President Trump has made some outstanding decisions concerning the Department of Defense. Nominating Heather Wilson to serve as the next Secretary of the Air Force in not one of them.
In November of 2014 the Department of Energy Inspector General completed an investigation titled, “Alleged Attempts by Sandia National Laboratories to Influence Congress and Federal Officials on a Contract Extension.”
The main issue of this report was Heather Wilson having accepted 200,000 taxpayer dollars over a twenty-month period solely to use her congressional contacts to influence then-Energy Secretary Chu for the purpose of extending Lockheed-Martin’s two-billion dollar-plus oversight contract for Sandia Laboratories.
When awarded in 1993, Lockheed’s oversight contract of Sandia was to be competitively rebid every five years. Despite continual investigations and inquiries, to include by Senators Grassley and Markey, Government Accounting Office and DOE’s own offices exposing numerous problems with Sandia management, and multiple employee lawsuits, DOE extensions resulted in the contract never opening for rebid until 2016 when it was awarded to Honeywell.
Concerning Heather, the DOE IG concluded in its 2014 report, “the use of Federal funds to advance that interest through actions designed to encourage a noncompetitive contract extension was, in our view, prohibited by Sandia Corporation's contract and Federal law and regulations.”
This matter had already caught the public’s attention a year earlier in the Nov 3, 2013 Albuquerque Journal article titled, “From Congress to Contract Heather Wilson Says 10k Per Month Sandia Labs Deal Met Ethics Rules.” Despite what Heather claimed, the Department of Justice fined Sandia Corporation $4,790,000 dollars. Sandia was also required to pay the government an additional $200,000 – equivalent to what it had already paid Heather.
This entire problem started in 2009 when Heather was finishing her role as Representative of New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, in which Sandia Labs is located. Before leaving office, Heather was required to faithfully complete a “House Termination Report.” The report clearly mandated “any agreement or arrangement with respect to future employment.”
Heather failed to do this, later claiming she did not need to report Sandia funding received because the money went to her business – Heather Wilson and Co. LLC. In this company, Heather was the sole employee: president, secretary, treasurer, and work force. Heather claimed she did not know when the contract was negotiated and further claimed memory failure as to whether or not there were other clients.
The Albuquerque Journal had no problem identifying December 8, 2008 as the day Heather Wilson and Co. LCC was incorporated, and December 19, 2008 was when Sandia issued her a proposed contract – both while she was still a Member of Congress. Concerning alleged memory failure of other customers, Heather’s records could have easily resolved the question if she so desired.
The bottom line is Heather Wilson did receive $200,000 of federal funds for congressional lobbying, which was negotiated while she was in office and failed to report upon leaving. Beyond the planning and execution of congressional solicitation to pressure then-Department of Energy Secretary Chu for the purpose of extending the Lockheed-Martin oversight contract for Sandia National Laboratories, there was no other mission.
It is amazing that after Candidate Trump’s relentless attacks on Hillary Clinton for her financial dealings, now President Trump is overlooking Heather Wilson’s past behavior. While the investigation on Hillary is on-going, the investigation on Heather is long since complete and not found in her favor.
The hypocrisy gets worse. Candidate Trump campaigned hard on the issue of illegal aliens. Now President Trump nominates a person who as New Mexico’s congressional representative nominated an illegal alien to the Air Force Academy. In at least two public forums, Heather made it clear she knew the person was in the country illegally. Heather’s justification was the she wanted to make the candidate feel welcome in America. While it was impossible for the illegal alien to avoid detection during the security review process, a nomination was kept from a deserving American citizen.
Secretary of the Air Force is a position of ultimate trust. Heather Wilson has thoroughly proven her inability to meet that standard.