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Firms with Bush ties snag Katrina deals
Sat Sep 10,11:03 AM ET

Companies with ties to the Bush White House and the former head of
FEMA are clinching some of the administration's first disaster relief
and reconstruction contracts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

At least two major corporate clients of lobbyist Joe Allbaugh,
President George W. Bush's former campaign manager and a former head
of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, have already been tapped
to start recovery work along the battered Gulf Coast .

One is Shaw Group Inc. and the other is Halliburton Co. subsidiary
Kellogg Brown and Root. Vice President Dick Cheney is a former head
of Halliburton.

Bechtel National Inc., a unit of San Francisco-based Bechtel Corp.,
has also been selected by FEMA to provide short-term housing for
people displaced by the hurricane. Bush named Bechtel's CEO to his
Export Council and put the former CEO of Bechtel Energy in charge of
the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

Experts say it has been common practice in both Republican and
Democratic administrations for policy makers to take lobbying jobs
once they leave office, and many of the same companies seeking
contracts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina have already received
billions of dollars for work in Iraq .

Halliburton alone has earned more than $9 billion. Pentagon audits
released by Democrats in June showed $1.03 billion in "questioned"
costs and $422 million in "unsupported" costs for Halliburton's work
in Iraq .

But the web of Bush administration connections is attracting renewed
attention from watchdog groups in the post-Katrina reconstruction
rush. Congress has already appropriated more than $60 billion in
emergency funding as a down payment on recovery efforts projected to
cost well over $100 billion.

"The government has got to stop stacking senior positions with people
who are repeatedly cashing in on the public trust in order to further
private commercial interests," said Danielle Brian, executive
director of the Project on Government Oversight.


Allbaugh formally registered as a lobbyist for Halliburton subsidiary
Kellogg Brown and Root in February.

In lobbying disclosure forms filed with the Senate, Allbaugh said his
goal was to "educate the congressional and executive branch on
defense, disaster relief and homeland security issues affecting
Kellogg Brown and Root."

Melissa Norcross, a Halliburton spokeswoman, said Allbaugh has not,
since he was hired, "consulted on any specific contracts that the
company is considering pursuing, nor has he been tasked by the
company with any lobbying responsibilities."

Allbaugh is also a friend of Michael Brown, director of FEMA who was
removed as head of Katrina disaster relief and sent back to
Washington amid allegations he had padded his resume.

A few months after Allbaugh was hired by Halliburton, the company
retained another high-level Bush appointee, Kirk Van Tine.

Van Tine registered as a lobbyist for Halliburton six months after
resigning as deputy transportation secretary, a position he held from
December 2003 to December 2004.

On Friday, Kellogg Brown & Root received $29.8 million in Pentagon
contracts to begin rebuilding Navy bases in Louisiana and
Mississippi . Norcross said the work was covered under a contract that
the company negotiated before Allbaugh was hired.

Halliburton continues to be a source of income for Cheney, who served
as its chief executive officer from 1995 until 2000 when he joined
the Republican ticket for the White House. According to tax filings
released in April, Cheney's income included $194,852 in deferred pay
from the company, which has also won billion-dollar government
contracts in Iraq .

Cheney's office said the amount of deferred compensation is fixed and
is not affected by Halliburton's current economic performance or

Allbaugh's other major client, Baton Rouge-based Shaw Group, has
updated its Web site to say: "Hurricane Recovery Projects -- Apply

Shaw said on Thursday it has received a $100 million emergency FEMA
contract for housing management and construction. Shaw also clinched
a $100 million order on Friday from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Shaw Group spokesman Chris Sammons said Allbaugh was providing the
company with "general consulting on business matters," and would not
say whether he played a direct role in any of the Katrina deals. "We
don't comment on specific consulting activities," he said.;_ylt=