McCaskill calls for probe into smallpox-vaccine boondoggle

posted at 6:30 pm on November 25, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Almost two weeks ago, the Los Angeles Times reported on the peculiar case of Siga Technologies, which got a no-bid contract to supply the Pentagon with an experimental vaccine for smallpox, a dead disease, when we have a plentiful supply of traditional vaccine to handle an outbreak.  Siga Technologies has close ties to the Democratic Party with its primary investor, party donor Ronald Perelman, and relatively new board member Andy Stern, the former head of the SEIU and a frequent visitor to the Obama White House.  The deal amounts to almost a half-billion dollars for Perelman and Stern, and the White House appears to have intervened to relax contract requirements and eliminate any hint of competition for the project.

Under those circumstances, it should come as no surprise that a member of Congress wants this deal investigated.  Should it surprise us that the demand comes from a Senate Democrat?

Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, has asked The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to review the Obama administration’s award of a $443 million sole-source contract to a company owned by a major Democratic donor. …

Citing “serious questions” about the contract, the Los Angeles Times reported that McCaskill has asked the inspector general of HHS to investigate. McCaskill is the chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Contracting and Oversight.

It turns out that there was another questionable call in awarding the contract to Siga:

In October 2010, Siga announced it had been awarded a multi-billion dollar contract to develop ST-246, despite the fact that the contract stipulated only a small business could be the winning bidder. A smaller company protested, and in response, the Obama Administration blocked everyone except Siga from bidding for a second offering of the contract.

The government’s justification for only talking to Siga was that an antiviral was needed within five years, and Siga was the only company who could do it. That justification troubled some HHS officials, one of whom called it “a stretch” in an internal email obtained by the paper. As much as $115 million in taxpayer money had already been spent developing the drug, which had not been approved by the FDA.

The kicker?  The FDA has no idea how it will approve the drug for use in humans.  In order to do the double-blind testing required for certification, they would have to expose test subjects to live samples of smallpox, since the disease no longer exists outside of a few military laboratories in Russia and the US.  Who would want to volunteer to expose themselves to smallpox and hope they don’t draw the placebo card in the trials?

McCaskill deserves one cheer for demanding an investigation into this contract, but it’s almost certainly not a selfless act.  She faces an almost impossible task in 2012 in winning re-election, especially with the political albatross of Barack Obama hanging around her neck and at the top of the Democratic ticket in November.  A Rasmussen poll taken two weeks ago shows Obama only getting 42% of the vote against Mitt Romney, and only 47% against Newt Gingrich — and that’s while paired off against a divided Republican field.  McCaskill herself can only get 45% or 47% against her two likely Republican challengers in a divided field, too, a bad place for an incumbent to be.  She needs a way to distance herself from Obama, and this is one way she can claim to be a voice of independence in Washington.

Will it work?  Only if the IG doesn’t take her seriously.  If an investigation shows that the White House shoveled even more money into the pockets of donors, a la Solyndra, it’s going to hurt Democrats across the board — including McCaskill.

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I continue to ask the same question: If the House of Representatives holds the government purse, how in the he!! does he get away with giving away all of our money???????? Someone, please explain this to me. Ed?????

sicoit on November 25, 2011 at 6:38 PM

All you have to read is this:

Siga Technologies, which got a no-bid contract to supply the Pentagon with an experimental vaccine for smallpox, a dead disease, when we have a plentiful supply of traditional vaccine to handle an outbreak.

This is superfluous:

Siga Technologies has close ties to the Democratic Party

Tim_CA on November 25, 2011 at 6:40 PM

Oh and Ed, Marcia, have a lovely vacation! :)

sicoit on November 25, 2011 at 6:40 PM

This what fundamental change looks like, in case you were wondering.

Whats the change, you ask? Why, the WH no longer bothers itself with covering up its treasury-raiding antics. Why should they, with the fox (Holder) guarding the hen house?

Transparent corruption. In your face.

BobMbx on November 25, 2011 at 6:41 PM

Unlike the smallpox vaccine, which remains potent for decades, Siga’s drug is guaranteed for only 38 months.

So what do they do after three years? Pour more cash down the drain?

