Potential Dem guv candidate Bud Chiles plays Cheney, Halliburton cards in spill statementby George Bennett | May 24th, 2010
Bud Chiles sure sounds like a Democratic candidate for governor, invoking Halliburton and making not one but two references to reliable Democratic target Dick Cheney in a statement today blasting Florida’s hiring of an environmental consulting firm to review and assist county responses to the gulf oil spill.
A Chiles publicist says the son of former Gov. Lawton Chiles “expects to make a decision real soon” on whether to hop into the Democratic gubernatorial primary against CFO Alex Sink.
Chiles’ spill statement — which Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Sole called “fundamentally flawed” this afternoon — is filled with Democratic red meat.
“This is no time to tie the hands of local government by forcing them to work through a firm whose principal was Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff,” Chiles says.
He’s referring to Tampa-based WRS Compass, whose CEO, Kathleen Shanahan, was chief of staff for Cheney during the 2000 presidential campaign and transition, then was chief of staff for former Gov. Jeb Bush.
WRS this month was awarded a state consulting contract worth up to $250,000. The scope of work includes reviewing county responses, designing beach protection devices and identifying areas of ecological concern.
Sole said WRS is providing technical assistance to counties, primarily to help them develop booms to keep oil from coming ashore. Sole said the private contractor is “not there to approve” county plans, as Chiles charges.
Chiles friend Jim McClellan, head of the Southern Solutions PR firm and issuer of Chiles’ statement, said he’s not aware of any controversy over WRS’ performance.
But he said Chiles was alarmed by the fact that the firm’s clients include oil and gas companies and that its CEO once worked for Cheney.
A WRS Compass spokesman declined comment.
Here’s Chiles’ complete statement….
STATEMENT BY BUD CHILES
Regarding Florida’s Use of Former Cheney Aide’s Firm to Manage Oil Spill Clean-up Efforts
“Floridians are rightfully outraged over the negligence of BP and Haliburton that caused the ecological disaster which now threatens our natural treasures, our economy and our way of life. But now our own state leaders have heaped a cruel insult on top of this terrible injury by insisting that protection efforts be blessed by WRSCompass before taxpayers can be reimbursed for their costs.
“It is reprehensible that Florida’s cities and counties are being required to seek approval from a North Carolina firm, headed by a former Dick Cheney aide, before taking actions that will protect them from this oil spill. Florida’s local governments don’t need anyone’s permission to safeguard their citizens, their beaches and their estuaries. And our state government should be focused on helping them do that, not on running interference for BP.
“The very idea that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has delegated one of its most basic responsibilities to a private company with questionable credentials should be appalling to our citizens. The fact that this firm numbers oil companies among its clients raises serious questions about whether it can be trusted to work in the public interest.
“Who is state government working to protect: the oil industry or the people of Florida? Hard-working business owners – like my own brother, a restaurant owner – are facing a potential disaster that could take decades to overcome. This is no time to tie the hands of local government by forcing them to work through a firm whose principal was Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff.
“Sadly, this is another glaring example of why Florida’s pay-to-play political system is in desperate need of reform, and one more reason why I am seriously considering a run for governor. Florida needs a leader who will stand up for our local governments and our citizens — not stand aside while their interests are threatened.”