08 September 2005

Albaugh on the Gulf Coast, ex FEMA head, but not for the reasons you may think

Former FEMA Chief Is at Work on Gulf Coast
Lobbyist Allbaugh Gives BIG Clients Help

During his two years as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency during President Bush's first term, Joe M. Allbaugh traveled to Louisiana for a series of disasters, from tropical storms Allison and Isidore to Hurricane Lili.

Yesterday, Allbaugh, now head of his own Washington lobbying and consulting firm, was in Baton Rouge, La., helping his clients get business from perhaps the worst natural disaster in the nation's history.

In the case of one client, UltraStrip Systems Inc., a Florida company, Allbaugh said he persuaded "them down here" to present the case for a water filtration system.

"I'll tell them, 'Here are the list of entities [that might buy the system] that are in town, here is where they are -- go to it.' "

Allbaugh said he advises clients on how to present their product or service to government agencies. "I tell them how to best craft their pitch, to craft their technical expertise so everybody knows exactly what they do."

After leaving FEMA in March 2003, Allbaugh, who managed the 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign, founded Allbaugh Co., a lobbying-consulting firm with many clients in the disaster-relief business.

Among those clients are: the KBR division of Haliburton; TruePosition, a manufacturer of wireless location products, services and devices; the Shaw Group, a provider of engineering, design, construction, and maintenance services to government and the private sector; and UltraStrip, which is marketing the first water filtration system approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The firm's Web site quotes Allbaugh: "I carry pictures of close friends who died in the September 11th terrorist attacks as a constant reminder of what we lost that day. It's my personal commitment to always honor their memory by working to protect this nation. I'm dedicated to helping private industry meet the homeland security challenge."

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the creation of the Homeland Security Department, disaster relief has become big business in Washington. On the U.S. Senate lobby-registration site, there are roughly 240 businesses and lobbyists seeking to influence contracting and policies related to disaster relief. Few of them, however, have Allbaugh's experience or can advertise their close connections to Bush.

In addition to Allbaugh Co., Allbaugh in 2003 was a founder of New Bridge Strategies, to help businesses develop opportunities in Iraq, and Diligence-Iraq, to provide security for civilians in the Middle East. That business has now expanded into Europe and Asia. He said yesterday the security company has done well, but New Bridge Strategies has been on hold because companies are reluctant to invest in Iraq.

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