Dan Borsch is president of the Louisville-Jefferson County Young Democrats. No one has filed against Anne Northup yet. The goal of this blog is to encourage support of Dan Borsch in a potential run for Congress.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

And another one...

Another one that Dan wrote:

Coincidence or malfeasance?
Coincidence: A sequence of events that although accidental seems to have been planned or arranged.

Malfeasance: Misconduct or wrongdoing, especially by a public official.

That is a question that must be answered by our Congresswoman, Anne Northrup. Recently the Congresswoman issued a press release that identified several of the projects that she has recently secured funding for. These include $2.4 million for Kentucky Trailer, $ 1 million for Ashland Corporation (Formerly Ashland Oil Company), and $1 million for Fellon- McCord & Associates. The money she has "secured" came from within the Defense Appropriations bill and appears to be an earmark. These appropriations raise troubling questions about the connection between campaign contributions, no bid government contracts/grants, and actions taken by our elected officials.

In the 2006 Defense Appropriation Bill Congresswoman Northrup has "secured" $2.4 million for Kentucky Trailer to research and build a mobile command center that is capable of being flown by a C-130 Transport Aircraft. From all available information it appears that the Congresswoman has secured $2.4 million for a large campaign contributor’s company for work that will be done in Michigan rather than here in Louisville. The president of Kentucky Trailer is Larry Hartog. Mr. Hartog is quoted in the press release issued by Congresswoman Northup raving about the contract his company has just received. Larry Hartog and his wife live in Georgetown, IN.

Together they have donated $12,000 dollars to Congresswoman Northrup’s campaigns and another $8,750 to the Republican party and President Bush’s campaigns. One of the largest owners of Kentucky Trailer has also donated another $3,900 to Congresswoman Northrup’s campaigns. And even though the Hartogs live in Congressman Mike Sodrel’s very competitive congressional district in Indiana, they have never donated to his or any other congressional campaigns.

Kentucky Trailer was known as Kentucky Manufacturing until a 2002 acquisition of Trailer Technologies, a specialty trailer manufacture based in Walled Lake, MI. To this day Kentucky Trailer’s manufacturing facilities for specialty trailers remains in Walled Lake, MI. Kentucky Trailer is one of numerous companies that have attempted to compete in the rapidly growing mobile command center market. Press releases from the merger indicate that Trailer Technologies already was marketing their products to the military, homeland security, and local law enforcement agencies prior to the 2002 merger.

Congresswoman Northrup calls the money she "secured" for Kentucky Trailer, to research and develop a light weight mobile command center that could be transported by a C-130, "invaluable." How is anyone except a large campaign donor receiving much value for this no bid giveaway of government money, especially when other companies already have developed a variety of mobile command centers that are currently rated for transport on a C-130 Transport Aircraft. The "Defiant AT Series" is a mobile command product of L3 Communications/Wolf Coach that has "a variety of applications in military and other law enforcement agencies" and as part of an ongoing program they are building a series of similar vehicles. If you visit the L3/Wolf Coach website you can quickly find a picture of the Defiant AT Series being driven into the belly of a C-130 Transport Aircraft. Another major defense contractor, General Dynamics C4 Systems, was recently awarded a contract to build 50 additional "Unit Operations Centers," the military term for an integrated, mobile, command and control center consisting of shelter, power, cabling, processing systems, and trailers. So far General Dynamics has cumulatively been awarded more than $187 million to build hundreds of such centers. These command centers have received rave reviews and have "set the stage for consistent technology acquisition." These "UOCs" are transportable by C-130s and the feedback has been "overwhelmingly positive." A quick web search also reveals several other companies are also already producing various mobile command centers that are commercially available.

With so many companies competing for potential government contracts, why did the Congresswoman believe it was appropriate to secure a no bid appropriation for Kentucky Trailer to create a product that substantially already exists? Where is the free market competition for contracts? Who in the Army requested this product? Why would the Marines order so many of General Dynamics C4 "UOC" command centers and rave about them in the process and yet the Congresswoman wants to spend $2.4 million (originally she asked for $4 million) on reinventing the wheel? Why is the "Defiant AT Series", a mobile command center that is already rated for transportation on a C-130, or numerous other alternatives, not adequate for the job? Will this contract even benefit local workers or will the manufacturing and research take place in Walled Lake, MI and not in Louisville, KY?

Taken alone this may seem like only an anomaly to some, however, when examining other companies that Congresswoman Northrup secured funding for in the 2006 Defense appropriations bill a disturbing pattern appears. Congresswoman Northrup secured no bid funding of $1 million for Fellon- McCord & Associates to investigate energy purchasing management strategies for the military. The founder of Fellon-McCord & Associates is Andrew Fellon. Andrew Fellon has made federal political donations to only Anne Northrup ($5,000.00) and Bush/Cheney and the National Republican party ($2,250.00).

Again, why not a bided contract? Why $1 million dollars? Is Fellon-McCord the only company capable of performing this work? Will this money actually result in any new jobs in Louisville? How many?

Congresswoman Northrup also secured no-bid funding of $1 million dollars for Ashland Corporation, formally Ashland Oil, to do research into nanotechnology. Ashland Corporation will make BILLIONS of dollars in profit this year. Why wasn’t this research based on competitive bidding? Will the research be performed in Louisville and if so how many jobs will be created? Is it surprising to learn that Ashland Corporation’s PAC has given $44,000 to the Congresswoman and hundreds of thousands to other mostly republican incumbents?

While it is important to help and support local companies, none the less there are thousands of companies in Louisville that would love to receive millions of dollars in work from our federal government, there are hundreds of worthy non-profits in the community struggling to pay their utility bills while performing valued services to the public, and thousands of Louisvillians are just struggling to get by day to day. And by happenstance the Congresswoman has focused her very limited time and energy "securing" taxpayer money to be given without competitive bidding to companies that happened to have donated tens of thousands of dollars to her re-election campaigns. This is appalling and appears to be part of the "pay to play" mentality that has infected Congress. Without some quick and detailed explanations from our Congresswoman, it would appear that our Congresswoman has caught the "pay to play" bug and rewarded some of her largest campaign contributors with no bid government contracts.


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