lives of Latin American indigenous communities.According to the tax filings, from 2002 to 2018, Maxwell's foundation held an average of about $20,000 in total assets each year and appeared to be used to make a few small donations per year, possibly to purchase tickets to some of the fundraisers and charity galas at which she was often photographed.The foundation's total recorded assets peaked in the tax year ending in June 2003 at $42,947, according to available tax filings. By 2018, that number had dwindled to $1,245.Maxwell's whereabouts have been unknown, and authorities have had trouble locating her, The Washington Post reported.Kevin Mazur/VF14/Contributor/Getty ImagesThe Post reported on August 11, 2019, that Maxwell was believed to be living abroad and that authorities had not been able to locate her.A Daily Mail report from August 14, 2019, said Maxwell had been living in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, with the tech CEO Scott Borgerson.However, when contacted by Business Insider, Borgerson denied that Maxwell was staying at his house. He said that he had been out of the country traveling for work for the past week and that the house had been empty.Maxwell's legal team did not previously respond to Business Insider's request for comment on her location.But after a year of laying low, Maxwell was arrested by the FBI on July 2, 2020, according to multiple reports.Ghislaine Maxwell at Spring Studios in New York City on October 18, 2019.Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via GettySenior law enforcement officials told News 4 New York, an NBC affiliate, that Maxwell faces "Epstein-related" charges and will appear in federal court in the Southern District of New York later Thursday.Her arrest comes a year after Epstein himself was arrested.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 28th, 2022

Jan. 6 live updates: Trump rattles off a dozen livid social media posts as ex-aide gives explosive testimony to Jan. 6 panel

The House select committee is investigating the Capitol riot and the role Donald Trump and his allies played in trying to overturn the 2020 election. Lawmakers listen as an image of a Trump campaign donation banner is shown behind them during a House January 6 committee hearing.Susan Walsh/AP The House committee investigating the Capitol riot held a surprise hearing on Tuesday. Cassidy Hutchinson, an aide under former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified. Hutchinson said that Trump knew supporters were armed and even tried to get to the Capitol himself. Trump rattles off a dozen livid social media posts as ex-aide gives explosive testimony to Jan. 6 panelA trailer for a documentary that centers on Trump and January 6 was released by Discovery Plus.Seth Herald/Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump on Tuesday unleashed a dozen social media posts in the wake of the testimony of a former top White House aide before the January 6 committee, calling the staffer a "total phony," "third rate social climber' and suggesting she was a "whacko" because of her handwriting."There is no cross examination of this so-called witness. This is a Kangaroo Court!" Trump wrote on his social media platform.In another post, he said that her "body language is that of a total bull…. artist. Fantasy Land!"Read MoreA former Trump White House chief of staff says the latest January 6 hearing provided 'stunning' new evidence of potential criminalityWASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 05: U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney (L) listen to comments during a luncheon with representatives of the United Nations Security Council, in the Cabinet Room at the White House on December 5, 2019 in Washington, DC.Mark Wilson/Getty ImagesTuesday's congressional hearing on the insurrection was a "very, very bad day" for the former president, former Trump White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said.The hearing featured a former White House aide testifying that Donald Trump knew some protesters were armed before they marched to the US Capitol — and that his own top advisors asked for pardons after the January 6 riot."A stunning 2 hours," Mulvaney, a onetime Trump loyalist, posted on Twitter following the testimony of Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Mark Meadows, who succeeded Mulvaney as Trump's White House chief of staff.Keep ReadingA Capitol Police officer injured on January 6 said 'our own president set us up'US Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell wipes his eye as he watches a video being displayed during a House select committee hearing on the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 27, 2021.Jim Bourg/Pool via APA US Capitol Police officer injured during the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol told HuffPost's Igor Bobic "our own president set us up" during the sixth public hearing of the House commitee investigating the Capitol riot. Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, an Army veteran who was in the room during Tuesday's hearing, testified before Congress last year about the injuries he suffered while defending the Capitol. Gonell underwent surgery and was moved to desk duty as a result of the injuries he sustained to his foot and shoulder while being physically attacked by rioters during the Capitol siege."I just feel betrayed," Gonell told Bobic on Tuesday. "The president should be doing everything possible to help us and he didn't do it. He wanted to lead the mob and wanted to lead the crowd himself ... he wanted to be a tyrant." Read MoreCongressman says Trump sent police to the Capitol to be 'potentially slaughtered'Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.Brent Stirton/Getty ImagesDemocratic Rep. Ruben Gallego said US Capitol cops were 'sent to be potentially slaughtered' on January 6 after a former White House staffer gave stunning testimony that former President Donald Trump knew that protesters were armed and heading to the Capitol. "If it wasn't because of this brave 25-year-old woman, we wouldn't even know what was happening," the Arizona lawmaker told reporters at the hearing on Thursday, referring to Cassidy Hutchinson. "This is a very sad moment in our country right now."Read Full StoryFormer top White House aide says Trump's attacks on Pence 'disgusted' herFormer Trump White House aide Cassidy HutchinsonJacquelyn Martin/APFormer top Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson said ex-President Donald Trump's attacks on then-Vice President Mike Pence during the Capitol riot "disgusted" her."I remember feeling frustrated, disappointed, and really, it felt personal, I was really sad," she testified when asked for her reaction to Trump's praise of the rioters on January 6, 2021. "As an American, I was disgusted. It was unpatriotic, it was un-American. We were watching the Capitol building get defaced over a lie." Read Full StoryLiz Cheney shares evidence of witness tampering at Jan. 6 hearingUS Representative Liz CheneyPhoto by OLIVIER DOULIERY/POOL/AFP via Getty ImagesJanuary 6 panel vice chair and GOP Rep. Liz Cheney shared two messages purportedly received by witnesses before their testimony that she said are signs of witness tampering.Cheney shared two messages that she said witnesses had received ahead of their depositions. The witnesses, who Cheney didn't name, subsequently shared the messages with the committee.In one, a witness received a phone call: "[A person] let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know that he's thinking about you. He knows you're loyal, and you're going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition," the caller allegedly said.Witness tampering is a federal crime.Read MoreEx-White House aide said she wanted Mark Meadows to 'snap out of it' during Capitol riotFormer White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.AP Photo/Andrew HarnikTrump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows' former top aide testified that she wanted him to "snap out it" and pay attention to the chaos unfolding at the Capitol building on January 6, 2021.During her testimony before the January 6 committee, Cassidy Hutchinson said she saw Meadows on his couch on his phone as rioters