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Florida Town Proposes a Ban on Super PACs—What Could Happen?


Not only would the ordinance get big money out of St. Petersburg elections, but it could lead to a legal clash ending super PACs across the country.

By Carolina Cruz (YesMagazine.org)

It could have seemed like a singular act of defiance to abolish super PACs in one Florida town.

It’s part of a far-reaching legal strategy to reduce the influence of money in politics.

Members of the City Council in St. Petersburg approved 6-1 today a motion to consider an ordinance that would limit the amount donors can give to groups that support or oppose candidates in local elections.

The ordinance, if passed later this year, would directly affect only elections in St. Petersburg. But it’s part of a far-reaching legal strategy to reduce the influence of money in politics by abolishing super PACs—groups that can take unlimited amounts of money from donors to spend in political campaigns—at the national level.

“This is a serious issue in our country and it has a corrosive effect on our elections and in our democratic process,” said Darden Rice, vice chair of the City Council. “But we are going to have to tackle it on all levels—from our city halls all the way up to the Supreme Court.”

The ordinance challenges super PACs’ legal foundation, which includes the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission. There, the court ruled that corporations and unions have a right to free speech, just like individual people, and that campaign donations are a form of protected speech. That decision set the stage for a flood of corporate money into U.S. elections.

Rice’s ordinance doesn’t directly challenge Citizens United. But it does defy SpeechNow.org v. Federal Elections Commission, in which a Washington, D.C., court of appeals interpreted Citizens United to mean that there should be no limits on political contributions to independent groups that support or oppose political candidates. That’s how we ended up with the super PACs that are spending tens of millions of dollars in the 2016 election season.

Rice’s ordinance challenges that decision by limiting the amount a contributor can give to an independent group to $5,000—the same limit that existed before the ruling.

“Our votes mean nothing now because the only day [elected officials] need us is the day we vote,” said Rae Claire Johnson, leader of the Tampa Bay branch of the nonprofit group American Promise. “The very next day they are beholden to the big-money interests that got them in office, so our interests and desires are not being supported.”

American Promise is just one of the groups that collaborated with Rice on the proposed ordinance. Others include Free Speech for People, a nonprofit that works to improve American democracy, and the League of Women Voters. Legal advisers at these groups spent about six months hammering out the proposal’s language.

“It very well could be a game changer,” said Rice, a councilwoman for St. Petersburg since 2013 and a resident of the city for nearly 20 years.

The big strategy

Political action committees existed before the SpeechNow.org decision, but it provided the opportunity to create new and bigger PACs. These are the ones that have been criticized by campaign reformers across the nation in the past six years, since the Citizens United decision.

“What these super PACs can do is gather in money from any source—unions, corporations, rich individuals—and there is no limit to the money they can gather in,” said Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, a law professor at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Florida.

Scott Greytak, a lawyer with the group Free Speech for People, says that decision has damaged American democracy—including at the local level.

“If St. Petersburg does it, hopefully other cities would do it, too.”

“The folks in St. Petersburg are aware this is not just something that happens in presidential and congressional elections,” said Greytak, who helped develop the ordinance. “This is something that more and more is coming to local elections, and you see a lot of super PAC activity all around the state of Florida.”

Although the legal experts who worked on the ordinance believe it will stand up in court if challenged, they also expect lawsuits if the City Council passes it. Greytak anticipates that those who benefit from unlimited super PAC spending will be the ones to challenge the ordinance.

“If this law is challenged, St. Petersburg could provide a test case that, in time, could make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court,” he said. “It could have national resonance for communities all across the country who are struggling to keep big money from poisoning their elections.” And, although Rice’s ordinance could be upheld without changingCitizens United, Greytak says the court could take the opportunity to revisit that case and reach a different conclusion.

Because of the vacancy in the Supreme Court, some scholars believe the timing might be just right for that approach.

“If we have a replacement justice who takes that seat and has a different view of campaign finance, that is a whole different world because then the majority is 5-4 the other way,” said Torres-Spelliscy. “A lot depends on who takes that seat and when.”

The plan to change campaign finance rules by bringing a fresh case to the Supreme Court joins other strategies to limit the power of money in elections. So far, 17 states have called for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution on the issue, which would then provide a foundation for the overturn of Citizens United. Meanwhile, groups like Represent.Us have focused on passing local and state laws, tallying wins in New Jersey, Florida, and Oregon.

Will other cities follow?

A Supreme Court fight isn’t the only potential impact of St. Petersburg’s proposed rule change.

