McCaskill Demands Explanation Over Staged Arrival Ceremonies for Fallen Soldiers

Photo Credit: AP2011Sen. Claire McCaskill is pressing the Pentagon for answers following reports — and an admission by the U.S. Department of Defense — that it staged “arrival ceremonies” for fallen soldiers.

“This is even more evidence that these recovery efforts are suffering from systematic problems and a lack of coordinated leadership,” McCaskill said in a statement. “Families in this community just want officials to be honest and forthright about the government’s efforts – instead, what they’re often getting is false hope and fake ceremonies.”

Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command — a unit in the Defense Department — has been holding arrival ceremonies for seven years, with flag-draped coffins being carried off cargo planes as though they held the remains of American troops that had just been returned, according to an initial investigation by NBC News. However, the remains typically were on site before each ceremony began, at a lab where they were undergoing analysis. The report focused on ceremonies at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii.

“These ceremonies, which have been held numerous times over the past seven years, reportedly represented to veterans and families that the remains had been recently recovered and were arriving in the United States for the first time,” McCaskill wrote in her Oct. 25 letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Following the report, the Pentagon acknowledged that the ceremonies were more of a “pre-planned” memorial than a series of actual events unfolding. The Pentagon also confirmed allegations that planes used in the ceremonies at the military base in Hawaii couldn’t even fly and were towed into position.

Read more from this story HERE.

Senate Hopeful Todd Akin Gets Another Boost: McCaskill’s Husband Allegedly Cut Business Deals in Senate Dining Room

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill’s husband used the U.S. Senate Dining Room to cut business deals selling tax credits tied to stimulus money, a whistle-blowing executive inside his company alleged on an audio recording exclusively obtained by The Daily Caller.

“The thing that irritated me about this was he [McCaskill’s husband Joseph Shepard] entertained these outside investors in the Senate Dining Room,” the whistle-blower said. “That’s where he closed the deal.”

The whistle-blower, Craig Woods, was a longtime high-ranking official within Shepard’s business empire, serving first as chief financial officer and then as vice president and chief underwriter for Missouri Equity Investors LLC and JA Shepard Companies.

His LinkedIn page indicates he left the company in January 2011, a few months before debriefing a Republican operative who made the recording.

According to the McCaskill campaign, Woods pled guilty in the 1990s in two different cases of felony larceny and spent some time in prison after that.

Read more from this story HERE.

New Low in Missouri Senate Race: McCaskill Ads Feature Rape Victims Attacking Akin

By Stoyan Zaimov. Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill released a number of television ads attacking GOP senate challenger Todd Akin featuring rape survivors talking about their experiences and criticizing the representative’s previous comments on “legitimate rape.”

Akin’s comment in August that women’s bodies could prevent pregnancies in cases of “legitimate rape” stirred up a political firestorm for the Republican Party, causing a number of leaders, including GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, to ask him to step down from his position. Akin refused, but apologized in a video for his remarks.

McCaskill’s ads bring the issue back to light, however, and feature three women sharing their rape experiences and the choices they made regarding taking emergency contraception, which Akin stands against. One of the ads features a mother who calls herself a “woman of faith,” and is a member of the Republican Party, who said that she is pro-life and decided not to take the contraception after she was attacked, but still supports a woman’s individual right to choose.

Representatives of Todd Akin did not respond to phone calls and email messages from The Christian Post by time of press, and the Missouri politician has not yet made a statement addressing the hard-hitting ads.

Akin has clearly stated his views on abortion, however, saying at an interview in August with Kansas City radio station KCMO: “As far as I’m concerned, the morning-after pill is a form of abortion. I think we just shouldn’t have abortion in this country.” Read more from this story HERE.

Gingrich calls out Rove super PAC, NRSC for abandoning Akin

By Paul Conner. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich criticized two major Republican campaign organizations for not continuing to back Republican candidate Todd Akin in the Missouri Senate race.

In an interview with The Daily Caller’s Ginni Thomas, Gingrich called out GOP “establishment types” — Crossroads GPS super PAC and the National Republican Senatorial Committee — for pulling funding from Akin, a congressman whose comments about “legitimate rape” caused a national uproar.

“If you applied the Todd Akin rule to Joe Biden, he’d be resigning the vice presidency once a week,” Gingrich said in Akin’s defense. “You have this bizarre double standard where Biden can say the weirdest things, and people just laugh and say, well, that’s just old Crazy Joe, you know; after all, he’s only vice president.”

“In Akin’s case, the establishment types saw a chance to get rid of a trouble-maker, replace him with somebody who’d be malleable, do it in the name of winning the election — and some of the things they said were quite extraordinary.”

“I mean, Karl Rove’s not-very-funny statement ‘If Akin gets murdered, don’t look for me,’ you know, I told Karl: in the age of Gabby Giffords, this isn’t funny, this isn’t a joke, you shouldn’t be able to say this in polite company.” Read more from this story HERE.

Video: RNC Chair Reince Priebus – GOP Won’t Give Akin Anything Even if He’s Tied

Despite a growing grassroots rebellion over the Akin senate race in Missouri, Reince Priebus is adamant that the senate candidate will get no help from the GOP, even if he matches Sen. McCaskill in the polls.

Alaska Native Corporations suffer devastating loss of billions in federal contracts

As I predicted in 2010, federal money to Alaska Native Corporations (ANC’s) has begun to dry up.  This year, the drop has been dramatic, falling from $4.4 billion in fiscal year 2011 to $1.8 billion for the first three quarters of 2012.

The gravy train for the ANC’s, sole source contracts over $20 million, took even a bigger hit.  These no bid contracts, illegal in the European Union and widely criticized in the US  due to suspicions that “illegal or immoral means [are used] to exclude competitors (usually by cronyism or bribery),” cratered from $2.5 billion in 2011 to $587 million in the first three quarters of 2012.

Why has this happened?  Because of limitations imposed after Senate investigations revealed that ANC’s “passed much of their work to large, non-Native companies, failed to employ Alaska Natives to work on the contracts and returned only minimal benefits from the businesses to Alaska Natives.” Sound familiar?

To make matters worse for Alaska’s native corporations in coming years, Senator Claire McCaskill, chairwoman of the contracting oversight subcommittee, is working to ensure that even fewer of these sole source contracts are awarded to the ANC’s in 2013.  Her objective is to “eliminate ANCs’ ability to receive sole-source contracts larger than what other companies get in the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development program.”

All of this has led to additional workloads for procurement officials as many contracts, formerly sole source, are now open to competition.  But it has also brought significant federal cost savings, the objective of the budget hawks who have pushed for the contracting reforms.

Given the impending loss of even more federal dollars and the fact that their current contracts “fail to employ Alaska Natives,” what should the ANC’s do?  My perspective is that ANC’s need to abandon crony capitalism and join forces with Constitutionalists who seek to regain state control over natural resources.  Removal of federal regulatory restraints on resource development within the State of Alaska would spur explosive economic growth.  The ANC’s could then leave the federal handouts behind and focus on creating real, productive jobs for shareholders and other Alaskans.

The true power of self determination that so many Alaska Natives fought for at ANCSA’s inception is getting back more control over our lands here in Alaska, so that all those who live here can chart their own course, together, as Alaskans.