It's not just Halliburton that's raking in big contracts these days. The Washington Post has a revealing story today about far-right, religious organizations that are landing mega-deals under the Bush administration, like Heritage Community Services in Charleston, South Carolina:
A decade ago, Heritage was a tiny organization with deeply conservative social philosophy but not much muscle to promote it. An offshoot of an antiabortion pregnancy crisis center, Heritage promoted abstinence education at the county fair, local schools and the local Navy base. The budget was $51,288.
By 2004, Heritage Community Services had become a major player in the booming business of abstinence education. Its budget passed $3 million -- much of it in federal grants distributed by Bush's Department of Health and Human Services -- supporting programs for students in middle school and high school in South Carolina, Georgia and Kentucky.
There are parallels between Halliburton and the fundamentalists feeding at the public trough.
There's the familiar circumventing of the bidding process: Heritage Community Services got its first big grant when Republican Gov. David Beaseley gave the state's entire $1.3 million allotment for sex ed. in a no-bid contract to Heritage, which doesn't believe in sex ed.
There's also political cronyism: President Bush found out about Heritage and its director, Ann Badgley, while on the campaign trail in South Carolina in 1999:
A politically connected GOP activist, Badgley organized a meeting for Bush with local conservative leaders and put her Roladex at his disposal. "I could see he was very sincere, and I worked hard to get him elected," she recalls.
Her efforts on behalf of the Bush team -- which at the time was smearing opponent Sen. John McCain with the rumor that he had an illegitimate black child -- seem to have paid off handsomely.