Hope and Change: No-bid war contract goes to Dem donor

posted at 12:57 pm on January 25, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama repeatedly blasted the Bush administration for its supposed predilection for giving war contracts out on a no-bid basis to political cronies, and promised to change things once elected as President.  And he has, according to Fox News — he’s changed the recipients:

Despite President Obama’s long history of criticizing the Bush administration for “sweetheart deals” with favored contractors, the Obama administration this month awarded a $25 million federal contract for work in Afghanistan to a company owned by a Democratic campaign contributor without entertaining competitive bids, Fox News has learned.

The contract, awarded on Jan. 4 to Checchi & Company Consulting, Inc., a Washington-based firm owned by economist and Democratic donor Vincent V. Checchi, will pay the firm $24,673,427 to provide “rule of law stabilization services” in war-torn Afghanistan.

A synopsis of the contract published on the USAID Web site says Checchi & Company will “train the next generation of legal professionals” throughout the Afghan provinces and thereby “develop the capacity of Afghanistan’s justice system to be accessible, reliable, and fair.”

The legality of the arrangement as a “sole source,” or no-bid, contract was made possible by virtue of a waiver signed by the USAID administrator. “They cancelled the open bid on this when they came to power earlier this year,” a source familiar with the federal contracting process told Fox News.

“That’s kind of weird,” said another source, who has worked on “rule of law” issues in both Afghanistan and Iraq, about the no-bid contract to Checchi & Company. “There’s lots of companies and non-governmental organizations that do this sort of work.”

Kind of weird?  Not really, and it’s not anything terribly unusual in Washington DC, either.  Campaign donors and lobbyists get favors for spreading the money around, both on Capitol Hill and in the White House.  It’s a feedback loop to power; those favored with contracts get more money to make more donations to the people who get them the contracts.  This is the main reason why pork is so corrosive to clean government.

A $25 million contract is relatively small potatoes on its face, but it’s that feedback loop that is the most concerning aspect of this — as well as Obama’s hypocritical attack on lobbyists during the campaign.  It’s no accident that the lobbying industry had a banner year in 2009 despite the economic downturn, as Obama’s expansion of government creates a bigger spoils system such as this.

During the Bush years, the Left used to chant “Halliburton!” to attack Bush on this point, but the vast majority of parent company KBR’s contracts came from competitive bidding, as high as 98% in 2007 and 99.8% in 2008.

Update: Interestingly, according to FedSpending.org, the new contract is about a third of what Checchi got over the previous eight years put together — 92% of which came in full competition.  Suddenly, in the Obama administration, Checchi gets a pass from competition and a big contract to go along with it.  Hope and (Spare) Change!

Update II: Looks like Vincent and Adam Checchi maxed out their donations to Obama in the last election cycle.  Together with their employees, Checchi donated over $14,000 to Democratic presidential candidates.  They also tossed a few spare dollars to the DNC and MoveOn.

Update III: Real Clear Politics has Obama himself invoking Halliburton while saying that the days of “sweetheart deals” to campaign donors and lobbyists would be over if he was elected President.

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Obama loves his “C”’s.



ziggyville on January 25, 2010 at 2:29 PM

Obama loves his “C”’s.

uknowmorethanme on January 25, 2010 at 1:07 PM


Jerome Horwitz on January 25, 2010 at 2:29 PM

Geochelone on January 25, 2010 at 1:47 PM

hahah They are funny!

becki51758 on January 25, 2010 at 2:30 PM

It’s no accident that the lobbying industry had a banner year in 2009 despite the economic downturn

I’m SHOCKED! SHOCKED, I tell you!

One MIGHT begin to think that Barry LIES THROUGH HIS TEETH all the time.

GarandFan on January 25, 2010 at 2:37 PM

Shocking. Outrageous. Completely expected.

sheesh on January 25, 2010 at 2:39 PM


Any word on how that is pronounced?

In Italy, it’s pronounced Ke-kee (emphasis on the first syllable).

I’m personally partial to Cheechi, though.

CantCureStupid on January 25, 2010 at 2:46 PM


Contract to detect road side bombs? no.
Contract to improve body armor? no.
Contract to improve triage medical care? no.

No, it is a contract to air drop a bunch of #$I*%^ friggen lawyers!

