The Volunteers (Open Thread)

I’m unimpressed when people in public office refuse to accept a salary for the job. I want them to take the paycheck that comes with the job, even if it’s a trifling sum compared to their obscene personal wealth. If only symbolically, a paycheck reminds the recipient who’s boss.

Rick Scott, the Medicare fraudster who purchased the governorship of Florida for around $100 million over two terms and then bought a U.S. Senate seat for $63 million, famously refuses to accept a salary. He’s a money-grubbing crook without an altruistic bone in his Skeletor-like body, so the reasonable assumption is he’s profiting off the offices. And look!

The governor’s blind trust is managed by a third party — a company that includes the governor’s former personal adviser. The governor reported that in 2017 his blind trust ballooned in value from $130 million to $215 million. The governor’s reported investment income from the trust rocketed from $4.3 million in 2016 to $120 million.

Early in his governorship, Scott ordered drug testing for all state employees and welfare recipients. It just so happened that his assets, which were transferred to his wife in a laughably lame attempt to disguise Scott’s interests, included a chain of urgent care clinics that did drug testing:

The Palm Beach Post reported in an exclusive story two weeks ago that while Scott divested his interest in Solantic in January, the controlling shares went to a trust in his wife’s name.

This raised a groundswell of concern and questions about his health policy initiatives, especially his push to move Medicaid into private HMOs. Solantic does not take Medicaid but does business with private Medicaid HMOs. The questions are growing louder with Scott’s executive order on drug testing.

Drug testing welfare recipients ended up costing Florida taxpayers $45K as a net loss, meaning we paid more for the tests than we saved in denying benefits — and that doesn’t count the legal costs associated with the many lawsuits the drug testing law spawned. But someone profited.

This morning, Trump bragged about donating his quarterly salary to DHS:

While the press doesn’t like writing about it, nor do I need them to, I donate my yearly Presidential salary of $400,000.00 to different agencies throughout the year, this to Homeland Security. If I didn’t do it there would be hell to pay from the FAKE NEWS MEDIA!

The tweet was accompanied by an image of the check, which was a bad move from an “optics” standpoint since it looks exactly like the exhibit Michael Cohen waved around in the Congressional hearing to corroborate his testimony about Trump paying off Stormy Daniels.

But that whiny “If I didn’t do it there would be hell to pay” shows how much charitable giving chaps Trump’s ass. He likes to brag about his generosity, but he doesn’t pay up except under duress, which is why his scam foundation was shut down.

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner also claim to work for free. We know Trump and his garbage family are profiting from the presidency in various ways — piles of cash for Trump-branded hotels and resorts from domestic and foreign entities hoping to curry favor, exclusive trademarks for business products in foreign countries, cash to bail out teetering real estate empires, etc.

What hasn’t been fully tallied yet is the cost to Americans for these bribes. Here’s one example:

This week, the payday lenders are gathering at Trump National Doral Miami for the Community Financial Services Association of America (CFSA) annual conference.

They have plenty to celebrate. After years of lobbying and litigation, the Trump administration gutted an Obama-era rule that would have cracked down on the industry’s most abusive practices.

According to Judd Legum, it’s only $450 per round of golf, and the rule change is worth $7 billion to the industry, which is once again free to fleece the poor and desperate. That makes it a pitifully small bribe. Subverting U.S. foreign policy to bail out Jared will likely prove more expensive.

I’m guessing there are decent liberal politicians who are wealthy as hell and eschew their salary without profiting from their offices. I still don’t like it. Take the damned money, rich politicians. Donate the same amount to a charity later if it makes you feel better, but keep the news of the donation to yourself. Otherwise, us working stiffs might suspect you’re a dabbler.






76 replies
  1. 1
    burnspbesq says:

    It’s possible for that to be legit, but you’re right to be skeptical.

  2. 2
    burnspbesq says:

    After all, Scott has a track record.

  3. 3
    Jeffro says:

    So the guy whose weekly golf vacations at his own resort, which have already cost taxpayers over $70M, is donating his $400k salary to chari…whoops, Homeland Security*…gee, that’s just awesome, trumpov. Wotta guy!

