This black Texas principal was suspended because a parent sent this photo into the school board. John Iadarola and Jayar Jackson break it down on The Damage Report.
News coverage: NBC Channel 5
Which Stetson Clark is it?
1) Stetson Clark seems to match the description of the former school board member who filed the complaint.
His likes include “Support the Confederate Battle Flag”, lots of Trump stuff, FoxNews
2) Stetson Clark
Occupation: Operations analyst
Experience: After starting my career in Washington D.C., I joined Goldman Sachs and helped them build up their Dallas-Fort Worth office. My current employer, Highland Capital Management, is where I now oversee operations, accounting and auditing. My current duties at Highland mirror what I will bring to parents and taxpayers of GCISD — make sure we are getting the most from every dollar we invest. I have the ability to analyze complex financial data sets and turn that into an actionable plan for the future.
In October 2019, Highland Capital Management filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Nothing Can Stop This Hedge Fund Soap Opera.
Hedge funds that play in the rough-and-tumble world of distressed debt are accustomed to using the court system to achieve their ends.
These battles often get ugly. For firms in this world — which seek to buy the equity and debt of companies that are in dire financial straits and then turn those companies around — the playbook often involves suing to recover assets, doing battle with other creditors, and taking control of the companies post-bankruptcy.
But even by the standards of exceptionally litigious investment firms, Highland Capital Management stands in a class by itself.
The Dallas-headquartered alternative-investment firm has been slugging it out in the courts since the financial crisis with investors, investment banks, and a pair of ex-employees who allege the firm fraudulently transferred assets to avoid paying out judgments that the courts ruled they are owed.
.. At its pre-crisis peak, in 2007, the firm managed some $40 billion and was considered a powerhouse hedge fund firm and a pioneer in so-called collateralized loan obligations, securing its status as one of the most high-profile — if controversial — credit investment firms in the business. But wrenching losses in its Crusader funds, and in another credit-focused hedge fund that had invested heavily in the toxic credit instruments that took down many of its peers, led the firm to suddenly announce in 2008 that it would suspend redemptions as it attempted to liquidate the assets — spawning the legal brawl that prompted the bankruptcy filing more than a decade later.
.. The one relic of its pre-crisis past that has remained, however, is Highland’s reputation as a scorched-earth litigator.
Almost no one contacted by Institutional Investor would speak on the record for this story, for fear of legal reprisal. Those fears are well founded: Thousands of pages of legal documents show that Highland’s co-founder and current chief executive, James Dondero, is not afraid to wage the legal equivalent of war — and doesn’t back down when the courts don’t rule in his favor.
Various court documents related to the lawsuits show that Highland has referred to investors as “idiots” in emails, blamed what it called one ex-employee’s “erratic” and “megalomaniacal” behavior on brain damage, and accused another ex-employee of having inappropriate sexual relationships with subordinates — the latter claim determined by an arbitration panel to be a “false pretext of ‘for cause’ termination” to get out of contractual obligations related to the value of his limited partnership.
.. But putting its numerous disputes behind it will be easier said than done. Many of the creditors have litigation claims against the firm, and they aren’t exactly ready to make nice. Those creditors include the two ex-employees alleging fraud, as well as investment bank UBS, which just won a $1 billion judgment against two now-defunct Highland entities over another crisis-era deal that also went south.
What’s more, some of the creditors aren’t satisfied with the new governance structure. And according to a copy of the proposal seen by II, one of them has suggested an entirely new management team to take control of Highland Capital Management.
The architect of the plan is none other than one of Dondero’s most ardent foes.
.. Highland’s reputation as a bare-knuckle brawler in court had already been cemented well before the crisis. That reputation is largely thanks to James Dondero.
Standing at a physically imposing 6’4″, Dondero is a big-game hunting enthusiast who owns a large gun collection — though people who know him say he also owns an even larger trove of books and can be socially awkward.
.. “Highland was viewed very negatively by the investor community,” a senior private equity executive told Institutional Investor for a 2007 profile of the firm. “They had an attitude of sue first and ask questions later.”
However unseemly that attitude may have been to Highland’s rivals, it worked as an investment strategy. The firm racked up impressive returns, with its Crusader funds gaining 40 percent in 2006, and attracted blue-chip investors along the way. These included the California Public Employees Retirement System and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.
.. But trouble hit in 2008 — as it did with so many hedge fund managers — when the financial crisis began, wreaking havoc on the funds and slashing returns. In October of that year, Highland told investors it would suspend redemptions from the Crusader funds — as well as from the Highland Credit Strategies fund, a separate hedge fund — and start liquidating their assets. But at the time, Highland maintained that it wished to wait to liquidate some of the assets to avoid dumping them at cut-rate prices in a fire sale.