Having a vaccine to combat smallpox and being able to mass produce it might be useful, but why stockpile when the threat timeline cannot be anticipated?

sharrukin on November 25, 2011 at 6:43 PM

As Solyndra taught us, what’s a half-a-billion or so amongst friends?

unclesmrgol on November 25, 2011 at 6:44 PM

..on the other hand, isn’t it funny how this c*nt all of a sudden got religion after 2010?

Say goodbye. You’re on the way out, Claire, babes!

The War Planner on November 25, 2011 at 6:49 PM

McCaskill’s scared to death about the election and SHOULD be!
this won’t do it here in MO and I have to ask what about your other votes!??

Too late sister. BTW did you pay the tazes yet on your plane?

golfmann on November 25, 2011 at 6:51 PM

I continue to ask the same question: If the House of Representatives holds the government purse, how in the he!! does he get away with giving away all of our money???????? Someone, please explain this to me. Ed?????

sicoit on November 25, 2011 at 6:38 PM

Good question.

For the most scandal free and transparent administration in the history of the known universe, they do seem to have a lot of scandal and obfuscation swirling about.

The question of Why?……. Is also a good one.

Chip on November 25, 2011 at 6:53 PM

BTW, is Sen. Claire McCaskill suddenly to be considered to be a Racist?

Chip on November 25, 2011 at 6:55 PM

Almost two weeks ago, ……

The Statute of Limitations for Obama has already expired.
If the masses in this country don’t care…then it never happened.
.
.
.
.

Dick Cheney worked for Halliburnton.
Stop the presses!!!
We have our new headline!!!

Electrongod on November 25, 2011 at 6:59 PM

I continue to ask the same question: If the House of Representatives holds the government purse, how in the he!! does he get away with giving away all of our money???????? Someone, please explain this to me. Ed?????
sicoit on November 25, 2011 at 6:38 PM

PBHO has magic devices known as “Race Cards” which can be thrown towards any problem to make the problem go away.

Bishop on November 25, 2011 at 7:06 PM

I think we need a bigger oversight committee, or something..

tinkerthinker on November 25, 2011 at 7:08 PM

McCaskill deserves one cheer for demanding an investigation into this contract, but it’s almost certainly not a selfless act.

The worm turns.

GarandFan on November 25, 2011 at 7:10 PM

PBHO has magic devices known as “Race Cards” which can be thrown towards any problem to make the problem go away.

Bishop on November 25, 2011 at 7:06 PM

hehe….ain’t that the truth. It still doesn’t explain how he gets away with it. Again, and I know I’m being a pain repeating this, but doesn’t the House control the purse strings?

sicoit on November 25, 2011 at 7:11 PM

Will the investigation include whether Newt Gingrich was paid to give “history advice” to Siga?

Basilsbest on November 25, 2011 at 7:12 PM

One czar is getting contracts to give us vaccines, another czar likes to dream up ways of uniformly sterilizing the population. Say, I wonder if these czars ever have a meeting of the minds.

Is it okay to be leery of government administered vaccines yet?

Buddahpundit on November 25, 2011 at 7:27 PM

Will the investigation include whether Newt Gingrich was paid to give “history advice” to Siga?

Basilsbest on November 25, 2011 at 7:12 PM

Nice. Let’s keep eating our own.

VegasRick on November 25, 2011 at 7:28 PM

This is superfluous:

Siga Technologies has close ties to the Democratic Party

Tim_CA on November 25, 2011 at 6:40 PM

Definitely NOT “superfluous”: it explains the entire boondoggle!!!

landlines on November 25, 2011 at 7:32 PM

Again, and I know I’m being a pain repeating this, but doesn’t the House control the purse strings?
sicoit on November 25, 2011 at 7:11 PM

I’m sure that PBHO could find something to justify his actions, a little snippet of legislation lost somewhere in the labyrinth of federal laws and regulations.

Congress doesn’t want to make waves, they’re as corrupt as PBHO is, and there is an election on the way; all those effers are a lot cozier with one another than they portray in chambers.

