Ka­t­rina crony­ism: A bi­par­ti­san af­fair

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Michelle Malkin

Gov­ern­ment sucks. It sucks bil­lions of tax­payer dol­lars down the drain in the name of pre­vent­ing dis­as­ters. It sucks bil­lions more clean­ing those dis­as­ters up when pre­ven­tion fails. It sucks mil­lions on top of the bil­lions for in­ves­ti­ga­tions and re­crim­i­na­tions. And then the cy­cle be­gins anew.

The Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion, like ev­ery ad­min­is­tra­tion since Jimmy Carter cre­ated the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency in 1979, has failed might­ily to break the nat­u­ral dis­as­terfed­eral dis­as­ter cy­cle. Next to the sys­temic break­down on border se­cu­rity and im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment, the Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina boon­dog­gle stands as the Repub­li­cans’ most dis­grace­ful do­mes­tic fail­ure. Af­ter years of hawk­ing five-pound fis­cal con­ser­va­tive blue­prints for down­siz­ing gov­ern­ment bu­reau­cracy and re­form­ing fed­eral spend­ing, the GOP blew a monumental op­por­tu­nity to show lib­er­als how to end dis­as­ter so­cial­ism.

Fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tors now es­ti­mate the to­tal for Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina waste could ex­ceed $2 bil­lion next year. Some $1 bil­lion in aid has al­ready been squan­dered on ev­ery­thing from un­used trail­ers to empty cruise ship cab­ins, jun­kets, and dis­as­ter aid debit cards that cov­ered strip club and cham­pagne ex­penses. In­ves­ti­ga­tors re­port­edly will re­lease the first of sev­eral au­dits ex­am­in­ing more than $12 bil­lion in Ka­t­rina con­tracts next month.

Adding to this al­ready nau­se­at­ing de­ba­cle: grand­stand­ing Democrats. Ac­cord­ing to the As­so­ci­ated Press, when the Dems take over this month, “at least seven com­mit­tees plan hear­ings or other over­sight — from hous­ing to dis­as­ter loans — on how the $88 bil­lion ap­proved for Ka­t­rina re­lief is be­ing spent.” Among those chair­ing over­sight pan­els: Sen. Robert “They call me ‘The Pork King,’ they don’t know how much I en­joy it” Byrd, West Vir­ginia Demo­crat. When they hold their windy hear­ings and press con­fer­ences de­cry­ing waste­frau­dand­abuse, they’ll bray about count­less hur­ri­cane con­trac­tors with GOP ties. They’ll turn over the mi­cro­phone to cor­po­rate shake­down hyp­ocrites such as Jesse Jack­son to moan about fa­voritism in gov­ern­ment con­tract­ing. And they’ll as­sail the Repub­li­can cul­ture of cor­rup­tion while look­ing the other way at Ka­t­rina’s Demo­crat prof­i­teers.

You will hear a lot about the Shaw Group, for ex­am­ple, which snapped up ma­jor dis­as­ter re­lief and re­con­struc­tion con­tracts in the af­ter­math of Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina. Main­stream me­dia out­lets and Demo­crat mau-mauers have ze­roed in on Shaw’s “ties to the Bush White House” and the multi­bil­lion-dol­lar con­glom­er­ate’s sta­tus as a “ma­jor cor­po­rate

What Nancy Pelosi and com­pany will not

men­tion, though, is that the Shaw Group was

founded by ma­jor Louisiana Demo­crat

player Jim Bern­hard — a for­mer chair­man

of the Louisiana Demo­crat Party who

worked tire­lessly for Demo­crat Louisiana

Gov. Kath­leen Blanco’s runoff cam­paign and

served as co-chair of her tran­si­tion team.

client of Joe All­baugh, Pres­i­dent Bush’s for­mer cam­paign man­ager and a for­mer head of the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency.”

What Nancy Pelosi and com­pany will not men­tion, though, is that the Shaw Group was founded by ma­jor Louisiana Demo­crat player Jim Bern­hard — a for­mer chair­man of the Louisiana Demo­crat Party who worked tire­lessly for Demo­crat Louisiana Gov. Kath­leen Blanco’s runoff cam­paign and served as co-chair of her tran­si­tion team. Mr. Bern­hard was palsy-walsy with Ms. Blanco, whom he has lent/of­fered the Shaw Group’s cor­po­rate jets to on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions. An­other Shaw ex­ec­u­tive was Blanco’s cam­paign man­ager.

Democrats also plan to make hay of no-bid trailer con­tract awards that have ben­e­fited Repub­li­can-lean­ing busi­nesses, in­clud­ing a joint ven­ture in­volv­ing Del-Jen Inc., a sub- sidiary of Fluor, which has re­port­edly do­nated more than $930,000 to mostly GOP can­di­dates since 2000.

But what will the anti-crony­ism Democrats say about Bour­get’s of the South — which, ac­cord­ing to the New Or­leans Times-Picayune, “has be­come the big­gest Louisiana sup­plier of trail­ers to FEMA by far, col­lect­ing nearly $120 mil­lion from no-bid fed­eral con­tracts?” The com­pany had no li­cense to sell trail­ers nor any ex­pe­ri­ence in the in­dus­try when it se­cured a $6.4 mil­lion deal af­ter Ka­t­rina hit.

It did, how­ever, have con­nec­tions. The men who own Bour­get’s — brothers Glen and Gary Smith — are sons of Henry Smith, the trea­surer of the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee of the Louisiana Demo­cratic Party. The TimesPicayune notes fur­ther: “Gary’s son and Glen’s nephew, Gary Smith Jr., is the Demo­cratic state rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Norco who sits on the House Spe­cial Com­mit­tee on Dis­as­ter Plan­ning, Cri­sis Man­age­ment, Re­cov­ery and Long-Term Re­vi­tal­iza­tion.” Heck­uva job, Smithies!

Ka­t­rina crony­ism comes in equally vi­brant shades of red and blue. Such are the rot­ten fruits of bi­par­ti­san­ship in Wash­ing­ton.

Michelle Malkin is a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated colum­nist.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.