Kerry Cries 'Halliburton': Dirty Word for Dems

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:30 PM EDT

( - The Kerry campaign, now led by former Clinton administration officials, Friday released a new TV ad focusing on Vice President Dick Cheney and Halliburton, the company Cheney once headed.

"While the vice president has denied any 'financial ties' to his old company, the truth is, he's received $2-million from Halliburton -- the same company that has gotten billions in no-bid contracts in Iraq," the Kerry campaign said in a press release announcing the new ad.

The ad "will greet Cheney today when he campaigns in Oregon," and it will air in other battleground states next week, the campaign added.

The 30-second ad begins with Cheney in his own words:

Cheney: I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven't had now for over three years.

Narrator: The truth: As vice president, Dick Cheney received $2 million from Halliburton. Halliburton got billions in no-bid contracts in Iraq. Dick Cheney got $2 million. What did we get? A $200-billion dollar bill for Iraq. Lost jobs. Rising health care costs. It's time for a new direction. John Kerry. Stronger at home. Respected in the world.

John Kerry: "I'm John Kerry and I approve this message."

The new ad does not explain that Cheney's retirement package from Halliburton granted him deferred compensation.

In other words, his compensation from 1999 is being paid out over a five-year period. The income Cheney has received as vice president stems from his earlier employment at the company and is not money Halliburton paid him to grease the skids -- as the new Kerry ad suggests.

Democrats insist that Halliburton got special treatment (no-bid contracts) because of its ties to Dick Cheney. But Cheney insists he had nothing to do with Halliburton getting those contracts for work in Iraq.

Cheney has noted that Halliburton was one of the few companies that was ready to roll into Iraq quickly when needed. He's been quoted as saying that Halliburton has "very large engineering construction capability and significant oil-field services." Halliburton also had the necessary security clearances in place, and it had a track record with the government because of its work on other Pentagon contracts.

(Halliburton notes that it helped build U.S. warships in World War II, and has worked on projects in Somalia, Rwanda and Haiti. It also put out more than half of the oil well fires in Kuwait during the 1991 Gulf War and now is assisting with restoration efforts in Iraq.)

In recent campaign appearances, Sen. John F. Kerry has complained that the Bush administration's "wrong choices" have left Americans paying almost the entire cost of the Iraq war:

That's "$200 billion that we're not investing in education, health care and job creation here at home," Kerry said in a campaign stop earlier this month.

On a campaign trip Friday, Kerry planned to outline a new Kerry-Edwards plan "to put an end to Halliburton-type abuses."

According to a Kerry campaign press release, Kerry will hold town hall meetings in Albuquerque, N.M., and Aurora, Colo., where he will discuss his plan to ensure that "companies like Halliburton do not fraudulently profit at taxpayers' expense."

And when companies are found guilty of over-billing and other abuses, the Kerry campaign said, "they will be severely punished."

Kerry will promise to reform and simplify the contracting process -- ensuring fair competition, the campaign said. It will also "overhaul the accounting process to ensure companies do not profit at taxpayers' expense and severely punish any firm that overbills or profiteers."

At a hearing on Capitol Hill in July, Halliburton defended its subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root, which has been accused of overcharging the government for work performed by subcontractors in Iraq.

Halliburton defended KBR for performing a difficult mission under difficult conditions, and while mistake may have been made, there was no intent to defraud the government, company officials said.

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