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The Paper Trail: June 4, 2024

Racial Disparities in Medicaid Re-enrollment; Billions Laundered Through U.S. Real Estate; Trump Conviction News Roundup; and More. 

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The Paper Trail

Announcements

House staff are invited to join the Office of the Whistleblower Ombuds and speakers from district offices for a virtual fireside chat on Thursday, June 13 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. EDT. Speakers will discuss tips for working with whistleblower constituents and oversight sources from a district office perspective. For more information, see the Office’s events page.

Top stories for June 4, 2024

Embattled Social Security watchdog to resign after tumultuous tenure: Social Security Administration Inspector General Gail Ennis, who took office in January 2019, announced on Friday she will resign at the end of the month. Bipartisan pressure had been building in Congress for President Biden to fire Ennis after reports of falling productivity and morale, complaints of whistleblower retaliation, and blowback from her handling of an anti-fraud program. (Lisa Rein, Washington Post)

Lawmakers expensed millions in 2023 under new program that doesn’t require receipts: A new, taxpayer-funded program is intended to make it easier for lawmakers to cover the cost of maintaining separate homes in D.C. and their home districts. But critics warn that its reliance on the honor system and lack of transparent record-keeping makes it ripe for abuse. (Jacqueline Alemany, Clara Ence Morse, and Liz Goodwin, Washington Post)

Research finds significant racial disparities in Medicaid re-enrollment: Black and Hispanic Americans were twice as likely as white Americans to lose Medicaid last year because of an inability to complete renewal forms, according to a new study. More than 22 million low-income people have lost health care coverage at some point since April 2023, when the policy allowing continuous enrollment lapsed. (Noah Weiland, New York Times)

Report flags over $2.6B laundered through U.S. commercial real estate: At least $2.6 billion of illicit or suspicious funds were invested in U.S. commercial real estate — including apartments, shopping malls, and supermarkets — over the last 20 years. (Eve Sampson and Joanna Robin, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists)

Billions in taxpayer dollars now go to religious schools via vouchers: A substantial share of the roughly 4.7 million students attending private schools in the U.S. attend religious schools and benefit from vouchers — a number that is expected to grow. (Laura Meckler and Michelle Boorstein, Washington Post)

Trump Conviction:

Even as Trump is found guilty, his attacks take toll on judicial system

Multiple Trump witnesses have received significant financial benefits from his businesses, campaign

Trump supporters try to dox jurors and post violent threats after his conviction

Trump faces travel ban to 37 countries

Marco Rubio, Rick Scott won’t support Biden appointments, budget requests after verdict

Visibly distressed Putin pals shaken up by verdict

Israel-Hamas War

Two more U.S. officials resign over Biden administration’s position on Gaza war: Alexander Smith, a contractor for USAID, and Stacy Gilbert, a State Department official, quit over U.S. policy toward Gaza, saying that the administration isn’t telling the truth about Israeli obstruction of humanitarian assistance to Gaza. To date, nine Biden administration officials have publicly resigned over the policy, and at least two dozen more have quit without a public declaration. (Julian Borger, The Guardian)

Republicans advance sanctions on International Criminal Court: The White House, however, threw a wrench in Republicans’ plans last week when it announced that, while in favor of some punitive response to the ICC’s proposed war crime charges against Israeli leaders, the administration doesn’t support sanctioning the global court. (Mychael Schnell and Mike Lillis, The Hill)

Insurrection

Jan. 6 rioter attending Fauci hearing sparks fury: Brandon Fellows, who was convicted for his role in the insurrection and is currently on probation, was removed yesterday from a House hearing where Dr. Anthony Fauci was testifying. (Khaleda Rahman,Newsweek)

Police Misconduct

The little-known reason counties keep building bigger jails: architecture firms: All over the country, architecture firms create studies and assessments that recommend bigger jails — then get hired to design them. Such blatant conflicts typically occur in areas where local public safety agencies operate with little scrutiny. (Amanda Abrams, The Intercept)

Political Misbehavior

Revenge: Analysis of Trump posts shows relentless focus on punishing enemies: Donald Trump on his Truth Social platform has threatened dozens of times to use the federal government to go after Joe Biden during a second Trump administration. He also threatened or suggested that the FBI and DOJ should take action against senators, judges, members of Biden’s family, and non-governmental organizations. (David Smith, The Guardian)

COVID-19

In the pandemic, we were told to keep 6 feet apart. There’s no science to support that: Although experts agree that social distancing saved lives, Dr. Anthony Fauci characterized the CDC recommendation as “an empiric decision that wasn’t based on data.” (Dan Diamond, Washington Post)

