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brg5001 Donating Member (240 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-23-07 08:59 AM
Original message
FEMA ordered to explain $21.5 million in mysterious payments, apparently to pro-Bush loyalists
Edited on Sat Jun-23-07 09:01 AM by brg5001
Following Hurricane Frances, which hit around Vero Beach/Ft. Pierce, FEMA ok'd mysterious payments to 10,000 individuals in an area NOT AFFECTED BY THE HURRICANE, that is dominated politically by pro-Bush loyalists of Cuban heritage.

The Sun-Sentinel blew the lid off the payments several years ago and FEMA has been fighting the release of any details which could illustrate why $21.5 million in disaster relief payments went to individuals in a pro-Bush (then-Gov. Jeb and George W.) area that had no damage whatsoever!

This scandal has been a sleeper but it seems to waking up.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/southflorida/sfl-flbfema0623sbjun23,0,5327140.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines

(The link may expire so here's the entire article!)

Court rules FEMA must turn over documents to Sun-Sentinel

By Megan O'Matz
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Posted June 23 2007


The Federal Emergency Management Agency must turn over to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and other news organizations the addresses of 1.3 million disaster aid recipients, a federal appellate court in Atlanta ruled Friday.

FEMA had been fighting to keep the information secret for almost three years.



LocalLinks

The Sun-Sentinel sought the addresses as part of its reports on fraud and mismanagement in FEMA's disaster aid program after Hurricane Frances lashed Florida during Labor Day weekend 2004.

A federal judge in Fort Lauderdale ruled more than a year ago that the newspaper should have the addresses but not the names of aid recipients for Hurricane Frances and 30 other disasters dating back 10 years. But FEMA appealed the decision to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

A three-judge panel ruled the release of the addresses will help the newspaper and the public determine "whether FEMA has been a good steward of billions of taxpayer dollars." The question, the court found, is an important one given the agency's "awesome statutory responsibility to prepare the nation for and respond to all national disasters and terrorist attacks."

"We cannot find any privacy interests here that even begin to outweigh this public interest," Judge Stanley Marcus wrote in a 66-page decision.

Rachel E. Fugate, attorney for the Sun-Sentinel, hailed the decision. "This isn't only a huge victory for the Sun-Sentinel but for all media and especially the public, which hopefully will be even better informed now."

The decision was also a victory for three other Florida papers: the News-Press of Fort Myers, Florida Today and the Pensacola News Journal. The papers also sought the addresses of FEMA's disaster aid recipients but lost in a decision by the U.S. District Court in Fort Myers.

The three newspapers appealed and the Atlanta court consolidated the case with FEMA's appeal.

It's unclear whether FEMA will further challenge Friday's ruling. A spokesman for the agency said FEMA is still reviewing the decision.

After Hurricane Frances struck Florida, the Sun-Sentinel filed a Freedom of Information Act request with FEMA, seeking the names and addresses of almost 10,000 disaster aid claimants in Miami-Dade County. The paper was trying to determine why the individuals received $21.5 million when the storm hit 100 miles north, causing little obvious damage in Miami-Dade.

FEMA refused to release the identities of the claimants and provided the Sun-Sentinel with claims data by ZIP code only. The newspaper used the information to target the general location of the aid in relation to the storm's path and impact.

By canvassing neighborhoods and obtaining other state, local and federal records, the Sun-Sentinel showed, over the next 15 months, how FEMA paid millions of dollars to people who had little or no damage from Hurricane Frances and some of the other storms that hit in 2004. It also became obvious that the waste and fraud had occurred in prior disasters nationwide in which individuals found FEMA's procedures so lax they referred to assistance as "free money."

The reporting led to investigations by the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Inspector General for Homeland Security and federal indictments in Miami. The probes found patterns of abuse, wasteful spending, fraud and erroneous payments.

Ironically, Marcus wrote, the court found support for the release of the claimants' addresses from an unlikely source: FEMA itself.

