November 15, 2005
Carnival of Pork
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The uncle and father of a Louisiana lawmaker won three no-bid contracts worth $108 million to provide temporary housing for Hurricane Katrina evacuees, stirring complaints of a sweetheart deal from rival businesses and prompting a state investigation.
A state agency is investigating because the lawmaker’s family did not have a Louisiana license to sell new trailer homes until well after the company provided the first ones to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
FEMA wants 125,000 campers and mobile homes for those who lost their homes in the storm that struck Aug. 29. The New Orleans-area motorcycle shop owned by Rep. Gary Smith’s family received FEMA contracts to provide 6,400 trailers.
… David Gaffney, owner of Innovative RV in Baton Rouge, said he made three dozen calls to FEMA officials over several weeks trying to see if he could get a contract to sell trailers to the agency.
“I was screaming at them,” he said. “I’m a mile from the staging area and watched all these trailers roll by me.”
He finally was told he only could sell FEMA the 37 trailers that were already on his lot, unlike the deal Smith received. Gaffney said he could have supplied the trailers to the government at a lower price than Smith is offering.
Louisiana lawmakers are now debating a bill that would force state officials to inform the state ethics board if they or their family were going to profit from federal disaster-related contracts.
More on the Carnival of Pork here.
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