Saturday, November 24, 2007
Another Stinker From A Federal Attorney
The latest example of mendacity by Christie comes as the result of a settlement in which Zimmer Holdings has agreed to pay for a company to monitor them in order to end a probe into possible kickbacks. The agency doing this monitoring was hand picked by Christie, and he chose the company run by former Attorney General John Ashcroft to oversee the practices of Zimmer. That's right... a U.S. Federal Attorney has handpicked his old boss's outfit to benefit from a prosecution.
To say that the terms of the contract are generous for Ashcroft's company would be a massive understatement. Ashcroft Group Consulting Services stands to make $52 million for 18 months of monitoring:
Disclosed in SEC filings, the arrangement calls for Zimmer Holdings of Indiana to pay Ashcroft Group Consulting Services an average monthly fee between $1.5 million and $2.9 million. The figure includes a flat payment of $750,000 to the firms "senior leadership group," individual legal and consulting services billed at up to $895 an hour, and as much as $250,000 a month for expenses including private airfare, lodging and meals.There were a total of five companies involved with this settlement but Zimmer has gone public with the terms of their settlement in particular because, according to a company spokesperson: "it was our judgment that it was a large amount outside of our normal course of business." Zimmer has a point about the amounts seeming to be a bit out of whack. Usually these types of contracts are kept private, but the one example provided in the story seems to demonstrate that the fees being charged for this oversight are completely overblown:
Former SEC Chairman Richard Breeden, a monitor in several high-profile cases, reportedly billed Worldcom $300,000 a month to oversee the aftermath of what was then one of the largest corporate accounting scandals.Just doing the math shows that the cost for monitoring the followup to one of the largest corporate accounting scandals in American history over the course of 18 months shows that they would pay $5.4 million. No wonder Zimmer started making noise about this contract... they didn't go into this expecting to be the personal financiers for Christies political payback party.
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) has written a letter to Christie questioning this entire shady procedure, and is proposing legislation that would remove the ability of U.S. Attorneys to hand pick companies to monitor those accused of wrong doing. I'll be willing to bet that if we elect a Democratic President next year Rep. Pallones bill will see a sudden flood of Republican cosponsors, if you know what I mean.
After having made so much noise about kickbacks and other such shady financial dealings but then hand picking his old boss for this type of contract, maybe Christy should open another probe. Of himself!
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