In the days after the Sun-Sentinel's initial stories appeared raising concerns of widespread fraud, top FEMA officials criticized the newspaper, saying the damage couldn't be determined countywide but had to be evaluated address by address.
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acmavm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-23-07 09:27 AM
Response to Original message
1. Wonder how the poor and displaced of New Orleans feel about this?
That was a rhetorical question.
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ClintonTyree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-24-07 06:07 AM
Response to Reply #1
22. I can tell you in one word.....
Aghast (thought I was going to list something a little more descriptive, didn't you? ;) )

My daughter and her room-mates were given a check for $5,000 from FEMA. They lost everything they had in New Orleans (they were students at Tulane University at the time). About a year and a half later they got a letter from FEMA demanding the money BACK! Of course the money had already been spent on the things they needed to run their household but FEMA threatened them with jail time if the money wasn't paid back by March 1, 2007. Their reasoning was that they were students and not full-time residents of New Orleans so they were not eligible for FEMA aid. :grr: One of the girl's father is an attorney but he got nowhere with FEMA (big surprise, huh?) so the parents of all the girls paid back the $1,250 each to keep them out of jail. I'm disabled and living on a fixed income so had to borrow the money. THANKS, FEMA! :mad:

Then you read about shit like this. :banghead: People not even affected by ANY storm raking in the dough! :nuke: I'm so sick and god damned tired of this country right now. The Bush administration is a criminal enterprise robbing the Treasury to pay back their supporters for all of their help over the years. And they're trying to say my daughter and her room-mates are criminals for accepting aid THEY TRULY NEEDED! :grr: :mad: :nuke: :banghead:
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Tandalayo_Scheisskopf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-23-07 09:32 AM
Response to Original message
2. Sounds to me...
Like a very effective way of funneling monies to anti-Castro groups in a "black" manner.
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kestrel91316 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-23-07 10:51 AM
Response to Reply #2
7. Very good. You get the gold star this morning.
Betcha they had some of them kick back half to the Republican Party, too.
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wakeme2008 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-23-07 09:33 AM
Response to Original message
3. This works out to be around $2150 per person... Wonder about that time
did any of these make a DONATION to any Repugs??????????
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L. Coyote Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-23-07 10:15 AM
Response to Reply #3
5. That will make a very good study! Which recipients gave $$ to the GOP?
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kestrel91316 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-23-07 10:53 AM
Response to Reply #3
8. I am thinking they had some cozy deal to kick back half to the
Republican Party - that's over $10 million!!!
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Virginian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-24-07 12:47 AM
Response to Reply #3
18. Each paid $150 to make $2k donation? n/t
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Toots Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-23-07 09:38 AM
Response to Original message
4. Wow the Government taking tax payer money and giving it away to Republican cronies
I'm shocked...shocked I tell you. $21.5 million dollars...What peanuts...How about $12 Billion dollars in cold hard cash. Hundred dollar bills shrink wrapped and loaded on pallets. 463 tons of it to be exact. Four huge C-5 Cargo Jets loaded to the brim with pallets of cash and sent off to Iraq never to be heard from again. Nobody knows anything. The largest cash heist in American history and no one even knows it happened. These guys are very good at stealing America's money...Very good...
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brg5001 Donating Member (240 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-23-07 10:54 AM
Response to Reply #4
9. True -- Iraq's missing money dwarfs this and THAT is the bigger story
You are absolutely correct. It seems that the Iraq fraud is so huge that we've become immune to it. That topic, however, deserves a letter to the Sun-Sentinel and about a hundred other papers. While the Sun-Sentinel deserves praise since it's taken FEMA to court to get at the truth, it also should team up with other papers to demand the truth about the missing money in Iraq.

