Monday, December 01, 2008

Bob Kerrey's Unusual Corporate Connections

Ex-Nebraska Governor and Senator Bob Kerrey, the highly respected 9-11 Commission co-chair, surfaced not long ago as a corporate board member for Tenet Healthcare, Genworth Financial, Jones Apparel and Scientific Games Corporation.

Conde Nast Portfolio mentioned Mr. Kerrey in a story on Pete G. Peterson of the Blackstone Group, the Council on Foreign Relations and the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. It quoted Kerrey under the topic of government deficit reduction, increasingly unlikely as our economy implodes.

Bob Kerrey, the former Nebraska senator and a close friend of Peterson’s, puts it this way: “It’s like coming up with a really good welfare-reform plan for New Orleans, and then Katrina hits.”

Bob was in a position of responsibility when Katrina struck. Tenet Healthcare owned Memorial Hospital, the facility with 34 total patient deaths. Twenty four deaths came from LifeCare Hospital's long term acute care unit. LifeCare rented a floor from Memorial.

Unfortunately, the White House did not perform a really good investigation of Katrina. Frances Townsend's Lessons Learned report made no mention of Tenet's Memorial Hospital. It also omitted LifeCare, the hospital with the highest death toll in the storm.

The Carlyle Group purchased LifeCare Hospitals just weeks before Katrina's landfall. The two corporations divied up liability in a secret settlement. Their attorneys blamed rogue clinicians. When that failed before a grand jury, they targeted the federal government. LifeCare claims patients became wards of the government when FEMA evacuation teams set up in New Orleans.

Tenet sold Memorial Hospital and Carlyle closed their LifeCare unit. Both firms stayed out of the limelight, thanks in part to White House silence in their February 2006 report.

Spring 2007 found Jeb Bush appointed to the Tenet Healthcare Board of Directors. Funny, the State of Florida fined Tenet numerous times for unethical behavior. Was Jeb's appointment in gratitude for past preferential Florida treatment or George W. Bush's White House investigative silence?

Genworth Financial imploded along with the rest of America's financial sector, losing 94% of its stock value. It recently purchased InterBank, a savings & loan, to gain access to Hank Paulson's TARP funds. How much will Genworth draw?

Scientific Games tapped Mr. Kerrey's board skills in 2008. The company provides state lottery and other gaming services. People need distractions while they're being fleeced. What does Scientific Games have on tap? Stay tuned, the red and blue franchise contests are clearly in play...

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