Contract to Former Barbour Client Under Investigation | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Contract to Former Barbour Client Under Investigation

The New York Times is reporting Monday that a debris-removal contract awarded to a former lobbying client of Barbour is under congressional investigation:

Topping the federal government's list of costs related to Hurricane Katrina is the $568 million in contracts for debris removal landed by a Florida company with ties to Mississippi's Republican governor. [...] The first detailed tally of commitments from federal agencies since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast four weeks ago shows that more than 15 contracts exceed $100 million, including 5 of $500 million or more. Most of those were for clearing away the trees, homes and cars strewn across the region; purchasing trailers and mobile homes; or providing trucks, ships, buses and planes.[...]

More than 80 percent of the $1.5 billion in contracts signed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency alone were awarded without bidding or with limited competition, government records show, provoking concerns among auditors and government officials about the potential for favoritism or abuse.

Already, questions have been raised about the political connections of two major contractors - the Shaw Group and Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton - that have been represented by the lobbyist Joe M. Allbaugh, President Bush's former campaign manager and a former leader of FEMA.

"When you do something like this, you do increase the vulnerability for fraud, plain waste, abuse and mismanagement," said Richard L. Skinner, the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, who said 60 members of his staff were examining Hurricane Katrina contracts. "We are very apprehensive about what we are seeing."

Bills have come in for deals that apparently were clinched with a handshake, with no documentation to back them up, said Mr. Skinner, who declined to provide details. [...]

An examination of the contracts granted to date and interviews with state and federal officials raised concerns about some of the awards.

Some industry and government officials questioned the costs of the debris-removal contracts, saying the Army Corps of Engineers had allowed a rate that was too high. And Congressional investigators are looking into the $568 million awarded to AshBritt, a Pompano Beach, Fla., company that was a client of the former lobbying firm of Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi.

The investigators are asking how much money AshBritt will collect and, in turn, what it will pay subcontractors performing the work, said a House investigator who did not want her name used because she was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

The contracts also show considerable price disparities: travel trailers costing $15,000 to $23,000, housing inspection services that documents suggest could cost $15 to $81 per home, and ferries and ships being used for temporary housing that cost $13 million to $70 million for six months.[...]

Previous Comments

ID
137986
Comment

Please, please tell me these guys wouldn't bilk the taxpayers to pad the pockets of their cronies in the aftermath of such a disaster as Katrina. Please. I hope this isn't why Mr. Barbour was so effusive with his praise of an inept administrationóbecause they're going no-bid contracts to his buddies. The best part is those $23,000 trailers still haven't made it to many parts of South Mississippi.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-25T22:37:14-06:00
ID
137987
Comment

The feeding frenzy begins. I hope they rot in hell.

Author
Steph
Date
2005-09-26T08:32:17-06:00
ID
137988
Comment

And once again, I haven't heard a peep out of our local mainstream media about this.

Author
Steph
Date
2005-09-28T08:26:37-06:00
ID
137989
Comment

Not that they weren't told, Steph. Watch for our issue later todayóthe new "Rad and Bad" section, page 6. I'll put it up here, too, with relevant PDFs. Tantalized, yet?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-28T09:24:20-06:00
ID
137990
Comment

Also, Steph, word is that the Ledge is handling Barbour's campaign for presidency. ;-D

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2005-09-28T09:33:06-06:00
ID
137991
Comment

Barbour '08: What a wonderful waste of Republicans' money!

Author
Steph
Date
2005-09-28T11:54:50-06:00

Like independent media outlets around the world, the Jackson Free Press works hard to produce important content on a limited budget. We'd love your help! Become a JFP VIP member today and/or donate to our journalism fund. Thanks for considering a JFP VIP membership or one-time support.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

comments powered by Disqus