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Secret Empires: How the American Political…
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Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and… (edition 2019)

by Peter Schweizer (Author)

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#1 New York Times Bestseller! Peter Schweizer has been fighting corruption--and winning--for years. In Throw Them All Out, he exposed insider trading by members of Congress, leading to the passage of the STOCK Act. In Extortion, he uncovered how politicians use mafia-like tactics to enrich themselves. And in Clinton Cash, he revealed the Clintons' massive money machine and sparked an FBI investigation. Now he explains how a new corruption has taken hold, involving larger sums of money than ever before. Stuffing tens of thousands of dollars into a freezer has morphed into multibillion-dollar equity deals done in the dark corners of the world. An American bank opening in China would be prohibited by US law from hiring a slew of family members of top Chinese politicians. However, a Chinese bank opening in America can hire anyone it wants. It can even invite the friends and families of American politicians to invest in can't-lose deals. President Donald Trump's children have made front pages across the world for their dicey transactions. However, the media has barely looked into questionable deals made by those close to Barack Obama, Joe Biden, John Kerry, Mitch McConnell, and lesser-known politicians who have been in the game longer. In many parts of the world, the children of powerful political figures go into business and profit handsomely, not necessarily because they are good at it, but because people want to curry favor with their influential parents. This is a relatively new phenomenon in the United States. But for relatives of some prominent political families, we may already be talking about hundreds of millions of dollars. Deeply researched and packed with shocking revelations, Secret Empires identifies public servants who cannot be trusted and provides a path toward a more accountable government.… (more)
Member:Macspee
Title:Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends
Authors:Peter Schweizer (Author)
Info:Harper Paperbacks (2019), Edition: Reprint, 352 pages
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Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends by Peter Schweizer

