For some of us who have grown increasingly wary of the well worn track between government and corporate interests it is probably a relief that Mr. Kerik has withdrawn his name from consideration as the new Homeland Security Chief. Although the reason given did not cite Mr. Kerik’s rise to millionaire status as a result of his connection to Rudy Guiliani’s consulting firm and the Taser stun gun company, there may have been some concern about appearances. There’s nothing new about the revolving door between government and business; however, there are times when it may become a delicate matter, this perhaps being one of those times.
Mr. Kerik was hired by Taser, after all, because he was the former police chief in Guiliani’s administration but could speak, as a newly private citizen, to fellow law-enforcement officials who were potential customers for the stun gun. As Homeland Security Chief Mr. Kerik would have controlled a department in a position to do business with the company he had so recently represented. And perhaps, because the appointment was still in its early stages, it seemed advisable for him to step aside with the excuse that he had a nanny problem rather than face questions down the road about potential conflicts of interest.
Whatever the reason in this case the whole issue of what is acceptable in terms of the back and forth relationship between elected/appointed officials, as well as lobbyists, and government is something about which all of us should be concerned. When lobbyists for the oil and gas industries end up writing environmental guidelines for those very industries the public may not be well served. When former cabinet members and others, ‘return to private life’ using their former government heft to further personal business interests the public is once again short changed in terms of its ability to assess accurately what is good business and what is simply influence peddling.
On a separate matter the case of Specialist Loria is a stunning rebuke to those in positions of power who say they “support the troops”. It is hard to imagine that this man, who lost an arm in Iraq, has been so mistreated and disrespected since his return to this country where he was told he owed the Army $6000 because of various charges associated with his rehabilitation, had his final paycheck withheld to offset these charges, had no money to make his way to his home and still ‘owed’ some $1700. Although the situation has now been resolved due to his wife’s efforts and the ensuing publicity surrounding the case, it is something that should be investigated because the disturbing possibility exists that Specialist Loria may not be the only veteran to experience such disgraceful conditions.

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