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Sun

11

Nov

2007

Corruption Gone Wild
Sunday, 11 November 2007 21:19
by Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Private contracts are handed out by the federal government in droves these days. The industrial company Northrop Grumman, which manufactures the stealth bomber, has been granted a number of lucrative contracts despite past lawsuits filed against the company.

Named the company of the year by Forbes in 2002, and ranked number 67 on Forbes 2006 Fortune 500 list, the Los Angeles based Northrop is the third largest defense contractor in the U.S.

Bruenn v. Northrop

Vaughn Bruenn worked as a cost analyst for Northrop until being fired after he sought treatment for Hepatitis C. Bruenn filed an unsuccessful lawsuit against the company. “Bruenn’s due process rights were violated when the trial judge failed to remove an incompetent juror,” states a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The judge also refused to admit evidence of discriminatory remarks made by one of Bruenn’s supervisors. The supervisor mistakenly accused Bruenn of being a homosexual with AIDS. The Supreme Court refused to re-hear the case.

Bruenn remarked, “Can you image the torment I’ve endured, reading 45 days after my appeal to US Supreme Court for unlawful termination from Northrop after treatment for Hep C and Depression, the implication I was a homosexual and had AIDS by a manager and co-worker.”

Northrop Awarded USAID/PEPFAR Contracts

The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) established the Partnership for Supply Chain Management (the Partnership) in 2005, a multi-billion dollar contract with 15 private sector institutions, including Northrop. The Partnership strengthens “the lifeline of essential drugs and supplies for people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases in developing countries,” according to PEPFAR. President Bush created PEPFAR in 2003, through the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded Northrop a $4 billion dollar grant in May 2006, shared with four other companies, to provide services in the information technology platform and infrastructure services. Months later, in August 2006, USAID picked Northrop, along with three other companies, to compete for awards totaling $300 billion.

Political Connections and Contributions

According to the website OpenSecrets.org, Northrop maintains connections in the federal government. Several former Bush administration officials had ties to the company. Disgraced former Chief to the President, Lewis Libby served as a consultant to Northrop. Douglas J. Feith, former Under-Secretary for Policy, is the managing partner of a law firm whose clients include Northrop. Paul Wolfowitz, former World Bank president, also served as a consultant to Northrop. The current Under Secretary for the Comptroller Dov Zakheim is on Northrop’s paid advisory board.

Lobbying in Washington, D.C. is a multi-billion dollar industry. In 2000 Northrop gave lobbyists a total of $6,882,720, and $1,181,280 in 2001 and 2002. Northrop gave contributions to several members of Congress including $20,000 to Senator Trent Lott (R) and $17,000 to Rep. Ike Shelton (D).

Current Northrop CEO Ron Sugar makes political contributions to both sides of the aisle. California Senator Dianne Feinstein (D) received a $900 campaign contribution in June 2006. George Allen (R) of Virginia, the incumbent senator defeated by Senator Jim Webb, received $1,000.

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Gina-Marie Cheeseman is a freelance writer with a passion for social justice. She grew up on a vineyard ranch in the San Joaquin Valley of California watching farmworkers toil in the searing sun. Her desire for social justice fermented along with the grapes.
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