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Mines Pres. Wilson “Deeply Involved” in Illegal Lobbying for NM Lab’s No-Bid Contract

Just when the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology needs strong female leadership to get more women's bathrooms in the geology department, the feds come bothering Mines president Heather Wilson with more concerns about her consulting and lobbying activities prior to her work in South Dakota.

Mr. Kurtz noted press a couple weeks ago on Wilson's involvement in what a Department of Energy Inspector General's investigation determined was the illegal use of federal money to lobby for an extension of no-bid federal contracts at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Wilson represented New Mexico's 1st District, including most of Albuquerque, in the U.S. House from 1998 to 2009.

The DOEIG report says Wilson's company, Heather Wilson LLC, consulted for Sandia. The report says SNL's consultants helped develop a plan "to influence members of Congress and Federal officials to prevent the need for a competitive process as a means to achieve the desired contract extension."

Wilson denies any involvement with illegal lobbying. She says the reports findings do not name her specifically. Technically, she's right: the report itself mentions Wilson and "Heather Wilson LLC" (why do I feel a Joop Bollen moment coming on?) in the background paragraph, but her name does not appear in the findings section. However, the background paragraph uses this language:

Prompted by an Office of Inspector General inspection report on Concerns with Consulting Contract Administration at Various Department Sites (DOE/IG-0889, June 2013), the NNSA's Sandia Field Office conducted a preliminary review of documentation from 2009 through 2011 regarding consultant activities between Heather Wilson, LLC (the principal of which is a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives) and SNL. On March 27, 2013, the Sandia Field Office alleged that SNL impermissibly attempted to influence an extension to the Sandia Corporation contract and engaged Ms. Wilson in these activities [Gregory H. Friedman, Inspector General, "INFORMATION: Special Inquiry on 'Alleged Attempts by Sandia National Laboratories to Influence Congress and Federal Officials on a Contract Extension'," Memorandum to the Secretary, Department of Energy, 2014.11.07].

Wilson is the only consultant so named in the report, and this paragraph states clearly that Sandia engaged Wilson in impermissible activities. IG Friedman tells the press that Wilson was "deeply, deeply involved" in these impermissible activities. The Inspector General attaches to the report a response from National Nuclear Security Administration chief Frank Klotz, who says that Sandia repaid the NNSA $226K for fees paid to Wilson for previous questionable lobbying activities. Klotz assures the DOEIG that NNSA is reviewing Sandia's use of consulting fees in the current matter.

Board of Regents chairman Dean Krogman says that Wilson has the Regents' "full support," although he tells the Rapid City Journal he wasn't aware of the new DOEIG report.

You know, Chairman Krogman, you wouldn't have to make precarious statements like that if your university presidents weren't holding down second jobs in corporate America.


  1. John Tsitrian 2014.12.01

    Doesn't the phrase "engaged Ms. Wilson in these activities" name her specifically? The phrase comes up independently of the notation that she's the principal of Heather Wilson, LLC.

  2. Nick Nemec 2014.12.01

    My thought exactly Mr. Tsitrian. Unless there is more than one "Ms. Wilson" she's making stupid easily refuted false statements. Maybe she should reread the Cadet Honor Code from her Air Force Academy alma mater, "We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does."

  3. larry kurtz 2014.12.01

    Wilson only has a one year contract: she tweeted me that she lives in Albuquerque but resides in Rapid City. The WIPP radioactive waste site in New Mexico is under investigation so expect the lie Donald Pay exposed and Daugaard told the press about a repository in the Pierre Shale to force additional discussion.

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.01

    Note the parsing, John and Nick: she says the findings portion of the report does not mention her name, and indeed, that lower section of the report does not.

    Larry: "lives" in NM but "resides" in SD? Any idea where she votes? Is she paying New Mexico income tax?

  5. larry kurtz 2014.12.01

    Cory: she told me she votes in her home district in Bernalillo County.

  6. mike from iowa 2014.12.01

    Pathetic-the lengths pols go to violate the spirit and intent of laws they themselves pass,to do favors for the well placed.

