Saturday, April 29, 2006

Federal Contracts For Felons

The Washington Post picks up the Randy "Duke" Cunningham hookers story and raises some important questions about the man who is alleged to have provided limousine and hooker service to the Duke for "poker parties" held at the Watergate Hotel from 1990 to the early 2000's. Between the bankruptcies, tax problems, past felony convictions and various other financial troubles the man, Christopher D. Baker, has experienced, how did he win a $3.8 million dollar Homeland Security Contract in April of 2004 and a $21.2 million dollar contract in October of last year?

These are important questions to ask in this day of little government accountability. First, here is the list of Baker's troubles:

1. Between 1979 and 1989 two misdemeanor convictions (drug and petty larceny) and two felony convictions (attempted robbery and car theft).
2. IRS filed a tax lien against Baker in 1996. Personal bankruptcies in both 1998 and 1999.
3. Court order to pay debt of $55,292 to American Express Travel Related Services in 2002.
4. Baker's limousine service had its contract terminated by Howard University for "poor service" and other problems.
5. In 2003 and 2004, Baker's limousine company received eviction notices for not paying the rent for an office in a luxury building.
6. In September 2004 the company was sued for $1.8 million dollars for buses it bought for the Howard University contract. The case was settled last month for $300,000 dollars.
7. Baker closed his bankruptcy case last April when he paid $125,000 dollars to his creditors.

While I in no way wish to cast stones or aspersions upon Mr. Baker, this doesn't sound like the kind of man who should receive two Homeland Security contracts for $3.8 million and $21.2 million dollars respectively in 2002 and 2004.

And yet, he did.

Now here's the Department of Homeland Security's response, per the Washington Post:

Homeland Security spokesman Larry Orluskie said the department does not routinely conduct background checks on its contractors. Instead, it relies on a list the government keeps of vendors who have had serious problems with federal contracts, he said.

In Shirlington Limousine's case, only the drivers were subject to criminal background checks, he said.

Past performance is one key factor the government weighs in awarding a contract, Orluskie said. But he said he did not know whether contract officers checked with Howard University before awarding Shirlington Limousine its first contract.

He stressed that Shirlington Limousine has performed well, saying: "We have not had any problems with this service -- we don't question whether they can deliver because they are delivering."

Did Baker receive the two federal contracts totaling $25 million dollars with Cunningham's help? Did any other of the "six congressmen" reportedly connected to the poker/hooker parties that were held at the Watergate help Baker win the Homeland Security contracts?

Very, very intriguing.

I am of the opinion that while the American public may have a difficult time following the intricacies of some Washington scandals, they get bribery and hookers.

If I were any of the unnamed Congressmen alleged to have attended the poker/hooker parties at the Watergate, I would be very worried today.

You really have your eye on the prize on this one. Is there any Democrats that even come close to this kind of corruption?

Who would be the "poster boy" corrupt politician of the Democrats? (I think Duke has a lock on Republican and Bi-Partisan).

Oh, and one last question. Do you think it occured to any of those Representatives at the party that they were doing dirty business in the Watergate Hotel of all places?

Did it occur to Duke?

Good all around posting day.
I have frankly always found the Clintons to be kinda sleazy. But not in a Whitewater/corruption sort of way. It's more because both Bill and Hillary seem to stand for nothing but their own betterment. Seriously, can you think of a position Hillary or Bill hold so dear that they wouldn't change it to grab power (or maintain it)? I can't. But I'm pretty down on her because I'm worried about the '08 election, so maybe I'm being a little unfair.

But in terms of criminal corruption, nobody can beat the current guys. Not Clinton's administration, not Reagan's, not even Nixon's. Now the former FDA chief is in some hot water over financial irregularities while he was running the dept. Their domestic policy guy (Claude Allen) resigned a few weeks before he was arrested on felony theft charges. Their procurement guy (David Safavian) resigned three days before he was arrested on corruption charges. The vice preznit's chief of staff is going on trial for perjury , obstruction, and false statement charges. The preznit "Brain," Karl Rove, is rumored to be facing an indictment in the CIA leak case on perjury/false statement/obstruction charges as well, and many people think the special prosecutor in the case is aiming for the vice preznit (who really seemed to be leading the charge in the conspiracy to to destroy Ambassador Wilson and his wife.) Then the House Majority Leader was forced to step down after he was indicted and there are six Congressmen and one Senator, all Republicans, rumored to be going down in the Abramoff case (at least according to Republican Senator Tom Coburn).

These guys really are dirty, dirty, dirty. And they put everybody who came before them in the recent past, even Nixon's guys, to shame. You'd probably have to go back to harding administration (or even the grant administration) to find a bunch of guys as greedy and ethically challenged as these fellows.
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