Why has Senator Richard Shelby
been so single-mindedly pushing EADS CASA planes on the Coast Guard and Pentagon?
First he pushed the CN-235 on the Coast Guard, only to have top Coast Guard admirals express misgivings and budget the funds for programs they said they really needed.
Then EADS CASA
pledged to build an assembly plant and maintenance facility in Alabama. But that place would create only 150 jobs - not enough to merit a US senator's time and trouble.
Perhaps the answer to our question lies behind the Wall Street Journal
's article about how a former Shelby staffer, Stewart Hall
, has turned his contacts into cash through defense contracts and lobbying.
The story of Stewart Hall is just another Washington success story of an ex-congressional aide cashing in big on his Capitol contacts. Nothing unusual there.
Correspondent Brody Mullins
, in his October 7 story, "Dialing for Dollars: A Lobbyist's New Twist," focuses on Hall's ownership of a defense contracting company in the Huntsville area.
There's another aspect that Mullins or another journalist might investigate: Hall is a lobbyist for EADS North America
, which has pushed successfully for Congress to earmark money for the Coast Guard to buy its CN-235 planes, and is on a big offensive now to get a multibillion-dollar Pentagon contract to provide its C-295 as the new Army-Air Force Joint Cargo Aircraft
Shelby personally inserted the legislation for the earmarks.
He seems unconcerned that the CN-235 and C-295 aircraft, built in Spain by EADS CASA, are an employment program for Spain's Socialist Workers Party
, which is harshly anti-American. For someone with as strong a national security record as he, Senator Shelby is out of character pushing for a foreign defense company, dominated by the French government and partially owned by the Russian government, which is seeking a blocking stake in the enterprise.
Senator Shelby has been silent about EADS CASA's sale of both aircraft to the Chavez regime in Venezuela, even though the Bush administration tried to block the sale on national security grounds.
Shelby has said nothing publicly about EADS CASA's deliberate circumvention of American non-proliferation law, and its open defiance - along with Russia - of the US military embargo on the Venezuelan regime.
He did not join his bipartisan colleagues in a June letter to President Bush
, where senators expressed concern about EADS CASA and its modernization of Chavez's military.
Our Capitol Hill sources tell us that EADS North America lobbyists have lied about the nature of the Venezuela sale, saying that the US shouldn't be worried as the sale to Chavez won't go through.
But the Venezuelan government has said all along - as recently as this week - that the sale, despite snags, is still on the way.
Now the Wall Street Journal
points out that Shelby's former staffer Stewart Hall is a defense lobbyist.
Dig a little deeper and we find that Hall lobbies for EADS North America, which in turn is representing EADS CASA and leads "Team JCA" - the EADS-led group of companies competing to build the Joint Cargo Aircraft.As a reporter for Roll Call in 2004, Mullins noted that the Federalist Group, headed by Hall and another former Senate staffer, "signed up EADS North America" which had "a lot at stake" in the buy-America provisions of that year's defense authorization bill
.Hall's biography boasts
of his expertise in "defense policy" and "appropriations," and that "he has been instrumental in altering and amending federal policy in the areas of . . . defense . . . ."