Today the WaPo wades into the story we've been following about Joe Allbaugh -- former director of FEMA (who got his old college roomate Michael Brown the current top job), Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign manager, and now uber-lobbyist for corporations trying to cash in on government contracts, from Iraq to New Orleans:
During his two years as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency during President Bush's first term, Joe M. Allbaugh traveled to Louisiana for a series of disasters, from tropical storms Allison and Isidore to Hurricane Lili.
Yesterday, Allbaugh, now head of his own Washington lobbying and consulting firm, was in Baton Rouge, La., helping his clients get business from perhaps the worst natural disaster in the nation's history [...] After leaving FEMA in March 2003, Allbaugh, who managed the 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign, founded Allbaugh Co., a lobbying-consulting firm with many clients in the disaster-relief business.
Among those clients are: the KBR division of Haliburton; TruePosition, a manufacturer of wireless location products, services and devices; the Shaw Group, a provider of engineering, design, construction, and maintenance services to government and the private sector; and UltraStrip, which is marketing the first water filtration system approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Allbaugh may be a fixer for those seeking to cash in on disaster, but he's not afraid to dress it up with a little 9/11 patriotic flourish:
The firm's Web site quotes Allbaugh: "I carry pictures of close friends who died in the September 11th terrorist attacks as a constant reminder of what we lost that day. It's my personal commitment to always honor their memory by working to protect this nation. I'm dedicated to helping private industry meet the homeland security challenge."
As the article notes, Allbaugh isn't the only one. James Lee Witt, FEMA head under President Clinton, has formed "a crisis- and emergency-management consulting firm in Washington. Its clients include Nextel Communications, Whelen Engineering Co. Inc., and the Harris Corp." But Allbaugh is the king:
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the creation of the Homeland Security Department, disaster relief has become big business in Washington. On the U.S. Senate lobby-registration site, there are roughly 240 businesses and lobbyists seeking to influence contracting and policies related to disaster relief. Few of them, however, have Allbaugh's experience or can advertise their close connections to Bush.