Another 'sweetheart' deal, this time with cronies of Jeb Bush.
The AP reports:
Government Accountability Office investigators are meeting with Army Corps of Engineers officials to ask questions about drainage pumps that were installed before last year's hurricane season even though they apparently were defective.
The pumps were produced by a Florida company under a $26.6 million contract awarded after Hurricane Katrina. They provide flood protection by draining water from this city that is largely below sea level.
An engineer for the Corps working on the pumps project warned in a spring 2006 memo that the machinery had problems that likely would keep them from performing under hurricane conditions.
Last year was a mild hurricane season, so the pumps were not tested in an emergency scenario.
Anu Mittal, the GAO's director for water resources, said a large team of investigators has been assembled to "expeditiously" satisfy a request by U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
Landrieu, D-La., has asked the GAO to investigate if there was improper influence in the way the pumps contract was awarded and handled. She also wants to know what danger the pumps posed to New Orleans, and the Corps' rationale for installing them.
Mittal said the GAO is considering Landrieu's questions and will prepare a report.
Since the memo was disclosed two weeks ago the Corps has insisted that the pumps would have worked if they had been pressed into service last year and that the city was never in danger of flooding.
According to another AP report, the Corps defends its decision to install the faulty pumps, intending to fix them while they were in place because, "some pumping capacity is better than none."
The Corps also defended the manufacturer of the pumps, Moving Water Industries, Corp., for the poor quality of their product because "they were under time pressure." Since installation, the pumps have been pulled out and overhauled ("excessive vibration"), while the Corps tries to get the pumps to work properly for other problems which have included overheated engines, broken hoses and blown gaskets.
The company that manufactures these pumps is owned by Floridian J. David Eller and his sons. Jeb Bush was a parter of Eller's in a business venture ('Bush-El') to market Moving Water Industries' pumps.
In a case that is still pending, the U.S. Department of Justice brought charges against 'Moving Waters Industries' in 2002 for fraud, for helping Nigeria get $74 million in U.S. taxpayer-backed loans so that Nigeria could purchase pumps (deemed unnecessary) at inflated prices.