Do us a favor. don’t bother with the parachutes.

kurtzz3 on January 25, 2010 at 2:48 PM

No-bid contracts for Halliburton and KBR weren’t nearly as strange, since there aren’t many companies out there that do what they do on the scale that they do it – which is usually why you would utilize no-bid contracts in the first place. This one, not that cut and dried.

Red Cloud on January 25, 2010 at 2:24 PM

As I recall, some of the stuff Halliburton does is only done by one other country in the world, and that company is based in France. Given France’s cheese-eating surrender-monkey treatment of the US in the leadup to the liberation of Iraq, it was understandable that we would want to blow those people off.

Del Dolemonte on January 25, 2010 at 2:48 PM

Irony defined:

Rule of Law waived to award “Rule of Law” no-bid contract.

Up is down.

BobMbx on January 25, 2010 at 3:04 PM

Hell with the no bid contracts, I’d worry more about friends of Obama trying to teach others about Law.

Afghanistan is going to be filled with their own home grown ambulance chasers now.

Rbastid on January 25, 2010 at 3:08 PM

The Democrats are such hypocrites.

Terrye on January 25, 2010 at 3:30 PM

Afghanistan is going to be filled with their own home grown ambulance chasers now.

Rbastid on January 25, 2010 at 3:08 PM

On second thought, maybe that is the way to destroy a country.
Forget about the military, send in his attorneys and let them set up; Unions, ACLU, and an Attorney lobbying group, that should take down the country in just a few years, with little loss of life, and any loss would be an attorney…a WIN/WIN.

right2bright on January 25, 2010 at 3:32 PM

Barry ought to have to stand on a corner wearing a sandwich board that says “I lied to the American People”

anniekc on January 25, 2010 at 3:33 PM

Just what is “Rule of Law Stabilazation Services”? Is ita pocket lining, payback scheme, or it is the advanment of Shar’iah Law and the Talibane rule?

There is no common law in those countries; that is law as we know it where lawyers can argue a case and negotiate a settlement. There is no seperation of church and state where a systen of common law can be established. The law is based on the Qur’an and levels of Shar’iah law. If the punishment is defined in the Qur’an, there is no appeal or other options. For other crimes, there are options provided by different views of crimes based on Shar’iah law, but those options are solely determined by the judge. There is no defining postion that a lawyer may take in that decision because an Islamic judge is not bound by precedents, rules, or prior decisions as is the basis of our common law, judicial decisions and courts.

That brings it back to the question of what are they actually doing if they can not influence law or courts or goverment. It also raise the question of why there was no bid in light of the obvious that to have it bid on requires disclosure of what the services entailed.

A possible relevent note; Obama’s first and native religion is Islam. He has never renounced it, never critized it, never condemend it with more than a passing political remark, and had done what he can to protect Islam and its followers. His travels, his places he visits or passes over, his speeches, his bowing to the Saudi King; Keeper of the two mosques, his sheparding of terroist into criminal courts. In this light, his Rule of Law Stabilazation Services contact has some rational substance to a possible purpose.

It would be interesting to know more about this company.

Franklyn on January 25, 2010 at 3:50 PM

Geochelone on January 25, 2010 at 1:47 PM
hahah They are funny!

becki51758 on January 25, 2010 at 2:30 PM

Mark Steyn read this on Rushs’ show today and asked the “are you smarter than a fith grader question”:

If this educated woman is such a genius why did it take her 18 months to figure out all the things that “dunce” Palin was warning about?

dhunter on January 25, 2010 at 3:57 PM

But, but, but Comrade Barry, YOU PROMISED!!

joe btfsplk on January 25, 2010 at 4:13 PM

Del Dolemonte on January 25, 2010 at 2:48 PM

You are right, of course. Just watch if lefties read you literally as H does have competition in some industry areas. Also, I was running some moral support for former President Bush (and a lot of thanks I got for that) when I was steered to sites on this topic which were usually miltilingual (Feench & Spanish) and frequently locked up my computer. Makes one wonder.

IlikedAUH2O on January 25, 2010 at 5:33 PM

Wow is it too late to donate? I sure could use some Hope and Change in MY bank account!
Solid B+ LOL!

shov74 on January 25, 2010 at 6:21 PM