Bud Chiles, son of former Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles, came out today with a harsh statement regarding the environmental consulting firm hired recently by the state of Florida to review and assist county responses to the BP oil spill.
Kathleen Shanahan, the CEO of the consulting firm WRS Compass, has ties to both Former Vice President Dick Cheney and Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Shanahan was chief of staff for Cheney during the 2000 Presidential campaign and transition. She later became chief of staff for Jeb Bush. In March Shanahan was also re-appointed to Florida’s State Board Of Education by Gov. Charlie Crist.
According to the Palm Beach Post, Chiles, who is thinking about running for governor himself, harshly criticized the hiring of the firm.
“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.”
This month the state of Florida awarded WRS a $250,000 contract for “reviewing county responses, designing beach protection devices and identifying areas of ecological concern.”
According to the company website, earlier in May, the company was mentioned erroneously by Attorney General Bill McCollum in association with warnings from him to residents about possible fraudulent activity due to the oil spill. The Attorney General’s office issued a correction.
The company also lists an award of a $30 million contract for levee construction and additional work in New Orleans for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and other work in Louisiana for Hurricane Storm Damage Risk Reduction Systems. They were also worked in New Orleans on emergency response to Hurricane Katrina.
As for the Florida contract, the article states that Chiles was “alarmed the WRS Compass clients include oil and gas companies and the CEO once worked for Dick Cheney.”
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.”