Congressman Rogers' Neighborhood

Representative Hal Rogers, the Kentucky Republican who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee -- that is, the politician who controls the purse strings -- has filled his fund-raising coffers with contributions from companies that do business with the Department of Homeland Security. Through Rogers' campaign and his leadership PAC, which can be used to buy influence with colleagues, interested donors have more than one way to give, and they do.

In the 2004 election cycle, Rogers' PAC, Help America's Leaders, or HALPAC, pulled in nearly $1.3 million -- about twice as much as his campaign fund. In turn, HALPAC doled out more than $650,000 to the campaigns of fellow Republicans in 2004, making it one of the eight biggest-spending leadership PACs. Many of its contributors were the PACs of lobbyists and DHS contractors who later scored major DHS contracts.

Between April 2003 and February 2004, the PAC of Accenture -- the Bermuda-based consulting firm raised from the ashes of the storied Arthur Andersen -- gave HALPAC $7,000. Between January and February 2004, Raytheon's PAC gave HALPAC $5,000. In June 2004, DHS awarded Accenture -- and its subcontractor Raytheon -- a five-year contract, potentially worth $10 billion, to run the US-VISIT program, which is supposed to track visitors moving in and out of the country. That program has been notoriously plagued with cost overruns and delays. Today us-visit tracks less than one percent of foreign visitors.

Several corporations that ranked among the top 10 DHS contractors last year also gave money to HALPAC, including third-ranked Boeing ($5,000); fourth-ranked InVision Technologies, which manufactures explosive-detection equipment ($7,000); sixth-ranked Lockheed Martin ($5,000); and Northrop Grumman ($10,000), which, with partner Lockheed Martin, is the department's top contractor. Its Integrated Coast Guard Systems joint venture netted more than $500 million from DHS in 2004. Other big contributors included the PACs of the Corrections Corporation of America ($5,000); L-3 Communications ($10,000), which is the prime contractor on a $500 million border surveillance contract currently under investigation by the General Services Administration; and Science Applications International Corporation ($10,000), which won a $20 million contract from DHS this year for disaster preparedness.

Perhaps the most blatant example, however, is a huge donation to Rogers from a
little-known Massachusetts start-up that later won a major contract for airport
explosive-detection equipment. Reveal Imaging Technologies does not have a PAC, but its executives collectively contributed over $85,000 to HALPAC between late 2003 and August 2005. This figure dwarfed their contributions to other campaigns and PACs; the closest was their $13,000 total contribution to the Senate Victory Fund, the leadership PAC of Mississippi Republican Thad Cochran, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a member of its Subcommittee on Homeland Security. At the same time, principals from Reveal's lobbying firms, Denny Miller Associates and Van Scoyoc & Associates, gave $12,000 and $18,000, respectively, to HALPAC.

In October 2003, Reveal was awarded a $2.38 million grant from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to develop its “next-generation” explosive-detection equipment for airport baggage. Three days after the company issued its press release announcing the grant, its executives gave $12,500 to HALPAC. In 2004, they contributed an additional $28,000.

In January 2005, the TSA announced its intention to award a single-source contract to Reveal to manufacture up to eight of its explosive-detection machines. The following month, the TSA announced that it would conduct a pilot program with Reveal's machines at three airports.

Then on March 31, 2005 -- less than two weeks after Reveal executives donated $18,000 to HALPAC on a single day -- the TSA announced that it would purchase eight Reveal machines.

Last October, after Reveal and its lobbyists had given more than $100,000 to HALPAC, Reveal was awarded a $24.8 million TSA contract for explosive-detection equipment. With all options exercised, the contract could eventually be worth $463 million. Although the deal was supposedly awarded on a competitive basis, Reveal made the only offer TSA received, according to the federal government's contract database. The following month, TSA awarded Reveal a $3.6 million grant to further develop its technology.

Rogers' office did not respond to a request for an interview and neither did Reveal.

You may also like