The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) and CBS News just revealed that Pentagon investigators have accused a California company of supplying substandard components for military and civilian aircraft for nearly a decade, charging that the firm committed fraud and bribery and exhibited “brazen disregard for the safety of soldiers and civilians as well as for the sanctity of laws, rules and regulations.” The company is privately held Airtech International Inc., which also goes by the name of Airtech Advanced Materials Group.
POGO and CBS obtained a September 2006 memo in which the allegations were made by a special agent of the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigation Unit, who argued that Airtech should be debarred from doing business with the federal government. The investigator charged that Airtech, which makes light-weight composite materials, “knowingly supplied nonconforming products to DOD [Department of Defense] prime contractors.”
Airtech has not been debarred or formally charged in the matter. A company spokesperson told CBS “we are aware of no current ongoing investigation,” but CBS reports that a document dated earlier this month indicates that an “active investigation” is still being conducted by the Army. CBS also says the House Transportation Committee is looking into the matter.
One fact not mentioned by either POGO or CBS is that the two top executives of Airtech—CEO William Dahlgren and his son Jeffrey Dahlgren, who serves as President—have together made a total of $308,700 in federal campaign contributions since the early 1990s—all of it to the Republican Party or Republican candidates, according to the Open Secrets database. Among those candidates: John McCain, who received $1,000 from William Dahlgren in February 2007, and George W. Bush, who got $2,000 from William Dahlgren in May 2000. Most of the Dahlgren money—more than $250,000—went to the Republican National Committee.
Apart from seeking contracts, the Dahlgrens may also have been investing in politics to gain influence in regulatory matters. According to the inspections database of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, Airtech was cited for a serious violation in September 2006. OSHA proposed a fine of $5,060 (which is on the high side for the agency) but later settled with the company for $2,700.
Another model corporate citizen supporting the Republicans.