    *like any true demagogue or fascist would.

    In other news, isn’t it just so. incredibly. interesting that Rod Rosenstein soldiers on at DOJ even though Barr was confirmed a couple of weeks ago? It’s almost like ol’ Rod is hanging in there to protect Mueller, and possibly to ‘accidentally’ release the whole report to the whole of Congress once it’s done, then scoot. There are other interpretations of course…

  4. 4
    zhena gogolia says:

    Ned Lamont affects this rhetoric too, and I find it incredibly offputting. It’s like, why do I need this pittance you taxpayers are offering me?

  5. 5
    rikyrah says:

    I’m unimpressed when people in public office refuse to accept a salary for the job. I want them to take the paycheck that comes with the job, even if it’s a trifling sum compared to their obscene personal wealth. If only symbolically, a paycheck reminds the recipient who’s boss.

    TRUTH!!

  6. 6
    rikyrah says:

    This morning, Trump bragged about donating his quarterly salary to DHS:

    Don’t believe it.

  7. 7
    zhena gogolia says:

    This Pete guy is really, really good. I’m starting to feel like a traitor to my sex.

  8. 8
    rikyrah says:

    Marcus H. Johnson (@marcushjohnson) Tweeted:
    Bernie’s staffing choices are hilarious because those people-for years-said it was a conspiracy to think they were actively working for the Sanders campaign and that were being completely objective by trashing every perceived threat to Bernie. https://twitter.com/marcushjohnson/status/1108047097817899008?s=17

  9. 9
    rikyrah says:

    Age of victim in Epstein deal eased sex offender penalties: WaPo
    Rachel Maddow explains new reporting from the Washington Post that because the age of the victim in the Jeffrey Epstein plea deal approved by current Labor Secretary Alex Acosta was 16 and not younger, Epstein was able to avoid registering as a sex offender in states where 16 is the age of consent.

  10. 10
    Brachiator says:

    Other presidents who did not take a salary:

    John F. Kennedy was the wealthiest man ever sworn in as President of the United States. He had given his congressional salary to charity, and he maintained the practice once he got to the White House.

    Herbert Hoover, whose net worth was estimated to be nearly $4 million in 1913, divided most of his presidential salary between various charities. He used the rest to supplement the incomes of his staff.

    Trump could take a salary or not take a salary. He would still be a crook.

  11. 11
    burnspbesq says:

    Per CNN, Paul Ryan is joining the Fox board.

    Are you fucking psychic, Betty?

  12. 12
    trollhattan says:

    Payday lenders. Legal loansharking is still loansharking.

    Is any state enforcing usury laws?

  13. 13
    rikyrah says:

    Maddow said that there were 53 pages in the report against Epstein.

  14. 14
    burnspbesq says:

    @trollhattan:

    Paging Mr. Becerra, Mr. Xavier Becerra.

  15. 15
    MattF says:

    There’s an excellent chance that Trump is lying. I know, I know– that’s always true– but it’s particularly true when he’s claiming to do something out of the goodness of his heart. Can we get Mr. Fahrenthold to check it out?

  16. 16
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Jeffro: @Jeffro:
    Has any other POTUS ever cost the nation so much? I seem to recall that Trump and his family’s travels managed to blow through the Secret Service’s 2017 budget allocation before June. I think the US Government should bill him for SS expenses on his leisure travel, particularly to Mar-a-Lago.

  17. 17
    Pogonip says:

    In the April 2019 Reader’s Digest there is an ad for Nuedexta, purporting to control uncontrollable episodes of laughter or tears (can happen after brain injury). The ingredients of Nuedexta are dextromethorphan, which you will find in your bottle of over-the-counter cough syrup, and quinidine sulphate, used to treat heart arrhythmia. A bottle of OTC cough syrup costs between $5-10 around here, and a 30-day prescription of 100 mg QS costs about $30.

    A 30-day prescription of Nuedexta costs between $800 and $1,000. The ad does not mention that dextromethorphan can interact fatally with commonly prescribed SSRI antidepressants.

