U.S. National Labs Accused of Misusing Taxpayer Funds to Pay Lobbyist

Former U.S. Representative Heather Wilson (R-N.M.), shown last year. Two U.S. nuclear arms laboratories breached rules by using taxpayer dollars to fund lobbying efforts by Wilson, the Energy Department inspector general said in a new report (AP Photo/Jake Schoellkopf).
Former U.S. Representative Heather Wilson (R-N.M.), shown last year. Two U.S. nuclear arms laboratories breached rules by using taxpayer dollars to fund lobbying efforts by Wilson, the Energy Department inspector general said in a new report (AP Photo/Jake Schoellkopf).

The Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories in New Mexico inappropriately used U.S. taxpayer dollars to pay a former U.S. lawmaker to lobby on their behalf for a bigger budget, the Albuquerque Journal reported on Wednesday.

The nuclear laboratories broke regulations when they used Energy Department funding to pay approximately $422,000 to one-time Representative Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) for her lobbying efforts, the department's inspector general concluded in a new report that cited a review of applicable documents from Los Alamos and Sandia.

In a Tuesday e-mail, Wilson said she did not act as a lobbyist for the laboratories. The ex-congresswoman said she "never met with or contacted any clients or potential clients on behalf of the labs as part of any business development effort."

Sandia and Los Alamos officials said Wilson was contracted to provide advice to laboratory senior officials on national defense matters. Sandia said Wilson's "high-level connections and critical engagement with key individuals" were the reason she was given the no-bid contract.

On behalf of Los Alamos, Wilson "arranged meetings with and/or site visits by senior federal officials who had the ability to impact funding and future work at the laboratory in the intelligence arena," according to the IG report.

The laboratories did not "meet even minimum standards" for keeping records of the tasks Wilson was paid to perform, the audit found.

Wilson worked as a sub-contractor for the contractors that run the laboratories from the beginning of 2009 until the beginning of 2011, according to the Washington Post.

June 13, 2013
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The Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories in New Mexico inappropriately used U.S. taxpayer dollars to pay a former U.S. lawmaker to lobby on their behalf for a bigger budget, the Albuquerque Journal reported on Wednesday.

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