first meeting him, one might not suspect Alan Grayson of being a
crusader against government-contractor fraud. Six feet four in his
socks, he likes to dress flamboyantly, on the theory that items such as
pink cowboy boots help retain a jury’s attention. He and his Filipino
wife, Lolita, chose their palm-fringed mansion in Orlando, Florida,
partly because the climate alleviates his chronic asthma, and partly
because they wanted their five children to have unlimited access to the
area’s many theme parks.
Grayson likes theme parks, too. Toward the end of two long days of
interviews, he insists we break to visit Universal Studios, because it
wouldn’t be right for me to leave his adopted city without having
sampled the rides. Later he sends me an e-mail earnestly inquiring
which one I liked best.
He can be forgiven a little frivolity. In his functional home-office
in Orlando, and at the Beltway headquarters of his law firm, Grayson
& Kubli, Grayson spends most of his days and many of his evenings
on a lonely legal campaign to redress colossal frauds against American
taxpayers by private contractors operating in Iraq. He calls it “the
crime of the century.”
His obvious adversaries are the contracting corporations
themselves—especially Halliburton, the giant oil-services conglomerate
where Vice President Dick Cheney spent the latter half of the 1990s as
C.E.O., and its former subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root, now known
simply as KBR. But he says his efforts to take on those organizations
have earned him another enemy: the United States Department of Justice.
Over the past 16 years, Grayson has litigated dozens of cases of
contractor fraud. In many of these, he has found the Justice Department
to be an ally in exposing wrongdoing. But in cases that involve the
Iraq war, the D.O.J. has taken extraordinary steps to stand in his way.
Behind its machinations, he believes, is a scandal of epic
proportions—one that may come to haunt the legacy of the Bush
administration long after it is gone.
“Wall Street is the only place in the world where
you can mug the taxpayers in plain view and then bill them for services
rendered,” said Grayson.
“I opposed the initial $700 Billion bailout because it did nothing for homeowners, employment, or the economy.There was no plan or strategy to help anyone but Wall Street banks.And sure enough, the Bush administration wasted most of the $350 billion it got its hands on,” he added.“Yesterday,
I voted for the TARP Reform and Accountability Act to ensure that as
much as $100 billion of remaining the money to help foreclosure
mitigation.I want to help people to keep their homes, and I want home values to go up, not down.”
“Today, I voted against releasing the rest of the money.But
if that money is going to be spent anyway, this legislation will direct
at least some of it to solving the real problems of real people.It
will require participating banks to disclose what they are doing with
the money, prevent bank bosses from enriching themselves at taxpayer
expense, and allow funds to go to smaller community financial
institutions.I hope that President Obama will recognize the public’s disgust over the bailouts for everyone but them.”
Hey there. I mean, hey baby. Um, hey.