Monday, April 14, 2008

Funding a polygamist cult on your dime

By now you know that hundreds of women and children were removed from a fundamentalist Mormon compound in Texas after an anonymous call was made, reportedly by a 16 year old girl claiming to be held against her will at the compound, having been forcibly married to a much older man who beat her, and reporting she was pregnant with her second child.

Three days after the anonymous call was made to child protective services, search warrants for records relating to the birth of a child to a girl of 16, and for records of a marriage between a girl of that age and a man of 50. From the initial warrants a massive investigation was launched and the compound, founded four years ago by Warren Jeffs, who is serving time for being an accomplice to rape for his role in marrying off another teenager to her cousin, is now effectively shut down.

But did you know that your tax dollars funded this sick and perverted lifestyle?

The ability of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or FLDS, to operate and grow is largely dependent on huge contributions from its members and revenue from the businesses they control, according to a former accountant for the church, and government officials in Utah and Arizona, where the sect is primarily based.

One of those businesses, NewEra Manufacturing in Las Vegas, has been awarded more than $1.2 million in federal government contracts, with most of the money coming in recent years from the Defense Department for wheel and brake components for military aircraft.

A large portion of the awards were preferential no-bid or "sole source" contracts because of the company's classification as a small business, according to online databases that track federal government appropriations.

NewEra, previously known as Western Precision Inc. and located in Hildale, Utah, also received a $900,000 loan in 2005 from the federal Small Business Administration, the data show.

The president and chief executive of the company is John. C. Wayman, identified as an FLDS leader and a close associate to Warren Jeffs, the sect's "prophet," who was convicted last year as an accomplice to rape for arranging the marriage of a 14-year-old girl to her 19-year-old cousin.

When Jeffs, who was one of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives, was arrested in the summer of 2006, he was driving Wayman's late-model red Cadillac Escalade, government officials say.

On the companies web site the "mission statement" signed by Wayman lays claim to honor and patriotism (final proof, as if it was needed, that that trait is indeed the last refuge of a scoundrel) but there is no disclosure of the connection between the company and the freaky religious cult.

However, my computer comes with this fancy, newfangled feature called 'Teh Google' and it is amazing! I typed in "john c. wayman" and FLDS, and voila! 1,020 items in 1.13 seconds! And I learn that bloggers and local Vegas media has been trying to get someone to pay attention to the fact that our government funds these freaks and their fucked-up, women-are-property-and-brood-mares lifestyle.

Which leaves me pondering the obvious question - when a google search pops up the fact that the fugitive Warren Jeffs was arrested in his vehicle, why didn't anyone during the procurement process google his ass? Didn't the FBI do a background check before his company was granted a contract to supply the DoD with defense materiel?

Congresswoman Kay Granger, a Republican representing Ft. Worth, and who sits on the House Appropriations Committee expressed surprise that the government is doing business with a group accused of mistreating women and children. "It makes me very uneasy," Granger said. "It needs to be investigated without a doubt." To begin with, she added, federal authorities should look into NewEra's financial records. sit on the appropriations committee! It is your job to approve spending priorities! Protest from feckless congressional representatives are going to fall on deaf ears where I am concerned. She was in a hell of a lot better position to do something about it than you or I were, and she didn't even invest 1.13 seconds in a Google search? Sorry - the hand-wringing display doesn't pass the smell test.

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