View Full Version : Ex-FEMA Director's Halliburton Work Protested

09-08-2005, 03:44 PM
Ex-FEMA director's Halliburton work protested
Political 'revolving door' blasted; company says Allbaugh isn't lobbying


By DAVID JACKSON / The Dallas Morning News
09:32 PM CDT on Wednesday, September 7, 2005

WASHINGTON – With the Federal Emergency Management Agency under fire over its response to Hurricane Katrina, a watchdog group protested Wednesday that former FEMA Director Joe Allbaugh now does work for Halliburton on disaster issues.

The Project on Government Oversight called Mr. Allbaugh's relationship with a Halliburton subsidiary – KBR – an example of the political "revolving door."

"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, the group's executive director.

In a statement, Halliburton said that since KBR hired Mr. Allbaugh as a strategic consultant in February, he "has not consulted on any specific contracts that the company is considering pursuing, nor has he been tasked by the company with any lobbying responsibilities."

A chief of staff to President Bush when he was governor of Texas, Mr. Allbaugh lacked direct emergency management experience when he went to FEMA, critics say.

The same complaint has been lodged against successor Michael Brown, who has been widely criticized for the agency's response to Katrina.

Critics have also cited a lack of experience with FEMA chief of staff Patrick James Rhode, a former advance official for the Bush campaign in 2000, and deputy chief of staff Scott Morris, who worked as a media strategist for the campaign.

Some analysts draw a contrast with President Clinton's appointment of James Lee Witt, who had worked as director of the Arkansas Office of Emergency Services.

Emergency management specialists say the field has become too specialized for general practice.

Susan Cutter, director of the Hazards Research Lab at the University of South Carolina, said: "Given the complexities of emergency management in this country, and the increasing professionalism of the community, it seems curious to me that we wouldn't appoint someone who comes out of that tradition."

Mr. Brown served FEMA as general counsel before his elevation to director in 2003. While critics have faulted his background, which includes running Arabian horse shows, his official biography says he gained emergency services experience as a city official in Oklahoma. He was a city councilman in the Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond.

Administration officials say FEMA is doing a good job confronting a catastrophic natural disaster.

"We appreciate the great effort that all of those at FEMA, including the head of FEMA, are doing to help the people in the region," said White House press secretary Scott McClellan. "And I'm just not going to engage in the blame game, or finger pointing."

Staff writer Michelle Mittelstadt contributed to this report.

09-08-2005, 04:05 PM