Following revelations about the tax debts of the owners and about one owner conducting online campaigns against journalists, the Army has suspended Camille Chidiac, co-owner of the military’s top propaganda firm in Afghanistan from receiving federal contracts. In a letter to the Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Tuesday, Rep. Hank Johnson of the Armed Services Committee urged expansion of Pentagon investigations into the affairs of Leonie industries. Johnson cited allegations that the company had misrepresented its finances during bids for federal contracts and had initiated an online campaign to smear two USA Today journalists.
Johnson wrote that such actions, “suggest a pattern of malice, dishonesty, and incompetence that renders Leonie Industries unsuitable for continued service as a federal contractor. The intimidation of journalists, in particular, is unacceptable. The notion that taxpayers’ dollars would go to such a company is abhorrent.”
The bar on bidding for federal contracts on Camille Chidiac is effective May 30. On May 24, Chidiac had acknowledged that he had launched websites in the names of USA Today journalists to smear their reputations, as they had written about Chidiac’s unpaid taxes. The sites were denounced by Pentagon as part of a predetermined smear campaign.
Though the army has barred him from receiving further federal contracts, at present, Chidiac remains owner of 49% of Leonie Industries which has already earned more than $120 million in federal contracts since 2009.
Lt. Col. Wayne Wallace, an Army debarment and suspension official told USA TODAY that the suspension of Chidiac would not affect the contracts of Leonie Industries. Chidiac is neither an employee nor an officer of the company and has not been involved in contracts of the company since 2008. In fact, Leonie started its meteoric growth from 2009, only after Chidiac ceased being involved in the company’s contracts.