The Center for Public Integrity has come out with a hard-hitting article about illegal lobbying by the world’s biggest defense contractor Lockheed Martin to extend its management contract of the Sandia Labs. Sandia contracted former congresswoman Heather Wilson for consulting services that had no written work requirements, although she denies engaging in illegal lobbying activity. Notably, Wilson was the groomed successor to the powerful Republican senator Pete Domenici (“St. Pete” to the labs for the money be brought them), but was defeated by Tom Udall in the 2007 race for the Senate after Domenici retired. Ironically, the “liberal” Udall now functions as the new Pete Domenici from the same budget seat in the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee. My point is how deeply in bed the New Mexican congressional delegation is with the nuclear weapons industry in this state, no matter which political party they come from.
But this business about Lockheed Martin engaging in illegal lobbying to extend its Sandia contract takes it to a whole new level. We believe this is a story that won’t go away – – more developments are bound to come. Looking ahead, because of its illegal activities Nuclear Watch New Mexico’s position is that Lockheed Martin should be barred from competing for the Sandia Labs contract when the National Nuclear Security Administration next puts it out for bid, currently scheduled for next year.
The Center for Public Integrity’s must-read article is at
““Given the specific prohibitions against such activity, we could not comprehend the logic of using Federal funds for the development of a plan to influence members of Congress and federal officials to, in essence, prevent competition,” [DOE Inspector General] Friedman said in the report….
In 2009, the report explains, Sandia Corp. hired a consulting firm headed by former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson, R-New Mexico, and two unnamed former employees of the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration, at least one of whom previously had oversight authority at the lab. Wilson’s company, Heather Wilson, LLC, provided explicit directions about how to influence the most crucial decision-makers in the contract-award process, according to the IG report.” – End –
A few comments on the article follow, notably begun by Heather Wilson herself, followed by yours truly and Jim Doyle.
For your readers, this is what I said to the reporter of this story: “The full report confirms what I have said all along. I was not a lobbyist for Sandia and I did not contact any federal official — Congressional or Executive — to try to extend the Sandia contract. I was not a member of the “Sandia Contract Strategy Team” that is criticized in the report. Interestingly, someone’s notes from a conversation with me contained in this full report confirm that I advised that contract extension activities should be done by Lockheed Martin, not Sandia. That is the same position taken by the Department of Energy Inspector General.
Jay Coghlan ·
Executive Director at Nuclear Watch New Mexico
I am not contesting what former Congresswoman Wilson says below. But it should be noted that Nuclear Watch New Mexico filed a FOIA request and got her contract with the Sandia Labs. It makes clear that she entered into that contract with Sandia Labs while still serving in congressional office, and started getting paid $10,000 a month the day after she left office. See https://nukewatch.org/facts/nwd/HeatherWilson-Sandia contract-invoices.pdf
Ms. Wilson then went on to get a similar contract with the Los Alamos Lab. The DOE IG reported that both contracts had no written work requirements. Pretty sweet work if you can get it, $20K a month, and for what?
The Los Alamos and Sandia Labs had to pay back the government the ~$425,000 they paid Wilson, but as far we know she kept the money. Perhaps she didn’t do anything technically illegal, but it sure doesn’t pass the smell test. Especially when she ran for the U.S. Senate as a strong supporter of the nuclear weapons labs that had paid her. She has also served on the Congressional Advisory Panel on the Governance Structure of the National Nuclear Security Administration that made recommendations favorable to the labs. We think she should have resigned from that panel when her conflicts-of-interest were revealed.
That is history. The more profound question now is should Lockheed Martin be allowed to bid for the Sandia contract next year when it has clearly engaged in illegal lobbying activity? Nuclear Watch New Mexico thinks not.
Nuclear Watch New Mexico
Works at Self-Employed
I certainly have to object to the reported view of Sandia’s Lockheed-Martin management that it is “not merely in the corporation’s best interest, but in the country’s for Lockheed-Martin, Sandia, and the nation to work together towards influencing DOE to retain the Lockheed-Martin team.” Why would it be to the nation’s best interest to retain a contractor that allowed costs for it largest project, the B-61 nuclear bomb refurbishment, to skyrocket from an estimated $4 billion in 2010 to more than $8 billion today? I do not call this good management. The nation deserves better.
[Jim’s self-description as self-employed is an understatement. He is a former Los Alamos Lab nonproliferation expert who authored a study arguing for nuclear weapons abolition, which ultimately led to his firing. He is now self-employed as an independent nuclear weapons nonproliferation expert, and among many other things serves on Nuclear Watch New Mexico’s Steering Committee.]