“Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry…”
Political class wealth redistribution (Part 5)
Let’s begin today’s post with a short video by President Eisenhower recorded on January 17, 1961. More than a half century ago the President and former 5-star Army General warned of the “unwarranted influence and rise of misplaced power by the military-industrial complex.” General Eisenhower’s worst fears are with us today with only one hope to restore the proper role of the military in defending the Republic. It’s time for a heavy dose of sunshine as a disinfectant to expose the military-industrial complex for what it is, which would be a vast network designed at least in part to redistribute citizen wealth to the most senior stakeholders in both sectors. Once the citizens understand the extent of the energy expended to redistribute their wealth to the political class embedded in the military-industrial complex, they would soon demand an end to the practice.
ALLGOV.com provides us with a revealing example that highlights the arrogance and hubris that takes the practice over the top. Before 2012 the Department of Defense (DoD) sponsored and funded a general officer mentoring program where former senior officers were paid to return to the military to offer advice to active duty officers in war games, war fighting courses, operational planning and exercises, and decision making processes. Eighty percent of the “mentors” had ties to defense contractors. For example, mentor Marine General Anthony Zinni was Chairman of the board for BAE Systems and in 2008 earned nearly $1 million as President of defense contractor Dyncorp International (Source: ALLGOV.com, “Retired military officers flee “mentor” program when forced to file financial disclosures, November 11, 2011). General Zinni earned up to $330 an hour mentoring in addition to his 6-figure military retirement annuity and $1 million salary from Dyncorp. Worse than the inherent conflict of interest and over-the-top waste and abuse is an outright confession to a failure of leadership. Former 4-star General Bill Creech, one of the most respected military minds since the Viet Nam era, preached that the most important task for senior military leaders is to train future leaders. Why would it be necessary for retired generals to go back on the government payroll as high paid mentors if they had done the job while they were still on active duty as General Creech suggested?
The Dayton Region is not without senior leaders who profit from operating on both sides of the revolving door. Sam Greenwood, former member of the DoD Senior Executive Service retired with a 6-figure retirement annuity and formed his own “mom and pop” defense contractor support company. In 2003 his company, The Greentree Group, was non-competitively awarded the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Initiative Agreement contract by the Dayton Development Coalition. Greenwood served on both the Wright Patt 2010 Committee and the Wright Patt 2010 Advisory Board, two Coalition entities that not only had oversight for Coalition activities but were closest to selecting Greentree for the BRAC Initiative Agreement no-bid contract. That $1.9 million contract was funded by Greene County and other Ohio taxpayers, and in our opinion, not one dime went to “economic development” as mandated by Ohio Revised Code Section 307.07. Greentree is and was an information technology operation, but billed more than $300 an hour for accomplishing work they were never qualified to do. But according to opensecrets.org, a public watchdog group, Greentree and the Coalition paid Washington lobbying firm PMA Group nearly $600,000 from 2003 to 2006, the life of the BRAC Initiative Agreement. PMA Founder and President Paul Magliocchetti was later indicted for making illegal campaign contributions to Dave Hobson, Steve Austria and others. In 2005, the last full year of the BRAC Initiative Agreement, the Coalition paid J.P. Nauseef over $285,000 funded mostly by Ohio taxpayers.
The Greentree Group, like PMA, was very loose with the campaign cash. Over the years, three generations of Greenwoods contributed over $200,000 to Dave Hobson, Steve Austria and other Ohio Republicans including $2100 to U.S. Senate candidate Mike DeWine by Sam Greenwood’s 12-year-old granddaughter in 2006. (Source: fec.gov)
When Defense Secretary Robert Gates required retired officers to file public disclosure documents before they were allowed to participate in the mentor program, 190 of 194 quit.(Ibid., ALLGOV.com) Unfortunately campaign disclosure statutes already on the books mean nothing to the shameless political class intent on redistributing citizen wealth. That’s why Frederick Douglass got it right more than 150 years ago when he said, “The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those they oppress.” Until the citizens exercise their constitutional right to push back firmly against the self-dealing political class we are doomed to a continuing downward spiral that will result in the American dream ending up in a heap at the bottom.