stormed the Capitol building and fought with police.Hutchinson said she asked Meadows: "The rioters are getting really close. Have you talked with the president?"Meadows allegedly replied: "No, he wants to be alone right now."Read Full StoryRudy Giuliani and Mark Meadows both sought pardons from TrumpRudy Guiliani and Mark MeadowsGetty ImagesDonald Trump's lawyer and ex-mayor Rudy Giuliani as well as the president's Chief of Staff Mark Meadows both sought pardons after the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021.That's according to explosive testimony from Meadows' aide during a House hearing investigating the insurrection.Read Full Story Trump threw dishes and flipped tablecloths 'several times' while at the White House: former aideCassidy Hutchinson, a former top aide to Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testifies before the January 6 committee in Washington, DC, on June 28, 2022.Brandon Bell/Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump's temper flared "several times" in the White House, a former top aide says, recounting how he threw dishes and flipped tablecloths in the White House dining room."There were several times throughout my tenure with the chief of staff that I was aware of him [Trump] either throwing dishes or flipping the tablecloth to let all the contents of the table go onto the floor and likely break or go everywhere," said former aide Cassidy Hutchinson.After one outburst, Hutchinson said she had to wipe ketchup off the wall.KEEP READINGFox News host: Trump throwing his lunch isn't 'wholly out of character'Fox News host Martha MacCallum downplayed new revelations about former President Donald Trump's violent outbursts while he attempted to overturn the 2020 election.Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified that Trump threw a plate in the White House dining room after he found out former Attorney General Bill Barr publicly said there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud, leaving "ketchup dripping down the wall."MacCallum said the alleged outburst didn't sound "wholly out of character," even as a Fox News colleague called the revelations "stunning."Read Full StoryDonald Trump says he 'hardly' knows the former top aide who gave damning testimony against himDonald TrumpChet Strange/Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump called the ex-White House aide who gave damning testimony about his actions on January 6 "bad news" and said he "hardly" knew her."I hardly know who this person, Cassidy Hutchinson, is, other than I heard very negative things about her (a total phony and "leaker") ...," Trump wrote in part on his social media platform, Truth.Read Full StoryMike Flynn pleaded the 5th when asked whether the violence on January 6 was justifiedFormer National Security Advisor Michael Flynn at a campaign event in Brunswick, Ohio on April 21, 2022.Dustin Franz/Getty ImagesMike Flynn, a former 3-star general and Trump's national security advisor, waited over a minute before pleading the Fifth Amendment when asked if violence during the Capitol riot was justified.During a House panel on the insurrection, committee vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming aired a clip of Flynn appearing to struggle with the question.Flynn also refused to say whether he supported the peaceful transition of power.Read MoreTrump threw his lunch at the wall after Barr said there wasn't widespread voter fraud: ex-aideCassidy Hutchinson, a top former aide to Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testifies during the sixth hearing by the House Select Committee on the January 6th insurrection in the Cannon House Office Building on June 28, 2022 in Washington, DC.Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty ImagesA former top White House aide testified that ex-President Donald Trump threw his lunch at a wall after then-Attorney General Bill Barr told him there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud."There was ketchup dripping down the wall and there was a shattered porcelain plate on the floor," Cassidy Hutchinson testified on Tuesday before a House panel investigating the Captiol riot on January 6, 2021.Read Full StoryTrump said Mike Pence 'deserves it' as Capitol rioters chanted that he should be hung: ex-aideDonald Trump and former US Vice President Mike Pence in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House on April 2, 2020, in Washington, DC.MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump defended Capitol rioters who were chanting to hang Vice President Mike Pence during the Capitol riot, a top White House aide testified."Mike deserves it," Trump allegedly said, according to testimony from ex-aide Cassidy Hutchinson.Donald Trump also said that the rioters storming the Capitol building "weren't doing anything wrong." Read Full StoryEx-aide says top GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy warned White House officials that Trump shouldn't go to the Capitol on January 6President Donald Trump (R) speaks as he joined by House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) (L) in the Rose Garden of the White House on January 4, 2019 in Washington, DC.Alex Wong/Getty ImagesFormer White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified that top House Republican Kevin McCarthy called White House advisors on January 6, 2021, warning that then-president Donald Trump should not come to the US Capitol.Hutchinson told a House panel that she got a call from McCarthy after Trump's speech on the Ellipse that day. McCarthy wasn't convinced that Trump wasn't planning to make his way to the Capitol building."Well, he just said it on stage, Cassidy. Figure it out. Don't come up here," she testified he said in the call.Read Full StoryTrump lunged at his driver and demanded to be taken to the Capitol on January 6.Former President Donald Trump.AP Photo/Joe MaioranaFormer President Donald Trump lunged at his driver and tried to grab the steering wheel on January 6, 2021, as he demanded to be taken to the Capitol building as his supporters were marching away from his speech that morning, a former aide testified.Cassidy Hutchinson, a former top aide to the then-White House chief of staff, told a House panel investigating the Capitol riot that a Secret Service agent relayed the story of what happened to her.Hutchinson said that Trump "said something to the effect of 'I'm the effing president, take me up to the Capitol now.' "Read Full StoryTrump knew the January 6 crowd was armed, but said 'they're not here to hurt me,' aide testifiesDonald TrumpSeth Herald/Getty ImagesA former White House aide said Donald Trump knew that his supporters were armed on January 6 hours before they stormed the Capitol building."I don't fucking care that they have weapons. They're not here to hurt me," Trump said the morning of the insurrection at the US Capitol, according to former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson.Hutchinson said Trump was incensed that there were gaps in the crowd of his speech on January 6.Read Full StoryTrump was 'fucking furious' armed supporters couldn't get to his speech: former aideFormer White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson.Brandon Bell/Getty ImagesAn ex-White House aide testified that President Donald Trump was "fucking furious" that people in the MAGA crowd weren't able to get to his speech on January 6, 2021 because they were carrying weapons.Trump was insistent that security remove the metal detectors outside the White House so more people with weapons could get into the grounds, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson told the House panel investigating the insurrection.She also quoted the president as saying: "Take the fucking mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here."READ FULL STORY Feds seized John Eastman's phoneJohn Eastman testifies before the House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 4, 2013.Charles Dharapak/APAnother big development emerged Monday in the widening federal criminal probe into Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.This one involves federal agents who seized the phone of John Eastman, a conservative lawyer who advised Trump during his failed bid to stop the inauguration of