Bishop on November 25, 2011 at 7:34 PM

She has become rather attentive to political shenanigans lately, hasn’t she? Claire is also “concerned” about congressional insider trading:

http://thehill.com/homenews/house/195429-lawmakers-facing-tough-reelection-fights-back-bill-banning-congressional-insider-trading

She lost me when she supported the “transparent” method of passing the Health Care bill. I can’t wait to vote against sending her back to DC next year.

manateespirit on November 25, 2011 at 7:35 PM

Nice. Let’s keep eating our own.
VegasRick on November 25, 2011 at 7:28 PM

My own don’t promote socialist mortgage schemes.

Basilsbest on November 25, 2011 at 7:36 PM

Obozo should be impeached.

KMC1 on November 25, 2011 at 7:36 PM

I continue to ask the same question: If the House of Representatives holds the government purse, how in the he!! does he get away with giving away all of our money???????? Someone, please explain this to me. Ed?????
sicoit on November 25, 2011 at 6:38 PM

PBHO has magic devices known as “Race Cards” which can be thrown towards any problem to make the problem go away.

Bishop on November 25, 2011 at 7:06 PM

The explanation is that the Democrats still control the Senate, where Harry Reid can stop any meaningful action to keep money out of the hands of crooks who are Democrat donors.

The House has the sole power to originate budget bills, but cannot act to move or remove money without the concurrence of the Senate. This is also why we have had no Federal Budget since the Democrats took over the legislature.

landlines on November 25, 2011 at 7:38 PM

My own don’t promote socialist mortgage schemes.

Basilsbest on November 25, 2011 at 7:36 PM

Enjoy 4 more years of socialist EVERYTHING. And when obambi gets another SCOTUS appointment you can kiss this country goodbye.

VegasRick on November 25, 2011 at 7:40 PM

My own don’t promote socialist mortgage schemes.

Basilsbest on November 25, 2011 at 7:36 PM

But they do promote socialist health care systems, and they do help design one that Obama ran with.

sharrukin on November 25, 2011 at 7:40 PM

landlines on November 25, 2011 at 7:32 PM

su·per·flu·ous/so͞oˈpər-fləəs/

Adjective:

Unnecessary, esp. through being more than enough.

Synonyms:

redundant – unnecessary – obvious

Tim_CA on November 25, 2011 at 7:42 PM

The House has the sole power to originate budget bills, but cannot act to move or remove money without the concurrence of the Senate. This is also why we have had no Federal Budget since the Democrats took over the legislature.

landlines on November 25, 2011 at 7:38 PM

The House easily passed a 2012 “minibus” spending bill Thursday afternoon that also contains a continuing spending resolution through December 16, and sent it to the Senate for passage, likely on Friday.

This is the ninth CR that Congress has had to pass this year to keep federal funds flowing to government agencies in the absence of a year-long budget.

sharrukin on November 25, 2011 at 7:47 PM

But they do promote socialist health care systems, and they do help design one that Obama ran with.
sharrukin on November 25, 2011 at 7:40 PM

Yours is a false description of what Romney signed in that very liberal state. His bill required freeloaders, who could afford their own insurance but refused to pay, to buy their own insurance (an idea which was supported by conservatives). His bill did not destroy the private insurance system.

Get back to me when you find evidence of Romney with his snout in the public trough while promoting anything as destructive as the Freddie Mac socialist mortgage scheme.

Basilsbest on November 25, 2011 at 7:50 PM

Remember when Democrats pretended they were going to “drain the swamp” of all that evil corruption?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

RobertE on November 25, 2011 at 7:52 PM

Yours is a false description of what Romney signed in that very liberal state. His bill required freeloaders, who could afford their own insurance but refused to pay, to buy their own insurance (an idea which was supported by conservatives). His bill did not destroy the private insurance system.

Get back to me when you find evidence of Romney with his snout in the public trough while promoting anything as destructive as the Freddie Mac socialist mortgage scheme.

Basilsbest on November 25, 2011 at 7:50 PM

Heh. Excuse the establishment of government control over health care but rip apart Gingrich’s company advising mortgage companies.

Alright then. Good luck using that argument to win over conservatives.

No wonder Romney’s stuck in the 20s/30s.

amerpundit on November 25, 2011 at 7:56 PM

The question of Why?……. Is also a good one.

