What We Read This Week: Our Investigative News Roundup
No Gay Democrats on Country Radio
Country radio host Blair Garner describes himself as “not a political guy,” but when Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg reached out and asked for an interview on his show, “The Blair Garner Show,” the host agreed and invited him to his studio in Nashville where they spoke for twenty minutes. But when Garner wanted to air the interview, Cumulus Media, which nationally syndicates Garner’s show, blocked it from being broadcast at all, reported Rolling Stone. Garner, unhappy with Cumulus’s decision, posted a Soundcloud link to the interview on Twitter and composed an Instagram post explaining why he spoke with Buttigieg and why he thinks a free public discourse is important. “The best way to a reasoned, thoughtful position on any topic, is to hear from both sides,” Garner said. “One of the few truly viable candidates in the race raised his hand and asked for a place at the table. I was willing to give him that seat.”
A Criminal Enterprise
JPMorgan’s Chase Private Client group used false evidence to fire financial advisor Johnny Burris, reports Ann Marsh, in a remarkable story about malfeasance at virtually every management level of one of the world’s largest banks. Equally remarkable is where the story was published—in the trade magazine Financial Planning. This story includes a tabulation of the $43.41 billion that JPMorgan has paid out in fines and settlements since 2011 and offers this tidbit as well: “Four years after JPMorgan admitted to harming clients nationwide, Burris continues to ask why FINRA, the SEC and other regulators have not taken any public action against the bank’s executives. To him, a recurring theme is that, while he lost his job over complaints disavowed by his clients, Jamie Dimon remains as CEO, despite the company’s regulatory settlements following nationwide breaches of fiduciary duty to clients, the type of which Burris had resisted. Dimon also has three criminal disclosures on his BrokerCheck listing. One was posted in 2014, the day after it was announced the bank agreed to pay $1.7 billion to avoid prosecution for serving as Bernie Madoff’s banker for decades. Another followed JPMorgan’s 2015 guilty plea for rigging foreign currency exchanges. A related disclosure in 2016 remains on Dimon’s BrokerCheck record as a “pending charge,” although the bank persuaded a French court to dismiss a criminal finding that it helped clients evade taxes. Each of the criminal disclosures includes this statement: “Mr. Dimon is disclosing this matter because, in certain respects unrelated to the underlying conduct, he may be deemed to have exercised control over JPMC. There are no allegations or facts set forth in the information or plea agreement that refer to Mr. Dimon personally.” Among the CEOs of the nation’s top banks and broker-dealers, Dimon is the only one with criminal disclosures on a BrokerCheck report. A representative for Dimon declined to comment.
Every Pill, Every Manufacturer, Every Pharmacy
The Washington Post published an exceptional online, interactive investigation using a previously unreleased Drug Enforcement Administration database that tracks the path of every single pain pill sold in the United States — from manufacturers and distributors to pharmacies in every town and city — was made public. It was disclosed as part of a civil action brought by nearly 2,000 cities, towns and counties alleging nearly two dozen drug companies conspired to saturate the nation with opioids. The database is a virtual road map to the epidemic. The Post’s analysis found:
- America’s largest drug companies distributed 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pain pills across the country between 2006 and 2012 as the nation’s deadliest drug epidemic spun out of control.
- The volume of the pills handled by the companies climbed as the epidemic surged.
- Opioid death rates soared in the communities that were flooded with pain pills. Pills distributed per person experienced more than three times that rate on average.
Just One of the Guys
Joe Biden’s new foreign policy adviser was a supporter of the Iraq War while serving in the George W. Bush administration, though he now says it was “a pretty serious blunder,” reported The Intercept. Nicholas Burns, whose hiring was first reported by CNN on Monday, has also called NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden “a traitor.” Burns worked on the National Security Council staff under presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. He then served as ambassador to NATO, and later undersecretary of state for political affairs, the third-ranking position in the State Department, under George W. Bush. Burns retired in 2008 from public service and has since been a senior counselor at the Cohen Group, a global lobbying and influence firm, as well as a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School. He was an adviser to the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton.
Featured image: Radio host Blair Barner and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. (Photo by Lis Smith, Buttigieg’s senior adviser for communications.)