Just as MSM has adopted W's characterization of the escalation as a "surge", they have also developed collective amnesia about the stack of outrages surrounding the Iraq debacle. Thanks for putting it in perspective.
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Hubert Flottz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-23-07 10:18 AM
Response to Original message
6. Brownie was the man that had the puter "Glitch"
Edited on Sat Jun-23-07 10:19 AM by Hubert Flottz
Heckuva job again Brownie.

Edit...And they say money can't buy love!
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bigtree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-23-07 10:58 AM
Response to Original message
10. here are some good places to look for the money
Edited on Sat Jun-23-07 11:01 AM by bigtree
Reuters:

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

http://katrinacoverage.com/2005/09/10/firms-with-bush-ties-snag-katrina-deals.html#comments


Whats Allbaugh Doing For Halliburton?

The AP reports that Kellogg, Brown & Root, a Halliburton subsidiary that came under fire for its reconstruction work in Iraq, has begun tapping a $500 million Navy contract to do emergency repairs at Gulf Coast naval and Marine facilities that were battered by Hurricane Katrina.

Under fire for mistreatment of whistleblowers and under investigation in Nigeria, France, and the U.S. for allegedly paying kickbacks and performing a variety of other corporate misdeeds, Halliburtons past performance raises serious concerns about whether theyre the right company to help pull the Gulf Coast out of what may end up being the greatest natural disaster in U.S. history.

The appropriation of hurricane recovery funds also highlights Halliburtons special interest connections to the White House. On February 1, 2005, The Allbaugh Company, under the name of M. Diane Allbaugh, registered to lobby for Kellogg, Brown & Root. The lobbying registration form lists Joe M. Allbaugh, former 2000 Bush campaign manager and former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as KBRs official lobbyist.

The purpose of the lobbying agreement between Allbaugh and Halliburton was ostensibly to Educate the congressional and executive branch on defense, disaster relief and homeland security issues affecting Kellogg Brown and Root. Just last week, the Wall Street Journal reported, Senate Appropriations staffers warn business lobbyists are maneuvering to tack on special-interest amendments to the hurricane supplemental spending bill.

Was Allbaugh one of those maneuvering behind the scenes to get Halliburton a piece of the $10.5 billion pie that Congress recently passed for hurricane disaster relief?

If so, it wouldnt be the first time Allbaugh used his links to Bush to profit off a disaster recovery. On Sept. 29, 2003, the New York Times reported that Allbaugh had set up a consulting firm, New Bridge Strategies, to advise companies that want to do business in Iraq, including those seeking pieces of taxpayer-financed reconstruction projects.

http://thinkprogress.org/2005/09/06/allbaugh-halliburton/



Allbaugh, from my 2004 book:


One of the groups who hope to benefit from the blood and sacrifice of our soldiers and from our nation's garnished wages is named, New Bridge Strategies. The lobbying is headed by Joe Allbaugh, Mr. Bush's campaign manager in 2000. Among the other members of this vulture's club are Edward Rogers and Lanny Griffith, lobbyists who were assistants to president George Bush I and now hope to exploit their close ties to the White House.

The company's website states that, "The opportunities evolving in Iraq today are of such an unprecedented nature and scope that no other existing firm has the necessary skills and experience to be effective both in Washington, D.C., and on the ground in Iraq. (None? No Iraqi firms?)

"(New Bridge) will seek to expedite the creation of free and fair markets and new economic growth in Iraq, consistent with the policies of the Bush Administration."

"Consistent with the policies of the Bush Administration." That's clear enough. New Bridge boasts of its, "25 years of experience in Iraq and throughout the Middle East and the political experience of some of the most successful government and political professionals in Washington, D.C., and London."

They openly hawk their public policy experience, their "positions in the Reagan Administration and both Bush Administrations", and their relationships with "international agencies in the Executive Branch; DOD and the USAID (reconstruction's bank), and links to Congress.