    I am going to write my Congresswoman, requesting that Congress make it legal for your doctor and pharmacist to tell you what I just told you, and that Congress outlaw direct-to-patient advertising of prescription drugs. Please consider doing the same, and asking everyone you know to do the same. Thank you!

  18. 18
    Pogonip says:

    @trollhattan: No, I don’t think so. My very Red state does not seem to be enforcing any “consumer”-protection laws.

  19. 19
    Martin says:

    According to Judd Legum, it’s only $450 per round of golf, and the rule change is worth $7 billion to the industry, which is once again free to fleece the poor and desperate. That makes it a pitifully small bribe. Subverting U.S. foreign policy to bail out Jared will likely prove more expensive.

    California is proposing a fix to this.

    Unlike the North Dakota system, AB 857 wouldn’t create a state-owned, statewide bank. Instead, it would empower local governments to charter their own such public banks.

    The bill “also encourages partnerships between a public bank and existing local financial institutions to provide retail services, enabling public banks to provide affordable loans and lines of credit to local businesses and nonprofits, and increase the lending capacity of the local banking system,” according to the fact sheet.

    The bill is co-sponsored by the California Public Banking Alliance, as well as several other public banking advocate groups.

    Operating banks at a city/county level would address a few things. One, the local bank has a vested interest in no-cost basic banking services for residents. I could envision these banks working collaboratively to find good strategies for doing that. But these institutions would also be motivated to keep lending local, breaking the loss of accountability between the originator of a loan and the later owner of it once it’s sold through a clearinghouse. It helps align local government action with the community needs better than handing out tax forgiveness in the hopes that some large employer will swoop in and make everything better (which never happens).

    It creates some new conflict as well, but I fail to see how those would be worse than the status-quo.

  20. 20
  21. 21
    Brachiator says:

    @trollhattan:

    Payday lenders. Legal loansharking is still loansharking.

    Is any state enforcing usury laws?

    These weasels have gone to great lengths to avoid regulation, including affiliating themselves with Native American tribes.

    As Leslie Bailey, a co-author of the Public Justice report, explains in a detailed blog post summarizing the report:

    “Payday lenders are nothing if not creative in their quest to operate outside the bounds of the law. As we’ve reported before, an increasing number of online payday lenders have recently sought affiliations with Native American tribes in an effort to take advantage of the tribes’ special legal status as sovereign nations. The reason is clear: genuine tribal businesses are entitled to “tribal immunity,” meaning they can’t be sued. If a payday lender can shield itself with tribal immunity, it can keep making loans with illegally-high interest rates without being held accountable for breaking state usury laws.”

    Fortunately, the courts are now finding that these payday lender relationships with tribes are mere contrivances to avoid the law, not genuine tribal businesses. Tribes receive token payments; the vast bulk of the online businesses harm consumers off the reservation, particularly in those states that effectively ban triple-digit payday lending through 36% APR interest rate ceilings on small loans.

  22. 22
  23. 23
    chopper says:

    @rikyrah:

    i’ll believe it when i see the canceled check.

  24. 24
    Kdaug says:

    Completely OT, but since I was offline during the 80s music thread

    https://youtu.be/4x0fPZrPV3M

    There’s hope for you yet, Cole.

    And don’t even get me started on Kate Bush

  25. 25
    rikyrah says:

    Taniel (@Taniel) Tweeted:
    🚨news in Florida: a House committee has moved forward a bill to strip Floridians of right to vote if they haven’t been able to fully pay court fines & fees. Hundreds of thousands could be disenfranchised.

    Coups easier to pull off when universal suffrage devalued to start with. https://twitter.com/Taniel/status/1108030465699729408?s=17

  26. 26

    @rikyrah:

    Bernie’s staffing choices are hilarious because those people-for years-said it was a conspiracy to think they were actively working for the Sanders campaign and that were being completely objective by trashing every perceived threat to Bernie.

    I see where this is coming from, but count me as skeptical that these people were working for Bernie from day one. When it comes time for a candidate to staff their campaign, it makes sense to look first among true believers rather than going for a bunch of mercenaries. That’s especially true for a candidate like Bernie who has a proven ability to attract fanatical followers. He should probably be looking for a few close advisors who aren’t just a bunch of yes men, but you can’t be sure that anyone who was a big fan before being hired was always an under-the-table employee.

