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Judicial Watch, Inc. is a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

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Tom Fitton's Weekly Update

Kudos From President Trump

President Trump Recognizes Judicial Watch
Kamala Harris’ San Francisco Pay Records
Soros Groups Must Make Anti-Prostitution Pledge to Get U.S.
Universities and Governments: Peddling Influence and Stealing Secrets

President Trump Recognizes Judicial Watch

In his speech to the 2020 Council for National Policy this week, President Trump spoke about the dangers of the proposed vote-by-mail policies that would pave the way for ballot harvesting. And as he did, he paused to recognize Judicial Watch.

Tom, where’s Tom, Tom where is he, stand up Tom, will you Tom Fitton. That’s Judicial Watch … they do a fantastic job. I wish he had more help. I mean honestly I wish he had more help. But it’s not easy beating a system that’s been in place for many, many years, right? Many, many years it’s been in place and it’s sad but, 51 million votes are being sent and nobody knows who’s getting them and what happens if you send them to an all Democrat area but not to an all Republican area. How do you win an election? This is really a very serious problem…. This is about all of us. This is about the country.

This pleased me, of course, because we have been without peer in our fight for clean voter rolls and clean elections. In his remarks the President made it clear that our efforts are critical, and he reinforced my desire to succeed.

Kamala Harris’ San Francisco Pay Records

Surely, Kamala Harris expected intense scrutiny when she agreed to run for vice president, and we’re happy to oblige.

We reported on 131 pages of payroll records from the District Attorney’s Office of the City and County of San Francisco detailing payments to Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) when she was employed by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.

Harris, the 2020 Democratic vice-presidential nominee, worked in the San Francisco city attorney’s office from 2000-2003; she was San Francisco district attorney from 2004-2010. She was elected California attorney general in 2011.

We obtained the records in response to a pair of California Public Records Act requests.

The documents include a May 17, 2005, letter from Susie B. Sales, the Payroll/Personnel Services Division (PPSD) Officer for the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office (SFDAO), notifying San Francisco Controller Johnny Zabala that Harris had improperly received incentive payments. Sales writes:

Hi, Johnny:

Thank you for your phone call this afternoon regarding the report that PPSD is working on with regards to identifying employees who are still receiving incentive and should not have due to changes of job classification. Kamala Harris “MAAINQ” [Municipal Attorneys Association Inequity Premium] incentive should be removed as her job classification does not allow her to receive the benefit. However, I tried to removed [sic] the “MAAINQ” from her file, but the system does not allow me to do anything. Can you look in to [sic] it in addition to the split file distribution in her records that should also be removed?

SFDAO payroll records show that, from January 2004 to early May 2005, then-District Attorney Harris apparently was paid for working for 8 hours of “regular” pay per day and 8 hours of pay classified as “04U1.” (04U1 appears to be an internal accounting code representing the “Inequity Premium” incentive she received, with 04 denoting the District Attorney.)

According to an official in the San Francisco Controller’s Office, this “inequity premium” is paid to senior attorneys in the San Francisco government and consists of an additional payment of one to three percent of the attorneys’ base salary, according to the provisions of a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the city and county of San Francisco.

On January 3, 2002, while serving as deputy city attorney for San Francisco, Harris filed a “Payroll Problem Description” form saying she was paid for 40 hours one week when she should have been paid for 80 hours. Harris requested an additional payment for that week of $2,684.

On October 25, 2019, we submitted a follow-up CPRA request to the district attorney’s office, seeking additional communications about the improper payments Harris received, as well as records reflecting the total amount of the improper payments, any reimbursements she made and any disciplinary actions taken against her as a result. To date, we have not received the additional records — not even an acknowledgement from the district attorney’s office of our follow-up request.

This certainly raises a few questions about Senator Harris’s time as a prosecutor.

 

Soros Groups Must Make Anti-Prostitution Pledge to Get U.S. Funds

So rules the U.S. Supreme Court. What astonishes me is that not only are U.S. taxpayers giving money to Soros’ leftwing organizations, but his lieutenants fight in court for years for more. Our Corruption Chronicles blog is on top of this.

