Tax group opposes MCI punishment

While the General Services Administration faces increasing pressure to suspend telecom firm MCI from federal contracts, a tax reform group is urging the government to leave the troubled telecom firm alone.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, today released letters he wrote in MCI's support — one to Sen. Susan Collins, (R-Maine), chairwoman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, and one to GSA Administrator Stephen Perry.

The letters support MCI as a company and maintain that the individual officers responsible for the firm's $9 billion accounting fraud, revealed last year, have been fired and are being dealt with through the appropriate investigative and judiciary channels.

Collins has urged GSA to reconsider its decision to allow MCI to keep its place on the FTS 2001 telecommunications contract. In his letter to her, Norquist said that punishment should stop with the executives.

"We strongly believe that those individuals who committed crimes at WorldCom should be prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law. However, stripping MCI of its ability to compete for government contracts will do nothing to bring the perpetrators to task," he said. "In fact, the debarment of MCI would only serve to punish the wrong people, such as the company's 55,000 employees, as well as taxpayers and consumers, and undermine the competitive bidding process."

To Perry, who has defended MCI's performance on federal contracts in his responses to Collins, Norquist championed the outsourcing of federal jobs that are commercial in nature. In pursuing that aim, he said, "No qualified company should be denied access to the competitive bidding process for political or public relations reasons."

GSA's inspector general recently recommended that GSA consider suspending MCI from contracts. The agency has not yet made a decision, a spokesperson said.

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