- October 27 - Earlier today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a Washington, DC-based legal watchdog organization, filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee raising concerns about Senator Ted Stevens receiving $21,900 in campaign donations from 31 Boeing executives, 30 of whom had not given Stevens money within the past 10 years, only one month before Stevens snuck a provision into the Defense Appropriations bill that allows the government to enter into a contract with Boeing for between $21 and $25 million.
The contract has raised concerns by Republicans and Democrats alike and the former head of the General Accounting Office, Mitchell Daniels. Daniels wrote letters to Congress calling the deal irresponsible because it did not meet federal leasing rules, cost too much and would cause a decline in the refueling capacity of the 767s that Boeing is refitting under the terms of the contract. Republican Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Peter Fitzgerald (R-IL) have also spoken out against the deal.
Boeing, however, not only had Chairman of the Appropriations Committee Ted Stevens to insert the language into the conference report contrary to the regular legislative rules requiring the provision to go through Committee and a Senate vote before its insertion it had the weight of the White House behind the deal.
Also troubling is the fact that the deal was finalized right before its main proponent in the Pentagon, Undersecretary of Defense Edward Aldridge, Jr., retired and acting Undersecretary Michal Wynne, who had aggressively pushed Boeing to cut its price, took over.
It is because of deals like this one and the no-bid contracts given to Halliburton that the American public is so suspicious of the government contracting system, said Melanie Sloan, Executive Director of CREW. Those companies that make large campaign donations and whose executives have close ties to government officials gain an inside track unavailable to the rest of the public. The interests of American taxpayers in ensuring that their money is being well and fairly spent is consistently being overshadowed by politicians catering to the special interests of corporate America. Senator Stevens sneaking a provision into a conference report only month after receiving a large contribution from Boeing executives is just the latest example.