Paper reports Giffords’ conflict of interest

The Orlando Sentinel has an expose about Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ conflict of interest with the Constellation program and it’s Ares I rocket. The article raises troubling questions about her influence over NASA decisions while her husband is with the same agency. Worse than the charges of a conflict is the disclosure that her husband, Mark Kelly, used his access to Air Force jets to rendezvous with Giffords while they were dating. One trip cost the taxpayers almost $10,000. Here is more from the Sentinel story,

They managed to maintain their long-distance relationship thanks in part to NASA; Kelly used its fleet of T-38 training jets to visit Giffords in Arizona and elsewhere.

On Memorial Day weekend in 2007, Kelly flew to Indiana to watch the Indy 500 with Giffords, his then-fiancée. Kelly listed the purpose of the trip as “Space Flight Readiness Training.” NASA later said the flight may have violated the agency rules requiring astronauts “to avoid any appearance of inappropriate use of NASA T-38’s” when logging their required monthly flight hours. The trip cost taxpayers almost $9,000.

On top of a possible conflict, the system Giffords is favoring is over budget. The article phrases it this way “Constellation — especially the Ares I rocket — was behind schedule and billions over budget.”

Giffords’ subcommittee held hearing about the Constellation and she went after one of the witnesses with whom she disagreed. The witness “expressed his “disappointment” that she said the recommendations of his 10-member panel were responsible for America “losing ground” in space — and pointedly rebutted her support of Ares I.” An observer remarked “This wasn’t a hearing, this was an ambush.” Don’t hold your breath for any of the newspapers to call her a “bully.”

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Is that a T-38 in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

Here is another story with more background on the troubled Ares rocket program.


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