Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Whittington, Funeralgate and FEMA

I'm sure by later today some bloggers and some in the national press might bother to actually gather more background on super-rich attorney Harry Whittington who was shot by Vice President Cheney the other day. Whittington's history with Bush coincides with a grisly graveyard discovery which the Texas press dubbed "Funeralgate" and led to hundreds of millions in fines. Former FEMA director Joe Allbaugh was also a player in this scandal from Bush's days as governor.

"Funeralgate" was the name given the case involving the nation's largest funeral service company, SCI, and then Gov Bush was subpoenaed to testify in the case but refused, as was his then chief of staff Allbaugh. Luckily then governor Rick Perry called a halt to the case just in time for W. to begin his campaign for the White House. One story on this part of the case is here.

SCI was caught by then Texas funeral service regulator Eliza May after numerous complaints were made against SCI for all kinds of "grave" errors. The company paid $100 million in a class action lawsuit by families for moving bodies into the wrong locations and other "errors". However, the claims were so disturbing and May's actions so bothersome, she was fired from her job, which prompted her to file a suit which was eventually settled out of court.. More details about the cases here.

It was in May's case that she alleged Allbaugh and Bush hassled her to drop her claims, but she didn't. And it wasn't long before questions about lying began to emerge.

And it was about this time Whittington was appointed the take over SCI and help smother the complaints. SCI had been one of the biggest contributors to the Bush campaign for governor.

But, thanks to the help from Allbaugh and Perry, the case was quietly silenced.

However, just a few weeks after Whittington took over, it was found that another SCI operation in Florida (the irony is so thick here you can't cut it with a titanium chainsaw) had been playing hide-the-cadaver in Menorah Gardens and dumping the bodies into the woods.

... the plaintiff's attorney said that SCI secretly broke into and opened burial vaults and dumped remains in a wooded area where the remains may have been consumed by wild animals.

Additionally, SCI buried "remains in locations other than those purchased by plaintiffs; crushing burial vaults in order to make room for other vaults; burying remains on top of the other rather than side-by-side; secretly digging up and removing remains; secretly burying remains head-to-foot rather than side-by-side; secretly mixing body parts and remains from different individuals; secretly allowing plots owned by one part to be occupied by a different person; secretly selling plots in rows where there were more graves assigned than the rows could accommodate; secretly allowed graves to encroach on other plots; secretly sold plots so narrow that the plots could not accommodate standard burial vaults; secretly participated in the desecration of gravesites and markers and failed to exercise reasonable care in handling the plaintiff's loved ones remains."

But the story isn't over yet.

A subsidiary of SCI , Kenyon International, got handed a no-bid contract to operate a "mobile mortuary" to deal with the bodies left in the destructive wake of Hurricane Katrina. Yep. It pays and pays to be a friend of Bush.

Charged with desecrating corpses? Get a FEMA contract.

In addition (this story seems to have no end!) the same SCI was also the same owner of the crematory in Georgia a few years ago where bodies were never cremated but stacked up like cordwood and stuffed into sheds.

The company's web site proclaims they are dedicated to "compassionately supporting families at difficult times, celebrating the significance of lives that have been lived, and preserving memories that transcend generations, with dignity and honor."

(big thanks to Dr. R. Fleenor for bringing all this to my attention)


  1. Can't find anything in the major media (NYT, LAT,BBC) about this connection. You scooped the high-dollar boys again. Send them a bill. Thanks, Joe.

  2. Anonymous12:50 PM

    I am growing weary of the seemingly endless list of transgressions committed by the pres and his associates. I guess it makes sense for the Bush/Cheney admin to need a funerary business in their hip pocket because there is so much they have to bury. Not to mention all of the people for whose deaths they are responsible and all of the ones we don't know about that were "hunting" accidents. Personally, we need to get rid of cemeteries and turn them into cheap, affordable golf courses. The bodies can be rocketed into space, poor people can live beside the streams and woods along the courses and Cheney can play golf and kill his "friends" at the same time. It's a win-win. Halliburton can even get the bid to build the courses and to move the bodies and to build the "hearse ships" to travel into space. Or we could just hire Tony Soprano to solve our problems with this admin. He should use tactics with which Bush/Cheney are very familiar.