Chip on November 25, 2011 at 6:53 PM

Because they’re crooked, self-serving, and greedy??

Just a guess.

Rod on November 25, 2011 at 8:01 PM

It’s very interesting that despite the OWSer’s demands in this video, this topic is not among them. Could OWS be nothing but a Democrat ploy?

bloggless on November 25, 2011 at 8:02 PM

Haliburton, It’s all Haliburton’s fault.

generic leftist troll on November 25, 2011 at 8:03 PM

chemman on November 25, 2011 at 8:03 PM

Basilsbest on November 25, 2011 at 7:50 PM

Romney: “No, no, I like mandates. The mandates work.

“Senator Kennedy, together we pitched the secretary, on our vision to insure all our citizens. And on the need for federal support, to make the vision real. His work in Washington, and behind the scenes on Beacon Hill, was absolutely essential.”

It is now my pleasure to introduce my collaborator and friend Senator Edward Kennedy.”

Mitt Romney:

I want to talk today not just about alleviating poverty through, if you will, sending checks and providing benefitsas important as that is because of course we do have a responsibility of common care for humanity that suggests that we should help people to be able to live their lives in a normal and appropriate way.”

He really sounds like a conservative.

sharrukin on November 25, 2011 at 8:04 PM

Were it not for his protected status, President Historic First© would have been impeached already for his criminal cronyism and assorted felonies. At the very least, so-called “conservative” pundits would have been shouting from the rooftops demanding impeachment and indictment.

But they’re not.

What will it take to strip away the false notion that it would be “bad optics” to face Osama Obama’s criminality? When do the commentators realize that he should be held as accountable for his crimes as any other citizen?

Ed? Anyone?

MrScribbler on November 25, 2011 at 8:04 PM

I continue to ask the same question: If the House of Representatives holds the government purse, how in the he!! does he get away with giving away all of our money???????? Someone, please explain this to me. Ed?????

sicoit on November 25, 2011 at 6:38 PM

This would work if Boehner and company had a spine and a pair. Instead, we get the “you can’t use budgetary limitations to enact political objectives” statement. We got that on defunding Obamacare, something the House should have been fully capable of doing. Instead we were told that, “No, because this has been passed into law, we must continue to fund it, we cannot defund” To which I ask, “Why not? If the situation were reversed, would not the Democrats happily defund whatever had been passed into law previously”

The House Republican leadership, not a pair among them.

AZfederalist on November 25, 2011 at 8:11 PM

What will it take to strip away the false notion that it would be “bad optics” to face Osama Obama’s criminality? When do the commentators realize that he should be held as accountable for his crimes as any other citizen?

Ed? Anyone?

MrScribbler on November 25, 2011 at 8:04 PM

I expect him and most of his admin to face serious charges as soon as they are thrown out of office.

VegasRick on November 25, 2011 at 8:14 PM

“You don’t trust me?”

“No!”

LOL still one of my favorite moments in politics

Theworldisnotenough on November 25, 2011 at 8:15 PM

Basilsbest on November 25, 2011 at 7:50 PM

While his law certainly stopped the freeloaders it required everyone else to have insurance also. At least one (and we both know that it is many more than one) of the others couldn’t afford and therefore the state had to spend money to help them out. Socialism at its best.

I don’t argue that a State can’t pass a scheme like this (10th amendment and all) but a conservative doesn’t sign on to a scheme like this.

chemman on November 25, 2011 at 8:16 PM

Heh. Excuse the establishment of government control over health care but rip apart Gingrich’s company (as distinguished from Gingrich oh sure) covertly being paid a significant amount of public funds for advising government backed mortgage companies promoting socialist mortgage schemes.

Heh. Get it straight. And other than the individual mandate in what way does Romney’s bill establish government control over health care in any way which is substantially different from what exists in other states?

