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Mines Pres. Wilson, Tagged by Sandia Investigation, Urges Less Regulation

While the Department of Energy Inspector General was investigating School of Mines president Heather Wilson's involvement in illegal lobbying activities for the Sandia National Laboratories, Wilson was serving on a sequester-delayed advisory panel charged by Congress with reviewing and making recommendations for improving the National Nuclear Security Administration's oversight of the nuclear weapons design and production done at Sandia and elsewhere.

What do you think former Republican Congresswoman Wilson, chafing under snoopy regulators, and her colleagues on the Congressional Advisory Panel on the Governance of the Nuclear Security Enterprise recommended?

Instead of calling for stricter contract supervision — an idea long urged by the Energy Department’s office of inspector general — the study recommended the Energy Department reduce regulation, cut the number of DOE field office personnel who supervise the contractors and abolish the current system of tying part of the contractors’ pay to their performance.

The advisory panel, created by Congress as part of the Defense Department funding bill in 2013, said in its final report released in December that the management contractors were burdened with “onerous oversight,” muddled accountability and a “dysfunctional” management culture at DOE [Douglas Birch, "Advisory Panel Tells Congress the Nuclear Weapons Complex Is Too Big and Too Old," Center for Public Integrity, 2014.12.17].

Nuclear Watch sees in this report cover for cronyism that undermines American security interests:

The Panel’s self-interested premise that the Nuclear Security Enterprise needs a new foundation is wrong. First, call it what it is, not some kind of innocuous sounding “enterprise,” but rather a massive research and production complex that is pushing an unaffordable trillion dollar modernization program for nuclear warheads, missiles, subs and bombers. This will divert taxpayers’ dollars from meeting the real national security threats of nuclear weapons proliferation and climate change. The Panel failed by not arguing for prudent maintenance of the stockpile, instead supporting a perpetual work program of risky life extension programs for existing nuclear weapons that will enrich contractors [Jay Coghlan, Nuclear Watch director, "NNSA Governance Advisory Panel Condones Diminishing Federal Oversight Of Failing Contractors," Nuclear Watch New Mexico, 2014.12.12].

Wilson and her colleagues apparently believe making life easier for her consulting and contracting pals is more important than accountability and American security.


  1. Tim 2015.01.25

    Wilson must be a republican, sure sounds like one.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.25

    Tim, yes, Wilson ran in New Mexico and served in Congress as a Republican.

  3. Tim 2015.01.25

    Cory, you mean she is from Larry's home state? We should tell Kurtz to keep his trash down there, we have enough of our own already! ;-)

  4. David Newquist 2015.01.25

    A most interesting part of the report is this:

    "Another panelist, former New Mexico Congresswoman Heather Wilson, received nearly $450,000 from contractors at four of the U.S. nuclear complex sites — including Sandia — after leaving office in 2009.

    "A 2013 report by the DOE’s Inspector General said the four labs couldn’t document what she did for them. But according to a separate IG report released in November, some DOE officials concluded that Wilson was hired with federal funds to lobby for an extension of Lockheed’s contract to manage Sandia. Wilson denied working as a lobbyist, and her contract barred it, but the Energy Department ordered Sandia to return the funds it paid to her."

    Indicates what perspective she operates from.

  5. Donald Pay 2015.01.25

    Crony capitalism, anyone? Let's loosen the security apparatus so Heather Wilson won't go to jail.

    Heather has nothing to worry about, nor do we. Mike Rounds says he is going to abolish the entire Department of Energy, which means Sandia Labs and the Nuclear Security Enterprise (code for the program to modernize nuclear weapons) would be abolished as well. Not only that, as Grudz knows, Daugaards nuclear dump would go down with the DOE. Do it, Mike, do it.

  6. 96Tears 2015.01.25

    So, we’ve got yet another operative in our state’s regents system whose focus on education is secondary to plundering the federal government to serve well-heeled cronies?

    This is precisely how South Dakota wound up with a multi-millionaire in Aberdeen who ginned up his own contract to privatize a state government agency, who bypassed state laws by using his inside contacts to get a no-bid contract, who fleeced more than $100 million from a federal program, who operated and still operates in complete secrecy, who walked unimpeded out the door with agency records and who benefited from patsies on the S.D. Board of Regents, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the Attorney General’s Office and the Governor’s Office turning a blind eye while he stole other people’s money. You do it by eliminating oversight and transparency, and by using the power of government to damage those who blow the whistle on the crooks.

