What does he know, and is he gonna squeal on anyone?
Those questions will be all the more pointed when an indictment is handed up against a public official. In the case of Bruce Greenstein, who allegedly perjured himself nine times during and after a relatively brief stint as Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Health Department secretary, we have the prosecution’s word for it that there is more to come.
“We are continuing our investigation into other aspects of the case,” Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s son and assistant, David, said last week. “These lies are part of the cover-up of the whole process.”
The process was one whereby Greenstein’s former employer, CNSI, was awarded a contract, worth almost $200 million, to process Medicaid claims. And the process was a pretty rapid one at that. Legislators had yet to confirm Greenstein’s appointment when they learned that CNSI had beaten out the competition for one of the biggest plums in the checkered history of political patronage in Louisiana.
The choice of CNSI looked fishy from the start. Greenstein initially refused even to tell legislators which company had been awarded the contract and finally came clean only under threat that his confirmation would be blocked. It is no wonder he was reticent, to judge from the indictment.
It is alleged that CNSI would not even have been eligible to bid if Greenstein hadn’t changed the specs; after winning the contract, CNSI was allowed to tack an extra $9 million onto the price tag.
Greenstein denied any collusion — coming out with the old “firewall” line much favored by conflicted officials — but investigators traced phone calls and text messages that rather suggested he was dedicated to staying in touch with his old colleagues throughout. Thus, he is charged with telling whoppers under oath to the legislative committee in 2011 and a grand jury this year.
This is hardly our first inkling that the fix was in. Two years ago, Scott Bailey, an investigator for in the Attorney General’s Office, got the low-down from “Kunego,” who identified himself as a former contract employee recruited to help CNSI land the Louisiana contract.
Jindal cancelled the contract and fired Greenstein in March last year. Bailey’s seven-page summary of the Kunego interview was released a few months later.
It includes a detailed account of skulduggery and insider dealing and chimes so well with what the indictment alleges that it is bound to command a certain amount of credibility. It is replete with such tidbits as the dinner in D.C. to which CNSI allegedly treated Greenstein when the deal was done. The deal came just in time for CNSI because it was almost broke, according to Kunego.
Kunego’s account cannot be taken as gospel, but so long as we are wondering who might rate a mention as prosecutors put the squeeze on Greenstein, Jindal, whose ethnicity is shared by CNSI’s principals, must spring to mind. Jindal, Kunego told Bailey, has “an India-to-India ancestor-driven background and network of connectors” that brought him and CNSI together.
When the Bailey report was released, a flack called that story “offensive and ridiculous” and said Jindal had no hand in awarding the CNSI contract, leaving everything to the Health Department.
Jindal had, however, held meetings with CNSI President Adnan Ahmed, most recently in December 2010.
That just goes to show what a friendly fellow Jindal must be. For all the many burdens of high office, he could still find time on several occasions for the CEO of a company with which he had no dealings. Perhaps he and Ahmed discussed cricket scores.
Still, there is no proof that Jindal did any improper favors. What is clear, however, is that Buddy Caldwell has adopted the role of Jindal’s nemesis. According to an opinion Caldwell released last week, Jindal flouted the Administrative Procedures Act with his recent move to move to reduce health coverage, and raise out-of-pocket costs, for present and former state employees. The jurisprudence suggests the changes are therefore void, according to the opinion.
Last week was definitely a bad one for Jindal in Louisiana. Luckily, that’s not his principal concern.
James Gill’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.