“Personally, one of the reasons why I think this ordinance is important is because if St. Petersburg does it, hopefully other cities would do it, too,” said Johnson from American Promise, who’s been involved in getting the word out about the ordinance.

And of course, this is happening while St. Petersburg City Council is debating the city’s everyday business.

“We don’t know yet how exactly we are going to work out our local rules on ride-sharing or Airbnb, or whether or not we are going to put money into a new baseball stadium,” said Rice. “But we know that for sure we want to have robust, sincere, and real conversations with the community and … what we don’t want is having those conversations corrupted by the influence of big money.”

The ordinance will now move on to the Committee of the Whole to be debated further in September.

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Fight between Jimmy Dore and Ben Mankiewicz on last night’s TYT coverage of RNC – day 3


Jimmy Dore:  The difference back then when that stuff [Ana Kasparian’s recount of her seeing Reagan and George H.W. Bush debating immigration with logic and evidence] happened was that we had the Fairness Doctrine and it was before the 1996 Telecommunications Act which consolidated the media into six companies.  And so now reporters are not even allowed to do their job.  And they know it.  They self-censor.  And we get what we’ve been talking about all night.  This neutrality bullshit plus we had the Foxification of the party which had to do with the Telecommunications Act and the Fairness Doctrine.

Ben Mankiewicz:  That’s right.  Taking advantage of it.

Jimmy:  And Bill Clinton we have to thank for that.  That was a neo-liberal who did that and then he went on to deregulate Wall Street.  And, then, you know, people are voting for Trump, a lot of them, out of hatred for Hillary Clinton.  People are also voting for Hillary Clinton out of hatred of Donald Trump.  That is a horrible way to vote — out of hatred.  So I’m not voting out of hatred.  I’m voting my conscience.  And I can’t get my conscience to pro-fracking bullshit.

Ana Kasparian:  I know, but look, I gotta be honest with you.  I didn’t know where I stood until this convention because it’s one thing to report on the things people say.  It’s another thing to experience them in person.  And being here in person…  These are dangerous people.  I’m not trying to fear-monger you guys.  These are scary, dangerous people that would destroy the country.  The idea of Donald Trump nominating Supreme Court justices scares the living crap out of me.  You know that he wanted…  I know we talked about it on the main show, but he wanted Kasich to be his VP because apparently Donald Trump has a few things he doesn’t want to do as president including domestic policy and foreign policy.  Pretty much everything and it’s because he’s an idiot and he doesn’t know anything.  He has no policy ideas.  No one here has ever mentioned a single policy idea that he has because he doesn’t have one to defend, right?  And so the idea of this clown having the ability to pick who our Supreme Court justices are going to be scares me.  We can’t have that.  We can’t have that.

Jimmy:  Let me just say real quick on that point:  He doesn’t have the ability to do that.  Right now the Republicans won’t even give Merrick Garland a meeting for a year without even batting an eye.  So why wouldn’t the Democrats be able to do the same thing for two years.

Ben:  They won’t.  They won’t.

Jimmy:  They should.  And if we keep voting for weak soft, we’re going to keep getting more of it.

Ben:  If you don’t vote for Hillary Clinton and we end up with Donald Trump, you’re going to bear a bit of responsibility for the…

Jimmy:  No, it’s her fault for not coming to get my vote.

Ben:  No, no.

Jimmy:  I want to vote for her…

Ben:  Then vote for her. Bite the bullet and vote for her.  It’s the grown up thing to do.

Jimmy:  No, no, no…  Not at all.

Ben:  You’ve never been more wrong about anything.

Jimmy:  That is such a fucking…

Ben:  No, yours is the selfish point of…

Jimmy:  This is the same short-term thinking that got us where we are right now.

Ben:  You don’t know anything about what’s going to happen in 2018.

Jimmy:  Bullshit.  That is such bullshit.

Ben:  You’re thinking we’re going to come back in…

Jimmy:  What do you fucking know about it?  What the fuck do you know about it?

Ben:  Don’t talk to me like that.  Don’t talk to me like that fucking ever.

Jimmy:  What did you just say to me?

Ben: I didn’t say “Shut the fuck up.”

Jimmy: I said, “What do you fucking know about?”

Ben: Yeah. That’s incredibly hostile.

Jimmy: Well, you just said it to me.

Ben: No, I wasn’t. I said you don’t know what’s going to happen in 2018.

Jimmy: And what do you know?

Ana:  All right guys.  Let’s go to break.  Break.  Break.

