The latest from the revolving door of cronyism known as military contracting in America:
Joe Allbaugh, the Oklahoman known for his flat-top haircut and loyalty to President Bush, has a new client: Halliburton, the Houston-based company once led by Vice President Cheney.
Allbaugh ... registered to lobby on behalf of Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), Halliburton's construction and engineering subsidiary. Allbaugh's wife and partner at the Allbaugh Company, Diane Allbaugh, is also listed on the registration.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for Halliburton said Allbaugh had not been commissioned to do any direct lobbying. "KBR hired Joe Allbaugh as a consultant to provide strategy support for our Government and Infrastructure business," the statement read. "Mr. Allbaugh has not been tasked with any lobbying responsibilities."
Ah, but it turns out that this isn't quite true:
But Allbaugh's lobbying disclosure form says the company will "educate the congressional and executive branch on defense, disaster relief and homeland security issues."Anyhow, by hiring Allbaugh, Halliburton has found someone as close to Bush as you can get who isn't named Rove:
Prior to joining FEMA, Allbaugh was one of Bush's closest campaign aides. He managed Bush's first run for the Texas governor's mansion in 1994 and later served as Bush's chief of staff in Austin. During the 2000 election, Allbaugh ... was the national campaign manager for the Bush-Cheney campaign [and] part of the triumvirate of Bush's closest advisers.One can hope, but it doesn't seem likely, as Loren Steffy observes in yesterday's Houston Chronicle. Despite a few high-profile public scoldings, the Pentagon is completely asleep at the wheel in investigating contract fraud: Halliburton's latest big scandal, in which the company pocketed millions from inflating a fuel tanker contract in Kuwait, was so egregious it was disclosed by Halliburton itself. The Pentagon never said a word when Halliburton billed $5.5 million for a deal that was supposed to cost $685,000.
Currently, [Allbaugh] is a partner in two lobbying firms and chairman of New Bridge Strategies, a company set up by lobbyists with close ties to the Bush administration. New Bridge helps clients "evaluate and take advantage of business opportunities in the Middle East following the conclusion of the U.S.-led war in Iraq," according to its web site.
"This is a perfect example of someone cashing in on a cozy political relationship," said Scott Amey, general counsel at the Project on Government Oversight, a Washington watchdog group. "Allbaugh's former placement as a senior government official and his new lobbying position with KBR strengthens the company's already tight ties to the administration, and I hope that contractor accountability is not lost as a result."
"All of this is disturbingly normal. Pentagon policies fail to adequately police the spending of taxpayers' money, and rarely are contractors held accountable."Given that Halliburton has had no trouble getting military contracts -- they hardly need a high-power lobbyist for that -- maybe the real intention of hiring Allbaugh was to ensure that this complacency in the face of mounting fraud and profiteering remains the status quo.