Congress To Investigate Iraq Fuel Deal Involving McCain Fundraiser

An NBC News exclusive report that ran on about an unusual Pentagon fuel deal has sparked an inquiry by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, according to the committee's Web site. As the NBC News report said, the lucrative contract to ship fuel through Jordan to Iraq involved an influential group of people, including Florida businessman Harry Sargeant III, who is now a top fundraiser for Sen. John McCain's presidential bid. It also involved the brother-in-law of the king of Jordan, who is suing Sargeant, alleging fraud. Sargeant is the president of the International Oil Trading Company (IOTC), which won the contract. The Committee Chairman, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., sent letters requesting information about the deal. One went to Sargeant, the politically active company president. Sargeant, who has raised over $100,000 for McCain, was listed on June 3 as the co-chair of the McCain Victory Committee in Florida. The other letter was sent to U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Both letters cite the report, and request contract information.

As NBC News reported, starting in 2004, after the invasion of Iraq, Sargeant's IOTC repeatedly won contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars. NBC cited Pentagon officials, saying that even though it was not the lowest bidder it was the only firm that met the necessary conditions. The letter, signed by Waxman, quotes the NBC story: "According to a recent press account regarding International Oil Trading Company (IOTC), 'For each gallon of jet fuel that is delievered to the U.S. military in Iraq, IOTC charges the Pentagon $1.08 over the market price.'" The original NBC report said that "Sargeant's IOTC has experienced phenomenal growth since the Iraq war started, transforming itself from an unknown business in 2004 to a major Pentagon contractor in only a few years."

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