Joe Biden. Eastman made the feds' move public in a filing with a New Mexico federal court, seeking the return of property from the government.According to his filing, FBI agents acting on behalf of DOJ's internal watchdog stopped Eastman as he was leaving a restaurant in New Mexico on June 22, taking his phone.Read Full StoryCassidy Hutchinson in the spotlightCassidy Hutchinson’s testimony is shown during the fifth January 6 committee hearing on June 23, 2022.Demetrius Freeman-Pool/Getty ImagesCassidy Hutchinson is the surprise lead witness for Tuesday's sixth hearing of the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection.The former top aide under then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is a direct witness to many of the events and discussions of interest to the panel.She's given the committee several important pieces of information, including the six GOP House members who sought pardons from Trump and that the president told Meadows he agreed with rioters demands to "hang" Vice President Mike Pence.Read Full Story Select committee announces surprise hearing.January 6 committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi speaks to reporters following the committee’s fifth hearing on June 23, 2022.Brandon Bell/Getty ImagesThe Jan. 6 select committee announced it would hold a sixth hearing to start Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET during the congressional recess and despite previous statements that it would hold its next hearings in July.A committee advisory said it would present "recently obtained evidence" and feature witnesses, whom it did not name.Read Full StoryKamala Harris said she commended her vice presidential predecessor Mike Pence for 'courage' in certifying Biden as president despite Trump's pressureVice President Kamala Harris.Al Drago-Pool/Getty ImagesVice President Kamala Harris said Monday that she commended former Vice President Mike Pence for certifying Joe Biden as president on January 6 despite him facing tremendous pressure by former President Donald Trump to overturn the election. "I think that he did his job that day," Harris said in a CNN interview after reporter Dana Bash asked her whether her opinion of Pence had changed. "And I commend him for that because clearly it was under extraordinary circumstances that he should have not had to face. And I commend him for having the courage to do his job."This month the House Select Committee probing the January 6 Capitol attack has detailed how Trump tried to push Pence not to recognize Biden's victory in the days leading up to January 6, 2021. Trump wanted Pence to "send back" slates of electors for Biden back to their states in order to overturn his election loss. But Pence put out an open letter saying he didn't have the authority to take such actions, and his role in the certification process was largely ceremonial.Read Full StoryKevin McCarthy says it's 'all good' between him and Trump as the former president fumes about the lack of Republicans on the Jan. 6 committee: 'The right decision was the decision I made'Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and President Donald Trump.Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times/POOL/Getty ImagesHouse Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Monday that everything is good between him and Donald Trump as the former president publicly questions whether it was wise to keep more Republicans off of the House January 6 committee."The right decision was the decision I made," McCarthy told Fox News' Dana Perino. "If other people change their opinion, read the rules and I think they'll come back to the same conclusion." The former president and McCarthy have talked recently, according to the top House Republican. When Perino asked if things were "all good?" McCarthy responded, "Oh, all good. Yes."McCarthy repeated his long-held defense of the decision, arguing that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would have only selected Republicans that would have fit her views. The California Republican then named three of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump as examples of people Pelosi would have supported.Read Full StoryHow to watch the House January 6 committee hearings on the Capitol attackVideo featuring former President Donald Trump’s White House senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is played during a hearing by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol in the Cannon House Office Building on June 13, 2022 in Washington, DC. Stepien, who was scheduled to testify in person, was unable to attend due to a family emergency. The bipartisan committee, which has been gathering evidence for almost a year related to the January 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol, will present its findings in a series of televised hearings. On January 6, 2021, supporters of former President Donald Trump attacked the U.S. Capitol Building during an attempt to disrupt a congressional vote to confirm the electoral college win for President Joe Biden.Photo by Alex Wong/Getty ImagesThe House Select Committee Investigating the January 6 Insurrection at the US Capitol is bringing to light its findings from a year's worth of work with a series of public hearings this summer. The select committee, formed in May 2021, has nine members, seven Democrats, including Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, and two Republicans, Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. Its members and staff have spent the past year conducting hundreds of closed-door interviews, poring over hundreds of thousands of documents, and parsing phone and email records to reconstruct how President Donald Trump and his allies sought to overturn his 2020 election loss before a mob of pro-Trump rioters breached the US Capitol in an effort to stop the final certification of the 2020 election. Five public hearings, including one in primetime, have already taken place, and one more hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, June 28. Read Full StoryJanuary 6 hearing takeaways: Pardon pleas, more Bill Barr, and a riveting account of how Trump turned to the Justice Department and a loyal lawyer to 'help legitimize his lies'TheBill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)Spanning more than two hours in the late afternoon, the House January 6 committee's fifth public hearing captured the drama that unfolded inside the Justice Department and White House as Trump looked to some of the country's most senior and important law enforcement officials to help him remain in power.READ FULL STORYMatt Gaetz 'personally' pushed for a pardon from Trump 'from the beginning of time up until today, for any and all things,' Trump officials testifyRepublican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida at the White House on May 8, 2020.Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty ImagesThe January 6 committee aired a series of video testimonies from former Trump administration officials detailing which Republican members of Congress sought pardons from former President Donald Trump at the end of his term as he and his allies exhausted different avenues to stay in power.Most prominently featured: Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida.According to various officials who spoke with the committee, Gaetz began pushing for a pardon well before other Republicans who were involved in the attempt to overturn the 2020 election."Mr. Gaetz was personally pushing for a pardon, and he was doing so since early December," said Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, in testimony aired by the committee on Thursday.READ FULL STORYFox News cut away from the Jan. 6 hearing minutes before testimony by Trump aides about GOP lawmakers who sought pardonsPlaque at the entrance to Fox News headquarters in New YorkErik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty ImagesJust as former Department of Justice Officials were detailing how they threatened to resign en masse if former President Donald Trump went ahead with his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, Fox News cut away to air its previously scheduled talk show, "The Five."CNN and MSNBC aired the hearings in full, which ended with