IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Strickland assails Portman for assisting helmet maker
Toledo Blade, Tom Troy
September 16, 2016
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Ted Strickland on Thursday attacked his opponent for helping a company get a federal contract to make helmets after helmets made in a previous military contract were recalled for being defective.
Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s efforts to get a military contract for ArmorSource are the subject of a new television ad for Mr. Portman’s re-election campaign.
ArmorSource LLC, a military combat helmet manufacturer in Hebron, near Columbus, agreed to pay $3 million to settle a related whistleblower lawsuit, the U.S. Department of Justice announced in March.
“ArmorSource got a contract to make helmets for our military. Those helmets were deployed to our soldiers in the battlefield and placed them at risk. ArmorSource was fined $3 million. What we are seeing in this political ad does not inform the public of this history at all,” Mr. Strickland said. “Now with his willingness to share this ad touting work for a company that made dangerously defective helmets, it’s now clear Senator Portman won’t stand up for the safety of our soldiers.”
The helmets that were found to be defective were made by a Texas subcontractor from 2006 to 2009, before ArmorSource moved to Ohio and before Mr. Portman was elected.
Mr. Portman’s intervention involved a different combat helmet. He and the company say his intervention was effective at getting the Army to put out for bid a new generation of lightweight combat headgear that ArmorSource won.
In 2013, the company got a $92 million contract to make the new helmets that weigh 4 ounces less than combat helmets then in use, while providing “superior protection” to the men and women in uniform, the company said.
According to the allegations, from 2006 to 2009, ArmorSource made helmets that failed to meet performance standards. The Army started recalling them in 2010 when they failed ballistic tests, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
“Not conforming to contract requirements, failing to meet performance standards, and failing to pass ballistic safety tests for the helmets that protect the very heads and lives of our young men and women who serve this nation is incredibly unconscionable,” said Director Frank Robey of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Commands Major Procurement.
ArmorSource subcontracted the 2006-09 manufacturing to Federal Prison Industries Inc.
The company did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
The dispute raises the question of whether Mr. Strickland would have gone to bat for an Ohio employer that had in its past a finding of making defective military gear.
Strickland spokesman David Bergstein said, quoting Mr. Strickland, that “he would not have interfered with the process on behalf of a company that made defective helmets for our military service members. He would have allowed the professionals to make these decisions without senatorial interference.”