Cashing In

From Scout:

There are many reasons I object to Bush’s faith based initiative only one of which is the many accounts of corruption. Here are 2 examples.

The Washington Post reports on this faith based scam for profit….

SALT LAKE CITY — A rehabilitation program at a church is facing allegations it forced people to work as telemarketers for 28 cents an hour under the threat they could go back to jail.

Snip

The men were sent to the program by judges or state agencies for substance abuse rehabilitation. A department report said they were paid about 28 cents an hour, but even those wages were withheld and donated to the church.

And last week the Times Picayune reported on a federal investigation into Lighthouse Disaster Relief, a West Virginia outfit run by Gary Heldreth, which took $5 million from FEMA to set up a tent city for Katrina victims. Problem is they didn’t do the work according to the GSA. Also no one can figure out how a recently formed company that is not registered as a corporation or charity ever made it on the federal contractors list. What the TP didn’t mention is Heldreth is a Pastor. Seems Pastor Gary Heldreth slapped the company together to get in on Katrina profits. From a PBS interview of Oct. 4, 2005….

JEFFREY KAYE: The contractor in charge is Lighthouse Disaster Relief, a newly-formed company owned by Pastor Gary Heldreth. He hopes profits from the $5.2 million contract will help him build a new church.

JEFFREY KAYE: But your company is a for-profit company?

GARY HELDRETH: It is now.

Snip

JEFFREY KAYE: Have you ever done this before?

GARY HELDRETH: No, sir. About the closest thing I have done to this is just organize a youth camp with my church.

JEFFREY KAYE: The FEMA official overseeing the project acknowledged the risk in hiring an inexperienced contractor, but he believes Heldreth is up to the task.

Pastor Gary is not as forthcoming these days…

Although he acknowledged Lighthouse had never worked hurricane relief projects before Katrina, he declined to answer questions about the company’s history.

“We did what any contractor did,” he said. “FEMA needed a job done and we offered to do it.”

Heldreth described Nate Albers, a top officer with Premier, as a friend. When Lighthouse finished the job, Heldreth said he sold the tents and other supplies to Premier. Albers did not return phone calls.

When asked to cite a sales price for those supplies, Heldreth said, “I will not.” He also declined to say if FEMA or Lighthouse paid for the tents when they were initially purchased. Farmer said Lighthouse paid for them.

“When FEMA hires a contractor they hire a service, and when that service is finished it’s not any of your business,” Heldreth said.

Heldreth said neither he nor Lighthouse would have any further comment on the matter.

I’ve been trying to find out more on the reticent and mysterious Heldreth but he really seems to have come from Nowhere, West Virginia. My interest was piqued because of Pastor Gary’s infamous last name. Rev. Kirk Heldreth has been very active in Operation Rescue, once having been the head of that group in Chicago. Geneology records show The Rev. Kirk’s son is Scott Heldreth, a convicted sex offender and father of 10 year old son Josh, who received much media attention after being arrested attempting to bring water to Terry Sciavo last year. I found no link between these Heldreths and Rev. Gary Heldreth but then I found no history of Gary Heldreth, no church postings, nothing save the PBS interview and a residential phone and address for Bluefield, WV.

Not to say it does not exist but I do wonder who he knew to get on that list and shouldn’t someone getting $5 million of taxpayer’s money have some demonstrable track record? Can anyone claiming to work for God belly up to Bush’s faith-based tit and suck away with no questions asked? I’m sorry Pastor Gary, if you are indeed a pastor, the taxpayers have the right to ask questions and receive answers before, during and after your work for us. As we can see now it would have been best to ask question BEFORE hand. Better yet dump the Christian moocher initiative all together and give us good government.