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Rebuilding Iraq: Political Contributions of Corporate Winners

by labor activist Sunday, Apr. 27, 2003 at 12:38 PM

It's not what you's who you know! That old adage couldn't be more true, as contractors jockey for position for the US. Government's "Corporate Dash For Cash" being held in Washington . Not coincidentally, many of these contractors just happened to contribute rather generously to the Bush Presidential campaign. Open Secrets has all the juicy details on their web site:

Rebuilding Iraq -- The Contractors

News Flash -- Bechtel Awarded USAID Contract.

View the campaign contributions of Bechtel and the other finalists

on the Center's newsletter site,

Even before the war in Iraq began March 20, the Bush administration was considering plans to help rebuild the country after fighting ceased. According to news reports in early March, the U.S. Agency for International Development secretly asked six U.S. companies to submit bids for a 0 million government contract to repair and reconstruct water systems, roads, bridges, schools and hospitals in Iraq.

The six companies -- Bechtel Group Inc., Fluor Corp., Halliburton Co. subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root, Louis Berger Group Inc., Parsons Corp. and Washington Group International Inc. -- contributed a combined .6 million in individual, PAC and soft money donations between 1999 and 2002, the Center reported on its news site, Sixty-six percent of that total went to Republicans.

The bidding process has been criticized for including only a handful of companies, some with substantial political clout and none of which is based outside the United States. USAID officials said the recent invitations to bid on reconstruction contracts went to U.S. corporations for security reasons, and that foreign companies may compete for subcontracting work, Bloomberg News reports.

As the winners* of this and other contracts to rebuild Iraq are announced, we will post their campaign contributions -- large or small -- below. (Figures represent total contributions made between 1999 and 2002, and include PAC, soft money and individual contributions to federal candidates, party committees and leadership PACs.^)

Bechtel Group Inc.

The Contributions: ,297,465 (59 percent to Republicans; 41 percent to Democrats)

Total to President Bush: ,250

The Contract: USAID awarded the largest of its postwar Iraq contracts to Bechtel Group Inc. April 17. The capital construction contract gives Bechtel an initial award of .6 million, but provides for funding of up to 0 million over 18 months subject to Congress’ approval. Bechtel’s primary activities under the contract will include rebuilding power generation facilities, electrical grids, water and sewage systems and airport facilities in Iraq. The company has said it plans to subcontract a number of these projects.

The Company: Bechtel Group Inc., the San Francisco-based engineering company, has been in the construction business for more than 100 years and has completed close to 20,000 projects in 140 countries. The privately owned firm, which had revenues of .3 billion last year, has made a number of friends in Washington over the years. Former Secretary of State George Shultz, once Bechtel’s president, now serves on the company’s board of directors. USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios, who oversees the bidding process for postwar contracts, once headed the Boston-area “Big Dig” construction project, for which Bechtel was the primary contractor.

Halliburton Co.

The Contributions: 9,320 (95 percent to Republicans)

Total to President Bush: ,677

The Contract: On March 25, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded Halliburton Co. subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root the main contract to fight oil well fires and reconstruct oil fields in Iraq. The open-ended contract, which has no specified time or dollar limit, was given to the company without a bidding process. KBR has already announced it will subcontract the actual firefighting operations to Boots & Coots International Well Control Inc. and Wild Well Control Inc., both based in Houston.

The Company: Halliburton Co., the Dallas-based oil field services giant that took in .5 billion in sales last year, is no stranger to government contracts. Kellogg, Brown & Root fought oil well fires in Kuwait and provided support services to U.S. forces in the Balkans in the 1990s. But Halliburton's ties to Washington have made it a target of criticism in the latest bidding process. Vice President Dick Cheney headed the company for five years before becoming George W. Bush's runningmate in 2000. Lawrence Eagleburger, former U.S. secretary of state under President George H. W. Bush, sits on the company's board.

Stevedoring Services of America

The Contributions: ,825 (80 percent to Republicans)

Total to President Bush: ,000

The Contract: USAID awarded Stevedoring Services of America a .8 million contract on March 24 for "assessment and management" of the Umm Qasr port in southeastern Iraq. The agency says the Seattle-based company will operate the port as it receives shipments of humanitarian and reconstruction materials and will research ways to improve port productivity for the long term.

The Company: Stevedoring Services of America, the largest marine terminal operator in the United States, made an estimated billion in sales last year. The family-owned and -operated company is a private venture.

International Resources Group

The Contributions: ,800 (82 percent to Democrats)

Total to President Bush: A_RTICLE

The Contract: USAID awarded International Resources Group a million, 90-day contract Feb. 21 for the management of relief and rebuilding efforts in postwar Iraq. IRG will coordinate efforts across multiple sectors, including education, health, agriculture, civil society and infrastructure.

The Company: International Resources Group is a Washington, D.C.-based professional services firm that manages complex environmental, energy and reconstruction situations for public and private sector clients. Founded in 1978, IRG has completed more than 600 projects, many of them for USAID.

Research Triangle Institute

The Contributions: ,691 (all to Democrats)

Total to President Bush: A_RTICLE

The Contract: USAID awarded Research Triangle Institute a .9 million contract April 11 to promote Iraqi civic participation in the reconstruction process. RTI will provide technical assistance and training programs in an effort to improve local administrators’ management skills and understanding of municipal services. RTI will also have the authority to grant contracts to Iraqi and foreign non-governmental organizations that will help train administrators and civilians in communication, conflict resolution, leadership and political analysis. Increasing political participation of “at-risk” groups-- including those that represent the interests of women, minorities and youth in Iraq—will be a top priority for RTI.

The Company: Research Triangle Institute is a non-profit organization based in Research Triangle Park, N.C. The group has worked in transitional regions for more than 20 years, and is a regular USAID contractor. RTI has completed governance work in South Africa, Indonesia and El Salvador and most recently won a million USAID contract for educational development in Pakistan.

Creative Associates International Inc.

The Contributions: ,000 (all to Democrats)

Total to President Bush: A_RTICLE

The Contract: USAID awarded Creative Associates International Inc. a million one-year contract April 11 to address the “immediate educational needs” of Iraq’s primary and secondary schools. Short-term activities covered under the contract include training teachers, providing students with school supplies and developing testing methods to track student performance.

The Company: Creative Associates International Inc. is a private consulting firm based in Washington, D.C., that provides community development assistance to transitional regions. The firm, which has revenues of million per year, has completed more than 400 contracts since its inception in 1979.

*This list does not include subcontractors.

^Figures are based on data released by the Federal Election Commission on March 5, 2003.

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