Friday, January 4, 2013

January 4, 2013

Gore's $70M Take from Current TV Designed to Avoid Obama Tax Hikes
by Bloomberg News
January 3, 2013

Al Gore, who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his fight against global warming, may gross about $70 million from the sale of his Current TV network to Al Jazeera, the cable channel funded in part by oil-rich Qatar.

Al Jazeera will pay about $500 million for Current TV, including the stake held by Gore, 64, according to two people with knowledge of the deal. The network is one of dozens of investments made by the former vice president since he lost the 2000 presidential race by a slim margin, Bloomberg reported.

“It’s reeking with irony,” said Jeff Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean at the Yale School of Management, who studies corporate governance. “It seems to be at least a paradox in terms of his positions on sustainability and geopolitics.”

The deal highlights Gore’s makeover from career politician to successful businessman. His take from the Current TV sale is is many times the maximum net worth of $1.7 million he reported while running for president in 1999. Besides investing in startups, Gore is on the board of Apple Inc. (AAPL), an adviser to Google Inc., according to his website biography, and a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Late Thursday, Fox News and other media reported that the sale seemed to have been rushed to avoid the anticipated fiscal cliff tax increases.

In addition to wanting a buyer who would reflect his political philosophy, Gore was anxious to fulfill his fiduciary responsibility to himself and keep his taxes low, the Washington Times reported.

"A critic of the tax structure that allows the very wealthy, like former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and billionaire tax activist Warren Buffet, to escape the high income tax rates paid by their secretaries, Gore attempted to complete the deal by December 31," the Times reported Thursday. "Because the deal wasn’t signed until today, he and his partners will pay the new 23.8 percent capital gains tax rather than 15 percent, or an extra $8.8 million."

“The green of money knows no political boundaries,” Charles Elson, who is director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware, told Bloomberg News. “When you are running investments, your priority needs to be maximizing return.”

Gore’s holdings also include investments in Inc., EBay Inc. and Procter & Gamble Co. through his Generation Investment Management LLP.
2004 Purchase

Gore holds a 20 percent stake in Current TV, according to the people, who asked not to be named because the sale terms aren’t public. His proceeds are difficult to pin down because the company had $41.4 million in debt, as well as preferred stock entitled to $99.5 million in the event of a sale or liquidation, according to a 2008 regulatory filing.

The Current TV price represents a sevenfold increase from the $71 million Gore and his partners paid for the predecessor company in 2004, according to the filing. Gore, chairman, and Joel Hyatt, a co-founder and chief executive officer, announced the sale yesterday in a statement, without providing financial terms.

Kalee Kreider, a spokeswoman for Gore, didn’t respond to a phone call or e-mail request for comment.

“Many Americans are tired of borrowing huge amounts of money from China to buy huge amounts of oil from the Persian Gulf to make huge amounts of pollution that destroys the planet’s climate,” Gore said in September 2006 at the New York University School of Law. “Increasingly, Americans believe that we have to change every part of that pattern.”
Current Investors

The network’s investors included funds controlled by Los Angeles billionaire Ron Burkle and San Francisco money manager Richard Blum, according to the 2008 filing, when the company unsuccessfully sought to sell stock to the public. Blum is married to U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from San Francisco.

The Raine Group advised Current TV on the sale.

The owners introduced Current TV in 2005 after purchasing the network from Vivendi SA.

Al Jazeera is closely held and gets some funding from the government of Qatar, a small country on the eastern side of the Arabian Peninsula that gets almost half of its gross domestic product from oil and gas, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

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Mike Lee: Senators Only Had Six Minutes to Read “Fiscal Cliff” Bill Before Voting
by Daniel Doherty
January 3, 2013

What could go wrong, right? According to Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee, members of the upper chamber had -- at most -- six minutes to read the “fiscal cliff” bill before they voted on it. Little wonder, then, that the so-called “compromise” was in many respects a complete and total disaster:

"Everything about this bill was a failure…you need look no further than the fact that we were given a total of six minutes before we voted on it. Not one single Senator who voted for this bill had read it."
 This should trouble every American. I mean, if Senators aren’t reading a bill that will pretty much impact every single working American, what else aren’t they reading? An important question to ponder, it seems. Still, this isn’t the first time members of Congress have passed sweeping legislation without understanding the details of a bill, let alone the consequences of voting “aye.” Nancy Pelosi infamously said in 2010 we need to pass Obamacare to “find out what is in it.” Just look at how that turned out. Is it really surprising, then, that about half the country is not feeling optimistic about the future, and thus probably believes that the American Century has already come and gone? An exceedingly chilling thought, if you ask me.

Above all, we need leadership in Washington, something this Congress -- as well as the last one -- seems incapable of providing.

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Inside the Conservative Rebellion Against John Boehner
by Matthew Boyle
January 3, 2012

House Speaker John Boehner barely held onto his job atop Congress’ lower chamber on Thursday. Just how close a call Boehner had is now becoming clear.

Nine House conservatives voted for somebody other than Boehner, two abstained from voting and one voted “present.” That total of 12 Republicans who didn’t support Boehner was a stone’s throw from the required 17 to force a second ballot election – at which point several more Republican members were slated to back a competitor to Boehner’s, who would unite the party behind him or her.

Politico has reported the original list of members possibly considering defection from Boehner was longer and included Reps. Steve King of Iowa, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Scott Garrett of New Jersey and Steve Fincher and Scott DesJarlais, both of Tennessee.

Politico uncovered this list because Kansas Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp “sat on the House floor during the speaker vote brandishing an iPad” with a message “displayed on the screen ticking off members of the House Republican Conference he hoped would oppose the sitting speaker.”

The title of the email message was reportedly: “You would be fired if this goes out.”

Breitbart News has confirmed that the following members were considering voting against Boehner retaining his speakership as well: Reps. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Sam Graves of Missouri, Steve Southerland of Florida, Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, David Schweikert of Arizona, Arkansas freshman Tom Cotton and Brett Guthrie of Kentucky.

Breitbart News also learned that outgoing House GOP conference chairman Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling was considering opposing Boehner. Boehner recently named Hensarling to be the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee in the next Congress.

All in all, there were more than 20 House Republicans who were considering unseat Boehner. Many of these members bailed on the movement at the last minute on the House floor.

There did appear to be at one point a chance Boehner wouldn’t regain his position during the happenings on the House floor. The Clerk of the House had reached the end of her list of names to call when Boehner reached 216 votes – he needed 217 to win re-election. As the National Review’s Washington, D.C., editor Robert Costa noted on Twitter, there were 17 Republican members either not voting, voting present or voting for someone other than Boehner. “So: In short, we were over 17 for a minute, looking at 2nd ballot, when the conservatives come to floor, save Boehner from 2nd ballot,” Costa wrote.

Then, as Costa notes, Bachmann, Tennessee Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn and New Jersey’s Scott Garrett came back to the floor – after ignoring their names being called the first time during the alphabetical roll call – and voted for Boehner.

“Boehner is fine, people/ He will be reelected. Blackburn, Bachmann, and Garrett saved him,” Costa said of those conservatives saving Boehner. “What a story. What a story.”

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