Basilsbest on November 25, 2011 at 8:17 PM

The House has the sole power to originate budget bills, but cannot act to move or remove money without the concurrence of the Senate. This is also why we have had no Federal Budget since the Democrats took over the legislature.

landlines on November 25, 2011 at 7:38 PM

I respectfully disagree with this. Only the House has the authority to appropriate money. As others have pointed out, the government is running on CR’s that have to be passed by the House and the Senate. The House has to pass CR’s without Obamacare funding, period. … and keep sending those CR’s to the Senate. There might have to be some strong PR from the House Republicans (gasp!) that shout from the mountaintops that the government is being shut down by the Senate Democrats because they refuse to pass the CRs being sent by the House, but that should be an argument they can win since 60%+ of the US doesn’t want Obamacare.

AZfederalist on November 25, 2011 at 8:18 PM

Who would want to volunteer to expose themselves to smallpox and hope they don’t draw the placebo card in the trials?

Like the Anthrax vaccine, those of us in the military will be the guinea pigs to test the small pox vaccine for the Pentagon. The Pentagon won’t ask if we want it of course.

TulsAmerican on November 25, 2011 at 8:22 PM

I don’t argue that a State can’t pass a scheme like this (10th amendment and all) but a conservative doesn’t sign on to a scheme like this.chemman on November 25, 2011 at 8:16 PM

The Heritage Foundation supported the individual mandate. So did Gingrich, for that matter. I think you are confusing conservatives with libertarians.

Basilsbest on November 25, 2011 at 8:23 PM

The Heritage Foundation supported the individual mandate. So did Gingrich, for that matter. I think you are confusing conservatives with libertarians.

Basilsbest on November 25, 2011 at 8:23 PM

The Heritage Foundation has never made a mistake?
Gingrich has never made a mistake?

That they supported mandates doesn’t mean that it is a conservative position. It means it is their positions.

chemman on November 25, 2011 at 8:28 PM

The question of Why?……. Is also a good one.

Chip on November 25, 2011 at 6:53 PM

Because they’re crooked, self-serving, and greedy??

Just a guess.

Rod on November 25, 2011 at 8:01 PM

No, No, no, they’re doing it “For the children” AND because everyone on the right is Racist – just ask them.

Chip on November 25, 2011 at 8:30 PM

since the disease no longer exists outside of a few military laboratories in Russia and the US.

I wasn’t aware that China, Great Britian and France had destroyed their research stocks. When did that happen?

chemman on November 25, 2011 at 8:31 PM

it really is rich…Claire was such a big booster of barry, early booster…and now it’s come to this.

I hope she goes down big, but there has to be someone to beat her

r keller on November 25, 2011 at 8:35 PM

That they supported mandates doesn’t mean that it is a conservative position. It means it is their positions.chemman on November 25, 2011 at 8:28 PM

There are no easy choices. You can require the freeloaders to buy insurance or you can refuse to treat them when they need medical services (good luck defending that) or you can treat them and try to collect but in most cases end up absorbing the cost (which sounds like socialism to me).

So which of these three is the most conservative?. It’s easy enough to see why The Heritage Foundation, Romney and Gingrich all agreed with the individual mandate. I think you are promoting the libertarian position which, like their position on so many things, is very impractical.

Basilsbest on November 25, 2011 at 8:42 PM

You can require the freeloaders to buy insurance or you can refuse to treat them when they need medical services (good luck defending that) or you can treat them and try to collect but in most cases end up absorbing the cost (which sounds like socialism to me).

Welfare state, yes. Socialism? No.

Demanding that people buy insurance and controlling the market is closer to socialism than what you described above.

AZfederalist on November 25, 2011 at 8:56 PM

Welfare state, yes. Socialism? No.

It’s welfare state and socialism because the freeloaders’ health care ends up being paid by higher taxes. You don’t want to coerce the freeloader to purchase health care but you are oblivious to the fact that you then have to coerce others to pay for his treatment. Which coercion is worse?

Basilsbest on November 25, 2011 at 9:04 PM

There isn’t enough information here to judge the case. In what way is Siga’s vaccine supposed to be revolutionary? Is it a technology that could be used to rapidly develop vaccines for designer viruses? The US Army is funding just such research; if it’s working the benefits in case of a biological attack could be huge. And the deterrence benefits could be even greater; an enemy that knows that such an attack would not destroy the US but would bring forth a rage not seen since WWII might thing twice–and even if they don’t, their allies might step in, so as not to be caught in the backdraft.