[Transcribed to the best of my ability by Mike Zonta. Video at http://tytnetwork.com/2016/07/20/rnc-july-20-2016-3/.]

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Occupy Action Council weekly calendar (from Patricia Gray)

Please read this list and choose one that you can attend.  We need to be active in our community and connected to other people who share our concerns about the need to change our government.  We want a government to heed the voice of the many—not the few.

If you know of an activity planned for next week, let me know about it by
Tuesday afternoon before the activity.  Send the information to pat1936@gmail.com
Wednesday July 20
4:30 pm             Twitter office, 1355 Market St. S.F.and march to 
                         Uber at 1455 Market St.
                         TELL TECH TO PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE!
                         The tech boom as fueled a housing crisis.  They should
                          pay a tech tax to raise money for affordable housing
                          and  homeless services.  Join us to bring our vision
                          of a just San Francisco to the headquarters of
                          Uber and Twitter.
5:30 – 6:30         corner of Market and Montgomery St 
                        PEACE VIGIL
                        Our nation is involved in endless wars all over the world.
                        How long will we allow the “war on terror” to continue?
                        These endless wars are bankrupting our nation and
                        causing us to suffer cuts in all of our domestic
                        programs.  (not to mention killing millions of Muslim
                        people)  Join us to inform people of what is going
                        on.  The wars are so ordinary that they are not
                        making the ‘news’ and people are not informed.
                        Join us to protest the wars and to inform the people.
                        sponsored by Coke Pink, World Can’t Wait and the
                        S.F. Occupy Action Council.
7 – 9:00 pm    ILWU local 34 Hall  801 Second St. (next to the ball park)
                     LABORFEST FILMS
                     Freeway Flyer  USA film   45 min
                     a film which shows conditions where college professors are
                     made temporary workers going from job to job – without
                     benefits or pensions.
                     Udita (Arise)  film from Bangladesh  75  min
                     a film on garment workers struggle over the last ten years
                     to organize through terrible tragedies and cruelty as seen
                     through the eyes of female workers.
7;30  pm       Eastside Arts Alliance  2277 International Blvd. Oakland
                    ANTI POLICE TERROR PROJECT
                    regular monthly gathering to work to develop a repeatable
                    and sustainable model to end police terrorism.
                    We are a multi racial, multi generational coalition and
                    would welcome your participation.
Thursday July 21
11:00 – 1:00 pm    90 7th St. S.F.  Office of Nancy Pelosi
                           ANTI TPP PROTEST: URGE PELOSI TO SAY NO 
                           TO THE TPP!
                           The corporations that rule Congress want to get the
                           TPP passed in the lame duck period after the
                           election in November.  We will deliver over 200,000
                           signatures to Pelosi urging her to oppose the TPP.
                           Sponsored by Citizens Trade Campaign, Electronic
                           Frontier, Sierra Club, California Nurses Association
                           Global Exchange,  Communications Workers of
                           America, Food and Water Watch.
5:00 pm              Powell and Market 
                          ACTION TO END RACIST POLICE TERROR
                          As a part of a national day of actions initiated by the
                          movement for Black Lives, join us in the streets to
                          to demand justice for all the victims of police brutality
                          and end racist police terror  .
                          more info  415-821-6545
7:00 – 9:00 pm    518 Valencia St. (near 16th st. BART)
                         Panel discussion
                         AND TECHNOLOGY
                         The use of technology has transformed our modern
                         media system to drastically affect workers and our
                         information.  There are threats to journalists by repression
                         and police attacks.  There will be films on conditions in
                         the world of attacks on reporters.
                         Sana Saleem, from 49 Hills
                         Anabell Hernadez, Mexican journalist
                         Josh Wolf  vedio blogger who spent 225 days in jail to
                                          protect his sources
                         Steve Zellzer,  Media Guild
                         Joseph Thomas videographer in  S.F.
                         more info:  www.laborfest.net/schedule.htm
Friday July 22
5:00 pm         Conerstone Missionary Baptist Church
                     6190 3rd St. S.F.
                     MARIO WOOD REMEMBRANCE DAY
                     This is Mario’s birthday and the Supervisors have made
                     this a day of remembrance.  We will gather to remember
                     him and to continue the fight for justice.
                     sponsor   Justice4Mariowoodscoalition
Saturday July 23
11:00 – 5:00 pm    MLK Park, 5701  3rd St. San Francisco
                           CELEBRATING THE LIFE OF MARIO WOODS
                           There will be kids activities, musical performances,
                           spoken word, community healing, food venders.
                           Join us and Gwen Woods, Mario’s mother, to celebrate
                           his life and the many lives he positively affected.
                           sponsored by Justice for Mario woods coalition
7:00 pm        Desai Malta Gallery
                    California Institute for Integral Studies, Ground floor
                    Evictions and displacement derails lives, leading to
                    intergenerational stress — sometime to deadly effect.
                    When homelessness results, residents must also
                    struggle to strive against the elements and the un-
                    management of a life on the streets.  In these conflicted
                    communities an epidermic of police violence cut short
                    lives, leaving families and communities shattered.
                    Come and join the conversation with
                    Carlos Disdier, Manager of community health programs
                    Shiwa Kayom-Bashi M.D.professor Family and
                                                         community medicine UCSF
                    Julie Lewak-Madding of Vanishing S.F. -board member
                                                    of San Francisco Vision
                    Christina Olague, Editor of San Francisco Vision
                    Dr. Ray Tomkins, Phd in organic chemistry and expert on
                                                     toxic pollution in Bayview and
                                                     Hunter’s point.
Sunday July 24
7:00 – 9:00 pm        ILWU Hall, 801 3rd St. San Francisco
                             Near the base ball park
                             WORKING WOMEN
                             concert and show
                             The Rocking Solidarity Chorus presents a history
                             in story and song touching on the Bread & Roses
                             Strike in Lawrence Mass, the sweatshops during
                             and before the Shirtwaist Fire, the conditions of
                             black and white women working during WWII.  The
                             show includes first person testimony from teachers,
                             an engineer and women in the trades in four part
                             harmony, laughter and sturdy old labor themes.
                             more info:  www.laborfestnet/schedule
Tuesday July 26
6:15 – 8:15 pm      SEIU local 1000 Hall      
                           436 14th St. 2cd floor
                           OAKLAND LIVABLE WAGE ASSEMBLY
                           Join us to collaborate in principled reflection on what
                           a bay area livable wage should be and plan movement
                           building actions and events to carve the way.
                           Please love and support each other.   We hfe a duty to
                           fight – we have a  duty to WIN!
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Democracy Spring Coming to the DNC!