  27. 27
    matt says:

    Herbert Hoover didn’t take his salary, instead giving the money to charity. Franklin D. Roosevelt took his salary.

  28. 28
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @Brachiator: It’s good to know that Trump isn’t special for donating his presidential salary. This needs to be said because Trump is acting as if what he’s doing is so special.

  29. 29
    Raoul says:

    Trump made a big deal on the twitters about donating a hundred grand for this quarter’s pay as Pouter In Chief. BFD – he wastes far more than $100K on each of his shitty golf outings.

    But the MAGA fools are impressed that he donates a triffling while Mar-a-Swampgo (or Bed-meister, or whatever grifting course he’s on) earns a ton of cash from his boondoggle trips.

  30. 30
    Walker says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    He is treating Mar-a-Lago has a governmental office. I say we take ownership when he leaves office.

  31. 31
    Raoul says:

    @rikyrah: We’ve gone from absurd asset seizure to now vote-seizure. Central American juntas in the 70s might have blush at this garbage.

  32. 32
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Pogonip: I think TV ads for prescription drugs should absolutely be banned.

  33. 33
    Plato says:

    As long as the stupid voters keep rewarding these crooks, corrupt thugs like scott will be present and be prospering.

  34. 34
    rikyrah says:

    Uh huh 😒

    Taniel (@Taniel) Tweeted:
    key detail: since January, people have been able to register to vote without this obstacle. Bill would restrict current registration process, and kick people off the rolls who’ve registered (and who may have already voted in this month’s local elections) https://t.co/tnuJy7bXFK https://twitter.com/Taniel/status/1108032380869246976?s=17

  35. 35
    TomatoQueen says:

    Virginia has been attempting to curb payday lending, to little avail, owing to R-controlled legislature. There’s a gerrymandering problem too, and a host of other ills, all still in place thanks to that R, and in spite of heroic efforts on the part of previous governors. I have little faith that anything will move unless SCOTUS approves the new redistricting plan. Otherwise business as usual in this so-called blue but really red state.

  36. 36
    rikyrah says:

    POLL TAX😠😠😠

    Taniel (@Taniel) Tweeted:
    Amendment 4 got majorities in ALL congressional & legislative districts. Bill would restrict how it’s been implemented in January.

    James Grant is GOP chair of committee that passed bill today; he got angry at idea it’s a poll tax. https://t.co/9gW91VmHip
    https://t.co/HBBxRTwkXg https://twitter.com/Taniel/status/1108047505156161537?s=17

  37. 37
    cckids says:

    I can’t link because I’m at work, but Jim Wright (Stonekettle) on Facebook posted about this yesterday; you cannot send a check to DHS or any government agency. If DT is returning his salary, it would have to go directly to the Treasury. Wright had the proper citations as to the legality of why (has to do with Congress being in charge of the budget), but it comes down to: that is a “show” check, DHS has no legal way to cash it.

    I trust Wright’s ethics and knowledge way, WAY more than Trumps, or any of the media’s. Not surprising at all.

  38. 38
    WaterGirl says:

    Betty, when I saw this title I had the fleeting thought that perhaps you were going to try to unionize the BJ front-pager volunteers! :-)

    I thought that was a brilliant description yesterday, by the way.

  39. 39
    rikyrah says:

    Taniel (@Taniel) Tweeted:
    Amendment 4 got majorities in ALL congressional & legislative districts. Bill would restrict how it’s been implemented in January.

    James Grant is GOP chair of committee that passed bill today; he got angry at idea it’s a poll tax. https://t.co/9gW91VmHip
    https://t.co/HBBxRTwkXg https://twitter.com/Taniel/status/1108047505156161537?s=17

  40. 40
    Mary G says:

    Every time I see someone sneering at AOC for being poor, I think that it’s a shame that so many politicians are rich, because they are so out of touch with the regular people they represent. Like all the “let them eat cake” they spewed during the shutdown.

  41. 41
    ...now I try to be amused says:

    I want them to take the paycheck that comes with the job, even if it’s a trifling sum compared to their obscene personal wealth. If only symbolically, a paycheck reminds the recipient who’s boss.

