TX-10: Michael McCaul Drops the Ball, Loses 3,000 Texas Jobs

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Texas Republican Michael McCaul has fumbled away nearly 3,000 jobs in his district, according to the latest research put together by the Lone Star Project. McCaul — who did not have any written communication with the Department of Defense prior to the announcement of the contract BAE Systems lost (Source) — is now facing tough scrutiny about what, if any, work he did to keep what had been, until recently, the largest defense contract in his district.

The Lone Star Project knows that McCaul hasn't done at least the following four things:

  1. An official letter from the Department of Defense obtained by the Lone Star Project states that no record exists of Michael McCaul contacting the Department of Defense during the contract review process to advocate for BAE systems or to request fair consideration that the contract be renewed. (Source: DOD Freedom of Information Act Request, 10/14/2009)
  2. McCaul failed to appear before the House Budget Committee on “Member’s Day” where Representatives can advocate for programs important to their district.  (Source: House Budget Committee Witness List )
  3. McCaul did not go to the House floor a single time to speak on behalf of the Texas/BAE contract or to defend Texas workers. (Source: Library of Congress)
  4. McCaul did not make any public statements or issue any press releases supporting BAE or the nearly 3,000 jobs covered under the contract.  (Source: McCaul Website

Since that is all the stuff McCaul didn't do, the Lone Star Project is trying to ask just what he did do — since he claims to have been having “regular” communications about the contract. In a detailed letter, the Lone Star Project has asked McCaul “a series of specific questions in order to resolve his conficting statements on the contract loss and to uncover the facts that may help avoid major job losses in the future.” Here's a link to the full PDF of the letter — I've highlighted some key points below:

  • What specifically did you communicate to the Army in “Late 2007?” Was it by mail or telephone? Can you produce all copies of your communication?
  • If you were informed of the potential problem in 2007, what did you to to advocate for the Sealy plant officially and unofficially?
  • Did you formally notify and ask for assistance from your fellow local, State, and Federal officeholders regarding the potential job loss?
  • You claimed that, “My office has been in regular contact with BAE Systems prior to and during the rebid process.” Can you produce any documents that confirm “regular” communications?
  • Since being elected to Congress from the 10th District, but prior to the loss of the BAE contract, have you spoken even once on the House floor promoting the quality of work and the importance of the mission at BAE Systems plant in Sealy?

As I noted earlier, previous research the LSP report has uncovered — and the Austin American-Statesman picked up on — was that McCaul's office has no written communication with DoD for the past two years. When asked about this by Gardner Selby, here's what McCaul said:

Written communication “is not how it works,” McCaul said. “It’s a little naive” to say so.

Michael McCaul never thought to get anything in writing?!?! Is it because he's just that foolish and irresponsible, or because he is just so used to communicating through right-wing radio — after all, his father-in-law is the one who owns Clear Channel, the corporation that is both Michael McCaul's single largest political contributor and the one that has given a $100 million signing bonus to McCaul's best friend, Rush Limbaugh.

I share in Kuff's anguish about this:

No written communication? Not so much as an email? That’s pretty strange. Did anyone take notes from the phone conversations they had, or minutes at the meetings? […]

McCaul’s statement here seems in conflict with this:

BAE employees expressed concern to McCaul aides around late 2007 that the Army was seeking bids for the production of the trucks made in Sealy. Many of the trucks had already been made, and they found it unusual that the Army would seek bids for the rest of those trucks. McCaul’s office relayed that concern to the Army.

In response, Army officials praised BAE’s work but said they would move forward with their plan to seek competitive bids, McCaul spokesman Mike Rosen said.

Surely BAE must have had a reason to be worried beyond the obvious fact that having a competitor means the possibility of losing. What was McCaul doing between then and September when the contract was officially awarded? Maybe he was working at it, and maybe there was nothing he could have done. I just have a hard time understanding how this could have caught people like McCaul off guard.

Understanding the actions McCaul has failed to take is crucial — you have to realize just how huge losing this contract really was. From the LSP report:

For 17 years, BAE Systems in Sealy, Texas, has built military trucks called Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) for the US Army in a plant that sits in the heart of the 10th Congressional District.  BAE Systems is the single largest defense contractor in District 10. (Source: USASpending.gov)   The billion dollar contract was recently taken from BAE and awarded to Oshkosh Corp. in Wisconsin costing McCaul's constituents thousands of good paying jobs.  McCaul has yet to produce any documentation that he fought for the Sealy jobs before the contract was awarded or even took the most basic steps to promote the fine work done at the plant. 

Michael McCaul's negligence cost his district and the state of Texas those jobs. It's that simple. While they spend the next few days trying to act extremely busy to pretend that they care, they simply failed to protect the largest defense contract — and the 3,000 working jobs that came with it. Michael McCaul is a failure as a Congressman, and he will be replaced in 2010.

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About Author

Phillip Martin

Currently the Research and Policy Director for Progress Texas and the Texas Research Institute, Phillip Martin writes occasional long-form pieces for BOR that promote focused analysis and insight into Texas politics. Born and raised in Austin, Phillip started working in politics in 2003 and started writing on BOR in the summer of 2005. Phillip has worked for the Texas Democratic Trust, the Texas Legislative Study Group, and now the Progress Texas family. He is a lifelong Houston Astros fan, a loyal Longhorn, and loves swimming at Barton Springs Pool.

10 Comments

  1. Upbeat Nihilist on

    Gross negligence from McCaul
    McCaul's people are trying to blame this decision on the Obama administration, but this review was started years ago by the Bush pentagon. McCaul basically failed to properly advocate for this contract and congressional district 10 is a loser because of it.

    My question is, what else is McCaul neglecting to do for CD-10?

