Friday, January 18, 2008

NYT accuses Julie Annie of conflict of interest

From The New York Times:

On the presidential campaign trail, former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani often promotes the installation of electronic monitoring devices at the border to stem illegal immigration, without mentioning that until a few months ago, he was partner in a company trying to market such technology.

Mr. Giuliani and his consulting company were part owners of SkyWatch L.L.C., a closely held start-up company that says it has developed a sensor capable of monitoring illegal border crossings. SkyWatch, in collaboration with Raytheon, a large military contractor, is now looking to market the technology to the federal government and elsewhere.

Mr. Giuliani’s company, Giuliani Partners, was invited to join the venture more than two years ago by Abdol Moabery, then the chief executive of SkyWatch’s parent company, who went on to help the Giuliani campaign raise money in Florida.

As part of its work, an executive of Mr. Giuliani’s company met several times with development teams at Raytheon. But the financial relationship ended in September when Giuliani Partners gave up its ownership stake in SkyWatch without compensation.

For nearly a year, Mr. Giuliani has extolled the benefits of a technological approach to border security. Among his efforts has been a radio advertisement, which went on the air in August, called “Fence,” in which he spoke of the need for a “technological fence” at the border.

“You stop illegal immigration by building a fence, a physical fence and then a technological fence,” Mr. Giuliani said in the ad. “You then hire enough border patrol so they can respond in a timely way.”

But neither in the ad, nor in other campaign settings where the issue has come up, has Mr. Giuliani mentioned his involvement with a company developing this technological fence.

No one has suggested that Mr. Giuliani adopted his position because of his relationship with SkyWatch. He has continued to promote the concept since his relationship with the company ended, including during recent campaign discussions. A spokeswoman for his campaign said Mr. Giuliani’s longstanding support for a technological fence was not related to his involvement with SkyWatch. “It’s one part of Rudy’s comprehensive plan to end illegal immigration because it makes sense and is good policy,” the spokeswoman, Maria Comella, said.

There's more if you want to go and read it.

It is far more likely that Giuliani's support for a "virtual fence" stems from the fact that he really doesn't have any problem with illegal immigration.

You see a virtual fence can detect people crossing the border, but not stop them. All it can do is alert authorities that someone is there. Then the Border Patrol can go and arrest them - after they have already crossed into the US illegally.

The law says that once they are in this country, even if it is only one foot across the border, that they must be given a hearing before an immigration judge before they can be deported. The immigration courts are so crowded that their first appearance only involves getting a court date for a future appearance. Then, because there is no place to keep them locked up, they are released on their own recognizance - after promising to show up for their court date.

Then they disappear into the underground and are only heard from again when they get busted in an ICE raid on a workplace, or get caught driving drunk after wiping out an entire family, or until they break into a home and kidnap a 12-year-old girl. Or any of the other multiplied thousands of crimes they commit all across the US every day.

And for Giuliani's apparent conflict of interest? I don't think there is one. He divested his company of any interest in SkyWatch before he made a dime on it and as a presidential candidate he has no power to influence the government's decision on what technology to buy.