News release from Administrative Office of the Courts:
The Tennessee Supreme Court today upheld the lower courts’ decisions that David Keen, an inmate currently on death row, could not reopen his post-conviction proceeding to assert that he was intellectually disabled.
In 1990, David Keen raped and murdered an eight-year-old girl in Shelby County. He pleaded guilty to both offenses, and in 1991, a jury sentenced him to death. Even though state law at the time prohibited executing intellectually disabled persons, Mr. Keen did not assert that he was intellectually disabled. The Tennessee Supreme Court affirmed Mr. Keen’s conviction in 1994 and affirmed his death sentence in 2000. Mr. Keen later filed an unsuccessful petition for post-conviction relief but again did not assert that he was intellectually disabled.
Nineteen years after his original death sentence, Mr. Keen asserted for the first time that he is intellectually disabled. He insisted that the courts should permit him to reopen his post-conviction proceeding to present new evidence that he was intellectually disabled. Both the Criminal Court for Shelby County and the Tennessee Court of Criminal appeals rejected this claim.
An alleged bid-rigging conspiracy among Bain Capital and other private equity firms to divvy up targeted companies — including Nashville-based HCA — may have taken as much as $1.6 billion out of HCA shareholders’ pockets by blocking rival bidders and keeping a lid on the final price when the hospital chain was sold in 2006.
So reports The Tennessean, further observing: The legal case resonates in Nashville and across the country in part because of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s former role as the founder of Bain Capital and because of the prominence of Tommy Frist Jr. and other members of the Frist family in Middle Tennessee’s business community.
…The notion that big private equity firms such as Bain, Goldman Sachs and the Blackstone Group engaged in a conspiracy to lower sales prices in leveraged buyouts from 2003 to 2007 remains a key claim in a federal lawsuit in Boston brought against those firms by former HCA shareholders, and by stockholders of other acquired companies — such as Neiman Marcus and Toys “R” Us — snapped up in Wall Street mega-deals before the recession.
HCA — then a public company — went private in 2006 in a $32.1 billion sale to private equity funds Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), Bain Capital and Merrill Lynch, as well as to family members of HCA’s co-founder Dr. Tommy Frist Jr. and other executives on HCA’s management team.
The size of the deal was a U.S. record at the time, but the federal lawsuit in Boston lays out the legal argument that the price tag was kept artificially low. Attorneys for the private equity firms being sued insist they did nothing wrong.
In a Politico report from a national governor’s gathering, Gov. Bill Haslam is among Republicans quoted in giving their thoughts on what Mitt Romney should be doing differently in his campaign. While Walker said Romney should run a singular campaign on the economy and the budget, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam suggested the nominee-in-waiting push back against Obama’s Bain-bashing by explaining further about what he did in the business world.
“I would hope that he’ll do more of that,” said Haslam, himself a businessman before turning to politics.
The Tennessean said Obama wanted to put Romney “in a really tight little box.”
“His job is to break out of that and show, ‘Here’s who I really am,'” Haslam said, adding: “In my mind, he’s got a heck of a story to tell.”
Other GOP governors, however, channeled the increasingly common complaint among conservatives when it comes to Romney, contending that he needed to go beyond mere criticism of Obama and detail his own plans for the presidency.
News release from state attorney general’s office:
Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper and 26 other state attorneys general announced a $34.25 million agreement with GE Funding Capital Market Services, Inc. (“GEFCMS”) as part of an ongoing nationwide investigation of alleged anticompetitive and fraudulent conduct in the municipal bond derivatives industry.
As part of the multistate agreement, GEFCMS has agreed to pay $30 million in restitution to affected state agencies, municipalities, school districts and not-for-profit entities nationwide that entered into municipal derivative contracts with GEFCMS between 1999 and 2005. In addition, GEFCMS agreed to pay a $1.25 million civil penalty and $3 million in fees and costs of the investigation to the participating states.
Tennessee entities will receive approximately $742,776. Eligible Tennessee entities include the Memphis Shelby County Airport Authority, Metropolitan Health and Educational Facilities Board and the Knox County Health Education & Housing Facilities Board.
Municipal bond derivatives are contracts that tax-exempt issuers use to reinvest proceeds of bond sales until the funds are needed. They may also be used to avoid fluctuating interest rates. In April 2008, the multistate working group began investigating allegations that some large financial institutions, including national banks and insurance companies, and brokers, engaged in various schemes to rig bids and commit other deceptive, unfair and fraudulent conduct in the municipal bond derivatives market.
