Andy Kroll

Andy Kroll

Senior Reporter

Andy Kroll is Mother Jones' Dark Money reporter. He is based in the DC bureau. His work has also appeared at the Wall Street Journal, the Detroit News, the Guardian, the American Prospect, and TomDispatch.com, where he's an associate editor. Email him at akroll (at) motherjones (dot) com. He tweets at @AndrewKroll.

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Goldman Sachs Still Eviler Than BP

| Thu Jun. 24, 2010 10:06 AM EDT

Felix Salmon points to a graph today mapping out the public's impression of three of the most wounded, scandal-ridden companies: Toyota, BP, and Goldman Sachs. As it turns out, in reaction to the question "If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, was it positive or negative?" the Biggest Loser award belongs to...Goldman Sachs. Despite BP's ongoing, ever worsening catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, Goldman, under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the face (fairly or not) of Wall Street greed and recklessness, still has the worst public image among the three companies. Here's the graph, via Felix:

Reid: Sharron Angle, the GOP Extremist?

| Thu Jun. 24, 2010 9:37 AM EDT

Today Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) released a new campaign ad bashing his conservative, Tea Party-endorsed opponent, former Nevada assemblywoman Sharron Angle. In it, Reid's campaign rips Angle for saying that Social Security is "welfare," and for claiming to want to eliminate both Social Security and Medicare. (Angle told Fox News' Sean Hannity earlier this month that she "want[s] to save Medicare and Social Security." She added that lawmakers need to "personalize" the two programs so "the government can't go in and raid it any more.") The ad concludes with a black-and-white screen that reads, "Sharron Angle: Just too extreme." Here's the ad:

This ad, of course, is just the beginning of what's sure to be a barrage of messaging from Reid's camp and his Democratic backers. They're certainly not lacking for dubious statements of Angle's to harp on; after all, this is the woman who recently claimed that unemployed people receiving government support are "spoiled." You can bet there's an ad in the works making light of that gaffe.

For Angle's part, she has yet to wade into the ad wars, so far releasing only one online commercial and mostly avoiding the press as she builds up her campaign operations. But you can bet she'll come out swinging soon enough.

Prisoners Scored $9 Mil in Housing Tax Credit

| Wed Jun. 23, 2010 1:45 PM EDT

More than a thousand prisoners, 241 of whom were behind bars for life, pocketed more than $9 million in tax breaks as part of Congress' highly popular first homebuyer tax credit. All told, the housing tax credit, which has propped up the US' wounded housing market for months, has lost nearly $30 million to fraud, according to a new Treasury Department report.

Here's CNN Money on the report:

According to the report, 4,608 state and federal inmates filed for these tax credits, and that fraudulent refunds were doled out to 1,295 of them.

The inspector general's report said the most "egregious" fraudsters were 715 prison lifers, including 174 who filed with the help of paid preparers. From this group, 241 lifers were awarded $1.7 million.

The problem was particularly bad in Florida: 61% of the lifers who got credits were incarcerated in the Sunshine State.

The homebuyer tax credit program was very specific about the time period in which homebuyers were allowed to participate, though this rule seems to be the most widely violated. The credit was for home purchases that happened after April 8, 2008, with a cut-off date that was eventually extended to May 1, 2010.

Oil Spill Paranoiac Wins GOP Candidacy

| Wed Jun. 23, 2010 11:39 AM EDT

The conspiracy theory wing of the Tea Party scored a substantial victory last night, with Bill Randall prevailing in a runoff for the Republican candidacy in North Carolina's 13th Congressional district. In case you missed it, Randall has suggested that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf wasn't precipitated by non-existent safety inspections, a culture of self-regulation, a federal regulator in bed with the industry, etc., etc. Instead, Randall believes, the BP and federal government may have colluded to cause the Horizon rig to explode, crumble into the water, and begin spewing millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf each day. Last month, Randall had this to say about the spill:

Personally, and this is purely speculative on my part and not based on any fact, but personally I feel there is a possibility that there was some sort of collusion. I don't know how or why, but in that situation, if you have someone from a company violating a safety process and the government signing off on it, excuse me, maybe they wanted it to leak.

Now, Randall isn't the only public figure to claim to smell something funny about the spill. Former FEMA chief, Michael "Heckuva job, Brownie" Brown claimed Obama wanted the Deepwater spill to occur so he could shut down offshore oil drilling, and bloviator-in-chief Rush Limbaugh voiced his approval. But unlike his paranoid cohorts, Randall isn't a washed-up bureaucrat or a talking head—he's now the GOP's top candidate for a US representative.

Randall's defeat of moderate GOPer Bernie Reeves comes as somewhat of a surprise, but his chances this November against Democratic incumbent Brad Miller aren't that great. That is, unless he can convince North Carolinians that one of the biggest environmental catastrophes in US history was an inside job.

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