Earmark puts $17,000 drip pans on Army helicopter

A U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter


By Published: May 19, 2012

A powerful Kentucky congressman known for steering tens of millions of federal dollars to his district directed the Army to buy drip pans for its Black Hawk helicopters that cost $17,000 apiece, although a similar part is available for $2,500, The New York Times reported.

Rep. Harold Rogers, a Kentucky Republican who is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, added an earmark to the 2009 spending bill awarding a no-bid contract for the drip pans to Phoenix Products, a company in his home state whose owners have contributed to Rogers’ political action committee.

A congressional aide told the Times that the Army had asked Rogers to help solve the problem of transmission fluid leaking into the cabins of Black Hawks. The Army, however, told the Times that it was simply following a budget directive from Congress to buy leakproof drip pans.

The Army buys similar pans for its UH-46 helicopters from a different company for about $2,500 each. Phoenix’s owner, Tom Wilson, told the Times his product is better constructed and more durable than similar products.

A government watchdog group, the nonpartisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, criticized the contract at a time when the Pentagon is trying to find $500 billion in savings.

Source: The New York Times