Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bennie Thompson was on the take

I recently sort-of praised Rep Bennie Thompson for standing up for passengers' civil liberties with respect to SPOT. Turns out he was a major beneficiary of Rapiscan lobbying prior to the scanner roll-outs.
Around [2006], Rapiscan began to beef up its lobbying on Capitol Hill. It opened a Washington, D.C., office and, according to required disclosures, more than tripled its lobbying expenditures in two years, from less than $130,000 in 2006 to nearly $420,000 in 2008. It hired former legislative aides to Rep. David Price, D-N.C., then chairman of the homeland security appropriations subcommittee, and to Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss.
It started a political action committee and began contributing heavily to Price; Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., then head of the homeland security committee; Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., also on that committee; and Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., the top Republican on the Senate appropriations committee.
In addition, it opened a new North Carolina plant in Price’s district and expanded its operations in Ocean Springs, Miss., [Lott's state] and at its headquarters in Torrance, Calif., in Harman’s district.
...But with the 2009 federal stimulus package, which provided $300 million for checkpoint security machines, the TSA began deploying backscatters as well. Rapiscan won a $173 million, multiyear contract for the backscatters, with an initial $25 million order for 150 systems to be made in Mississippi.        
Has Rep Thompson had a change of heart and now cares about passenger rights, or is it just that SPOT doesn't benefit his benfactors?