Hot Docs: Top Financial Officials on Bailout; Sports Broadcasters; and Government Motorcades

Today's selection of timely reports.

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Top Financial Officials on the Bailout: More needs to be done for homeowners in distress, according to testimony prepared by top U.S. financial officials for a House Financial Services Committee hearing on the next administration and the use of Troubled Asset Relief Program funds. Donald Kohn, vice chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, said priority should be given to avoiding "preventable foreclosures," along with using TARP funds to help restart credit markets. John Bovenzi, chief operating officer of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., also noted that "credit remains tight and more needs to be done for homeowners in distress." He said the foreclosures have a domino effect on the economy. "Foreclosures may result in vacant homes that may invite crime and create an appearance of market distress, diminishing the market value of other nearby properties," he said. "Foreclosures add inventory and create distressed sale prices, which place downward pressure on surrounding home values."

Broadcasters Treated Like Kings, or at Least High Government Officials: Deputy U.S. marshals escorted Fox Sports broadcasters to a variety of sporting events at the behest of a senior attorney in the U.S. Marshals Service who moonlighted as a sports statistician, according to an investigation by the Justice Department's Office of Inspector General. The attorney, Joseph Band, worked in the Office of General Counsel since 1992 and in various government positions since 1965. He has also worked as a part-time sports statistician for some 30 years. Among other things, he arranged for motorcades to transport himself, Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, and Tim McCarver from World Series games and football playoffs in violation of "government ethics standards." Finally, the report noted that in the course of the investigation, investigators could find only one case where Band's "improper" requests were refused. A U.S. marshal told Band to take a taxi or trolley to the game. That marshal "should be commended for his adherence to the high ethical standards" of the department, the report said.

Report on Political Hiring in Justice Deptarment's Civil Rights Division: A top Justice Department official and onetime head of the department's civil rights division politicized hiring, according to an investigation by the Office of the Inspector General and the Office of Professional Responsibility. The report, released publicly January 13, is entitled, "An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring and Other Improper Personnel Actions in the Civil Rights Division." It found that Bradley Schlozman "improperly considered political and ideological affiliations in the recruitment and hiring of career attorneys in the civil rights division and, in doing so, he violated department policy and federal civil service laws and committed misconduct." According to the report, Schlozman made comments verbally and in E-mails that he wanted to bring in "real Americans" and "right-thinking Americans" and referred to some applicants as "some lefty who we'll never hire" and "big libs."

Millions of Americans Being Stalked: About 3.4 million people identified themselves as victims of stalkers in 2005 and 2006, a report concluded. The report, "Stalking Victimization in the United States by the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics," found that stalkers used a variety of methods to torment their victims. Most common were phone calls followed by letters or E-mails. However, nearly a third of victims reported that stalkers would physically show up at places. Some 75 percent of victims knew their stalkers, who, the report noted, have become quick to utilize technology. In addition to E-mails, stalkers used instant messaging and planted listening or other devices to track their victims. The report found that the stalking can continue for years. "Many victims of stalking reported being stalked over a period of months or years, and 11 percent of victims of stalking reported being stalked over a period of five years or more."