Real tax dollars, imaginary threat

That Barack Obama has handsomely rewarded supporters who bankrolled his presidential campaign is no secret; he’s just the most recent in a very long line of Leaders of the Free World who indulge in political patronage.  It’s a tradition in Washington, like spring cherry blossoms and Congressional sex scandals.

But perhaps having run out of political appointments and “green” energy companies to throw money at, now the Obama administration appears to be just making up opportunities for its supporters, according to a detailed story in the Los Angeles Times:

Over the last year, the Obama administration has aggressively pushed a $433-million plan to buy an experimental smallpox drug, despite uncertainty over whether it is needed or will work.

Senior officials have taken unusual steps to secure the contract for New York-based Siga Technologies Inc., whose controlling shareholder is billionaire Ronald O. Perelman, one of the world’s richest men and a longtime Democratic Party donor.

Smallpox was wiped out in the late 1970s, and no evidence has surfaced that any “rogue nations” or terrorist groups have obtained the virus, which is reportedly held only by the U. S. government and a Russian research institute.  Even if smallpox should surface again, the Feds have stockpiled a billion dollars’ worth of the vaccine, which has a shelf life of decades – quite unlike the drug being developed by Siga, which barely lasts three years.

And it’s uncertain whether it would even be effective, since testing it would require that someone becomes infected with, you know, smallpox.

None of these concerns seemed to deter Health and Human Services officials from securing the funding for Siga, to the point that they essentially created a no-bid opportunity for the pharmaceutical company:

But the federal contract [for developing the antiviral drug] required that the winning bidder be a small business, with no more than 500 employees. Chimerix Inc., a North Carolina company that had competed for the contract, protested, saying Siga was too big.

Officials at the Small Business Administration investigated and quickly agreed, finding that Siga’s affiliation with MacAndrews & Forbes disqualified it.

The Obama administration could have awarded the contract to Chimerix as the only eligible small-business applicant. Or it could have reopened the competition to companies of any size.

Instead, the administration moved to block all companies — except Siga — from bidding on a second offering of the contract.

Read much more here.

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