Joe M. Allbaugh, the director of New Bridge, is the CEO of the Allbaugh Company, LLC. Allbaugh is one of many opportunists who have set up shop to take advantage of his old boss' confederation's global power agenda. Allbaugh was gifted with the prime position of director of FEMA after he ran Bush-Cheney's national campaign in 2000.

The money dispersed by FEMA has, in the past, been regarded as a slush-fund by Republican administrations to pimp for votes in communities which declare emergencies. Portraits of presidents peering out of rain-slicked helicopter windows as they survey the damage of devastated communities grace the local headlines and evening news and make for good propaganda in an election year or draw attention from scandals.

Allbaugh's appointment to FEMA- a traditional reward from the president for a campaign job well done- was second in political patronage to the secretary of commerce position, which went to the president's old friend and oil roughneck, Don Evans.

The glow of government appropriation power lasted until March 2003, when Allbaugh decided to abandon the scrutiny of his public office and leech onto the new defense money pie from outside of government, behind a slick web page; as a faceless opportunist in the short line for the new appropriated largess.

To support his scheme to hijack the next-generation of defense dollars, which our soldiers desperately need, and our country can scarcely afford, he conspired with Ed Rogers, vice chairman of Barbour Griffith & Rogers, Inc., the firm he founded with Haley Barbour in 1991.

Rogers had been deputy assistant to the president and assistant to the White House chief of staff. He also was the senior deputy to the master of wedge politics, Lee Atwater.

Lanny Griffith is another Barbour bandit who is trolling for the new defense dollars. He hopes to trade on his Bush I appointment in '91 as assistant secretary of education for intergovernmental and interagency affairs from November 1991 until January 1993. He also served in the White House as special assistant to the president for intergovernmental affairs and was the political director for the 1988 Bush-Quayle campaign.

Intergovernmental affairs is just another name for the White House fixer; a vote counter in Congress, and an arm twister in and out of government for favored legislation. New Bridge promises, "When Iraq is ready to rebuild, we will be there."
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Hubert Flottz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-23-07 11:44 AM
Response to Reply #10
11. This one needs a thread of it's own...
Another repub in the White House and America won't stand a chance. That's what The New Wotld Order Slavemasters are counting on.
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pnorman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-23-07 12:15 PM
Response to Original message
12. I had heard something like that from a friend, but he was unable to provide details.
Edited on Sat Jun-23-07 12:29 PM by pnorman
THANKS for that find!

pnorman
On edit: I started Googling the above, and here is one hit: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/sfl-femacoverage,0,6697347.storygallery
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pnorman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-23-07 12:41 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. Here's one from my above list of FEMA "irregularities":
State records show Bush re-election concerns played part in FEMA aid

Consultant predicted a `huge mess'

As the second hurricane in less than a month bore down on Florida last fall, a federal consultant predicted a "huge mess" that could reflect poorly on President Bush and suggested that his re-election staff be brought in to minimize any political liability, records show.

Two weeks later, a Florida official summarizing the hurricane response wrote that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was handing out housing assistance "to everyone who needs it without asking for much information of any kind."

The records are contained in hundreds of pages of Gov. Jeb Bush's storm-related e-mails initially requested by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel Oct. 13.

The governor's office finally released the documents Friday, after threat of a lawsuit by the newspaper.

Democrats in Washington said the records confirm suspicions that the federal government used the hurricanes to funnel money to Florida, a key battleground state in the presidential election. "They weren't really asking for information, yet they were just doling out this money like it was Christmas," said Lale Mamaux, spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton.

"It's not surprising to learn that played politics with the hurricanes that tragically affected hundreds of thousands of Floridians last year," said Josh Earnest, spokesman for the Democratic National Committee.

FEMA officials, the governor and the White House have steadfastly denied suggestions that politics played a role in the distribution of hurricane aid in Florida.

