Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Something rotten this way comes ...

Plutocracy: a political system governed by the wealthy people
Cronyism: favoritism shown to friends and associates (as by appointing them to positions without regard for their qualifications)

Joe Allbaugh, Bush's chief of staff in Texas and campaign manager in 2000, served as head of FEMA from 2001-2003. There is nothing in Allbaugh's resume to suggest he's qualified for the position, although he has been a loyal and trusted advisor of the Bush family. In 2003, Allbaugh resigns to start a private consulting firm (which among other things, advises companies how to get FEMA contracts), another consulting firm to work on reconstruction in Iraq, and becomes a lobbyist for the Halliburton subsidiary KBR - Dick Cheney's former company - the same company that will be doing some of the reconstruction in Louisiana and Mississippi.

He's replaced at FEMA by Michael Brown, a man, like Allbaugh, with no clear indication of any qualification what so ever to be in a position of coordinating disaster response, but who was aa friend of Allbaugh.

But the incestuous mixture of government, business, and lobbying doesn't stop there.

Some googling turns up Reliant Energy, a Texas based energy company which has faced allegations of complicity in the California energy crisis and may have been one of the companies that participated in Cheney's secret energy task force meetings. It turns out the Allbaugh's wife, Diane Allbaugh, worked for Reliant as a lobbyist.

It gets worse. As Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo points out, when Joe Allbaugh left FEMA the person who helped him set-up his new company was Haley Barbour, the current governor of Mississippi. And the door keeps spinning, because if you follow Marshall's links, you see that Allbaugh's New Bridge Strategies company bears an awful resemblance to Barbour's lobbying group, Barbour, Griffith & Rogers. Oh, and Joe's wife Diane is consulting at Barbour, Griffith & Rogers, too.

Doesn't stop there, either. Lanny Griffith, BGR's chief operating officer, is one of the "Pioneers" who raised over 100,000 dollars for Bush's campaign. He also served in Bush 41's administration.

The other partner, Ed Rogers, also served in the Reagan and Bush 41 administrations. He's the initial funder of Diligence, LLC, another company that provides logistical assistance in Iraq. Joe Allbaugh is the company's deputy chairman.

And yet, that's not it. There's more. George W. Bush's brother Neil* is on New Bridge's payroll (sort of), receiving 60,000 dollars a year to "aid in the procurement of contracts for companies seeking to do business in Iraq." Neil gets his check from New Bridge president John Howland for being a consultant to the Crest Investment Company.

Richard Burt, Director of New Bridge and International Director of Barbour, Griffith & Rogers is also the chairman of Diligence, and is an advisor to the Carlyle Group.

I could go on, but I'm losing my patience.

Let's hope there's a journalist willing to follow the money and dig a little deeper.

*I had erroneously listed Jeb as being on the payroll.

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