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PufPuf23

PufPuf23's Journal
PufPuf23's Journal
June 30, 2023

Federalist Society sponsored USSC judges (Alito and Scalia) getting free vacations is not new.

This is a great and extensive web local news site that tells the story of the wealthiest and most influential real estate investor in Eureka, CA (County seat of Humboldt County) and fishing trips to Alaska.

Alito, Scalia, Leonard Leo, Harvard Law, Arkley, Federalist Society convention in Napa, CA, etc.

Please read the long and detailed article and be appalled.

LOCAL BILLIONAIRE, ROB ARKLEY, MAKES NATIONAL NEWS AS PROPUBLICA ARTICLE DESCRIBES 2008 LUXURY FISHING TRIP FUNDED BY HIM AND ANOTHER WEALTHY GOP DONOR

Thursday, 22 June 2023, 9:43 am; Redhead Blackbelt.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has come under scrutiny for his recent luxury fishing vacation funded by prominent GOP billionaires, one of whom subsequently had cases brought before the highest court in the land. The vacation, allegedly organized with the assistance of Eureka’s influential figure, Rob Arkley, has raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest and impartiality within the judiciary. As questions arise regarding the ethics of this excursion, legal experts and critics are calling for transparency and accountability, demanding a thorough investigation into the relationship between Justice Alito and those who funded the trip. In recent months, other Supreme Court Justice’s have received adverse attention for possible ethics violations in the way they have received gifts.

ProPublica graciously allows other news organizations to repost their stories. See below for their entire story:

https://kymkemp.com/2023/06/22/local-billionaire-rob-arkley-makes-national-news-as-propublica-article-describes-2008-luxury-fishing-trip-funded-by-him-and-another-wealthy-gop-donor/

Excerpts from ProPublica

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In early July 2008, Samuel Alito stood on a riverbank in a remote corner of Alaska. The Supreme Court justice was on vacation at a luxury fishing lodge that charged more than $1,000 a day, and after catching a king salmon nearly the size of his leg, Alito posed for a picture. To his left, a man stood beaming: Paul Singer, a hedge fund billionaire who has repeatedly asked the Supreme Court to rule in his favor in high-stakes business disputes.

Singer was more than a fellow angler. He flew Alito to Alaska on a private jet. If the justice chartered the plane himself, the cost could have exceeded $100,000 one way.

In the years that followed, Singer’s hedge fund came before the court at least 10 times in cases where his role was often covered by the legal press and mainstream media. In 2014, the court agreed to resolve a key issue in a decade-long battle between Singer’s hedge fund and the nation of Argentina. Alito did not recuse himself from the case and voted with the 7-1 majority in Singer’s favor. The hedge fund was ultimately paid $2.4 billion.

Alito did not report the 2008 fishing trip on his annual financial disclosures. By failing to disclose the private jet flight Singer provided, Alito appears to have violated a federal law that requires justices to disclose most gifts, according to ethics law experts.

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Grey Goose and Glacier Ice

The month after Singer got home from the 2008 fishing trip, he realized he had a problem. He was supposed to receive a shipment of frozen salmon from the Alaska lodge. But the fish hadn’t arrived. So the billionaire emailed an unlikely person to get to the bottom of it: Leo, the powerful Federalist Society executive.

“They’ve escaped!!” Singer wrote. Leo then sent an email to Arkley, the lodge owner, to track down the missing seafood.

The only clear thread connecting the prominent guests on the trip is that they all had a relationship with Leo. Leo is now a giant in judicial politics who helped handpick Donald Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees and recently received a $1.6 billion donation to further his political interests. Leo’s network of political groups was in its early days, however, when he traveled with Alito to Alaska. It had run an advertising campaign supporting Alito in his confirmation fight, and Leo was reportedly part of the team that prepared Alito for his Senate hearings.

Singer and Arkley, the businessmen who provided the trip to the justice, were both significant donors to Leo’s groups at the time, according to public records and reporting by The Daily Beast. Arkley also sometimes provided Leo with one of his private planes to travel to business meetings, according to a former pilot of Arkley’s.

In his statement, Leo did not address detailed questions about the trip, but he said “no objective and well-informed observer of the judiciary honestly could believe that they decide cases in order to cull favor with friends, or in return for a free plane seat or fishing trip.”

He added that the public should wonder whether ProPublica’s coverage is “bait for reeling in more dark money from woke billionaires who want to damage this Supreme Court and remake it into one that will disregard the law by rubber stamping their disordered and highly unpopular cultural preferences.”