"The men and women at FEMA don't give a patooey about who the president is or who the governor is," FEMA Director Michael D. Brown told the newspaper's editorial board in October. "Whenever people say stuff like that we're just offended by that because that's just not how we operate."
*
*
*

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/sfl-fema23mar23,0,5144922.story

"The men and women at FEMA don't give a patooey about who the president is or who the governor is," FEMA Director Michael D. Brown told the newspaper's editorial board in October. "Whenever people say stuff like that we're just offended by that because that's just not how we operate." :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

pnorman
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robinlynne Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-23-07 12:47 PM
Response to Original message
14. jail. jail. jail. for all of them.
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Joanne98 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-23-07 02:48 PM
Response to Original message
15. But the poor in New Orleans have to pay back they're lousy 2000.00
that they needed to live on. I hope all these people go to prison!
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ClintonTyree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-24-07 06:11 AM
Response to Reply #15
23. Yep, see the second post above....
my daughter and her roomies aren't poor (well, with their student loans they are) but they DID lose everything they had in NO. UNFREAKINGBELIEVABLE! :banghead:
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Cha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-23-07 02:53 PM
Response to Original message
16. I'd say "you've got to be shyting me"..
Edited on Sat Jun-23-07 02:55 PM by zidzi
but that would be disingenuous. Of course, they are.

What amazes me is that they aren't sneaky enough for it to be leaked out to this degree.

For the traitors who back the bushits there is monetary compensation in the form of tax cuts, kickbacks, funneling funds and ambassadorships to the extra creepy.

And, it turns out ..stealing money from us taxpayers to give to repuke donors.

The Hague is too fucking good for them but that's where they need to go.
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Tigress DEM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-23-07 06:16 PM
Response to Original message
17. Zo lemme get this straight. Cuba OK for torture prison & *usco scams, but Michael Moore can' go der?

Georgie, you got some 'splainin' to do.

10,000 individuals in an area NOT AFFECTED BY THE HURRICANE, that is dominated politically by pro-Bush loyalists of Cuban heritage.


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shanti Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-24-07 12:58 AM
Response to Original message
19. our government
will be bankrupt when (or if?) this junta leaves. :(
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w4rma Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-24-07 04:39 AM
Response to Original message
20. Omg.
:wow: Nothing with them surprises me anymore.
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-24-07 05:59 AM
Response to Original message
21. I'm so glad they're sticking with this story.
Was there any doubt in anyone's mind that the Bush's used public money to buy votes and loyalty?

You want to know something? I think it should be a crime when a public official, or even the good ole boys in a local city government, dangle temptations to members of the public in order to corrupt them and make them pliable to illegal ideas.
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Bluzmann57 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-24-07 07:45 AM
Response to Original message
24. And FEMA turned down a request from Iowa
a small town here in eastern Iowa recently got blasted by a tornado. Fortunately nobody died but there was an awful lot of damage done. But FEMA turned down our Governor's request for federal funds. Maybe the residents of Fruitland don't qualify. Or maybe our Governor is a Democrat and so, for the second time in two years, a place in Iowa which was tornado ravaged gets turned down. Makes one wonder.
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Rene Donating Member (758 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-24-07 07:55 AM
Response to Original message
25. I say this administration set out to raid the US Treasury and bankrupt this country right from Day 1
From the people they named to power positions; to everyone of their policies; to a complete lack of oversight and prosecuton......they've had a plan from the beginning to enrich Repug friends and businesses. Complete fraud and theft right in front of our eyes.....and noone barely blinks at it.

They should all be frog-marched and jailed for the entire package of crimes against our nation.
We MUST get a hold of the RNC computers that are holding OUR documentation......raid that RNC Data Center in Tennessee and confiscate EVERY server and their backup files.
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SpiralHawk Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-24-07 08:04 AM
Response to Original message
26. "smirk, smirk, smirk" -- republicon cronies
"All your tax money are belong to us" - republicon cronies
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Hubert Flottz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-24-07 08:09 AM
Response to Original message
27. "Government Entitlements" to the Entitled...
are okay as long as it's only the entitled who are entitled.
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