New Transportation Secretary already embroiled in controversy, cover-up

Not only is Bush’s new appointee to Transportation Secretary a pro-toller (read it here), she’s accused of covering up wrongful deaths and of overcharging the Federal Highway Administration by railroad company, CSX. Link to article here.

Bush nominee accused of cover-up
Whistleblower says transportation secretary pick should be probed

By Jerome R. Corsi
World Net Daily
September 16, 2006

Mary Peters

President Bush’s nominee for secretary of Transportation, Mary Peters, should be investigated for shutting down a probe of CSX Transportation into wrongful deaths in crossing accidents and overcharges, contends a whistleblower who worked for the railroad company.

Peters, who was head of the Federal Highway Administration at the time of the rail probe, is “another Bush cover-up artist,” asserts Dave Nelson.

The White House declined to comment on the allegation.

Nelson received a $1.18 million payment after filing a false claims action against CSX, alleging the company was overcharging the Federal Highway Administration for railroad crossing equipment upgrades that were never made or were not made as specified.

After Nelson’s action, CSX agreed to pay the Justice Department nearly $6 million, admitting Nelson’s allegations were correct.

As recently as 2004, CSX paid a $1 million fine to the state of New York to settle Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s investigation into CSXT responsibility regarding railroad crossing accidents that resulted in fatalities in the state.

Nelson told WND that even today, CSX is continuing to overcharge the Federal Highway Administration, or FHWA, for railroad crossing equipment upgrades and that railroad crossing accidents are still resulting in deaths that could have been avoided.

While Peters was head of the FHWA, a criminal investigation was begun by the U.S. Department of Transportation in its Office of Inspector General.

“I was providing information to that DOT criminal investigation,” Nelson said. “The Justice Department closed both the criminal and civil investigation ongoing in DOT after the FHWA told DOJ that the FHWA did not care about CSX overcharges involving railroad crossing equipment.”

Nelson further told CSX that the order to close the Department of Transportation investigations involved John Snow, the former secretary of Treasury in the Bush administration. Nelson alleged to WND that Snow’s nomination to head Treasury was the reason Peters told the Justice Department the overcharges in the CSX investigation did not merit further investigation.

Nelson said his attorney sent him an e-mail after Justice closed the CSX investigations and told him specifically the statement of the FHWA was the key reason the investigations were closed.

“The Bush administration did not want the embarrassment of criminal and civil investigations being brought against CSX for activities when John Snow was CEO of CSX occurring when Snow was being nominated to be the secretary of Treasury,” Nelson said. “I believe even today that Mary Peters was doing what she was told to do by the White House, namely to close the CSX investigation even if the charges were true.”

Nelson alleged to WND that wrongful deaths are continuing to happen due to CSX’s faulty, inadequate or outdated railroad crossing equipment.

“I invite the attorneys of any family seeking redress from a death involving a railroad crossing accident to contact me,” he said. “In many cases, the death involves what amounts to negligent homicide and the board and executives of a railroad like CSX should be held responsible if effective civil and criminal actions are filed.”

Nelson said he also believes Peters should be investigated and possibly indicted because the decision by the FHWA to shut down the CSX investigation at the time Snow was nominated was an action that “doomed many innocent U.S. citizens, including women and children, to railroad crossing accidents the FHWA and DOT knew were caused by CSX fraud and negligence. … ”

Nelson estimates that in the last five years CSX overcharges to FHWA regarding railroad crossing equipment probably still amount to some $100 million.

“This $100 million in overcharges gives CSX a more-than-ample war chest from which to hand out $1 million here and there to the Eliot Spitzers of the world and the various families who have the courage to sue when their family members are killed by CSX negligence regarding railroad crossings,” Nelson said.

Peters served as Federal Highway Administrator from Oct. 2, 2001 to July 29, 2005. Snow was sworn in as secretary of Treasury on Feb. 7, 2003. He was elected CEO of CSX July 11, 1989.

The Senate Commerce Committee has announced nomination hearings for Peters will begin Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. Eastern.

Inside information supplied by Nelson prompted and advanced a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of articles by New York Times reporter Walt Bogdanich, called “Death on the Tracks.” The stories reported railroad company cover-ups regarding faulty equipment and false reports concerning fatal accidents at railroad crossings.