Former congresswoman rakes in $450K from federally funded laboratories
Posted By Michael Bastasch On 12:22 PM 06/12/2013
Former New Mexico Republican Rep. Heather Wilson received nearly half a million dollars in “questionable” payments from four federally funded nuclear laboratories after leaving office, according to the Department of Energy’s inspector general.
“In fact, our testing revealed that the four facility contractors paid approximately $450,000 to [Heather Wilson and Company, LLC] even though they did not receive evidence that work performed under the agreements had been completed,” reads the IG’s report. “These payments were fully reimbursed by the government.”
According to the inspector general’s report, Wilson failed to provide documentation for work she did for Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories, for which she was paid $20,000 per month. Both the labs seem to have asked Wilson to secure them more work, which is in violation of Wilson’s contract, according to the report.
Wilson received 23 payments totaling $226,378 from Sandia between January 2009 and March 2011, and 19 payments from Los Alamos totaling $195,718 between August 2009 and February 2011.
Wilson also received $30,000 from the Nevada Test Site and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Officials there even told investigators that there “were no deliverables” associated with the $30,000 Wilson received.
The contractors have since paid back $442,877 out of the $464,203 that was paid to Wilson.
Under federal law, “fees for services rendered are allowable only when supported by evidence of the nature and scope of the service furnished” — so Wilson has to prove she did the work.
Wilson told the Associated Press that the report “confirms that the labs were satisfied with my work. The work was done in full compliance with the contracts we signed and under the direct supervision of lab sponsors.”
The report called Wilson’s agreements with the labs unusual and, in some cases, “highly irregular.” And it said the agreements and the lab operators failed to include or enforce “even minimum” invoicing standards required under federal regulations.
“Her relationship with our national labs goes back over 20 years and she has worked on a wide range of projects with different groups of scientists and engineers over time,” Wilson’s Senate campaign told the AP last year. Wilson was defeated by Democrat Martin Heinrich, who highlighted her cozy relationship with the laboratories.
Los Alamos told the AP in a statement that it “was reasonable and appropriate” to ask for Wilson’s help, arguing she was “uniquely qualified to advise the lab on a variety of issues related to our national security missions.”
“[W]e acknowledge we did not document her services consistent with our own expectations for subcontract management,” Los Alamos added.