    I am also ready for my implant and to be ushered off to Leavenworth because of the statements I have made in the past. I am amazed that a school would actually decide to censor themselves out of fear and that the play censored would be the Crucible. Irony is not dead it is just Republican and unnoticed. but is

  3. I bet it sucks to be one of the old school respectable Republicans who voted this tribe of double-dealing-above-the-law-fear-pushing asses to our White House.

  4. Amazing! Good reporting! Send it to CBS..

  5. CBS has a news department?? I had no idea.

    All the Funeralgate info in this post was widely reported by state and national media when it happened.

    The national media mostly ignored the infomation about the lying under oath charges against W. during the 2000 election.

    And no one pays a dime for reporters except for those who get pics and stories about Tom Cruise and that Spears girl.

  6. Newscoma -
    kinda what I thought too!

  7. Anonymous8:35 PM

    Nice research. H/T to newscoma.

    You might want to post the link to your site feed, which I just subscribed to:


  8. Thanks Wintermute - I added a link for Newscoma the other day in the links section here.

    I'll work on the sit feed link OR all are welcome to sign up for a subscription!
    It's FREE!!!!

  9. Anonymous2:26 AM

    I remember reading about this - but had forgotten the details. Amazing how incompetent this administration is - they seem to be for corporations and lobbyists no matter what. No matter the evidence. *sigh*

    I'm in Australia - and it is getting bad here - people are still at the sleeping through stage that American's seem to be starting to shake off.

  10. Anonymous7:56 AM

    Stirring the Swiss Miss.....this will be a great show as it enfolds. Steady everyone, turbulance is increasing.

    Comments from huffingtonpost dot com
    (source of brilliant satire as well):

    Cheney (unsteady and holding a bottle of Jack Daniels) speaking to Harry who's lying on the ground with his face bleeding:

    "We are quite convinced from all the evidence that these quail where meeting with Al Queda and that in fact many of them were training to be carrier pigeons for Saddam Hussein and his WMD programs.

    This was not a hunting trip but a fact finding mission to determine the validity of this intelligence and I can say with confidence that we should be out of this hunting area no later than a few weeks.

    Furthermore, I don't believe that anyone, particularly you Harry, could have anticipated that I would shoot you in the face, so it's your fault"

    Posted by: BJcheneyhasanexcuse on February 15, 2006 at 12:24pm


    Oh, there can be no doubt something went down that was embarassing to Cheney.

    It's unlikely to be women and drink, however. The word is that the lady Ambassador to Switzerland is there because Porter Goss has a relative in Geneva overseeing the smuggling of heroin out of Afghanistan for the CIA. Cheney, of course, would be hip deep in that business, just like his Prez's father was coordinating heroin smuggling from Indochina during the Vietnam war.

    Willeford, by the way, is from Texas - another Bush crony, no doubt.

    Here's a referemce proving that to be true:

    Texas education official Pamela Willeford received one of the world's most coveted diplomatic posts when President Bush nominated her to serve as ambassador to Switzerland in July 2003. A longtime Bush family friend, Willeford replaced Mercer Reynolds III, who had stepped down to serve as finance chairman of Bush's reelection campaign.

    The posting to Bern was not the first honor Willeford had received from Bush. In 1995 then-Governor Bush appointed her to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and two years later he elevated her to chairwoman. Willeford also serves as president of the Breckenridge-based Pico Drilling Co. She partnered with First Lady Laura Bush to begin the annual Texas Book Festival in 1996.

    Willeford and her immediate family contributed a total of $23,200 to Republicans during the 2000, 2002 and 2004 election cycles, including $7,000 to the Bush campaigns and an additional $500 to the Bush-Cheney recount fund established after the 2000 election. According to the Houston Chronicle, Willeford has also been a "major contributor" to Bush's gubernatorial inauguration celebrations and served as a co-chair of his 1999 gubernatorial inauguration committee.

    *Figures represent contributions from the individual and his/her immediate family from 1999-2004. Total includes donations made to Republican candidates and party committees, as well as the Bush-Cheney recount fund formed after the 2000 election and Bush's two inaugural committees.

    key words:
    free trade
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