The states’ investigation developed evidence that certain traders at GE Funding, in concert with certain brokers, engaged in conduct that allowed the broker to determine in advance that GE Funding would win a bid for a guaranteed investment contract by allowing GE Funding to receive a “last look” and arrange for other financial institutions to submit purposely non-winning courtesy bids. On many occasions, due to the “last look”, GE Funding was able to lower its bid to the issuer and still win the transaction.
“This is an ongoing effort,” Attorney General Cooper said. “We will continue working to ensure there are no financial entities benefiting at the expense of taxpayers through anticompetitive activity. We appreciate the cooperation GEFCMS has demonstrated in this ongoing matter.”
The multistate task force agreement is part of a coordinated global $70 million agreement that GEFCMS entered into today. The financial institution also reached agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Internal Revenue Service UPDATE: Josh Flory has more on the Knoxville angle.
Freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher tells The Commercial Appeal that 2011 has been a “trying year” with the many obstacles facing the country and little cooperation from the Democratic majority in the Senate. But he said he remains optimistic that common sense solutions will prevail. “I think people are searching for stability and certainty in not only government but in the economy,” he said. “That’s one reason that we were elected in such a large number in the last election. They just want common sense solutions, if you will, to common sense problems that are really, really plaguing the private sector.”
To that end, Fincher touted his recent legislative initiative to make it easier and cheaper for companies to make initial public offerings of shares. Earlier in the year, Fincher — who left assignments with the House Agriculture and Transportation committees to take a spot on Financial Services — introduced a bill to suspend collection of capital gains taxes for 10 years.
“Taking capital gains to zero, we think, is a good step in the right direction of keeping more money in peoples’ pockets,” he said.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Higher Education Commission agreed Tuesday to support a plan that would have colleges and universities pay part of the cost for campus construction projects and also requested approval of a five-year capital program that totals $1.8 billion.
Commissioners in a telephone conference call Tuesday agreed to send the plan to Gov. Bill Haslam and state finance officials but did not have a quorum to formally act on the proposed capital outlay for the fiscal year that starts in July 2012 and the five-year plan.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that THEC supports the five-year plan that both the University of Tennessee and Board of Regent systems hope will be financed with a bond issue (http://bit.ly/uiTBiF ).
Haslam said Tuesday that his Republican administration does “want to increase the amount of funding going to higher ed capital in Tennessee.”
“And I think it’s fair to say one of our clear intentions in this year’s budget is to spend more on capital both for higher ed and for the state’s own needs.”
The commission is requesting $245 million in new projects for 2012-13, $40 million of which would come from institutions’ match, and $84 million in maintenance for the next fiscal year.
U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann proposed a two-year moratorium on capital gains taxes this week, leveraging a key point of his jobs plan and suggesting an idea that would benefit him personally, reports the Chattanooga TFP. The government now charges individuals and corporations varying rates of tax on most capital gains, which are commonly obtained from the sale of stocks, bonds and property. If the House and Senate adopt his idea, the Chattanooga Republican said, the savings will be invested in people, not “buried in the backyard.”
“Once you get that capital in the game, it results in more jobs,” he said Friday in a telephone interview. “This allows average Americans — all Americans — to go out and take a risk with their capital.”
Fleischmann is one of those Americans. According to House financial disclosures filed last spring, the attorney and freshman congressman reported an investment valued between $500,001 and $1 million that included capital gains income. Records show the investment returned a profit between $15,001 and $50,000 last year.
“It’s a very fair question, but I have never thought of my own financial situation one time in any of the 830 votes I’ve ever cast,” he said. “It just doesn’t enter my mind.”
News release from U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Chuck Fleischmann announced his jobs plan for America today, “Less Government, More Jobs”. The 33-page plan lays out the seven ideas he views as vital to getting our country back to work, and the action he is taking, or has already taken, to ensure those ideas are implemented.
“The free-market based solutions in my jobs plan are what this country needs right now. The same ‘tax, borrow, spend’ policies from this Administration are not the solutions. The Republican-led House has already been working to put some of these measures in place, but unfortunately the Democratic Senate and White House have said, ‘No.’ They need to listen to the American people and realize their ideas have failed. I am proud to introduce solutions I believe will result in real job growth, not government growth,” Fleischmann said.
Congressman Fleischmann understands there are many ways to get the government out of the way so the American entrepreneur can grow his or her business, but these are the seven he views as being able to have some of the greatest impact.
1. 0% Capital Gains Tax
2. Rein in Regulatory Agencies
3. Stability in the Marketplace
4. Exploration-Based Energy Policy
5. Tort Reform
6. Tax Reform
7. Free Trade
Go to http://fleischmann.house.gov/jobs to read the plan.
Congressman Fleischmann will be appearing on radio shows across the 3rd District and state this week, as well as holding a district-wide Tele-Town Hall, to talk about his “Less Government, More Jobs” plan.