Democracy Spring at the DNC

July 24, 2016
Democracy Spring at the DNC

Last April, Democracy Spring organized the largest American civil disobedience action of this century, calling on Congress to take action to end to the corruption of big money in politics and ensure free and fair elections.
Now, we demand that the Democratic Party implement the political revolution that millions of its voters are calling for and pledge to pass reforms to make this the last corrupt, billionaire-dominated, voter suppression-marred election in our nation.
Unless the Democrat’s presidential nominee and Congressional leaders publicly commit to pass sweeping democracy reforms to overturn Citizens United, establish publicly funded elections, and ensure comprehensive voting rights protections for all Americans within the first 100 days of a new administration AND abolish superdelegates now, we will engage in mass civil disobedience to disrupt the DNC in Philadelphia from July 25-28. We the People must disrupt business-as-usual politics until we have a democracy that works for all. Join us.

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OccupyForum presents . . . The Sacramento Protest: Victory over Fascism (Monday, July 18)

Monday, July 18th from 6 – 9 pm at Global Exchange
2017 Mission Street near the 16th Street BART station
Information, discussion & community! Monday Night Forum!!
Occupy Forum is an opportunity for open and respectful dialogue
on all sides of these critically important issues!
OccupyForum presents…
The Sacramento Protest:
Victory over Fascism
On June 26, fascists were chased off of their intended rally site at the California State Capitol building by hundreds of anti-fascist protesters. People from the Sacramento community and anti-racist protesters from around northern California began to assemble in the morning to prevent white supremacists from entering the capitol grounds
and holding their hate rally.
Militarized police cornered the protesters on the street to allow space for fascists to assemble, but to their surprise the protesters heroically challenged them and took over the steps of the capitol building before the fascists could assemble.
The some-500 anti-racist protesters who covered the capitol grounds were people of many political orientations, races, genders, and ages united against the hate group and its preaching of deadly racist ideas. The counter demonstration was supported by, among others, Antifa Sacramento, Anti Police Terror Project, Sacramento Brown Berets, the Progressive Labor Party, various anarchist collectives,
and the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
Anti-fascist participants will tell about their experiences at the action and lead a discussion on this event.
For background, see the reports on Indybay:https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2016/06/28/18788312.php
Time will be allotted for announcements.
Donations to OccupyForum to cover costs are encouraged; no one turned away.
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Announcements for Sunday & Tuesday (from Adrienne Fong)


Sunday, July17

J 17, Sunday, 2:00pm – 4:00pm, Justice For Jessica – Rally & March


3rd & Palou

March is to the Bayview Police Station

This event is led by YBLM – Youth for Black Lives Matter.

