He Leveraged His Lounge Membership a Whole Lot Better Than I Ever Did

(or maybe he was just a British Midland gold member?)

The New York Times covers a federal govenrment procurement scandal and centers the narrative around the perpetrators activities in the US Airways lounge at National airport.

They huddled in a quiet corner at the US Airways lounge at Ronald Reagan National Airport, sipping bottomless cups of coffee as they plotted to turn America’s missile defense program into a personal cash machine….

He set up a makeshift office in the US Airways lounge at Reagan National Airport, where he followed up on pitches for money to lawmakers and hid out from his Defense Department bosses. He identified lobbyists who could prove useful and contractors — many of them campaign donors — with projects that needed nurturing….

From the US Airways club, Mr. Cantrell could see the symphony of the arriving and departing planes, the Potomac River and off in the distance, the Capitol dome. One day in 2000, Mr. Cantrell met in the airport lounge with Mr. Ennis, his deputy, and a Maine contractor to figure out how to pocket some of the government’s money….

For nearly six years, from 2001 to 2007, the men collected kickbacks from contractors. During one visit to the US Airways Club, Mr. Ennis picked up a briefcase stuffed with $75,000 in cash, according to federal court records. Mr. Cantrell also got checks, ranging from $5,000 to $60,000, once or twice a month, court records show.

Naturallly, the focus of the story is the $1.6 million the man pocketed for himself. But the real story isn’t even the $350 million he obtained used his influence to obtain. It’s that these activities are repeated every day, in every department, and in every appropriations bill. And if you think the $700 billion financial bailout package will be managed at all differently (or that the bill didn’t generate feverish lobbying), I have a missile defense launching base in Kodiak, Alaska to sell you.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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