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Secret Empires: How Our Politicians Hide Corruption and Enrich Their Families and Friends, Peter Shweizer, author; Charles Constant, narrator
This is a brief, eye-opening exposé of the subtle, if not criminal, than surely unethical, behavior of the people we elect to represent us. Because the rules governing the behavior of our elected officials only cover themselves and their spouses, their children and other family members and friends, use, or are encouraged to use, their relationship to them, to elevate themselves to positions of power that oftentimes includes extremely high, often unwarranted, salaries. They enter the employ of companies and sit on boards for which they are completely unqualified. Without giving away too much information, I will just give a brief summary of what our elected officials do to enrich themselves, their families and their friends.
A wide range of elected officials are involved, and they cross party lines, although the most nefarious situation was that of the son and stepson of Joe Biden and John Kerry. Hunter Biden and Christopher Heinz, along with their friend Devon Archer, created an investment fund with financial help from the vast fortune of Mrs. Kerry, Teresa Heinz. As time went buy, this fund grew, enabling the “kids” to attract a variety of influential clients. Their business dealings enabled China to gain a real estate foothold in America, to gain control of mining interests and technology that could compromise the United States, and more. They received large payments from the Ukraine, from a company under investigation, an investigation that Joe Biden halted! Yet all of these deals were done under an umbrella that is legal, though certainly unethical. China while guilty of using these so-called “princelings” to advance their expansion in the South China Sea, also used them to invest in companies that would provide them with information on our weapon systems, and our satellite systems, as well. The “children” used their own names to gain influence in many businesses and to enrich themselves with fortunes that most of us could not even dream of attaining. These kids started a company, that, like a tree, sprouted many branches, each one further adding to their loot. They embedded themselves into businesses that they knew nothing about and attained unusually high salaries, as well as positions on their boards. Millions of dollars that cannot be traced, because the laws do not cover them, are in their pockets. At that same time, Obama has also used his power to elevate his friends, among them his best friend, Marty Nesbitt, to positions they may or may not have been qualified for; he stood by, watching as they rose up the ladder installed in jobs and placed on boards for which they had no experience. Of course, one could rightfully say that about Barack Obama, who rose to become President, although some could argue he was unqualified and unproven for that position.
Then there is Mitch McConnell and his wife, Elaine Chao. They are both influential and have stood by and watched others, especially Elaine’s family members in China, who used their names to curry favors and increase their business investments in China, sometimes with the Bank of China, one of its major arms. Chao’s family was involved in the maritime industry and their businesses flourished because of McConnell’s influence and Elaine's influence on various government investigations and committees. When Trump was elected, China knew their position was going to be less favorable, and they elevated the relatives of Chao to higher positions in the Communist Party and put them on the board of the Bank of China. They hoped McConnell would behave more favorably to them.
When the committees that these elected officials chair, are explored, the nepotism is quite evident, and it can go on for years. Any committee, or field of endeavor, that their influential parent or friend is involved in, is fair game. Actually, they don’t even have to seek anyone out, once they are discovered, these foreign and domestic companies seeking to curry favor, will seek them out. For certain business dealings, only the elected official and spouse have to be transparent about their business dealings, investments and employment. I was shocked to discover how many of the children and influential friends became lobbyists because of their ability to gain the ear of the official. My head was spinning as I learned of their self-interest and greed, regardless of how their behavior negatively impacted the United States. Friends can hide the fact that they have used their advance knowledge to make purchases or investments or to divest themselves of investments because they can deny knowledge by using the excuse that they were visiting as friends, never attended meetings where the information was divulged, never even overheard a rumor. At the very least, they are all guilty of influence peddling, official and associates alike.
Using the term “princeling”, the author focuses on the children and family of these officials, some who are relatively unknown, but who chair committees that foreign investors are interested in, in order to gain influence. A son or daughter whose parent is involved in investigations or projects concerning minerals like molybdenum, necessary in the tech industry, and cobalt and lithium necessary for batteries, and uranium, necessary for nuclear enrichment, become huge assets. Biden and Heinz gave away the control of precious and base metals to countries actively competing with the United States. These children and friends are themselves empowered by companies seeking their influence, companies that buy them with huge salaries although they may be totally unfit for the jobs. They wind up, more often than not, working at cross purposes from the government, but if the official is a friend, often the plans are approved to everyone’s shock and amazement. Yet nothing can be done to stop this, at present.
The author exposes the politics at play, as well, as he illustrates the way President Trump and his family have been attacked for possibly abusing the Emoluments Clause, while Penny Pritzger, a person, who for years was closely involved with fundraising for Obama, a real estate giant and investor in international businesses, was never attacked when Obama appointed her as Commerce Secretary. These people in power, aware of the politics, succeed in hiding their behavior and excusing their actions that might be questionable, by cloaking them in ways they can insinuate are legal. Since Trump is not an experienced politician, he did know how to use the same tactics as Obama and his friends, and he left himself open to the necessity of being more transparent than Obama or his friends had to be, because his dealings could be considered unethical, while their very same dealings would not be considered unethical, or if they were, they were untouchable. However, his children too, achieved deals they had not been able to before his election. Trademarks were suddenly approved, business dealings went through as well. The major difference is that the Trumps were experienced in business and were investing in their own not someone else's.
The narrative is sometimes repetitive since the people involved often share in the the same nefarious deals that enrich them while they betray the country and the taxpayer, in subtle ways: i.e. they gave away the rights to mine minerals necessary for technology, or allowed investments in businesses that could compromise secrets that our military uses because they sell the companies holding them without appropriate restrictions, or they cannot appropriately police the buyer, especially when it is a Chinese buyer seeking to gain information, to pass on to their government in order to gain more influence for themselves and to improve China's position, relative to the United States. It is an ugly circle of quasi-corruption, influence peddling and outright dishonesty masquerading as business.
There are many more people in power who have used their influence legally and illegally to gain riches and influence. Some are well known and respected, like Obama, and some are obscure, like Sanchez, but all are greedy at the expense of the taxpayer, who is unaware of the fact that these officials can legally game the system. There are many countries involved in the hiring of these influential people, in order to curry favor, and some of them are well known and some are not. The range goes from China to Japan to Indonesia and Mongolia and on and on, wherever influence can be peddled.
This book is very well researched with carefully documented facts that need to be illuminated. The book needs to be read in print. The audio is good, but the names of the people and places are often confusing.
I recommend reading this book twice to fully absorb all the information, since the enrichment of these friends and family is often achieved in subtle ways that defy the imagination and the very idea that it is legal. ( )
  thewanderingjew | Jun 7, 2020 |
corruption of politicians,
  willtodogeo | Feb 4, 2020 |
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#1 New York Times Bestseller! Peter Schweizer has been fighting corruption--and winning--for years. In Throw Them All Out, he exposed insider trading by members of Congress, leading to the passage of the STOCK Act. In Extortion, he uncovered how politicians use mafia-like tactics to enrich themselves. And in Clinton Cash, he revealed the Clintons' massive money machine and sparked an FBI investigation. Now he explains how a new corruption has taken hold, involving larger sums of money than ever before. Stuffing tens of thousands of dollars into a freezer has morphed into multibillion-dollar equity deals done in the dark corners of the world. An American bank opening in China would be prohibited by US law from hiring a slew of family members of top Chinese politicians. However, a Chinese bank opening in America can hire anyone it wants. It can even invite the friends and families of American politicians to invest in can't-lose deals. President Donald Trump's children have made front pages across the world for their dicey transactions. However, the media has barely looked into questionable deals made by those close to Barack Obama, Joe Biden, John Kerry, Mitch McConnell, and lesser-known politicians who have been in the game longer. In many parts of the world, the children of powerful political figures go into business and profit handsomely, not necessarily because they are good at it, but because people want to curry favor with their influential parents. This is a relatively new phenomenon in the United States. But for relatives of some prominent political families, we may already be talking about hundreds of millions of dollars. Deeply researched and packed with shocking revelations, Secret Empires identifies public servants who cannot be trusted and provides a path toward a more accountable government.

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