On May 19, 2016 Jessica Nelson Williams was murdered by SFPD Sergeant Justin Erb. She was unarmed and pregnant.

Justin Erb has not been fired or charged for this murder. Despite his extensive track record of misconduct (which you can read about here:http://48hills.org/2016/07/13/earlier-complaint-against-sergeant-who-shot-jessica-williams/) he continues to pose an imminent threat to the Bayview community.

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/224347734631138/?notif_t=plan_user_invited¬if_id=1468529018464182

Tuesday, July 19

J 19, Tuesday, 10:00am, Calling Out the Chief: Tuesday 10am Press Conference at 850 Bryant Street

Hall of Justice (front steps)
850 Bryant Street

Join us for a press conference and vigil
-SFPD: No coverups!
-DA Gascón: Charge the officers with murder!

After the event, you’re invited to walk with us to City Hall to support the Justice 4 Mario Woods Coalition in their call for justice.

The Chief is not telling the truth about crime scene misconduct! We’re calling him out!
We told the Police Commission about a possible coverup
While continuing to insist the DA file murder charges against the officers who killed Amilcar.

Host: Justice 4 Amilcar Perez-Lopez

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1031558216963646/

J 19, Tuesday, 12 Noon, Standing In The Name Of Justice – Press Conference

San Francisco, City Hall
1 Dr. Carleton B. Goodlett Place

In the memory of Our Son Our Brother Mario Woods Justice 4 Mario Woods will be holding Press Conference to let the world know we are still standing and fighting for our two demands:
-The Cops be charged with murder
-Independent Patterns and Practice Investigation.

Sponsor: Justice 4 Mario Woods Coalition

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1744699219146679/

J 19, Tuesday, 2:00pm, San Francisco Board of Supervisors Meeting

San Francisco City Hall
1 Dr. Carleton Goodlett Place

Supervisor Avalos proposal to hold $100 million of the SFPD in reserve until there are real changes in the use of force might be on the agenda.

J 19, Tuesday, 5:00pm – 8:00pm, City Council Meeting

Oakland City Hall
Frank Ogawa Plaza


Join us in saying no more scandals, no more stolen lives, and no more immunity for police violence. Speak out next Tuesday (July 19th) at 6pm at Oakland City Hall to demand a strong police accountability measure be placed on the November ballot.

MESSAGE to Oakland City Council:

“Don’t water down the people’s police accountability measure. We need an independent, community-driven Police Commission to ensure real accountability in Oakland. We urge you to:

• Ensure it’s independent by preventing direct appointments by the Mayor
• Make sure it’s community-based by preventing current or former law enforcement officers from serving on the commission.

*Fill out a speaker card by going to: https://solar.oaklandnet.com/Speaker/form

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/980243602089273/

J 19, Tuesday, 4:00pm – 12:00am, Oakland City Council Meeting

Oakland City Hall
1 Frank Ogawa Plaza

4:00pm – Pre-meeting rally
5:00pm city Council Meeting

This Oakland City Council Meeting is our chance to demand City Council Members take action to protect Oakland tenants by voting to place Council Member Rebecca Kaplan’s Renter Protection Act of 2016 on the November ballot.

Sponsor: Protect Oakland Renters

Info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1554576131517084/

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“Eric Holder’s Longtime Excuse for Not Prosecuting Banks Just Crashed and Burned” by David Dayen




July 12, 2016 (TheIntercept.com)

ERIC HOLDER has long insisted that he tried really hard when he was attorney general to make criminal cases against big banks in the wake of the 2007 financial crisis. His excuse, which he made again just last month, was that Justice Department prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence to bring charges.

Many critics have long suspected that was bullshit, and that Holder, for a combination of political, self-serving, and craven reasons, held his department back.

A new, thoroughly-documented report from the House Financial Services Committee supports that theory. It recounts how career prosecutors in 2012 wanted to criminally charge the global bank HSBC for facilitating money laundering for Mexican drug lords and terrorist groups. But Holder said no.

When asked on June 8 why his Justice Department did not equally apply the criminal laws to financial institutions in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis, Holder told the platform drafting panel of the Democratic National Committee that it was laboring under a “misperception.”