    The KGB had a rule that all agents, even ideologically-motivated agents like Kim Philby, must be paid, for the same reason. And, in their case, for the blackmail potential. Speaking of Trump…

  42. 42
    JPL says:

    Citizens United has already made it more difficult for those unable to self fund. We don’t want Congress filled with people who can buy their way in. Look at me I can donate my time, while stealing blind from the taxpayers.

  43. 43
    chris says:

    @Miss Bianca: No ads allowed is one of the reasons drugs are cheaper in Canada.

  44. 44
  45. 45
    smintheus says:

    Political offices are paid a salary to make sure they don’t become the preserve of the rich. By making a show of rejecting their salary, plutocrats are making a case for plutocracy.

  46. 46
    NotMax says:

    He’s lying, breaking the law, or both. One doesn’t “donate” directly to a specific agency, any such monies go into the treasury’s general fund. Agency funding is allocated by Congress.

  47. 47

    How do we know that this is true? I need independent corroboration that he is not cashing his salary but donating it. Farenthold of WashPost, this could be your next story.
    I don’t believe a single word that comes out of the mouth of Orange.

  48. 48
    eldorado says:

    everybody hates a tourist

  49. 49
    Mnemosyne says:

    @zhena gogolia:

    At least he’s openly gay, so he’s still a step outside the straight white male hegemony. 🤷‍♀️

  50. 50
    NotMax says:

    But that whiny “If I didn’t do it there would be hell to pay” shows how much charitable giving chaps Trump’s ass.

    Also too, it’s a government, not a charity.

  51. 51
    rikyrah says:

    Tom Watson (@tomwatson) Tweeted:
    @reesetheone1 Yup. It’s a declaration of political war. They mean to destroy the Democratic Party. Honestly, I hope some of the best “kumbaya” folks recognize this and stand up. https://twitter.com/tomwatson/status/1108070652320329729?s=17

  52. 52
  53. 53
    rikyrah says:

    @Bill Arnold:

    Nobody wants her shytty deal

  54. 54
    SoupCatcher says:

    @matt:

    Herbert Hoover didn’t take his salary, instead giving the money to charity. Franklin D. Roosevelt took his salary.

    He also drank his milkshake.

  55. 55
    Barbara says:

    @rikyrah: No, they want the bright shiny Unicorn Brexit that they were promised by Father Christmas. And May is nothing if not dogged about pursuing a strategy of trying to terrify Parliament into ratifying a deal they don’t like by running out the clock. Somebody might want to tale notes in order to write a book about parallels to the decline of the Roman Empire. They kept having the same arguments while failing to notice that outside of Rome things were changing.

  56. 56
    Bill Arnold says:

    @rikyrah:
    There’s a strong meme at play; she wants revotes on her Brexit deal, but a new referendum would be bad. Also the brexit vote manipulation looks worse every month.

  57. 57
    Brickley Paiste says:

    My Pollyannaish take: thank god these assholes are motivated primarily by greed. If they were true fanatics like Pence, it would be worse. Im starting tto come around to Pelosi’s take on impeachment

  58. 58
    VeniceRiley says:

    @rikyrah: Jesus. That’s a poll tax. Going to be a long court fight.

  59. 59
    catclub says:

    @cckids:

    you cannot send a check to DHS or any government agency.

    However, You can ‘hire’ some government agencies – or some of their employees. Think science grants. So if you agree to a contract, even if there is no performance part of the contract, I think that would work.

  60. 60
    Barbara says:

    @Bill Arnold: It seems to be obvious in every way that May’s first loyalty is to the conservative party and making sure her party maintains control no matter what happens. That’s why she doesn’t want a second referendum, it’s why she won’t call out the fraud that obviously affected the first one, and that’s why she keeps putting forth the same deal. She’s both the Titanic and the iceberg the UK is about to encounter at this point — floundering mediocrity meeting immoveable rigidity.

  61. 61
    BC in Illinois says:

    Method One
    Step One – – Refuse to accept salary
    Step Two – – Donate salary to charity

    Method Two
    Step One – – PAY YOUR TAXES !
    Step Two – – Take your salary
    Step Three – – Donate as much as you like to charity
    Step Four – – DO YOUR JOB !

