Monday, October 5, 2009

UTSW Hires Heavy-Hitting Lobbying Firm for Gulf War Illness Research Funding

Written by Anthony Hardie, 91outcomes

( - October 2, 2009) - University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas has hired the lobbying firm Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates to lobby on its behalf for Gulf War Syndrome research funding.

UTSW's unique, $75 million earmarked contract for Gulf War illness research, led by Dr. Robert Haley, was cancelled in August by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which cited intractable contract disputes.  

Haley, recipient of the 2005 Congressional Medal of Honor Society's prestigious National Patriot Award, has been a leading researcher on Gulf War veterans' illnesses.  Haley and his research team, originally funded by Texas billionaire and longstanding Gulf War veteran advocate Ross Perot, identified measurable brain and other neurological damage in ill Gulf War veterans.  

Going on the theory that neurotoxins caused Gulf War Illness, Haley's team separated out three distinct symptom cluster-based syndromes, and was working on developing diagnostic technologies and treatments when VA abruptly canceled his earmark-funded contract. 

Among Wexler's associates listed as lobbying for UTSW on Gulf War Syndrome are Timothy Hannegan, Wexler's president, and Monty Tripp, former legal counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight.

Hannegan is the grandson of former Democratic National Committee Chairman Robert E. Hannegan and, according to his public profile, "a prolific Democratic fundraiser".  He is a former senior official with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), and has lobbying experience in aviation and homeland security sectors.  Tripp previously served as counsel to the House Subcommittee on National Security, overseeing defense activities, and has substantial experience in the House budgeting process.

Dale Snape and Daniella Landau are also listed as lobbying on UTSW's behalf. Snape, Wexler's CEO and General Manager, has "over 30 years of Washington experience at the White House Office of Management and Budget and Wexler & Walker Policy Associates," specializing in defense and other issues.  Landau is the former managing director of government affairs for American Airlines' Washington, D.C. office.

Wexler & Walker's lobbying registration on behalf of UTSW was effective September 1, 2009.

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