Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Boeing’s Druyun vs. Alston & Bird’s Scully: Why the Difference?

Dear President Bush,

Two cases of federal employees using insider influence to obtain outside jobs occurred during your first term. One case ended with the offender in jail, the other with a promotion to a K Street lobbying firm. Why the difference?

Boeing’s recent settlement with the federal government brought the first case back into the spotlight. The company offended by recruiting Air Force official, Darleen Druyun while she oversaw contracts with Boeing bids. In October 2002 she met with company officials to negotiate a $250,000 a year job with a $50,000 signing bonus. 60 Minutes shared this information in their story.

"Darleen Druyun understood the rules of the game, and that this discussion about employment was gonna violate the rules of the game," says Paul McNulty, the U.S. attorney in charge of prosecuting crime at the Pentagon.

Darleen never got to fill that well paying job pleading guilty to a felony and sentenced to 16 months in jail. Contrast her experience with Mr. Tom Scully, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. Tom became head of the department that administers Medicare and Medicaid in 2001. He shepherded development of the new Medicare Prescription Drug benefit. It was with considerable controversy. Some found the close connection to pharmaceutical lobbyists disturbing. Others saw Tom as heavy handed in dealing with a subordinate’s cost estimates which he did not share with a Congressional committee.

In September of 2003 Tom began looking for a job. Several articles cite the litany of law and lobbying firms wooing Mr. Scully. The Medicare Chief submitted his resignation effective December 16th. How did Tom continue to work on high dollar government programs while being wooed by the private sector? The man liked by President Bush got a waiver from his superiors within Health and Human Services.

John McCain outed Darlene by investigating a deal that did not seem right. No one did likewise with Tom, despite much information that he sought employment while serving the public good, or that corporate good? Either way, we know Tom ended up with at least a high six figure deal with Alston & Bird. Why didn't one Congressman get a burr in their saddle over Tom’s behavior? Because the good lobbyist has access to lots of campaign cash to steer their way.

Alston & Bird specializes in representing nursing homes. Tom could steer a lot of those campaign donations their way for the then upcoming 2004 election. How did things change for some of Tom’s previous benefactors? Rep. Bill Thomas, powerful Chair of the House Ways & Means Committee, worked with Tom back in his Federation of American Hospital days. Bill even grilled that pesky Medicare actuary complaining of heavy handed treatment by his boss. An e-mail substantiated Tom’s directive that his subordinate’s cost estimates not be shared with Congress. Mr. Scully’s protectors stepped in then, as well as later when he actively sought employment talking with at least 4 powerhouse firms before joining Senator Bob Dole at Alston & Bird.

Rep. Thomas saw a marked increase in donations (over 200%) from hospitals and nursing homes in his 2004 campaign. Why the big jump from $25,000 in 2002 to $78,000 in 2004? Did Tom steer some of those donations to his buddy, his former protector?

Since his resignation from public service, Tom stars remained lucky. He is a senior advisor for Welsh, Carson, Anderson, and Stowe, an investment firm with a strong health care niche. Last fall they acquired MemberHealth, one of 10 national Medicare prescription drug plan sponsors approved by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid. Tom landed a seat on their Board of Directors. How ironic that Mr. Scully now sits on a Board of a company benefiting from the very program he helped design! It sure beats sitting in a jail cell.

While Darleen Druyun suffered under lock and key, Tom Scully passed out donations to key members of Congress and roamed corporate board rooms. Quite a difference for what on the surface seems to be similar behavior, helping yourself find a good job while helping your future employers make money from the federal government. But then again, what do I know?

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