Friday, October 5, 2007

Reports on Blackwater hearing didn't note Erik Prince's contributions to Republicans

In October 3 articles on Blackwater USA chairman Erik Prince's congressional testimony about his security contracting company's performance in Iraq, USA Today reported that "Republicans defended the use of security contractors" and the Los Angeles Times reported that "[a]mong lawmakers, the defense of Blackwater broke along partisan lines, with almost all Republicans on the panel praising the company's behavior." Both newspapers noted that Republicans on the committee came to Blackwater's defense, but neither reported, as other media outlets have, that Prince has made more than $226,000 in political contributions to Republican causes and candidates, according to

A memo written by the majority staff of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee -- which was posted on the Los Angeles Times website -- in anticipation of Prince's testimony said that Prince "is a frequent political contributor, having made over $225,000 in political contributions, including more than $160,000 to the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee." From the October 1 memo:

Blackwater is owned by Erik Prince. Mr. Prince is a former Navy SEAL who owns the company through a holding company, The Prince Group, LLC. In the late 1980s, Mr. Prince served as a White House intern under President George H.W. Bush. Mr. Prince's father was a prominent Michigan businessman and contributor to conservative causes. Mr. Prince's sister, Betsy DeVos, is a former chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party who earned the title of Bush-Cheney "Pioneer" by arranging at least $100,000 in donations for the 2004 George W. Bush presidential campaign. Her husband, Richard DeVos Jr., is a former Amway CEO and was the 2006 Republican nominee for Governor of Michigan. Mr. Prince himself is a frequent political contributor, having made over $225,000 in political contributions, including more than $160,000 to the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Other media outlets have noted Prince's financial support of the Republican Party. A September 25 article on National Public Radio's website reported that Prince "has been a steady contributor to the Republican National Committee, giving more than $200,000 since 1998" and that he "has supported various conservative candidates, including President Bush, Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Rick Santorum (R-PA), Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), and indicted former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX)." In an October 3 "Washington Sketch" column about the hearing, The Washington Post's Dana Milbank wrote that Prince "has given $236,000 to GOP candidates and conservative causes -- typical of a defense contracting industry that, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, gave nearly $1 million to members of the oversight committee since 2003 -- 83 percent of it to Republicans."

OpenSecrets lists an Erik Prince as an employee of Blackwater USA who gave $1,000 to Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) on March 31, 2005. Prince's address is listed in McLean, Virginia, in the 22102 ZIP code. An Erik Prince living in the same ZIP code and listed as working for Prince Household LLC or the Prince Group, which is located in McLean, Virginia, and is the parent company of Blackwater USA, has given $57,150 to Republican lawmakers and Republican organizations, including the Republican National Committee. That total includes a $5,000 donation to the Green Party of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. According to an August 1, 2006, Philadelphia Inquirer article, supporters of then-Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) "gave $40,000 to fund a petition drive that has allowed [Green Party candidate] Carl Romanelli to collect about 100,000 voter signatures to qualify for the Senate race." The list also includes an Erik Prince living in Cody, Wyoming, and working for the Prince Group who gave $23,950 to Republicans. An Erik Prince in Cody, Wyoming, also gave $68,000 to the Republican National State Elections Committee, but his employer was not listed. OpenSecrets has other donations from people named Erik Prince, all of which went to Republican politicians or organizations such as the Susan B. Anthony List, a group that opposes abortion rights, which received $6,000 from Prince. All told, OpenSecrets shows that Erik Prince has given $226,750 in political contributions to Republican causes and candidates.

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