Monday, October 25, 2004

Halliburton exposed by Army official

This appeared in the New York Times today:

"The top civilian contracting official for the Army Corps of Engineers, charging that the Army granted the Halliburton Company large contracts for work in Iraq and the Balkans without following rules designed to ensure competition and fair prices to the government, has called for a high-level investigation of what she described as threats to the 'integrity of the federal contracting program.'

"The official, Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, said that in at least one case she witnessed, Army officials inappropriately allowed representatives of Halliburton to sit in as they discussed the terms of a contract the company was set to receive."

With all the news on the missing 380 tons of explosives it won't get much play. But the evidence is clear: Cheney's Halliburton had the inside track all along.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Timken back in the news

Bush is going to Timken Company in Canton, Ohio today, according to this report in the Plain-Dealer. There can be no doubt now that he's absolutely tone-deaf to workers concerns.

Here's what one response was from critics in the news:

"But critics say Timken and Bush broke one end of the bargain: The company got tax cuts, anti-dumping help and military contracts. It began building another plant in China its fourth as part of its growing presence in 27 countries.

"But the workers in Canton, where little of the military work is performed, were left to fight for their jobs. The company, though profitable, says employee costs at those plants are too high.

"'Timken is benefiting from tax breaks and from contracts at the same time they're moving jobs away from America,' said Kathy Roeder, a spokeswoman for John Kerry's presidential campaign. 'That concept is out of whack.'"

Campaign Money Watch's Special Interest Spotlight (now on hiatus) covered this earlier this year, not just once, but twice. W.R. Timken, the company's CEO, is a major Bush and Republican Party fundraisier/contributor.

Another Halliburton Rip-Off

From Reuters coverage of Wall Street Journal report, appearing in the Houston Chronicle (got that?):

"The U.S. Army is laying the groundwork to let Halliburton Co., keep several billion dollars paid for work in Iraq that Pentagon auditors say is questionable or unsupported by proper documentation, the Wall Street Journal reported today. ...

"The newspaper, citing the documents and internal memorandums, said that officials are considering using the estimate to serve as the basis for "an equitable settlement," under which the Pentagon could drop many of the claims its auditors have made against the company.

"But the Journal added that some disgruntled Pentagon officials see the effort to broker an outside settlement with the company as unusual because the contract is so large.

"According to the report, Kellogg Brown & Root so far has billed about $12 billion in Iraq, and about $3 billion of that remains disputed by government officials.

"The Journal also cited Pentagon records showing that $650 million in Halliburton billings are deemed questionable. An additional $2 billion is considered to have insufficient paperwork to justify the billing, the report said."

When will the fleecing end? When Cheney is back in the private sector?

Monday, October 18, 2004

"Values" TV ad on DeLay

Go watch it.

Get it on the air.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Daily DeLay

Another corrupt, pro-special interest politician, another blog.


Insurance company: If we don't pick the candidates, you'll get bad ones

The Star-Tribune printed a research piece they've been working on for a while about the wheelings and dealings of UnitedHealth Group (the nation's largest insurer), its CEO (William McGuire) and its political donations.

They spoke to me a month or so ago, and I gave them this piece of the story on Health Savings Accounts, which UHG offers now that they bought up Golden Rule Insurance Company just a week and a few days before HSAs were expanded in the Medicare bill:

UnitedHealth has not only started selling such accounts, it has also chartered a bank called Exante Financial Services that can manage the 401(k)-like accounts from which individuals make withdrawals for health care expenditures.

"It's a tremendous windfall," said David Donnelly, the Boston-based director of an organization called Campaign Money Watch. "They put $500 million on the table and bought it up. The legislation was a policy that made that company worth much more."

Donnelly wrote a report this year for Campaign Money Watch that called the Golden Rule purchase "a lucrative acquisition" and questioned its timing.

UnitedHealth contributed $69,000 to 12 of the 17 members of the House-Senate conference committee that hammered out the final details of the Medicare law during a contentious two months last fall.

The company's response would be hilarious if it didn't expose how unsuited our campaign finance system is for a modern democracy:

"This is a democracy, and this is how it works," said Lois Quam, CEO of the Ovations division of UnitedHealth. "It's [William McGuire's] point of view that if good people don't go into public life, then bad people do."
So, Ms. Quam... I'm trying to figure out the logic of this whopper... If wealthy people don't select the people who can run and win elective office, we'll be left with "bad" people? So, we should feel grateful that the William McGuire's of the world own our politicians?

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Nail "The Hammer"

Tom DeLay is vulnerable in his district, and we decided to take him on. Working with other national groups, we will hold DeLay accountable for his egregious ethics violations.

Contribute to this campaign today:

We also need a name for the campaign. How about these?

Enough DeLay Already
Nail "The Hammer"
Dump DeLay
Act Without DeLay

Suggest your own. Second other nominations. Add your comments.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Misuse of taxpayer funds

We're for public financing of campaigns with spending limits, but we're not for public financing of independent expenditure campaigns.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Is that a Corporation in Your Pocket?

Sinclair Broadcasting, which caused a stir earlier this year by refursing to broadcast Ted Koppel's Nightline honoring those who died in Iraq, is at it again. Sinclair, whose executives overwhelmingly favor Republicans in their campaign donations, will run an anti-Kerry movie on its 62 TV stations, many of them in key battleground states, according to the LA Times yesterday.

Senator John McCain chastised the company back in April when they refused to run Nightline, writing in a letter to Sinclair CEO David Smith, "Your decision to deny your viewers an opportunity to be reminded of war's terrible costs, in all their heartbreaking detail, is a gross disservice to the public, and to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. It is, in short, sir, unpatriotic. I hope it meets with the public opprobrium it most certainly deserves."

Media Matters has an advocacy campaign to take action.

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