    The craven profiteers who run state government as a profit center for fellow crooks is a systemic problem in South Dakota, and has been so for many years. The difference between Mike Rounds and his predecessors is Rounds and Daugaard don’t bother to keep a lid on the extreme corruption that runs so pervasively in Pierre. They expect South Dakotans to ignore white collar crime.

    Little wonder that Daugaard and the power structure in Pierre would recruit a more sophisticated wretch to do their bidding, bilking the federal government and gagging the policing agencies that protect health and the public trust. Heather Wilson’s and her pals’ activities described here are just another day at the office.

  7. leslie 2015.01.25

    so ... troy, grudz ect think EB5 is just benda, no harm, no foul, just immigration.

    and now loosening nukes is the best daugaard et al. can come up with to modernize our university system. did NSU think privatization of joop's operation was well done?

    are our higher education leaders under daugaard competent?

  8. Tim 2015.01.25

    Larry, looks like you should be just as embarrassed in New Mexico, poor choice of words on my part. Should have read, Larry's current choice of a state to reside in. Do they treat the Native American community any better down there than here? Never been there, just curious.

  9. Paul Seamans 2015.01.25

    I am starting to understand Gov. Daugaard teaming up with SDSM&T to determine if western South Dakota's Pierre shale can be turned into a nuclear waste repository. This blog has educated me to President Wilson's involvement in the whole scheme, I couldn't quite make the connection before.

  10. Tim 2015.01.25

    96, sadly, Wilson has and will fit right in here, welcomed with open arms by Daugaard and his Republican crew.

  11. larry kurtz 2015.01.25

    Puebloans accept their stations as members of the Fourth World. The standard of living among American Indians in New Mexico exceeds that of tribal nations trapped in South Dakota due in large part to former Democratic governors here but people of Spanish descent tend to bear the burdens of poverty in greater numbers. People running for public office are at a disadvantage if not fluent in Spanish and/or Dine' because language is such an integral part of heritage.

  12. David Newquist 2015.01.25

    Readers of Madville are getting a glimmer of how the Regents are connected to the economic scheming that goes on in this state. It is a connection that was established by Janklow when he purged the Board of members who had anything to do with education--except for those such as Wilson who think education is to serve the corporate schemers, not the people.

    When reading the court transcripts concerning the EB-5 fleecings of Chinese and Korean investors, it becomes clear that Joop Bollen was exempted from supervision by the dean under whose college he operated and by the university president, as when he took all files regarding his operations when he left the university. Of course, the question is who, if anyone, was he answerable to? Members of the GOAC and the Governor's administration have successfully headed of the answer to that question, but the answer lies in the relationship of regents and their connections with people prominent in the companies that dealt with EB-5 money.

    The best chance to obtain a direct answer to the question is in the investigation by the Department of Justice. The federal government is covered by the Freedom of Information Act, through which the information produced by the investigation must be provided to those who request it. South Dakota, in contrast, is ruled by secrecy laws which give state officials the cover for withholding information.

  13. Tim 2015.01.25

    That's a sweet deal for somebody. Wonder if it will be as sweet as NSU's deal was?

  14. 96Tears 2015.01.25

    Eventually, this will be another topic for news reporters to learn in South Dakota. Fleecing the EB-5 program to rip off foreign investors and South Dakota’s state government is one wedge of the pie. If someone with the power to subpoena records and witnesses starts digging, I think it’s a safe bet they will find leads to several other white collar crimes involving the Governor’s Office and a network of criminal activity going back 10 years and more.

    Little wonder the GOAC let Joop Bollen get away without doing their job. They would be responsible for digging deeper once they started scratching the surface.

  15. mike from iowa 2015.01.25

    Wingnuttery 101 clearly states the only regulations needed are those that prevent the "People" from imposing regulations on commerce of any type.

    In Texas,large campaign donors get to head thrie own agencies and make their own rules in their own favor.

  16. Douglas Wiken 2015.01.25

    Wilson's connection with existing nuclear technology may be why the SDSM&T Physics Dept. refused to respond to any inquiry on why they weren't studying Thorium salt reactors which would likely be safer and easier to manage than Uranium systems.

  17. larry kurtz 2015.01.25

    Exactly, Doug: curious whether her one-year contract will be renewed and how much the Regents are spending to fly her home to Albuquerque every weekend. My gut has yet to reveal the big picture of the relationship of the Homestake Lab, Los Alamos and Sandia. Wilson has called for autonomy from FermiLab and Livermore.

  18. larry kurtz 2015.01.25

    Black Hills Power and Homestake gave her campaign cash no doubt Stan Adelstein has his hand up her skirt, too.

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