  2. Most people understand this is purely a political attack…
    …. and the source has no credibility.  The Washington-based Lone Star Project has one agenda:  to knock Republicans out of office.  The Lone Star Project must know where to get a great deal on a crystal ball.

    The facts remain:  BAE was blindsided by the Army's decision.  They had no reason to believe their contract was in jeopardy.  If BAE did not see it coming, how would McCaul?  Do you honestly believe that McCaul was not in regular communication with BAE and knew of their excellent track record with the Army? The facts are now showing that this was awarded to OshKosh on purely political grounds and a completely unrealistic, and unproven lowball bid, and it is clear that BAE should have retained the contract based on the merits, which should be the only basis for awarding Army contracts.

    By all accounts, including the Mayor of Sealy and other leaders in the area, McCaul had gone above and beyond to fight to keep the plant open based on its ability to produce the vehicle.  And anyone who knows anything about DOD contracts understands that they are decided on merit and not lobbying from congress.  As cynical as people are about government, to think a lobbying effort outweighs cost, quality and ability to produce is absurd and trying to influence such a decision would be inappropriate at best.  As a member of the House Ethics Committee and a former federal prosecutor McCaul understands this more than most.  I commend his efforts.

    • Make Up Your Mind!
      Truthseeker can't make up his mind.  In Para 1, he claims that the contract “was awarded to OshKosh on purely political grounds.”  In the next paragraph, he adds “anyone who knows anything about DOD contracts understands that they are decided on merit and not lobbying from congress.”

      Anyone who has followed the awarding of contracts for airplanes, for example, knows that for decades competing companies spread work to pick up support in Congress. In  other instances, for political reasons, Congress funded projects the Pentagon didn't ask for.  The military-industrial complex Ike warned us about has been playing that game for half a century, if not longer.

      Pinning this one on the Obama administration is pure fantasy. As Upbeat Nihilist points out aptly, the review process that led to BAE's loss began during W's administration.

    • Why do you believe anecdotes over facts?
      If McCaul was in “regular communication” then why can't he prove it? Moreover — do you honestly think you never put any communication in writing? Your purely political defense of McCaul holds little credibility in light of all the facts laid out above. All you've done is repeat the McCaul campaign talking points, which are shallow (and unbelievable).

      Politics, ultimately, has little to do with this. Congress 101 is that you have to take care of your district, and McCaul just lost the single largest defense contract in his district. Even if the DoD had planned on going another way — McCaul should have been working for years to secure another contract for them. The BAE Systems plant has been doing manufacturing for the military for 17 years — even if they lose this contract, surely there is another one they could bid for and that the Congressman can secure.

      McCaul screwed this one up. I think the Mayor of Sealy and others aren't going to publicly badmouth McCaul while he is trying to save their plant — and I understand and agree with that. But if December 14 comes and goes, and there is no chance to re-bid for the contract or secure another one before the 3,000 people lose their jobs, I don't think everyone will still be so happy with McCaul.

      • Never fear, Sheila Jackson is here….
        Why doesn't Sheila Jackson Lee step in? Or any number of other Democrats? After all, we have a Democratic president and a Democratic administration?

        Sounds like the Democrats are willing to put 3,000 people out of work just to have something to use against McCaul. I'm sure those 3,000 unemployed workers are going to really be interested in voting for a Democrat when the Democrats did nothing to save their jobs.

        Politics as a football game. Someone taught you well Phillip.  

        • Michael McCaul Dropped the Ball
          Republican Michael McCaul represents the plant in Sealy, Texas, and it is his job — as their congressperson — to stay up to date on these kinds of contracts. When these projects come up, he should be reaching out and working with others to fix the problem.

          There's a chance that the plant was going to lose this contract regardless — if Oshkosh underbid BAE Systems by 10%, then maybe BAE Systems could have done nothing about it. But maybe they could. Maybe, when McCaul was alerted about the contract coming up again in 2007, he could have been more aggressive at figuring out what exactly the DoD was looking for, and BAE Systems could have structured a bid accordingly. Maybe they could have made a better offer for quality, or timeliness, or any of the number of things that go on in a negotiation process.

          Or, in the event that DoD was going to go to Oshkosh with this contract regardless, McCaul should have been fighting to secure another contract for BAE Systems. After all, they've worked with the Army for 17 years — they are surely skilled and qualified to continue manufacturing.

          Problem is, McCaul — as an elected official chosen to represent his district in Washington — should be helping BAE Systems figure out those questions and answers in the negotiation and bidding process. McCaul should be working closely with all parties involved, and advocating for the plant, and doing all he can. That's why we elect members of Congress — to be a voice for us in Congress. And if he needed help, then he should reach out to fellow Texas Republicans and Democrats for help.

          McCaul did none of that. Hutchison didn't even know this was going on, and because McCaul had zero communication (at least, that we know of) with the DoD on any of this, he failed to alert anyone else to the problem.

          Snooks and others are trying to spin this into something that Democrats are doing this out of spite, or that this is all politics. That's patently ridiculous, and pure spin. There is no proof to any of that. The only proof we have right now is that McCaul had zero written communication with the DoD, which shows that he most likely did little or nothing about any of this.

          As I wrote already, both Chet Edwards and Bill White are doing all they can — now that McCaul has finally reached out — to fix McCaul's mess that he created. I'd love nothing more than to fix this problem — but in the event that the deal is already done and unfixable (which it appears to be), I think it's important to hold those responsible for the 3,000 jobs lost accountable. And that person is the district's Congressman, Michael McCaul.

          (Extra note to Readers: I'm not going to respond to what Baby Snooks is about to post in response to me, regardless of what is written. Baby Snooks has a long history of disagreeing with everything I write, and making it personal. Just a heads up to those who may be new to the BOR community and haven't dealt with four years of Snooks the way I and others at BOR have).

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