In a blow to George Soros’ leftwing initiatives, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that foreign affiliates of his Open Society Foundations (OSF) are not protected by the Constitution and therefore must abide by a congressionally mandated anti-prostitution pledge to receive federal funding. Under a 2003 law called United States Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Act, the U.S. spends tens of billions of dollars to combat AIDS globally, and a chunk of the cash flows into OSF coffers. Under the measure organizations that receive American taxpayer dollars to fight HIV/AIDS abroad must adopt policies opposing sex trafficking and prostitution. Leftist groups legally challenged the rule years ago, claiming that it violated their First Amendment right to free speech. In 2013 the Supreme Court agreed, ruling that the policy requirement infringed on the American groups’ constitutionally protected freedom of speech.

The decision only applies to American organizations however, so an OSF affiliate called Alliance for Open Society International, which is handsomely funded by Uncle Sam, has engaged in litigation for more than a decade and a half to obtain the same exemption. The Soros group sued for permanent injunctive relief, and a New York District Court ruled in its favor before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed. In a 5-3 ruling, the Supreme Court recently reversed the appellate court decision, determining that foreign affiliates of U.S.-based groups that get federal dollars to combat HIV/AIDS abroad are not protected under the Constitution. “In short, plaintiffs’ foreign affiliates are foreign organizations, and foreign organizations operating abroad have no First Amendment rights,” according to the ruling, written for the majority by Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Because the foreign Soros groups possess no First Amendment rights, applying the anti-prostitution policy requirement is not unconstitutional, the decision further points out, stating that under American constitutional law, foreign citizens outside U.S. territory do not possess rights under the Constitution.

Congress included the important policy in its landmark measure to combat HIV/AIDS globally because it determined that prostitution and sex trafficking are additional causes and factors in the spread of the deadly virus. Federal lawmakers also wrote in their legislation, which has helped save 17 million lives, that prostitution and sex trafficking are degrading to women and children. “No funds made available to carry out this Act, or any amendment made by this Act, may be used to provide assistance to any group or organization that does not have a policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking,” the law states. Leftist groups receiving federal funds assert that condemning prostitution and sex trafficking interferes with their efforts to help those with HIV/AIDS because it creates a stigma. The government’s anti-prostitution pledge “falsely casts sex workers as part of the problem rather than acknowledging their important role in developing and implementing successful HIV/AIDS-prevention strategies,” according to an OSF publication released years ago.

The recent Supreme Court ruling was a “blow to free speech and public health,” according to a statement issued by Soros’ OSF. It quotes OSF President Patrick Gaspard saying that “the Supreme Court upheld the U.S. government’s quest to impose its harmful ideological agenda on U.S. organizations and restrict their right to free speech.” He continues. “The Anti-Prostitution Pledge compromises the fight against HIV by impeding and stigmatizing efforts to deliver health services. Condemnation of marginalized groups is not a public health strategy.” The statement claims that research has repeatedly found that moral rejection and criminalization of sex work creates an environment where sex workers are more vulnerable to violence and abuse and consequently at greater risk of contracting HIV. “These issues are heightened in the context of COVID-19, when sex workers face financial devastation that further contributes to these disproportionate health and safety risks,” the OSF writes, circling back to blast the Supreme Court ruling because it “will prohibit critical organizations from providing services and support to sex workers who are too often left out of—or are antagonized by—government responses to the pandemic.”

Note that the chief of Soros’ organization calls rejection of sex trafficking and prostitution a “harmful ideological agenda.”

Universities and Governments: Peddling Influence and Stealing Secrets

We have been at the forefront in uncovering and reporting China’s ubiquitous efforts to steal secrets from our scientists and institutions. Micah Morrison, our chief investigative reporter, offers a comprehensive look at this onslaught in this Investigative Bulletin:

Judicial Watch last month sued the U.S. Department of Education for records of money funneled from foreign governments to American colleges and universities. The numbers are big—billions of dollars—and difficult to pin down, despite federal reporting requirements. The foreign governments often are U.S. adversaries. What are they after?

