On the Prowl

On the Prowl

From the March 2010 issue

Free-and Regulated

With the Obama administration's attempts to impose Net Neutrality (tantamount to a "Fairness Doctrine" for the Internet) via the Federal Communications Commission bogging down, it appears those in the White House who want to regulate the Internet are looking for new ways to do so.

In a speech in late January, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton focused on the issue of free speech in China and elsewhere and the need for the Internet to be "open" and protected by those governments that value free speech.

"That speech was the opening salvo for what we hope will lead to a kind of Internet treaty negotiated some of the global institutions we have in place," says a U.S. State Department source. "It could actually be negotiated through the U.S. Trade Representative or through State and Commerce Departments."

As envisioned by the Obama administration, an Internet treaty would include a regulatory component. "Someone has to monitor the Internet and make sure that what happened in Iran during the protests or in China with the hacking doesn't happen," says the State Department source, who would not guess where the regulatory body would reside.

Hoosier President

While Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels denies any interest, there continue to be whispers in Washinton that some Republicans are hoping to persuade the two-term Hoosier governor to consider a race for the Republican presidential nomination. Daniels, who has kept Indiana on solid budget footing while most other states struggled, and who was able to get a true health insurance reform plan through the legislature, has cited his wife's lack of interest to see him pursue national office. Likewise, he has thus far declined to consider challenging Sen. Evan Bayh during the 2010 cycle, largely due to concerns about the Indiana economy.

Rahm Mates

With all the talk about circular firing squads inside the Obama White House, it shouldn't come as a surprise that some senior White House officials with strong ties to President Obama believe that chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is badmouthing his colleagues while speaking to reporters on deep background or off the record.

"We know he talks to a lot of the national press, and it just seems there are some fairly high ranking White House officials tearing us down," says a current White House aide. "[Rahm] isn't necessarily an Obama guy, and that's where the rumors are starting."

An Obama Foursome

Apparently, if you want to cheat on your wife or spurn the mother of your unborn child, easily settle your institution's criminal efforts to aid Americans from paying their federal income taxes, or just avoid paying your own fair share, the place to be is on President Barack Obama's economic recovery advisory board. Because that's where Robert Wolf, chief executive of UBS Group Americas, the U.S. arm of one of Switzerland's largest banks, UBS AG, sits, as do Charles E. Phillips, president of Oracle Corporation, Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Maybe they like to get together to compare notes.

Roberts' parent bank, UBS AG, agreed last year to pay the U.S. government $780 million to settle accusations that it helped more than 52,000 American clients to defraud the Internal Revenue Service by hiding their wealth overseas to avoid paying income taxes. The White House claims that it determined that Wolf's wing of the company was not involved, but according to a former Obama White House Counsel staffer, internal White House research determined that just about every client involved in this scam at one time or another was a client of UBS Group America.

Philips became an instant celebrity in January when his former mistress paid for billboards highlighting his philandering ways in San Francisco, Atlanta, and New York. Philips, who reportedly has reconciled with
his wife, kept his mistress housed in an $11 million estate near his corporate headquarters in the
Bay Area, and bought the estate through the use of shell corporations in Nevada.

Orszag recently dumped his pregnant girlfriend to become engaged with an ABC News reporter he recently met at a Washington dinner. And, lastly, Geithner famously was found not to have properly paid his federal incomes taxes prior to his confirmation to the Cabinet.

According to the former White House Counsel aide, who was transferred from that office after the resignation of White House Counsel Gregory Craig, each of the above executives answered "No" to Question 10S of the SF-86 supplement form traditionally filled out by potential nominees for presidential appointments.

The question:

10S. Is there anything in your personal life that could be used by someone to coerce or blackmail you or is there anything in your life that could cause an embarrassment to you or the President if publicly known?
__Yes __No. If so, please provide full details.

But to date, neither Roberts nor Philips has been formally vetted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. "There may have been preliminary work done, but those kinds of commissions aren't a high priority," says the former counsel office aide. "Then again, Van Jones wasn't properly vetted, either."

Steele Wars

Despite successes in gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey and the Massachusetts Senate race, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele continues to take hits from within his
own party. He was recently criticized for holding the party's winter meeting in Hawaii. And senior Republican Party leaders continue to mount whispering campaigns against Steele, portraying him as a money-grubbing, unethical opportunist, who will put personal political goals before the party's. The latest rumors started before Steele left for Hawaii: that he attempted to have the RNC buy a private jet to ease his travel itineraries.

RNC sources say there is no truth to the rumor. "You hear these things all the time. Six months ago, he was buying furniture for his home using RNC funds," says a current RNC aide. "Now it's a private jet. For whatever reason, people in this party can't get over having a man who actually wants to lead in that leadership position. He's ruffled feathers, but he's also doing a good job, and the recent victories show that."

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