Companies that received the 10 largest federal government contracts as a result of Hurricane Katrina – including RV manufacturer Gulf Stream Coach Inc., Nappanee, Ind. – have contributed money in recent years to the Republican politicians, including President George W. Bush, according to The Associated Press.
Gulf Stream Coach Inc., received a $521.4 million contract from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide travel trailers for temporary housing for victims of hurricane Katrina, although Gulf Stream’s management has not confirmed that dollar amount. Since 2000, Gulf Stream’s late founder, James E. Shea, and his family have contributed more than $20,000 to GOP candidates, including President Bush and Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Administration Committee, The AP reported.
All of the 10 largest contracts were awarded without bids or with limited competition, and some have come under criticism because they have crowded out local and minority-owned companies.
“How can the government say it is serious about reconstructing the Gulf Coast and edge out small and minority-owned businesses?” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Homeland Security.
FEMA has pledged to rebid four contracts worth $100 million each to politically connected firms – Shaw Group Inc., Bechtel Corp., CH2M Hill Inc. and Flour Corp. – that were awarded with little or nor competition. But the winners of even larger Katrina deals – those valued at $170 million or more – will not have to be rebid or renegotiated.
The AP said most of the companies had done previous work for the government, either with earlier hurricanes – such as was the case with Gulf Stream – or in Iraq, and those existing relationship were keys to winning the new deals.