OCTOBER 17, 2008
A major John McCain fundraiser who serves as finance chairman of the Florida Republican party has been accused of making hundreds of millions of dollars in profits by vastly overcharging the Pentagon for fuel deliveries in Iraq.
A House investigative committee, led by California Democrat Henry Waxman, has found that perhaps the Republican donor (Harry Sargeant) used his political contacts to secure several lucrative government fuel contracts even though his firm (International Oil Trading Company) was not the lowest bidder.
In all, the Pentagon paid Sargeant’s company $1.4 billion for four separate fuel delivery contracts and the firm reportedly made a profit of $210 million after expenses. Representative Waxman calculated that U.S. taxpayers would have saved about $180 million if the lowest bidder had been awarded the deals.
Waxman details the claims of impropriety by Sargeant’s company in a lengthy letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates. There is no indication that McCain or his staff tried to influence the granting of the contracts, but the Arizona senator’s ties to Sargeant certainly raise some concern.
Sargeant has raised more than half a million dollars for McCain’s presidential campaign, has donated thousands of his own money and hosted a fundraiser for the senator this year at his Delray Beach Florida mansion. In August McCain returned $50,000 bundled by Sargeant, a college buddy and close friend of Florida Governor Charlie Crist, because the money was obtained illegally to skirt contribution limits.
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