Press "Enter" to skip to content

Incoming Mines Prez Got “Questionable” Payments for Nuclear Lab “Work”

Incoming School of Mines president and former new Mexico Congresswoman Heather Wilson doesn't care much for gay people. She also apparently doesn't care for doing the paperwork the federal government expects of contractors at its nuclear labs:

Former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson collected nearly half a million dollars in questionable payments from four federally funded nuclear labs after she left office, the Energy Department's inspector general says in a new report ["IG Report Finds 'Questionable' Payments to Former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson," AP via Fox Business, 2013.06.11].

Just what work did Wilson do for those labs? Maybe nothing... and maybe illegal lobbying:

Officials at the Nevada Test Site and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee acknowledged there "were no deliverables" associated with $30,000 the two labs paid Wilson, according to the Associated Press.

The contractors that run the labs billed the payments to the government "even though they did not receive evidence that work performed under the agreements had been completed," the report said.

The contractors, which include Lockheed Martin, Bechtel and other companies, have since paid back most of the money to the government but an investigation continues. In all, the government recovered $442,877 of $464,203 paid to Wilson, the report said.

In addition, the report said that Sandia and Los Alamos appear to have improperly used Department of Energy funds to pay Wilson to lobby the federal government to expand lab funding, which is prohibited activity [Jennifer Naylor Gesick, "School of Mines President Embroiled in Controversy," Rapid City Journal, 2013.06.12].

Wilson denies the lobbying charge. But no deliverables? No evidence of work performed? Yeah, I might ask for my money back, too.

If those labs ask Wilson to refund them the money that they've refunded to the government, she'll have to work from next week Monday, her first day on the job at Mines, until about November 1, 2014, at her promised Regental annual salary of $321,260 to pay off her shady contracting.


  1. Donald Pay 2013.06.12

    I believe Heather Wilson's hiring at the School of Mines and Technology may be a part of a tightly held (so far secret from South Dakota residents) plan of the Governor of South Dakota to site an interim high-level radioactive waste disposal facility, or perhaps a geologic repository for high-level nuclear waste in South Dakota.

    While Governor Daugaard has not made any public announcement, it appears he has been sending letters indicating an interest in having South Dakota serve as a storage site for high-level radioactive waste.

    Quoting from the link below:

    "At the public meeting of the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board (NWTRB) held in Albuquerque, New Mexico on March 7, 2012, Dr. Albert Carnesale from the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (BRC) made the following announcement (paraphrased):

    “… last week the Governor of the State of South Dakota wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Department of Energy … to express the conditional interest of his state in hosting either or both a storage or disposal facility for spent nuclear fuel … provided the necessary research for such a facility is performed at South Dakota universities under a federal grant from DOE.”

    Apparently the letter was sent sometime between February 27th and March 2nd. Several representatives from the Department of Energy in attendance at the NWTRB meeting informally confirmed Dr. Carnesale’s announcement."

    This development is very similar to the secret efforts made in the late 1982 by Governor Bill Janklow's administration to site a low-level radioactive waste facility at Igloo, SD. That attempt met strong opposition from South Dakotans, leading to an initiative vote followed by a Legislative ballot issue, which killed the plan. The 1984 initiative also precluded siting a high-level radioactive waste facility in South Dakota without a vote of the citizens. However, the Legislature used an illegal vote of a 100+ page bill to repeal that protection.

    A new initiative may be necessary to protect South Dakota from Governor Daugaard's plans to site a high-level radioactive waste facility in South Dakota.

    Heather Wilson, a well known supporter of the nuclear industry, may use her position to grease the skids for a high-level radioactive waste facility. She could use SDSM&T to launder nuclear industry money.

  2. Jana 2013.06.12

    Heck, the GOP promoted the strip mining of the Black Hills, why would housing "nucular" waste be a bad thing?

    OK, to all the reporters and editors...there you have it. Clearly there is a dandy piece of investigative journalism here for the taking...have fun.

  3. Donald Pay 2013.06.12

    Governor Daugaard should release the letter, and any and others he's sent to the Department of Energy or others regarding this matter. If not, FOIA requests will be able to eventually obtain these letters. He should also promptly disclose all efforts his administration has taken, and allow any citizen to view and copy any written and electronic correspondence and documents on this matter.

  4. Rorschach 2013.06.13

    Is the GOP trying to make SD a two party state?

    Along with a ballot initiative preventing SD from becoming a nuclear waste dump, maybe we ought to have an initiative providing for recalls of elected officials similar to that of California.

  5. Rorschach 2013.06.13

    I suspect that the master plan, if there is one, is to build some nuclear plants in SD and sell that plan under the guise of them being needed to finance more transmission lines for wind power. Of course it will be all President Obama's fault that we need to do this. Then along with storing waste from our nuclear plant(s) they would volunteer to take everyone else's nuclear waste for fun and profit.

  6. Rorschach 2013.06.13

    What does ALEC say about nuclear power? Certainly their blueprint is our blueprint, right?

  7. Sabrina 2013.06.13

    Donald - do you know which 100+ page bill repealed that provision?

  8. Donald Pay 2013.06.13


    The bill was back in 1987, I believe. It was the first time the state legislature had one of those 100-page "repeal archaic laws bills," which violate South Dakota's Constitution in my opinion. They snuck it in there, and it was gone before we realized what had happened. They did the same this year to some mining legislation.

  9. Douglas Wiken 2013.06.14

    SD nuclear plants using Thorium salts might make sense. Plants using Uranium don't make sense unless you are General Electric promoting their wrong-headed technology.

Comments are closed.