  7. Nick Nemec 2014.12.01

    Cory, I have some extensive first hand knowledge of cadet honor codes. While Ms. Wilson is no longer a cadet and isn't bound by the Cadet Honor Code she is violating the spirit of the code, quibbling is irritating and a violation of the code. The purpose of honor codes is to instill a sense of honor in young people that, hopefully, follows then for the rest of their life.

    It takes better in some than others.

  8. Bob Klein 2014.12.01

    She's part of the ruling class. Rules are for the rest of us.

  9. Donald Pay 2014.12.01

    The only reason to hire Wilson was so she could use her influence with the federal government and with federal government contractors to grab federal dollars for Daugaard's nuclear waste dump. She has no other qualifications for the job. The position with SDSM&T was just cover.

    Still, her criminality has left her as a bad point person to grab federal money from the Department of Energy. Too bad for Denny's dump.

  10. jerry 2014.12.01

    The regents seem to be involved with every crooked scheme the state of South Dakota dreams up. They co-opted the EB-5 scheme with Rounds, Daugaard and Bollen to fleece the immigrants and the South Dakota taxpayers. The regents gave the thumbs up to Wilson with full support even though they did not bother to read the report that speaks of her involvement in an out of state scheme that has legs. Donald Pay is correct in his take on why Wilson was bought here in the first place, it all has to do with nuclear poison that Dagaard and his regent cronies want to unleash on us with their outstretched hands of greed as the driving force yet again.

  11. Donald Pay 2014.12.01

    Department of Energy, “Preliminary Evaluation of Shale Media for Use as a Nuclear Waste Repository Site,” Roggenthen (PI), W., Stetler, L. (Co-PI), Cetin, B. (Co-PI), Roberts, L.A. (Co-PI), 2012-2014, $150,000.

    This is the reference to the initial proposal for a Department of Energy research grant to SDSM&T that Daugaard says is not intended to set South Dakota up for a high-level radioactive waste repository. Uh, the proposal submitted to DOE says otherwise. Is it possible for Daugaard to encourage the release of the proposal, as well as the research conducted?

  12. larry kurtz 2014.12.02

    "Sen. John Thune's Washington chief of staff, Summer Mersinger, is leaving Capitol Hill to join Smith-Free Group as senior vice president in early 2015. The South Dakota native worked for Thune in the House and Senate and served as a key member of his 2004 election team. She previously served as a director of government relations at Arent Fox. Mersinger joins fellow South Dakotan Jim Smith at the firm."

  13. leslie 2014.12.02

    Regents hire university presidents that don't live in the locus (i.e. out of stat, commuting, apparently at whose expense?) of the institution?

  14. leslie 2014.12.03

    now that daugaard and predecessor rounds have screwed up the EB5 gravytrain, watch for this "new mining" strategy in SD which has Sen. McCain and Irans' backing:

    1. legislation. The company, the international mining conglomerate Rio Tinto, has been trying for nearly a decade to acquire 2,400 acres of the federally protected Tonto National Forest in southeast Arizona -- land that sits atop a massive copper deposit.

    Under legislation offered in the House and Senate, the company's subsidiary, Resolution Copper -- which Rio Tinto co-owns with another international mining giant, BHP Billiton -- would get land originally set aside during the Eisenhower administration to conserve the environment and protect sacred Native American sites.

    But Rio Tinto and Resolution Copper have spent millions lobbying Congress and donating to lawmakers, according to data from federal election records and the Center for Responsive Politics. And according to opponents of the deal, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and backers in the House are trying to attach the deal to must-pass legislation -- most likely the National Defense Authorization Act, which comes from the Armed Services Committee that McCain will chair starting in January.

    China owns nearly 10 percent of Rio Tinto and would -- according to opponents of the deal -- get most of the copper.

    2. land swap/eliminate EPA. A Rio Tinto official said that Resolution Copper has already filed a mining plan with the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, starting an environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act.

    A BLM official was not immediately able to determine the status of that review, but agreed... that if the land is transferred to Resolution Copper, the NEPA review would no longer apply, since the land would become private. Under the land-swap bill, the transfer must be done within a year.

    3. stomp on Indians. "We didn’t think this kind of stuff happened anymore. We didn’t think we were taking land that belongs to Native Americans and giving it to other people anymore," said Athan Manuel, who is lobbying Congress against the deal for the Sierra Club. "We should not be privatizing federal land."

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