Monday, January 17, 2005


Courtesy of our revered colleague Avedon Carol: As you know, one Democratic senator from California opposes the nomination of Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State, and plans to give that congenital liar the merciless grilling she deserves. You may not be aware, however, that another Democratic senator from California favors Rice's nomination, and in fact plans to introduce her at tomorrow's confirmation hearings. Why the disparity of opinion? No doubt there are plenty of good reasons. We can think of at least 600 million new ones since Monday:
URS Corp., a San Francisco planning and engineering firm partially owned by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein's husband, landed an Army contract Monday worth up to $600 million.

The award to help with troop mobilization, weapons systems training and anti-terrorism efforts is the latest in a string of plum defense jobs snared by URS. In February, the firm won an army engineering and logistics contract that could bring in $3.1 billion during the next eight years.

Government contracting has come under increasing scrutiny by Congress and citizen groups, with critics decrying the political connections of firms winning lucrative jobs. Richard Blum, Feinstein's husband, serves on the company's board of directors and controls about 24 percent of the firm's stock, according to Hoover's Inc. research firm.

A Feinstein spokesman Monday declined to comment on the contract.

Blum and several URS representatives could not be reached for comment. A Pentagon spokesman said he was unfamiliar with the contract.

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