.. When the case finally went to arbitration, the panel overseeing it unanimously issued three partial final awards and one final award against Highland, finding that the firm, its in-house lawyers, and Dondero had “engaged in willful misconduct, self-dealing, and secrecy, and made multiple misrepresentations to the Redeemer Committee and the Crusader Fund’s investors,” according to a November court filing in Delaware Bankruptcy Court by the Crusader creditors’ committee citing the arbitration findings. The panel also found that “Mr. Dondero was actively involved in the misconduct” and that Highland’s internal lawyers “were integral to implementing Highland’s deceitful schemes.”
.. But the firm eventually stabilized, and Daugherty ended up staying until fall 2011. By then the firm had created various new funds, including one that Daugherty was supposed to manage. But he, according to court documents, was not comfortable with the terms, autonomy, or lack of investor approval associated with the fund’s structure and wanted to see an agreement in writing.
Dondero refused, snapping at Daugherty, “You will trust or you will leave,” according to the court documents. Daugherty resigned on September 28 of that year.
Then things took a strange turn.
.. In October 2011, according to a lawsuit, Dondero invited Daugherty for a drink at Nicola’s, an upscale Italian restaurant in a suburb of Dallas. Over scotch, Dondero confided to Daugherty that he had amassed evidence that his wife, Becky, was cheating on him and that he planned to file for divorce. Dondero subsequently told Daugherty he planned to try to get his net worth down to avoid a hefty divorce settlement per the terms of his prenuptial agreement, according to the same court documents.
Not long after, Daugherty received a subpoena from Becky Dondero’s lawyers, seeking his testimony in the couple’s highly acrimonious divorce proceedings. In April 2012 a lawyer asked Daugherty questions about how much Highland was worth. Then he asked him point-blank if Dondero had ever told him about his plans to reduce his net worth so he could avoid paying his wife $5 million that she was owed. Daugherty testified that he had. Highland filed a lawsuit against Daugherty just two weeks later.
.. “Contentious” is an understatement. In its April 2012 complaint against Daugherty, filed in Dallas County Court, Highland accused him of improperly retaining the firm’s confidential information, breaching his fiduciary duty, and making defamatory statements about the firm; it also accused Daugherty of launching into “abusive tirades” against employees, publicly calling them “fucking idiots” and using misogynistic and homophobic slurs to berate them. Furthermore, Highland claimed that Daugherty had become “increasingly unmanageable, erratic, and insubordinate” — which it blamed on an admission Daugherty had allegedly made to the firm that years earlier he’d had two strokes that “left him with dead spots in his brain” and affected his mental competence and conduct.
.. According to trial transcripts, Daugherty testified that he paid Highland its fee award in December 2016, after the firm took aggressive measures to collect on the judgment. Daugherty testified that he and his wife had moved their vehicles out of the carport attached to their house because an internal Highland lawyer had threatened to confiscate all of Daugherty’s assets in front of his wife and kids.
“There was a vein of terror going through my family. . . . We were trying to protect our assets,” Daugherty testified at the trial.
When Dondero took the stand, he tried to portray Daugherty’s actions as simply those of a disgruntled employee.
“Ten or 20 percent of all employees, when they exit the firm, end up being some form of conflict. Eighty, 90 percent of the people move on with life for a variety of reasons, but then some people never get over it and they make it the rest of their life,” he said. “So I think that’s what Pat’s doing.”
In spite of all the rancor, Daugherty testified at the October 2019 trial that he sincerely believed when he paid the judgment in 2016 that Highland would pay its judgment to him.
“I just thought this was Dondero being Dondero, trying to extract his . . . pound of flesh and the satisfaction of seeing me squirm,” Daugherty testified, explaining why he wired the money for his judgment before Highland paid its judgment to him. “I thought they’d pay it.”
An update from Citron Research
AOC Calls For Investigation Into Robinhood After They Restrict GME & Other Trades
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others are calling for an investigation into Robinhood and other trading apps over market manipulation after stopping users from trading GameStop, AMC, and others following r/WallStreetBets big success in damaging billionaire hedge funds.
Supreme Court case on Trump’s taxes may show if he benefits from CARES Act
In early May, after weeks of delay prompted by the pandemic, the US Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in three highly-anticipated cases about president Donald Trump’s financial records. One of those matters involve a subpoena for Trump’s taxes.
The case is important. Trump, unlike any president in recent history, has refused to disclose his finances, obscuring potential conflict of interests between his government and his personal business. But the issue has now taken on a whole new urgency because the $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed by Congress last month contains deep within its 800 pages two barely-noticeable tax clauses that only benefit rich Americans, perhaps including the president.
The new tax clauses will cost Americans about $195 billion over 10 years. They suspend previously-placed limits on tax offsets and apply retroactively, meaning millionaires will make a killing based on past circumstances while millions of Americans lose their jobs and struggle to survive the economic effects of the coronavirus crisis. This, despite the fact that, officially, the businesses of Trump and others in government cannot benefit from the stimulus package.
In other words, politicians apparently found a workaround for the protections meant to shield the people from government corruption.