    *Note: Steps One and Four are concurrent with Steps Two and Three

  62. 62
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Barbara:

    floundering mediocrity meeting immoveable rigidity.

    This is as succinct and elegant a description of modern-day radical reactionary conservatism as I’ve seen yet.

  63. 63
    Mike in NC says:

    Trump lying about donating his salary to charity has got to be a staple at all of his rallies, and the cheering goobers believe every word.

  64. 64
    mad citizen says:

    @SoupCatcher: Is this a Teapot Dome reference?

  65. 65
    opiejeanne says:

    @Pogonip: Is Nuedextra the stuff Danny Glover was advertising for recently? I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the drug name, just his comments about having the uncontrollable emotions problem. I want to think he got it from the time he was nearly blown up while filming one of the Lethal Weapon movies, when they set off the explosion while he was still too close.

  66. 66
    Brachiator says:

    @Bill Arnold:

    Possible eventual outcomes still range from a long postponement, leaving with May’s deal, a disruptive exit without a deal, or even another referendum.

    Despite all the drama, the Brits have not moved forward at all.

  67. 67
    Pogonip says:

    @opiejeanne: I do not know, I haven’t watched TV in 15 years, but if he did take money for advertising this very expensive scam he ought to be ashamed of himself.

  68. 68
    Pogonip says:

    @Miss Bianca: Then please consider letting your Rep know how you feel. Thanks

  69. 69
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @BC in Illinois: Method Two please!

    As Rutger Bergman said at Davos, no one talks about tax avoidance.

  70. 70
    opiejeanne says:

    @Pogonip: I tracked it down. I doubt he had any idea about the cost of the drug nor that it’s a scam. He made a PSA about the condition, pseudobulbar affect, and demonstrated it by acting out the symptoms. I’m not sure he has the disorder. The PSA was paid for by Avenir Pharmaceuticals as an awareness campaign but (IIUC) was later shelved in favor of the name branded Nuedestra.

  71. 71
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @mrmoshpotato: Damn you autocorrect!

    BREGMAN

  72. 72
    Mandalay says:

    @Bill Arnold: For those who are understandably struggling to keep up, The Guardian published a really good article today titled 10 days to Brexit: what happens if the UK does not leave on 29 March?

    Most articles on Brexit assume that you already understand what’s going on, but this one does the opposite.

  73. 73
    Redshift says:

    One of Scott’s first actions as senator was a bill that would eliminate pensions for former members of Congress (for “efficiency”), making it even more likely that Congress will be populated by rich crooks and and people who want to avoid pissing off the lobbyists who are their probable future employers.

  74. 74
    VOR says:

    @trollhattan: There was an episode of the documentary series “Dirty Money” on Netflix about a payday lender. They made a deal with a few Native American tribes and claimed the lender was owned by the tribes. They then claimed they were immune from state usury laws. Eventually the FTC hit them with a $1.3B fine. The owner of the company, Scott Tucker, was, well let Wikipedia tell the tale:
    “In February 2016, Tucker was arrested and indicted on federal criminal charges filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in relation to his ownership and controlling role in various payday lending operations that were found to have charged illegal interest rates in violation of RICO and TILA statutes. Tucker was convicted of making illegal payday loans and of racketeering in October 2017; he is currently serving a sentence of 16 years and 8 months in federal prison.”

  75. 75
    Andrey says:

    In my utopian fantasies, I imagine a law that requires high-level officials to give up all personal wealth on accepting an office, and makes it illegal to get wealth from any source other than their government salaries and pensions. A maximum wage, if you will.

  76. 76
    cynthia ackerman says:

    @Martin:

    I’m not real savvy on this topic, but it strikes me that local publicly owned financial services can fill a gap formed by consolidation and sell-off of community banks and credit unions, at least here in Oregon.

    Over twenty years, I have switched banks maybe six times, as a good, well run local institution gets absorbed into some soulless behemoth.

    Thanks for the comment. I will look into public banks and how to support (and protect) them, if the benefits stack up.

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