Posted by R. Neal

The family of Louisiana lawmaker Rep. Gary Smith got $108 million in no-bid contracts to sell FEMA trailers. The lawmaker's family defended the deal:

Smith's uncle, Glen Smith, said he was able to secure the contracts because he has worked with the federal government for nearly four decades during disasters, removing debris, dredging rivers, and providing mobile housing following Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

"We know what it takes to get them satisfied," Glen Smith said.

You can make up your own jokes for that last remark. What's worse, another (licensed) trailer dealer says:

David Gaffney, owner of Innovative RV in Baton Rouge, said he made three dozen calls to FEMA officials over several weeks trying to see if he could get a contract to sell trailers to the agency.

"I was screaming at them," he said. "I'm a mile from the staging area and watched all these trailers roll by me."

He finally was told he only could sell FEMA the 37 trailers that were already on his lot, unlike the deal Smith received. Gaffney said he could have supplied the trailers to the government at a lower price than Smith is offering.

Who cares about price? Money's no object in bringing the finest in disaster relief to victims of Katrina and Rita. Then there's this:

Trailer dealers were upset that Smith's motorcycle business did not have a license from the state Recreational and Used Motor Vehicle Commission to sell new trailers until mid-October.

Glen Smith said he already had a license to sell used trailers and was not aware he needed another one.

The commission is close to finishing its investigation into the motorcycle shop's license, said John Torrance, executive director of the agency. The shop's owners are likely to face fines, he said.

So what's the big deal? FEMA cuts through the red tape and passes the savings on to you, the taxpayer. Besides, time is of the essence in all things disaster relief related, right? And I don't know about you, but when I'm looking for travel trailers the first place I look is in the yellow pages under "motorcycles."

OK, then.

*Yet Another No Bid Crony Contract