NSWBC Reports: New Whistleblowers Have Emerged in Bajagua Project to Expose Corruption at High Levels

 

March 6, 2006

 

The Bajagua Project is a proposed secondary wastewater treatment plant to be located in Mexico just across the border from the San Diego region. The project, a public-private proposition, is to be built and managed by a private company that will charge the United States government under a fee-for-services contract. The estimated profit generated by the project for the 20-year span of the lease is at least $600 million, and possibly up to a billion dollars. The project has been mired in controversy, accusations of corruption and undue political influence, as well as being challenged on the claim that it will solve the persistent and long-standing wastewater problems that affect the Tijuana Estuary. Bajagua Project, LLC, the company that has been pushed by politicians for the last decade, was created solely to get the Tijuana plant contract, and federal legislation seems to allow the contract to be let without competitive bid and through sole source. These types of contracts are frequently the result of corruption, and that is the main reason competitive bidding is the mandated method of procurement in the federal government; sole source agreements do not provide the protection to taxpayer dollars that competitive bid contracts do. Sole source contracting invites influence peddling, which is the case with the Bajagua Project. And, through whistleblower activity, it has recently been made public that Bajagua had at least two meetings with Vice President Richard Cheney. Communications to Cheney from Bajagua show a fawning obsequiousness and efforts to convince Cheney to use the Office of Vice President to achieve Bajagua goals. Those efforts appear to have born fruit, since after these meetings strong pressure was placed on the IBWC by the Department of Justice and the Council on Environmental Quality to give Bajagua the contract. All along, politicians and others influenced by money insisted that Bajagua receive the contract.

Some politicians who have aggressively supported Bajagua are Randall "Duke" Cunningham (R-California), Bob Filner (D-California), Brian Bilbray (R-California) and Duncan Hunter (R-California). Filner and Hunter are still members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Cunningham lost his seat in the House after pleading guilty to accepting $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors for strong-arming Department of Defense procurement personnel into steering contracts in the direction of the bribing companies. As we document below, Cunningham engaged in similar behavior concerning the Bajagua Project by trying to coerce personnel in the International Boundary and Water Commission into giving Bajagua LLC, the Tijuana project. And Brian Bilbray, just a few months after being voted out of his House seat in 2000, was on the Bajagua payroll as a lobbyist.

There is no evidence that Cunningham, Bilbray or others took bribes to press Bajagua's agenda, but Representative Filner has taken tens of thousands of dollars from Bajagua principles or their families in campaign contributions. As documented on this site there is clear evidence of undue influence, egregious behavior, violations of law, and the overwhelming stench of corruption. If Bajagua is given the project it will be a travesty for the San Diego region and United States taxpayers. Hundreds of millions of dollars will line the pockets of a few people who have ingratiated themselves to politicians in the U.S. Congress and with the current Administration.

The website, www.bajagua.org, is sponsored and managed by the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, an organization dedicated to exposing corruption and incompetence that threatens the security and public coffers of the nation. We aim to provide a single, comprehensive site for material concerning the Bajagua Project. This site is just getting started and we will add material regularly, so please visit often.

For more information contact Professor William Weaver, NSWBC Senior Advisor, at wweaver@nswbc.org

 

About National Security Whistleblowers Coalition

National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), founded in August 2004, is an independent and nonpartisan alliance of whistleblowers who have come forward to address our nationís security weaknesses; to inform authorities of security vulnerabilities in our intelligence agencies, at nuclear power plants and weapon facilities, in airports, and at our nationís borders and ports; to uncover government waste, fraud, abuse, and in some cases criminal conduct. The NSWBC is dedicated to aiding national security whistleblowers through a variety of methods, including advocacy of governmental and legal reform, educating the public concerning whistleblowing activity, provision of comfort and fellowship to national security whistleblowers suffering retaliation and other harms, and working with other public interest organizations to affect goals defined in the NSWBC mission statement. For more on NSWBC visit www.nswbc.org