A Special Investigative Report
By Donald V. Watkins
©Copyrighted and Published on March 25, 2019
In early 2007, I visited the Washington offices of U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), Congressman Spencer Bachus (R-AL), and Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) for the purpose of soliciting letters of support for a first-of-its-kind waste-to-ethanol facility in upstate New York. Sen. Sessions provided two letters of support for the project; one on January 10, 2007 and another one on January 18, 2007. Congressman Bachus provided his letter of support for the project on March 20, 2007. Sen. Clinton provided her letter of support on March 27, 2007.
During my visit with Sen. Shelby, he was laser-focused on his campaign war chest even though he was midway through his fourth term as a U.S. senator. While I was pitching waste-to-ethanol as a means for achieving energy independence in America, Shelby was obsessed with talking to me about campaign contributions. He correctly noted that I had never contributed to any of his political campaigns.
After I observed aloud that Sen. Shelby’s campaign war chest was still flush with leftover cash from his 2004 reelection campaign, he stood up, looked me in the eye, and told me: “Too much money ain’t never enough.” I was speechless.
With that profound display of political greed, Sen. Shelby dismissed me without further ado. I never received a letter of support from Shelby for the New York waste-to-energy project.
Richard Shelby’s brand of political “whoring” has ushered in a new wave of modern-day “carpetbaggers” to Alabama. They are international corporations that love the generous tax incentive packages Alabama officials shower upon them for locating their automobile and aircraft manufacturing facilities in the state.
They also love the following “pro-business” factors: (a) Alabama is a right to work state (which impedes union organizing activities); (b) Alabama has one of the most attractive taxation infrastructures for wealthy corporations; (c) serious investigative journalism is virtually non-existent in Alabama-based media organizations; (d) the Alabama Legislature and state government agencies ceded their regulatory powers to the industries they supposedly regulate “on paper” a long time ago; and (e) the “carpetbaggers” have cadres of “bought and paid for” deregulators like Sen. Richard Shelby and others of his ilk.
These “carpetbaggers” have taken more from the people of Alabama than they have given them in economic benefits. Like parasites, they specialize in fleecing taxpayers in the states where they nest.
Against this backdrop, Sen. Shelby focuses on what he does best -- political “whoring” for rich, powerful and well-connected “carpetbaggers.” The effects of his “whoring” reverberate far beyond Alabama.
Deregulating the aviation industry for Boeing and Airbus has become a major part of Richard Shelby’s political legacy. The same is true with respect to the crashes of two new $120 million Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplanes in Indonesia and Ethiopia within the last five months.
"These crashes emerged from an experience we’re all familiar with: the pressure to deliver on a tight timetable, the temptation to cut corners, and the hope that in a big, complex world, one little kludge won’t mess up the whole program," according to Quartz.com in a March 23, 2019 article titled, “The Boeing 737 MAX crisis goes way beyond software.”
The two deadly 737 MAX crashes have (a) shocked passengers, regulators, and industry alike, (b) messed up the “whole program” for Boeing, and (c) placed Sen. Richard Shelby and other “Swamp” creatures in Washington on the hot seat. These “Swamp” creatures routinely peddle influence for corporate interests in exchange for campaign cash and “dark money” contributions.
Sen. Shelby and the band of lobbyists he groomed to deregulate the aviation industry now have a real problem – a federal criminal investigation that is trying to find out why an unsafe airplane was certified by the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing as “airworthy” and “safe to fly” in an unusually short period of time. Shelby and his friends gamed the FAA’s system for certifying new airplanes in a way that caused the deaths of 346 innocent passengers and crew members aboard the two crashed 737 MAX airplanes.
The two 737 MAX crashes remind us of one truism: Prostitution is not the world’s oldest profession; political “whoring” is. This kind of “whoring” is generally tolerated, except in situations where it results in the death of hundreds of innocent people.
Now, Richard Shelby, Boeing, and their lobbyist friends must be held accountable for trading the safety of Boeing 737 MAX passengers and crew members for political contributions.
In Washington, Shelby has earned a reputation as the undisputed “King of Political Whoring.” Remember Shelby’s infamous words, “Too much money ain’t never enough.”
PHOTO: U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), whose political mantra is: "Too much money ain't never enough."