Rep. Adam Kinzinger listing six GOP lawmakers whom Trump aides testified sought pardons in the administration's final weeks.Other than the first of the five hearings so far, Fox News has carried the proceedings without commercial breaks, save for recesses during the proceedings.READ FULL STORYDOJ officials threatened to resign if Jeffrey Clark was appointed Attorney GeneralJeff ClarkYuri Gripas-Pool/Getty ImagesTop officials at the US Department of Justice threatened to resign if former President Donald Trump succeeded in making loyalist Jeff Clark the acting Attorney General, per testimony before the January 6 committee on Thursday.Richard Donoghue, former acting deputy attorney general, said that the pledge to resign was made on a phone call in the wake of reports that Trump was considering installing Clark, who at the time was promoting unfounded conspiracy theories about the 2020 election."They would resign en masse if the president made that change," Donoghue told the committee. "All without hesitation said they would resign."At least six GOP members of Congress sought pardons after January 6, 2021, per testimony from a former White House aideRep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., joined from left by Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks at a news conference about the treatment of people being held in the District of Columbia jail who are charged with crimes in the Jan. 6 insurrection, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021.J. Scott Applewhite/APCassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified Wednesday before the January 6 House panel that at least six House members asked the White House for a pardon following the Capitol siege.According to Hutchinson, Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania requested pardons.The former White House aide added that GOP Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio asked for an "update on whether the White House is going to pardon members of Congress" but did not personally ask for one.Keep Reading Trump suggested sending letter to states alleging 2020 election fraud, a former acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen testifiedFormer acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen has already testified about Trump's efforts to pressure DOJ.Yuri Gripas-Pool/Getty ImagesFormer acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen said on Thursday that then-President Donald Trump suggested that the Justice Department send letters to state legislatures in Georgia and other states alleging that there was voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election despite knowing there was no such evidence.Rosen told lawmakers on the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection that during Trump's final days in office, the former president and his campaign suggested several strategies for the Justice Department to overturn the presidential election results. These tactics included filing a lawsuit with the Supreme Court, making public statements, and holding a press conference."The Justice Department declined all of those requests that I was just referencing because we did not think they were appropriate based on the facts and the law, as we understood," Rosen said.Read MoreA former Trump DOJ official testified that former President Donald Trump urged him and other officials to 'just say the election was corrupt'Notes from Richard Donoghue displayed at the January 6 committee's hearing on June 23, 2022.Screenshot / C-SPANThe January 6 committee on Thursday displayed scans of notes taken by Richard Donoghue, then the acting deputy attorney general serving out the final days of the Trump administration.One note, displayed as Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois led the committee's questioning, included an apparent plea from then-President Donald Trump to "just say the election was corrupt" and "leave the rest to me and the [Republican] congressmen."Read Full StoryBill Barr says he's 'not sure we would have had a transition at all' to Biden if DOJ hadn't investigated Trump's baseless voter fraud claimsFormer Attorney General Bill Barr and former President Donald TrumpDrew Angerer/Getty ImagesFormer Attorney General William Barr said he was "not sure we would have had a transition at all" if the Justice Department had not investigated Donald Trump's claims of widespread voter fraud and found them baseless.In a closed-door deposition, Barr suggested to the House committee investigating the January 6 attack that Trump might not have left office voluntarily if DOJ had not proactively examined the election fraud claims ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration. Read Full Story'You would be committing a felony'Eric Herschmann spoke to the Jan. 6 committee on Thursday.Senate Television via APFormer White House attorney Eric Herschmann told the committee that he brutally mocked a plan from a Trump loyalist to hijack control of the Justice Department in a last-ditch effort to overturn the 2020 election."And when he finished discussing what he planned on doing, I said, 'good, fucking, excuse me, f-ing, a-hole, congratulations you just admitted that your first step or act you would take as attorney general would be committing a felony and violating rule 6c," Herschmann told the panel, per an excerpt of his previously private deposition that was released on Thursday.Read Full Story  Fast times in the CapitolActor Sean Penn and DC Metropolitan Police Department officer Daniel Hodges at the January 6 committee hearing on Capitol Hill on June 23, 2022.AP Photo/Jacquelyn MartinSean Penn is in the House.The actor and well known Hollywood activist made an unexpected appearance at the fifth hearing of the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection. "I'm just here to observe — just another citizen," Penn told a CNN reporter. "I think we all saw what happened on January 6 and now we're looking to see if justice comes on the other side of it."Read Full StoryLiz Cheney is mailing instructions to Democrats on how to change parties and vote for her in Wyoming's GOP primaryU.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) Vice Chairwoman of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, delivers remarks during a hearing on the January 6th investigation on June 9, 2022.Win McNamee/Getty ImagesAs Rep. Liz Cheney faces a tough reelection battle in Wyoming, she's turning to Democrats in her home state to help her chances in the August 16 Republican primary.Cheney's campaign has mailed instructions to Wyoming Democrats on how to change their party affiliation to vote for the incumbent congresswoman, The New York Times reported on Thursday. Under Wyoming law, voters must be registered as a Democrat or a Republican in order to vote in that party's primary election. Read Full StoryFeds search home of former top Trump DOJ officialJeff ClarkYuri Gripas-Pool/Getty ImagesWe've got a major development that surfaced Thursday into what appears to be a widening federal investigation into Donald Trump's bid to overturn the 2020 presidential election.Federal investigators on Wednesday searched the Northern Virginia home of Jeff Clark, a former top Justice Department official who became the go-to Trump ally trying to push DOJ into backing the then-president's baseless claims about voter fraud.ABC News first reported this, and a DOJ spokesperson has since confirmed to Insider's Ryan Barber that law enforcement activity did indeed happen in the Washington DC suburb where Clark lives. The spokesperson wouldn't comment on the nature of the activity or about any specific individuals.Expect to hear Clark's name a couple times or more during Thursday's House select committee hearing as the panel examines Trump's efforts to use DOJ in his bid to stop Joe Biden from being sworn in as the country's 46th president.Read Full Story#unprecedentedA trailer for a documentary that centers on Trump and January 6 was released by Discovery Plus.Seth Herald/Getty ImagesHere's something that doesn't show up on the internet very often: a 30-second trailer for a new three-part documentary taking people behind the scenes of Donald Trump's presidency and the January 6 insurrection.But that's exactly what landed online