Monday, December 3, 2007

Amway = Security

Dick (Mr. $26.22 per Vote)DeVos will be the keynote speaker at the Second annual Michigan Homeland Security Venture and Angel Capital Symposium, which takes place tomorrow at Cleary University.

The Press & Argus article noted that

While not an expert in homeland security, DeVos is a Grand Rapids-area businessman, president of Windquest Group and the son of one of the founders of Amway Corp.

DeVos' talk is expected to focus on the value of investment in protecting the homeland, and about Michigan's growing role in the field.

[For a much funnier take on what promises to be theater of the absurd, I tip my hat to Eric B. at Michigan Liberal for his post "How to Wage War... and Make Money!"]

Now, you probably know that Mike Rogers is never far away when there's a big, steaming serving of pork 'n' cash available. So let's count the connections:

1.) Rogers is a major supporter of Cleary University ("Semper Coulter"). For FY08, he asked for the following goodies for Cleary:
  • $1,040,000 for road construction at Cleary University

  • $461,000 to Cleary University for equipment upgrades & technology instruction for high school students through Cleary's partnerships with local public and charter schools

  • $225,000 to construct a community recreation center on the Cleary campus
Pretty sweet for a satellite campus of a university with less than 800 students!

Both Rogers and Cleary University are founding partners of the Livingston Economic Club , which ponied up $30,000 for Ann Coulter to speak last October.

2.) Moving right along, we come to the Michigan Homeland Security Consortium. For those of you unfamiliar with the MiHSC, it's a kind of Chamber of Commerce for security companies. Mike Rogers was the keynote speaker at its kickoff meeting on September 11, 2006. The MiHSC mission:

To drive the development and growth of the Homeland Security Industry within the State of Michigan, placing it at the forefront of the State’s economic revitalization.
Fair enough. We need something to revitalize our state's economy. And yet... I always get a little queasy when folks start to talk about national security as a growth industry. Mike Rogers, for one, is an old hand at linking security and profit. In 2004, the City Pulse carried this story:

“I believe there’s a great opportunity for Michigan companies in Iraq,” Rogers told a dozen businessmen at a Michigan Manufacturers Association meeting in Lansing on Monday, May 17. “This economy has the potential to give out $600 billion a year. The Iraqis are fast becoming a consumer population. In my entire life, I’ve never seen so many satellite dishes on roofs.”

Rogers, a former FBI officer and strong supporter of the Iraq invasion, has traveled to Iraq three times since the country’s government was overthrown in April 2003. During a one-hour briefing on “Doing Business in Iraq” with Bush administration senior official William H. Lash as guest speaker, Rogers painted a glowing picture of the prospects for economic gain in this combat-scarred country. [skip]

But during a discussion prior to the business briefing, Lash and Rogers downplayed reports about rising security concerns for foreigners. “It’s just like walking in a rough neighborhood anywhere in America,” Rogers said. (5/19/04)

3.) DeVos' brother-in-law Eric Prince is the CEO of Blackwater USA, which is intimately familiar with the amazing profit opportunties offered by the security industry (see this helpful House Oversight graph of Blackwater contracts during the Bush administration).

4.) DeVos has contributed to indicted former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's campaigns AND his legal defense fund. He also spent quite a bit of time hanging out with uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who now resides in a minimum-security federal prison after being convicted of fraud, tax evasion & conspiracy to bribe public officials. (H/T to Liberal Lucy for an earlier post that showed us the money.)

Interestingly, Mike Rogers has also spent some quality time with Messrs. DeLay and Abramoff. During the tenure of former Majority Leader DeLay, Rogers served as a hand-picked deputy whip in the Republican leadership & raised record-breaking amounts of moola as chair of the RNCC finance committee. In 2006, Rogers’ PAC, the MIKE-R Fund, made $10,000 worth of donations to DeLay's PAC. Rogers is also one of six Congressmen who accepted money from Abramoff’s PAC and refused to return it.

Isn't it nice that Dick & Mike have so many things in common?

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