He told the panel: “The question you need to ask yourself is, if we could have made those cases, do you think we would not have? Do you think that these very aggressive U.S. attorneys I was proud to serve with would have not brought these cases if they had the ability?”

The report — the result of a three-year investigation — shows that aggressive attorneys did want to prosecute HSBC, but Holder overruled them.

In September 2012, the Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section (AFMLS) formally recommended that HSBC be prosecuted for its numerous financial crimes.

The history: From 2006 to 2010, HSBC failed to monitor billions of dollars of U.S. dollar purchases with drug trafficking proceeds in Mexico. It also conducted business going back to the mid-1990s on behalf of customers in Cuba, Iran, Libya, Sudan, and Burma, while they were under sanctions. Such transactions were banned by U.S. law.

Newly public internal Treasury Department records show that AFMLS Chief Jennifer Shasky wanted to seek a guilty plea for violations of the Bank Secrecy Act. “DoJ is mulling over the ramifications that could flow from such an approach and plans to finalize its decision this week,” reads an email from September 4, 2012, to senior Treasury officials. On September 7, Treasury official Dennis Wood describes the AFMLS decision as an “internal recommendation to ask the bank [to] plead guilty.” It was a “bombshell,” Wood wrote, because of “the implications of a criminal plea,” and “the sheer amount of the proposed fines and forfeitures.”

But after British financial minister George Osborne complained to the Federal Reserve chairman and the Treasury Secretary that DOJ was unfairly targeting a British bank, senior Justice Department leadership reportedly sought to “better understand the collateral consequences of a conviction/plea before taking such a dramatic step.”

The report documents how Holder and his top associates were concerned about the impact that prosecuting HSBC would have on the global economy. And, in particular, they worried that a guilty plea would trigger a hearing over whether to revoke HSBC’s charter to do banking in the United States.

According to internal documents, the DOJ then went dark for nearly two months, refusing to participate in interagency calls about HSBC. Finally,on November 7, Holder presented HSBC with a “take it or leave it” offer of a deferred prosecution agreement, which would involve a cash settlement and future monitoring of HSBC.

No guilty plea was required.

But even the “take it or leave it” offer was apparently not the last word. HSBC was able to negotiate for nearly a month after Holder presented that offer, getting more favorable terms in the ultimate $1.9 billion deferred prosecution agreement, announced on December 11, 2012.

The original settlement documents would have forced any HSBC executive officers to void their year-end bonuses if they showed future failures of anti-money laundering compliance. The final documents say that, in the event of such failures, senior executives merely “could” have their bonuses clawed back.

In addition, HSBC successfully negotiated to have individual executives immunized from prosecution over transactions with foreign terrorist organizations and other sanctioned entities, even though the original agreement only covered the anti-money laundering violations and explicitly left open the possibility of prosecuting individuals.

As a Justice Department functionary in 1999, Holder wrote the infamous “collateral consequences” memo, advising prosecutors to take into account economic damage that might result from criminally convicting a major corporation.

In 2013, he unwittingly earned his place in history for telling the Senate Judiciary Committee, “I am concerned that the size of some of these [financial] institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them,” which became known as the “Too Big to Jail” theory.

Holder told the Democratic platform drafting committee that “it was not lack of desire or lack of resources” that led to the lack of prosecutions for any major bank executive following the financial crisis. “We had in some cases statutory and sometimes factual inabilities to bring the cases that we wanted to bring,” he said.

The HSBC case, however, shows that lack of desire at the highest levels of the Justice Department was indeed the primary reason that no prosecutions took place.

Former Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., who also testified to the drafting committee, cited the HSBC case as an example of the lack of equal application of justice in the Holder era. Referring to the concern over destabilizing the financial system with an HSBC prosecution, Miller said, “That’s not an argument that’s available to too many people: ‘You can’t arrest me for selling cigarettes, it might destabilize the financial system!’ ”

The internal communications in the House report all come from the Treasury Department. The Justice Department, they say, did not comply with subpoenas for information about the settlement.

Holder has returned to Covington & Burling, a corporate law firm known for serving Wall Street clients in 2015. He had worked at Covington from 2001 until he was sworn in as attorney general in Feburary 2009. Covington literally kept an office empty for him, awaiting his return.

Jennifer Shasky, the AFMLS chief who requested the prosecution of HSBC but was overruled, recently resigned as the head of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to become a senior compliance officer with HSBC.

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