Arkley is a fixture in local politics in his hometown of Eureka, California, known for lashing out at city officials and for once starting his own newspaper reportedly out of disdain for the local press. By the early 2000s, he’d made a fortune buying and servicing distressed mortgages and also become a significant donor in national GOP politics.

As his political profile rose, Arkley bragged to friends that he’d gotten to know one-third of the sitting Supreme Court justices. He told friends he had a relationship with Clarence Thomas, according to two people who were close with Arkley. And the Alito trip was not Arkley’s first time covering a Supreme Court justice’s travel to Alaska.

In June 2005, Arkley flew Scalia on his private jet to Kodiak Island, Alaska, two of Arkley’s former pilots told ProPublica. Arkley had paid to rent out a remote fishing lodge that cost $3,200 a week per person, according to the lodge’s owner, Martha Sikes.

Snapshots from the trip, found in the justice’s papers at Harvard Law School, capture Scalia knee-deep in a river as he fights to reel in a fish. Randolph, the appellate judge who was also on the later trip, joined Scalia and Arkley on the vacation, flying on the businessman’s jet.

Scalia did not report the trip on his annual filing, another apparent violation of the law, according to ethics law experts. Scalia’s travels briefly drew scrutiny in 2016 after he died while staying at the hunting ranch of a Texas businessman. Scalia had a pattern of disclosing trips to deliver lectures while not mentioning hunting excursions he took to nearby locales hosted by local attorneys and businessmen, according to a research paper published after his death.

Randolph, now a senior judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, did not disclose the trip. (Nor did he disclose the later trip with Alito.) Randolph told ProPublica that when he was preparing his form for 2005, he called the judiciary’s financial disclosure office to ask about disclosing the trip. He shared his notes from the call with a staffer, which say “don’t have to report trip to Alaska with Rob Arkley & others / private jet / lodge.” Kathleen Clark, an ethics law expert at Washington University in St. Louis, said, “I don’t understand how the staff member came to that conclusion based on the language in the statute.”

On June 9, Arkley’s group chartered a boat, the Happy Hooker IV, to tour Yakutat Bay. On the way over, Scalia and Arkley discussed whether Senate Republicans, then in a contentious fight over judicial confirmations, should abolish the filibuster to move forward, according to a person traveling with them.

A photo captures Arkley and Scalia later that day gazing off the side of the boat at the famed Hubbard Glacier. At one point, a guide chiseled chunks off an iceberg and passed them to Scalia. The justice then mixed martinis from Grey Goose vodka and glacier ice.

It remains unclear how Scalia ended up in Alaska with Arkley. But the justice’s archives at Harvard Law School offer a tantalizing clue. Immediately before the fishing trip, Scalia gave a speech for the Federalist Society in Napa, California. The next day, Arkley’s plane flew from Napa to Alaska. Scalia’s papers contain a folder labeled “Federalist Society, Napa and Alaska, 2005 June 3-10,” suggesting a possible connection between the conservative organization and the fishing trip.

The contents of that folder are currently sealed, however. They will be opened to the public in 2036.


End of articles.

June 22, 2023

Had an encounter with orcas that went instantly from great fun to terrifying.

In 1994 was a subcontractor for an 190,000 acre EIS on federal land in southeast Alaska. We worked off a floating camp complete with a helicopter and 3 brand new Boston Whalers.

Six of us flew into the camp that held 40-50 people complete with an air traffic controller for all the activity when fully active. The group included the project manager of the overall project and several subcontractors. I was a subcontractor and had an employee that was field manager of my work. We were scoping things out, getting the lay of the floating camp and who and what would be.

Seemed appropriate and fun to take the Boston Whalers for a ride. Two of the Boston Whalers had 3 of us each for a joy ride. Was even more fun when saw whale spout which we went to explore. Somewhere have photos of the spouts and of orcas when we drew near. Suddenly, orcas were between the two boats and curious enough that the boat was rocked. We left as fast as Boston Whaler possible. A safety plan was part of the federal bid. No mention of orcas. New rule was stay away from orcas when in boats.

June 1, 2023

Fact Sheet from Democrats on the Natural Resource Committee about Budget Agreement and NEPA.

The link below is to a PDF Fact Sheet to the permanent weakening of permitting under NEPA in the Budget Agreement.

My Congress Critter Jared Huffman CA District 2 (Northcoast) sent out a press release opposing the Budget Agreement with a link to the Fact Sheet from Natural Resource Committee Democrats.

https://democrats-naturalresources.house.gov/imo/media/doc/2023.05.29_Div.%20C_Title%20III_Permitting%20reform.pdf

The press release and opposition is a surprise to me but so are the details of proposed changes to NEPA. Does not look good.

Hoping others pick up this discussion. Thoughts?

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