In some instances, professors are pawns in long running games of technological theft. That’s the case of part-time UCLA Professor Yi-Chi Shih, convicted in Los Angeles in 2019 of trying to steal sensitive microchip technology and ship it to China, where it could be used for fighter jets and missiles.

In other cases, foreign governments—and the Chinese government in particular—are playing a subtler game, attempting to absorb intellectual property without outright theft. That appears to be the case of Harvard Professor Charles Lieber, indicted in June for allegedly making false statements about his work for Wuhan University of China. Lieber is the former chair of Harvard’s Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department; he’s a leader in the revolutionary field of nanotechnology—the ability to manipulate atoms and molecules across a wide variety of scientific and industrial platforms. Wuhan of course lately is famous as the original source of Covid-19, but Lieber’s arrest has no connection to the virus.

But something big was going on at Wuhan. The indictment notes that from 2012 through 2015, Lieber was paid $50,000 per month, plus $158,0000 in living expenses, plus an award of $1.5 million to set up a research lab. At roughly the same time, he was taking in $15 million in research grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Defense Department for his work at Harvard.

What did the Chinese want for their money? It seems clear: they wanted to know what Lieber knew—what he was producing for the Americans.

The American grants required disclosure of all research support, financial conflicts of interest, and foreign collaboration. The indictment alleges that Lieber lied to U.S. authorities about his affiliation with Wuhan University and the Chinese “Thousand Talents Program.”

The Justice Department noted in charging Lieber that the Thousand Talents Program is “one of the most prominent Chinese talent recruitment plans designed to attract, recruit, and cultivate high-level scientific talent in furtherance of China’s scientific development, economic prosperity and national security.” The program seeks “to lure Chinese overseas talent and foreign experts to bring their knowledge and experience to China, and they often reward individuals for stealing proprietary information.”

China also seeks influence on American campuses through its Confucius Institutes programs. According to a recent investigative report in the Washington Free Beacon, the Beijing-sponsored Chinese language and culture programs appear on more than 80 U.S. campuses and have funneled tens of millions of dollars to U.S. universities. The exact dollar figures are unknown, although federal regulations require disclosure by the universities.

Judicial Watch is suing the Department of Education to get to the bottom of the foreign money question. The sums are not small. Three universities that did report Confucius Institute funding—Michigan, Maryland, and Emory—received more than $30 million, the Free Beacon noted.

“Policymakers and education experts alike have long warned that Confucius Institutes might be a conduit for Chinese influence on American campuses that could restrict academic freedom and promote a distorted account of Chinese history and culture that favors the Chinese Communist Party,” the Free Beacon noted. “Senate and federal investigations have corroborated some of those concerns.”

Judicial Watch also is probing Qatar’s connection to American education. The Persian Gulf monarchy, an inconsistent American ally and sometimes purveyor of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel propaganda, has given $1 billion to American universities since 2011. The Zachor Legal Institute, a think tank and advocacy group that investigates anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activities, started asking questions about the origins of Qatari influence at Texas A&M University. That’s when entities connected to the Middle East monarchy teamed up with Texas A&M and the powerhouse law firm Squire Patton Boggs to crush a Freedom of Information Act request about Qatari financing. Judicial Watch is helping Zachor fight back. Read more about the case here.

According to one estimate, at least $6.5 billion has moved from authoritarian regimes into the coffers of American academe, “primarily from Chinese and Middle Eastern sources.” That’s from a letter to ranking members on several House committees from the U.S. Education Department’s general counsel. The letter notes that Education Department investigations into “Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Russian foreign sources” are underway.

The website Campus Reform first reported the letter. Campus Reform also reports that Education Department investigations have been launched into possible undisclosed foreign ties at Harvard and Yale. According to the website, the Education Department has asked Harvard and Yale “to disclose any funding they may have received from China, Iran, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.”

Until next week …