More information, please, so we can judge properly for ourselves.

njcommuter on November 25, 2011 at 9:23 PM

golfmann on November 25, 2011 at 6:51 PM

we lived in the
Mehlville section of St. Louis County 2006-2007. One of my husband’s brothers/family lives in Oakville(St. L. County). Does it look like it’s going to be a rematch of ‘Skill’ vs ‘Talent’?
Btw: My Oakville nephew turns 18 in June.Just like his step-cousin(my son-who turns 18 in April), ‘Artie’ is looking forward to voting the right way in his first election.

annoyinglittletwerp on November 25, 2011 at 9:37 PM

Claire is toast in 2012…

Missouri: you OWE the USA… VOTE OUT YOUR CORRUPT TAX AVOIDING US SENATOR!!

Khun Joe on November 25, 2011 at 9:55 PM

great piece Ed. This deal is worth looking into.

ted c on November 25, 2011 at 11:21 PM

Will the investigation include whether Newt Gingrich was paid to give “history advice” to Siga?

Basilsbest on November 25, 2011 at 7:12 PM

I wonder if Newt’s enjoying his rent-free occupancy of your head. It seems pretty roomy – though a bit drafty.

Solaratov on November 26, 2011 at 12:21 AM

And yet the establishment GOP insiders systematically dumped the only one in her party that had this as her major reform agenda-Sarah Palin. Perhaps this is the reason they took her down – isn’t this croney capitalism the real perq in washington?

Don L on November 26, 2011 at 7:36 AM

The House has to pass CR’s without Obamacare funding, period. … and keep sending those CR’s to the Senate. There might have to be some strong PR from the House Republicans (gasp!) that shout from the mountaintops that the government is being shut down by the Senate Democrats because they refuse to pass the CRs being sent by the House, but that should be an argument they can win since 60%+ of the US doesn’t want Obamacare.

AZfederalist on November 25, 2011 at 8:18 PM

And what percentage of the GOP establishment is going to have the courage to do this?

And what percentage of the GOP establishment really wants to get rid of Obamacare when they can now control 17% more of the economy and blame it on the Democrats forever?

The truth is the GOP is just a pretend opposition -the other side of the big government coin and just as tainted from being passed through many dirty hands.

Don L on November 26, 2011 at 7:43 AM

Don L on November 26, 2011 at 7:36 AM
Sarah Palin was/is an unelectable half-term governor w/ an ego also as big as Zero’s. I’m glad she realized that she didn’t belong in the the WH.

annoyinglittletwerp on November 26, 2011 at 8:20 AM

The HHS investigators will find nothing wrong, Claire is seen as fighting for Missourians amid her re-election run, Dem donors get their deal and we are screwed again. This is our govt in actin.

Kissmygrits on November 26, 2011 at 8:40 AM

action not actin.

Kissmygrits on November 26, 2011 at 8:42 AM

I continue to ask the same question: If the House of Representatives holds the government purse, how in the he!! does he get away with giving away all of our money???????? Someone, please explain this to me. Ed?????

sicoit on November 25, 2011 at 6:38 PM

Same thing I’ve been thinking.
Boehner is just sitting around waiting for the 2012 election. They complain about Obama not leading.. who the heck is leading in the GOP?
America is being ripped to shreds and the House republicans sit and watch. Oh, they hold a hearing from time to time. A few are out there.. but what else are they doing? Not much.

JellyToast on November 26, 2011 at 9:35 AM

McCaskill is the Chair of the Subcommittee on Contracting and Oversight, and this is the first thing she has seen fit to investigate in this whole sordid Administration?

That alone should get her fired by the voters of Missouri.

rockmom on November 26, 2011 at 12:50 PM

Perhaps Obama could buy “Air Claire” McCaskill’s cooperation with the Boeing 757 airliner that San Fran Nancy used to have at her disposal.

RJL on November 26, 2011 at 3:49 PM

McCaskill is a socialist, always has been, always will be. I follow her closely here locally. She only plays it straight every sixth year, that’s right, election year. Whenever she opens her mouth, she speaks socialist. Turns out Obama isn’t the socialist she fell in love with, he’s just another thief.

Pole-Cat on November 26, 2011 at 9:10 PM