late Wednesday via Discovery+, which shows footage of the new series titled "Unprecedented." The clip features Trump and his adult children Ivanka, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump and closes with the ex-president himself agreeing to discuss the riot at the US Capitol. —discovery+ (@discoveryplus) June 23, 2022House January 6 investigators have the documentary footage too, courtesy of a subpoena that Politico reported about. And Trump allies were apparently in the dark about the filming, with one texting Rolling Stone: "what the fuck is this?"Read Full Story Hearings to resume at 3 p.m. ET Thursday with testimony expected from former DOJ officialsFormer Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.Yuri Gripas-Pool/Getty ImagesThe January 6 commission's fifth hearing is expected to start at 3 p.m. Thursday, with testimony expected from former Trump-administration Justice Department officials. They are:Jeffrey Rosen, former acting attorney generalRichard Donoghue, former acting deputy attorney generalSteven Engel, former assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal CounselRosen served as acting attorney general in the final weeks of Trump's presidency. He previously told the committee how he came under persistent pressure from Trump to have the DOJ back Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election, as Insider's C. Ryan Barber reported.Toward the end of his presidency, Trump considered ousting Rosen and installing Jeffrey Clark, a supporter of the bogus voter-fraud claims, in his place, but ultimately decided not to after officials threatened to resign if he went through.Analysis: Trump shot himself in the foot by opposing a bipartisan Jan. 6 commission because now he has no allies to defend him in scathing public hearingsLawmakers listen as an image of a Trump campaign donation banner is shown behind them during a House January 6 committee hearing.Susan Walsh/APAs the House's January 6 committee lays out in devastating detail Donald Trump's effort to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election, the former president is turning his anger on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Trump has complained about McCarthy's decision to boycott the panel, with the former president telling the Punchbowl newsletter on Wednesday: "Republicans don't have a voice. They don't even have anything to say."But Trump has no one but himself to blame for the situation, one of his Republican critics pointed out, as he was the one who opposed the formation of a bipartisan commission equally split between Republicans and Democrats to investigate the riot. Read Full StoryTrump is hate-watching every Jan. 6 hearing and almost screams at the TV because he feels nobody is defending him, report saysDonald TrumpJoe Raedle/Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump is hate-watching the January 6 committee hearings, incensed because he believes nobody is defending him, according to The Washington Post.Trump is at "the point of about to scream at the TV" as he tunes in to each hearing, one unnamed close advisor told the paper. Another in his circle, also unnamed, told the paper that Trump continually complains that "there's no one to defend me" at the hearings, which have attracted huge amounts of media coverage.Per The Post, Trump's anger centers on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who boycotted the committee at its formation, passing up the chance to put pro-Trump figures on the panel.Read Full StoryDOJ issued subpoenas to alleged fake Trump electors and a Trump campaign official, reports sayA general view shows a House January 6 committee hearing on Capitol Hill on June 9, 2022.Mandel Ngan/POOL/AFP via Getty ImagesThe Justice Department expanded its investigation into the Capitol riot after issuing subpoenas to a would-be Trump elector in Georgia and a Trump campaign official who worked in Arizona and New Mexico, The Washington Post and The New York Times reported Wednesday.Arizona, Georgia, and New Mexico are among the seven battleground states where a failed effort to overturn the election took place by appointing pro-Trump electors.The news comes after Rep. Adam Schiff said the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection obtained evidence that former President Donald Trump was involved in the aforementioned scheme.Read Full StoryTrump aides didn't know someone was filming Trump on January 6 until the House committee got the footage: reportsPresident Donald Trump listens as Jared Kushner speaks in the Oval Office of the White House on September 11, 2020.Andrew Harnik/AP PhotoAides to Donald Trump had no idea a documentary maker filmed the former president on January 6, 2021, until the House committee investigating that day subpoenaed the footage, reports said. The existence of the footage by UK documentarian Alex Holder was first reported by Politico on Tuesday.The outlet said that Holder complied with the House committee request and handed over several months of footage of Trump up to and including January 6. The New York Times reported that many top Trump advisors were surprised by news of the project, which was known to only a small circle of close Trump aides.Read Full StoryIvanka Trump claimed to believe Trump's false voter-fraud theories but later told Jan. 6 panel she didn't, report saysIvanka Trump.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesIvanka Trump claimed to believe former President Donald Trump's false voter-fraud theories in a December 2020 interview, directly contradicting her testimony to congressional investigators earlier this year, a new report says.In April 2022, Trump had told the House committee investigating the Capitol riot that she had "accepted" former Attorney General Bill Barr's assessment that Donald Trump's claims of election fraud were wrong.But according to The New York Times, Ivanka Trump told the documentary filmmaker Alex Holder on December 10, 2020 — nine days after Barr made the assessment that supposedly swayed her — that she supported her father's efforts to challenge the 2020 election results.She said Trump should "continue to fight" the 2020 election results because Americans were questioning the "sanctity of our elections."Read Full StoryElection worker testifies that conspiracy theorists tried to citizen's arrest her grandmother after lies from Trump, GiulianiWandrea "Shaye" Moss, a former Georgia election worker, is comforted by her mother Ruby Freeman, right, during the House January 6 committee's hearing.AP Photo/Jacquelyn MartinA Georgia election worker testified that her grandmother faced a citizen's arrest by a group of election deniers who tried pushing their way into her house due to election lies told by former President Donald Trump and former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.Wandrea "Shaye" Moss, an election worker in Fulton County, Georgia, told lawmakers during a January 6 select committee hearing that she and her mother Ruby Freeman, who worked as a short-term election worker in 2020, were among the workers counting ballots at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. When Giuliani and Trump accused those workers of orchestrating election fraud, Moss said her family faced death threats and were pushed out of town, living in Airbnbs for two months around January 6 at the FBI's recommendation.Moss said she endured racist harassment as well, adding that a group of people influenced by the election conspiracies showed up to her grandmother's house and tried to perform a citizen's arrest.Read Full StoryWhere's Pat Cipollone?Former White House Counsel Pat CipolloneAlex Wong/Getty ImagesPaging Pat Cipollone.The former White House counsel under then-President Donald Trump is now front and center as a top witness the House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection still wants to hear from.That's according to Rep. Liz Cheney, who publicly called Tuesday for Cipollone to testify about evidence the committee has collected showing that he "tried to do what was right" as  Trump pushed to overturn the 2020 election.Cheney also noted that the House panel is also "certain" Trump doesn't want Cipollone to testify. His previous job as Trump's top White House attorney could