London (AFP) - Stranded on superyachts or confined to their sprawling mansions worrying about their wine cellars, the world's super rich have invited ridicule throughout the coronavirus pandemic with their apparent insensitivity to the plight of ordinary people."Sunset last night... isolated in the Grenadines avoiding the virus. I'm hoping everybody is staying safe," US media mogul David Geffen wrote on his Instagram account at the end of March. Above his message, he shared a picture of a huge yacht sailing in calm waters off islands in the Caribbean. The message triggered an avalanche of onl...
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The sector's goal was to ensure lawmakers pass "policy that makes the already wealthy richer, and the rest of us poorer," regardless of which party is in power.
#WallStreet spent $2.9 BILLION to influence policy in Washington during the last election cycle
The goal: Policy that makes the already wealthy richer, and the rest of us poorer
New report from @RealBankReform
— AFR (@RealBankReform) April 15, 2021
The spending detailed in AFR's report likely does not represent Wall Street's total contributions, the organization noted, because $1.05 billion in dark money, with unknown original sources, was spent on the 2020 federal elections.
"Thus, total Wall Street spending [accounts] for, at a minimum—because it is impossible to track dark money from the industry—one in seven dollars that financed the 2020 federal elections, the most expensive ever," AFR reported.
The financial sector spent the most money ever on political elections last year since 2016, when Wall Street poured $2 billion into campaigns and lobbying efforts. AFR executive director Lisa Donner noted that Wall Street is likely to continue breaking records in the coming years.
"The enormous sums that Wall Street has at its disposal, combined with a broken campaign finance system, means there is little practical limit to the amount of money the financial services industry can inject into American debate on politics and policy," Donner said in a statement.
The majority of the campaign contributions from Wall Street went to Democratic candidates, with Democrats taking 53% of the donations. More than $74 million was given to Biden's campaign.
Newly elected Democratic Sens. Mark Kelly of Arizona and Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock of Georgia were among the senators who received a combined $300 million from Wall Street executives and employees.
On Twitter, AFR said some of the biggest political spenders on Wall Street last year were Bloomberg LP, which poured $157.8 million into the elections; the National Association of Realtors, which spent more than $154 million; and Blackstone Group, which spent more than $49 million.
Amid the $2.9bn that #WallStreet dumped into American politics, there were some standouts in spending on campaigns and lobbying:
Fahr LLC $70M
Read our latest report:
— AFR (@RealBankReform) April 15, 2021
"Year in and year out, this torrent of money gives Wall Street an outsized role in how we are governed, while driving and protecting policies that help this industry's super wealthy amass even greater fortunes at the expense of the rest of us," said Donner.
According to the Huffington Post, an accused Capitol rioter and mother of eight from Pennsylvania who allegedly smashed out a window during the pro-Trump insurrection is facing threats of contempt of court after defying a judge's order to mask up in public.
Rachel Powell, an anti-mask activist, had been ordered to wear a mask in public as part of the conditions of her pretrial release. But in a video she posted of herself in public, she wore a "mask" that was really just a hole-riddled mesh, completely incapable of protecting against the transmission of COVID-19.
"Defendant's decision to appear in a video wearing a mask with holes in it at work mocks compliance with the Court's Order setting as a condition of pre-trial release that she 'wear a mask whenever she leaves her residence,'" wrote U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth on Friday. "No reasonable person could think that defendant's 'mask' complied with that condition, which Chief Judge Beryl Howell imposed to ensure that defendant 'would not pose a risk to the health and safety of the community when she left her house.'"
Lamberth gave Powell ten days to explain, in writing, "why the Court should not revoke her pre-trial release, order her detained pending trial, or hold her in contempt."
A number of accused Capitol rioters also happen to be opposed to public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. A recent video showed a Fresno, California man seen at the riots furiously shouting at a city councilperson for supporting mask mandates, which has put his parole in jeopardy.
According to a report from ABC, attorneys for Donald Trump accuser E. Jean Carroll -- who is suing the ex-president for defamation -- asked a court on Friday night to ban the Department of Justice from defending him as her case goes forward.
Carroll, who accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in a department store dressing room in the 1990's has been given the go-ahead to proceed with her suit, but the Justice Department under former Attorney General Bill Barr stepped in on Trump's behalf based upon the fact that he was still in office at the time the suit was filed.
Carroll's attorneys want the DOJ to drop out.
"Carroll urged the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to affirm 'Trump did not act within the scope of his employment as President of the United States when he repeatedly, willfully defamed a private citizen to punish and retaliate against her after she revealed that he had sexually assaulted her decades before he took office," the report states before adding, "Carroll sued the former president for defamation after he accused her of playing politics and lying about an alleged 1990s rape in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman."
In a statement Friday night, Carroll explained, "Trump has tried and failed repeatedly to get my lawsuit booted," Carroll said in a statement Friday. "Last fall, he had his Justice Department intervene and try to get it dismissed in federal court. He lost. Then, just a week before President Biden's inauguration, Trump's private lawyers and the DOJ joined forces to argue on appeal that when Trump called me a liar who was too ugly to rape, he was somehow being presidential. This is offensive to me."
"I am confident that the Second Circuit will make it clear that no president, including Donald Trump, can get away scot free with maliciously defaming a woman he sexually assaulted," she added.
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