Dean Ronald Weich and Professor Charles Tiefer were quoted in separate Wall Street Journal articles within the last week.
Weich discussed the 1994 crime bill that is now criticized for disproportionately targeting minorities, packing prisons and leaving millions of people struggling economically and socially. The April 14 story, “Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders Both Backed Crime Law Critics Blame for Unfair System,” discussed the Democratic presidential candidates’ support of the crime bill, which both now deplore.
Weich, who in 1994 was counsel to Sen. Edward Kennedy, told the newspaper the legislation — which had broad bipartisan support — had attracted a clash of competing interests, creating an “ill-considered parade of ideas often not vetted through the committees of jurisdiction.”
Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, supported the final bill.
Weich emphasized that President Bill Clinton urgently sought the bill’s passage as he headed into fraught midterm elections.
“President Clinton needed a crime bill,” Weich said. “His health care bill was failing in separate committees of the Congress.”
On April 19, Tiefer was quoted in a story that alleges Taser International “coached” officials in cities across the country on how to skirt bidding procedures, allowing Taser to secure lucrative contracts to provide body cameras to police departments without facing competition.
“Emails obtained through public-records requests show Taser has convinced cities it is the only provider of the products that can help them — even though several competitors say they offer similar services,” the paper said in the article, “In Body-Camera Push, Taser Schools Cities on No-Bid Deals.”
Tiefer, who served on the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, said such arrangements were usually struck only when one company makes a part or a product, or when an emergency requires a government to act quickly.
Said Tiefer: “It is the contractor’s dream to use contracting officials as ventriloquist dummies.”
Tiefer spoke to The Baltimore Sun on the topic in January, after city officials awarded a body-camera contract to Taser without knowing how much the company would charge. Taser beat nine vendors to win the Baltimore contract. (See earlier blog post.)