complicate the matter, though as Insider's Ryan Barber points out in his story, Bill Barr did participate in its investigation.Read Full StorySexualized texts, a break-in and doxxingsGeorgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is sworn in to testify on Tuesday before the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.Jacquelyn Martin/AP PhotoTuesday's House select committee featured jaw-dropping testimony from election officials who detailed the threats they faced after refusing to go along with then President Donald Trump's bid to overturn the 2020 election results.One big dose of it came from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who explained how he received texts from all over the US and eventually his wife became a target of harassment too. "My wife started getting the texts and hers typically came in as sexualized texts, which were disgusting," Raffensperger said during his testimony before the January 6 committee. "You have to understand that Trish and I met in high school and we have been married over 40 years now. They started going after her I think to probably put pressure on me: 'Why don't you just quit and walk away?'" Raffensperger also testified about Trump supporters who broke into the home of his daughter-in-law, a widow with two children. And he said his phone and email were doxxed, meaning that someone had posted the number and email publicly so that people would message him. Read Full StoryDeath threatsWandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, a former Georgia election worker, is sworn in before January 6 committee on June 21, 2022.Kevin Dietsch/Getty ImagesA Black former Georgia election worker delivered stark testimony on Tuesday about the racist and deadly threats that came when President Donald Trump publicly attacked her and her mother amid his drive to overturn the 2020 election results.Insider's Bryan Metzger has more on the remarks from Wandrea ArShaye "Shaye" Moss, a veteran election official in Fulton County who ended up on the receiving end of myriad threats after Rudy Giuliani specifically named her and her mom when speaking to the Georgia state Senate."They included threats, a lot of threats wishing death upon me," Moss said. "Telling me that, you know, I'll be in jail with my mother, and saying things like, 'Be glad it's 2020 and not 1920.'" Read Full Story'We were just kind of useful idiots'Former President Donald Trump speaks during a rally in Delaware, Ohio, on April 23, 2022.Drew Angerer/Getty Images"We were just kind of useful idiots, or rubes at that point."That's a quote from former Donald Trump 2020 campaign staffer Robert Sinner describing to the House January 6 investigators his displeasure with a scheme to overturn now-President Joe Biden's 2020 victory in Georgia.Sinner's remarks were broadcast in a video recording shown during Tuesday's select committee hearing, Insider's John Dorman reports.Read Full Story Suspicious package found outside House hearing roomThe House panel investigating the January 6 insurrection.Photo by Jabin Botsford-Pool/Getty ImagesThe House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection kept on going Tuesday despite a suspicious package being found right outside the hearing room where the panel was meeting.Insider's Lauren Frias reported that the US Capitol Police officials did issue an all-clear about an hour after first sending out its alert. The police advised staff and visitors on the premises to stay away from the area during the incident. A Fox News producer tweeted that the package appeared to be an unattended backpack on top of a walker outside of the House building.Read Full Story'Do not give that to him'Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and former Vice President Mike Pence.Drew Angerer and Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty ImagesGOP Sen. Ron Johnson sought to deliver a slate of "alternate" electors to then-Vice President Mike Pence ahead of the counting of votes during a Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021.That's according to a series of eye-catching text messages first displayed by the January 6 committee on Tuesday, Insider's Bryan Metzger reported."Johnson needs to hand something to VPOTUS please advise," Sean Riley, Johnson's chief of staff, wrote of the materials that were related to "alternate" electors from two contested Midwestern states that Democratic nominee Joe Biden had narrowly carried: Michigan and Wisconsin. "What is it?" replied Chris Hodgson, a legislative aide to Pence."Alternate slate of elector for MI and WI because archivist didn't receive them," Riley replied."Do not give that to him," Hodgson replied.Read Full StoryRudy admitted to not having election fraud evidenceRudy Giuliani, former lawyer for President Donald Trump.William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC Newswire/NBCUniversal via Getty ImagesRudy Giuliani admitted to not having any evidence of election fraud after the 2020 presidential election despite repeatedly claiming he did, according to the Republican speaker of the Arizona state House."My recollection, he said, 'We've got lots of theories, we just don't have the evidence,'" Russell "Rusty" Bowers, the Arizona official, said in describing a conversation with then-President Donald Trump's personal attorney.Bowers, a Trump supporter, was testifying on Tuesday before the House January 6 select committee to recount his interactions with Giuliani and the Trump legal team surrounding the events of the last presidential election.He called the Trump team "a tragic parody" and compared them to the 1971 comedy "The Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight."Read Full Story A very real threat to the 2022 midtermsCouy Griffin, a central figure in a New Mexico county's refusal to certify recent election results based on debunked conspiracy theories about voting machines, has avoided more jail time for joining the mob that attacked the US Capitol.AP Photo/Gemunu AmarasingheThe House select committee's January 6 hearings have spotlighted the very real threat to future US elections, including the midterms coming up this November.That's the big takeaway from a story by Insider's Grace Panetta published Tuesday that looks at how a court had to intercede after New Mexico county commission initially refused to certify results from the state's June 7 primary."The election denial movement pushed by Trump and his allies that spurred so many to attack the Capitol on January 6 has now fanned out to county commissions, town halls, and polling places around the country, presenting wholly novel burdens on election officials and new threats to the health of American democracy," Grace wrote.Read Full StoryTrump is ready to abandon attorney John Eastman after he was criticized in committee hearings, report saysJohn Eastman at a pro-Trump rally on January 6, 2021.Jim Bourg/ReutersFormer President Donald Trump sees no reason to defend the conservative attorney John Eastman, Rolling Stone reported.The decision the outlet relayed came in light of the heavy scrutiny of Eastman in the Congressional Jan. 6 committee hearings, which detailed his role helping Trump try to overturn the 2020 election.Eastman wrote a memo detailing a last-ditch plan for Vice President Mike Pence to block Joe Biden's certification as president on January 6, 2021, at the Congressional proceeding which was interrupted by the Capitol riot.Citing two sources close to Trump, the outlet reported that the committee's focus on Eastman in its public hearings had bothered Trump, and that Trump has started distancing himself from the attorney.READ FULL STORYFull list of witness testifying on June 21Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers is among those scheduled to testify in the committee's June 21 hearing.AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, FileInsider's Warren Rojas has a roster of those scheduled to appear in the committee's public hearings. See the full list below.Read Full StoryJan. 6 committee subpoenas filmmaker who interviewed Trump before and after the riotTrump speaks to supporters from the Ellipse near the White House on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC.Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty ImagesThe January 6 committee sent a subpoena to Alex Holder, a documentary filmmaker who interviewed Trump before and after the Capitol riot, Politico's Playbook newsletter reported Tuesday.The existence of this footage had never been reported before, and Holder is expected to fully cooperate with the panel, Playbook reported.Holder also spent several months interviewing members of Trump's family, including his children Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Playbook reported.The subpoena asked Holder to provide any raw footage he might have from the Capitol riot and interviews with Trump, his family, and former Vice President Mike Pence, as well as any footage he has of discussions about voter fraud in the 2020 election.Trump boasts he's been impeached twice and screams 'nothing matters!' amid ongoing January 6 hearingsFormer President Donald Trump gives the keynote address at the Faith and Freedom Coalition during their annual conference on June 17, 2022, in Nashville, Tennessee.Seth Herald/Getty ImagesFormer President Donald Trump on Friday bragged that he was impeached twice, while recycling his false claims about the 2020 election and attacking former Vice President Mike Pence and former Attorney General William Barr.Delivering a speech to the Faith and Freedom Coalition in Nashville, the former president said Pence didn't have the courage to embrace his effort to overturn the election and mocked Barr for being "afraid" of getting impeached."What's wrong with being impeached? I got impeached twice and my poll numbers went up," Trump said.Read Full StoryGinni Thomas says she 'can't wait' to talk to Jan. 6 committee after it asks for interview over her efforts to overturn 2020 electionGinni ThomasChip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesGinni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, said she "can't wait' to talk to the House January 6 commission after it asked to interview her over her efforts to overturn the 2020 election."I can't wait to clear up misconceptions. I look forward to talking to them," Thomas told the right-wing news site The Daily Caller. She did not say what those misconceptions might be.Her comments come after the House Select Committee investigating the Capitol riot announced that it had requested an interview with her. Rep. Bennie Thompson, the committee's chairman, said the panel wanted to talk to her "soon," Axios reported.Thomas faces scrutiny over her connections to former President Donald Trump's attempts to overturn the 2020 election. Read Full StoryEven on the day of the Capitol riot, Rudy Giuliani was still doubtful if Mike Pence had the power to overturn the election, says ex-Trump lawyerRudy Giuliani.Jacquelyn Martin/APEric Herschmann, a former Trump White House lawyer, revealed on Thursday that even on the morning of the Capitol riot, Rudy Giuliani was still debating whether then-Vice President Mike Pence had the power to overturn the votes in the 2020 election. Herschmann's testimony was aired on Thursday during the third of six public hearings organized by the January 6 committee investigating the Capitol riot. Thursday's session centered on the pressure exerted by the Trump camp in a bid to get Pence to overturn the vote.Herschmann said he received a call "out of the blue" from Giuliani on the morning of January 6, 2021, concerning what Pence's role would be that day."And, you know, he was asking me my view and analysis and then the practical implications of it," Herschmann said, who described the call as an "intellectual discussion." "And when we finished, he said, like, 'I believe that, you know, you're probably right.'" Read Full StoryMike Pence's former lawyer said he warned Trump's camp that overturning votes would lead to the 2020 election being 'decided in the streets'Then-US President Donald Trump arrives with then- Vice President Mike Pence for a "Make America Great Again" rally in Michigan on November 2, 2020.PhoPhoto by Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty ImagesA lawyer for former Vice President Mike Pence said that he strongly disagreed with conservative lawyer John Eastman about the Trump camp's plan to overturn the 2020 election result and warned Eastman that it might lead to violence in the streets.Testifying on Thursday before the January 6 panel investigating the Capitol riot, Greg Jacob said he had spoken to Eastman on January 5, 2021. During their conversation, Jacob said he expressed his "vociferous disagreement" with the plan for Pence to overturn the electoral vote on behalf of former President Donald Trump and send the votes back to their respective states. "Among other things, if the courts did not step in to resolve this, there was nobody else to resolve it," Jacob testified. Read Full StoryDemocracy on the brinkPeople arrive before a hearing of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 16, 2022.Drew Angerer/Pool Photo via APAmerican democracy was on the brink like no time ever before.That's the lede paragraph from Insider's Grace Panetta in her story that sums up the biggest takeaways from Thursday's historic and marathon third public hearing of the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol.Grace writes that the two lead witnesses, Greg Jacob and Michael Luttig, were steeped in legal expertise and constitutional scholarship as they explained at a granular and methodical level why neither the Electoral Count Act nor the 12th Amendment permitted then-Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally reject Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden.Then-President Donald Trump and one of his personal legal advisors, John Eastman, were pushing the vice president to do exactly that in a break with all of US history. Read Full StoryMAGA world a "clear and present danger to American democracy"Michael Luttig, a retired federal judge who was an adviser to former Vice President Mike Pence, looks at Greg Jacob, former counsel to Vice President Mike Pence, as he testifies before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 16, 2022.J. Scott Applewhite/AP PhotoFormer President Donald Trump and his supporters remain a "clear and present danger to American democracy."Those were the startling words of Michael Luttig, a retired federal judge who has long been championed by Republicans. He made them near the end of Thursday's marathon House select committee hearing into the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol.Luttig, who advised then-Vice President Mike Pence about his ceremonial role on January 6, also went on to say Trump world is being more than blunt about its plans to manipulate the results of the next election for the White House. "The former president and his allies are executing that blueprint for 2024 in open and plain view of the American public," Luttig testified, per Insider's Warren Rojas. Read Full Story'1 more relatively minor violation' of election law...please?Former Trump legal adviser John EastmanAP Photo/Susan WalshIt's perhaps one of the biggest bombshells to come out of Thursday's House select committee hearing on the Capitol insurrection: a Trump lawyer putting in writing a request to break the law.The no-no came from John Eastman, who sent an email at 11:44 p.m. on the night of January 6, 2021, repeated his demand that Vice President Mike Pence halt the proceedings to certify the 2020 election and send it back to the states for a period of 10 days."So now that the precedent has been set that the Electoral Count Act is not quite so sacrosanct as was previously claimed, I implore you to consider one more relatively minor violation and adjourn for 10 days to allow the legislatures to finish their investigations, as well as to allow a full forensic audit of the massive amount of illegal activity that has occurred here," Eastman wrote to Pence lawyer Greg Jacob.Insider's Jake Lahut writes that the Eastman email was sent after Jacob and the then-vice president's staff and family, had been sheltering in place in a secure location during the riot.Read Full StoryEastman asked Giuliani to be added to Trump's pardon listJohn Eastman appeared onstage with Rudy Giuliani at the pro-Trump rally that preceded the January 6 attack on the Capitol.Jim Bourg/ReutersThe House panel investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol made some news on Thursday by disclosing evidence that conservative lawyer John Eastman wanted to get added to lame-duck President Donald Trump's pardon list.Eastman was pushing to overturn the 2020 election, and as Insider's Oma Seddiq reports, his efforts prompted an email to personal Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. "I've decided I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works," Eastman wrote  to Giuliani, according to Rep. Pete Aguilar, a lawmaker on the January 6 panel who read the email during Thursday's hearing. Eastman ultimately did not receive a pardon. Read Full StoryAides say Trump called Pence 'P-word' and 'wimp' on Jan. 6 callTrump and Pence at a White House event on July 13, 2020.AP Photo/Evan VucciThe language got pretty profane in the White House on the morning of January 6, 2021, Insider's Bryan Metzger reports.That's according to former aides who testified to the House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection about a call then-President Donald Trump made to Mike Pence, his vice president."I remember hearing the word 'wimp'. Either he called him a wimp — I don't remember if he said, 'you are a wimp, you'll be a wimp' — wimp is the word I remember," said Nicholas Luna, a former assistant to Trump.Julie Radford, who served as Ivanka Trump's chief of staff, told the committee that Ivanka told her that the president "just had an upsetting conversation with the Vice President" in which he called Pence "the P-word."Read Full Story'Secret' MAGA back channel Jan. 6 investigators are teasing is also Oath Keepers' legal defenseStewart Rhodes, founder of the citizen militia group known as the Oath Keepers speaks during a rally outside the White House in Washington, on June 25, 2017.Susan Walsh/APThe House January 6 investigators keep on teasing how there'll soon be upcoming testimony that reveals secret coordination between Trumpworld and extremist groups.But as Insider's Laura Italiano points out in a new story, the Oath Keepers have long boasted of such a back channel.In fact, leader and founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes and other members of the pro-Trump militia are staking their seditious-conspiracy defense case on these yet-described communications with rally organizers.Read Full StoryCruz wanted the ex-judge testifying against Trump as a SCOTUS justiceRepublican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and retired Judge Michael Luttig.AP Photos/Manuel Balce Ceneta and Susan WalshThere's an interesting twist to the retired conservative federal Judge Michael Luttig testifying as a key witness in Thursday's January 6 committee hearing.Insider's Bryan Metzger dug up video from the 2016 GOP presidential primary debates showing Luttig was once named by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas as an ideal Supreme Court nominee.—bryan metzger (@metzgov) June 16, 2022 Bryan writes that it was "yet another example of just how much former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results has divided the conservative legal world."Read Full Story   DOJ: House's 'failure' to share transcripts hurting Jan. 6 investigationsTrump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington.Brent Stirton/Getty ImagesMore public tension is emerging between the Justice Department and the House panel investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol.Insider's Ryan Barber has the details on a new letter sent Wednesday from the top US attorney in Washington DC to the House panel. There, the DOJ official says that the House panel has complicated criminal cases with its 'failure' to turn over interview transcripts to prosecutions.DOJ is looking for access to more than 1,000 interviews the congressional panel has conducted during its months-long examination of the Capitol attack and former President Donald Trump's effort to overturn the 2020 election.Read Full StoryJudge Luttig: If Pence tossed valid electoral votes it would have been 'a revolution'Michael Luttig, a retired federal judge who was an adviser to former Vice President Mike Pence, testifies Thursday to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.AP Photo/Susan WalshSome really powerful testimony to start Thursday's January 6 select committee hearing from former federal judge J. Michael Luttig.In his opening remarks, he told the panel investigating the insurrection at the US Capitol that Vice President Mike Pence overturning the 2020 election would've pushed the country into 'the first constitutional crisis since the founding of the republic.'"That declaration of Donald Trump as the next president would have launched America into what I believe would have been tantamount to a revolution within a constitutional crisis in America which in my view would have been the first constitutional crisis since the founding of the Republic," Luttig told lawmakers during a hearing Thursday. Read Full StoryFormer Pence counsel says 'the law is not a plaything' for presidentsVice President Mike PenceScott J. Applewhite/APMike Pence's former counsel Greg Jacob is a lead witness in Thursday's third public hearing for the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.In his written statement submitted before the hearing, Jacob called serving the vice president "the honor of a lifetime," while also warning that the rule of law is "not a plaything" for political leaders to bend per their whim."The law is not a plaything for presidents or judges to use to remake the world in their preferred image," he wrote. "Our Constitution and our laws form the strong edifice within which our heartfelt policy disagreements are to be debated and decided."Insider's Grace Panetta has more on Jacob's testimony and spells out why he was a key figure in rebuffing the intense pressure campaign and efforts to compel Pence to obstruct or meddle with the count. Read Full StoryJanuary 6 committee says it will 'soon' seek interview with Ginni ThomasConservative activist Ginni Thomas and January 6 committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi.AP Photos/Susan Walsh and J. Scott ApplewhiteConservative activist Ginni Thomas, the wife of conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, should be expecting an interview request soon from the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol."We think it's time that we, at some point, invite her to come talk to the committee," Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Democratic chair of the panel, told Axios' Andrew Solender. He added that the invitation would come "soon."Thomas has recently come under scrutiny for her role in seeking to overturn the 2020 election, including emailing Trump lawyer John Eastman and pressuring 29 state legislators in Arizona to overturn the state's 2020 election results.Read Full Story  Meet the former Trump attorney starring in the January 6 hearingEric Herschmann, former White House attorney, speaks with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol on June 13, 2022.(House Select Committee via APAnyone remember Eric Herschmann? The White House attorney burst into the national spotlight defending President Donald Trump during his first Senate impeachment trial way back in the early pre-pandemic days of 2020.Now he's back, but for a very different reason.That's the story that Oma Seddiq just delivered for Insider readers ahead of Thursday's House January 6 hearing profiling Herschmann. He's been in the news as video clips make the rounds of his testimony where he talks about warning Trump and his allies after the presidential election that there was no proof the race was rigged and stolen, and their efforts may be illegal. In addition to his colorful language, Herschmann has drawn notice because he gave his deposition in a room with a baseball bat hanging on the wall and the word "JUSTICE" inscribed on it in bold, white letters. Observers also have noted a large painting behind him of a panda, by the artist Rob Pruitt, is similar to one that appeared in the 2015 erotic drama "50 Shades of Grey."Read Full StoryNick Quested explains how it felt to testify before the January 6 committeeBritish filmmaker Nick Queste.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 28th, 2022