Defense and Veterans Affairs

Former Navy vice chief charged in purported bribery scheme: Robert Burke, a former four-star admiral who briefly served as the second-most senior Navy officer, was arrested last week for allegedly participating in a contract bribery scheme while commanding U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa. If convicted, Burke faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. (Justin Katz, Breaking Defense)

Air Force unit resumes intel ops after Discord leak: The Air National Guard unit once home to Airman 1st Class Jack Teixeira, who was sentenced to 16 years in prison for leaking hundreds of classified documents on the online platform Discord, will resume its intelligence operations this week. (Audrey Decker, Defense One)

House committee chair applauds suspension of three top VA cops amid harassment allegations: Rep. Mike Bost said whistleblowers at the Atlanta VA Medical Center informed Congress of claims of sexual harassment, retaliation, and misconduct within the center’s police department, and applauded the VA’s move to suspend three police officers at the facility. (Carten Cordell, Government Executive)

Business and Finance

Big Food, big profits, big lies: As food costs have skyrocketed for Americans, some of the country’s biggest chains and grocery brands have blamed the price hikes on supply chain issues and inflation. But behind the scenes, these companies have expanded profits and authorized billions of dollars in lucrative stock buyback programs and dividend payouts. (Veronica Riccobene, The Lever)

CFPB sues PHEAA over student loan bankruptcy discharges: The CFPB claims the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, one of the nation’s largest private student loan servicers, collected private student loans that were already discharged by bankruptcy courts and sent false information about consumers to credit reporting companies. (Bianca Quilantan, Politico)

🔎 See Also: Consumer protection agency goes after “repeat offenders” (Taylor Giorno, The Hill)

Appeals court blocks Fearless Fund from awarding grants to Black women: Fearless Fund, a venture capital firm dedicated to funding businesses founded by women of color, was sued by a group led by affirmative-action opponent Edward Blum, whose lawsuits against Harvard and the University of North Carolina culminated with the Supreme Court overturning race-conscious college admissions last year. (Julian Mark and Taylor Telford, Washington Post)

Infrastructure

A crypto boom in oil country squeezes the grid: The most prolific oil-producing region in the U.S. is now home to bitcoin miners and digital data centers, forcing more electricity demand onto a Texas power grid that is increasingly plagued by blackouts. (Joel Kirkland, Politico)

Health Care

Wall Street is making house calls: Big insurers and private equity firms are snapping up companies that provide in-home care for the elderly and disabled. Their goal: to wring ever greater profits from a largely government-funded industry fighting the Biden administration’s plan to raise wages for its notoriously underpaid workforce. (Merrill Goozner, The Lever)

Childbirth deadlier for Americans, especially Black women, study finds: According to a new report, childbirth is deadlier in the U.S. than in any other high-income nation. A shortage of maternity care providers, limited access to after-birth home visits, and lack of guaranteed paid parental leave have increased the risk of maternal mortality, especially for Black people. (Sabrina Malhi, Washington Post)

An obscure drug discount program stifles use of federal lifeline by rural hospitals: Nationwide, only about two dozen of the more than 1,500 eligible hospitals have become rural emergency hospitals since the Rural Emergency Hospital program launched last year. At the same time, rural hospitals continue to close — 10 since the fix became available. (Sarah Jane Tribble, KFF Health News)

ICYMI

Immigration and Border Security:

Biden expected to sign executive order restricting asylum

Faith-based groups that assist migrants become targets of extremists

Texas Guard moves to new border base after living in temporary lodging

Other News:

At center of Alito controversy, a flag celebrated by extremists

Guantánamo prosecutors accused of “outrageous” misconduct for trying to use torture testimony

Investors, worried they can’t beat lawmakers in stock market, copy them instead

The Lunch-Meat Mafia: How a corrupt billionaire butcher family ended up controlling the country’s meat supply

FTC preparing lawsuit over alcohol pricing

Merrick Garland, three special counsels and a Justice Department under fire

USPS workers are attacked by dogs every day. Here are the U.S. cities with the most bite attacks

A Mazda, a gift bag of $120,000 and a dismissed juror

Upcoming Events

📌 AI, Misinformation, and the 2024 Elections. Johns Hopkins University and Vox Media. Monday, June 10, 5:30 p.m. - 7:15 p.m., Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Center, 555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC.

Nominations & Appointments

Appointments

  • Brian Bryant - Member, President’s Export Council
  • John F. Cordisco - Member, United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad
  • Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar - Member, President’s Intelligence Advisory Board
  • Shawn P. Fain - Member, President’s Export Council
  • Ronald S. Moultrie - Member, President’s Intelligence Advisory Board
  • Calvin Smyre - Member, President’s Intelligence Advisory Board