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.