“The [tax] policy is complex,” senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island told Quartz. “But the principle is straightforward: In the midst of a national health emergency, we ought to help those who need it—like healthcare workers and small businesses—not give huge tax breaks to hedge fund managers and real estate investors. This is a special-interest looting of the American taxpayer, plain and simple.”
Precisely how much Trump stands to gain from the “bonanza” tax breaks is unclear because he has refused to disclose his finances. The president has so far intervened in cases ordering his accountants and business associates to reveal their dealings with him, arguing that the chief executive’s records are special.
Supreme Court precedent indicates otherwise, however, and the new tax provisions in the CARES Act raise additional suspicions about his secret records that can’t be put to rest without full disclosure.
“If we had Trump’s tax returns, as we do for every other president in the modern era, the American people could see what kind of conflicts of interest and financial mischief swirl around their president,” Whitehouse said. “In this case, we could see whether Trump himself would benefit from giveaways like these provisions.”
On swindles and windfalls
The suspect clauses are hundreds of pages deep in the hastily-passed emergency CARES Act. They benefit a relatively small group of wealthy taxpayers and have nothing to do with battling Covid-19 or providing relief to the Americans worst-hit by the crisis, but Whitehouse said Republican politicians made them a priority during negotiations.
Members of Congress knew the tax clauses were in there. But the specifics, the extent to which these breaks could line the pockets of the rich and benefit wealthy real estate investors like the president and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, were not immediately apparent.
“What was a surprise was just how much money those provisions will loot from taxpayers to send to real estate investors and other million-dollar-plus earners—tax filers like the Trumps and Kushners,” Whitehouse said.
The astronomical cost only became evident a day after CARES was signed into law, when the nonpartisan congressional Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) published an analysis of the provisions. The committee’s latest findings show that four of five millionaires will pocket an average of $1.6 million more this year alone thanks to the stimulus bill. This of course dwarfs the $1,200 one-time checks average Americans will receive.
In total the tax clauses will cost taxpayers more than the funding allotted in the CARES Act to all hospitals throughout the US, and more than the relief provided to all state and local governments, according to the JCT analysis. Together, they are the costliest elements of the relief package. For that reason, Whitehouse and Texas representative Lloyd Doggett, as committee members, want to know what role, if any, the Trump administration played in advocating for these policies.
On April 9, they sent a letter demanding to review all communications pertaining to any internal advocacy for the suspect clauses. The missive was addressed to vice president Mike Pence, secretary of the treasury Steven Mnuchin, and acting director of the Office of Management and Budget Russell Vought. The lawmakers want the records “so that Congress and the American public can better understand the provenance of these tax law changes, and assess whether any individuals within the Administration who stand to gain from these provisions were involved in their development.”
SCOTUS to the rescue?
One bitter irony of this especially cruel spring of 2020 is that the CARES Act was signed into law on March 27, just days before the Supreme Court was originally meant to hear the Trump finance matters.
The hearings were delayed due to concerns about crowds in the courtroom. They would not have addressed the suspicious provisions in the CARES Act. But perhaps the JCT’s discovery of the tax clauses’ astronomical cost, published just ahead of debates over the president’s unprecedented secrecy, would have alerted Americans to the need for full financial disclosure from Trump and his subpoenaed business associates.
Instead, whispers of the secret tax windfalls were drowned out by the roar of justified pandemic panic. At that point, the people were more worried about ventilator and mask shortages than secret surpluses for the super rich and there was no dearth of pressing news to preoccupy journalists and readers. Indeed, it seemed—at least to some—that the typical ideological rifts had been overcome for the common good. “At times, our nation can appear sharply divided; divided by generations, by left and right, by our differences, and even by the donkey and the elephant,” Forbes wrote hopefully of the stimulus bill. “Sometimes, circumstances arise that compel us to either rise as one or be shattered.”
Alas, that quickly proved to be an illusion. The reality is far more stark. As The Washington Post put it on April 14, “[E]very voter should know that, at a time when hospitals, cities and states cried out for help with the pandemic, the president’s allies in Congress tossed a [$195 billion] lifeline in the direction of Trump, Kushner and other rich people who needed it the least.”
Now, with the federal and state governments planning an easing of lockdowns—or as the Trump administration puts it “Opening Up America Again”—it’s perhaps also the right moment to pay attention to the president’s unprecedented secrecy about his finances.
If the Supreme Court decides after its historic telephonic oral arguments on May 4 that Trump doesn’t have the right to hide his taxes and financial records, contrary to his claims, the third parties subpoenaed over their dealings with Trump will turn the records over, they say. Whitehouse said the documentation could potentially clarify the extent to which Trump will personally benefit from the costly tax clauses in the CARES Act.
“We already know about massive conflicts of interest for the president, whether it’s foreign dignitaries staying at his hotels or shunting military planes to Scotland to steer business to his resorts,” the senator said. “Seeing the president’s full financial records would show us much more, like whether these provisions will pad the Trump family’s bottom line.”