Tyco’s Special Interest in John Sununu: How the Senator’s Political Payback Hurt New Hampshire
By Matt L. Barron
Dennis Kozlowski. Does that name sound familiar? It should. Kozlowski is the former CEO of Tyco International, currently serving at least eight years and four months in prison after his June 17, 2005 conviction for misappropriating more than $400 million of company funds. Right up there with the late Ken Lay, Enron CEO, Dennis Kozlowski is one of the most high profile corporate criminals of the last decade.
Kozlowski became notorious for his high-flying lifestyle, including the $6,000 shower curtains at his New York City pad, a luxury apartment that cost Tyco $30 million. For his wife Karen’s 40th birthday party, Kozlowski had Tyco pay a million bucks (half the tab) for a bash on the island of Sardinia, featuring an ice sculpture of the Statue of David urinating Stolichnaya vodka.
Kozlowski and other Tyco executives have been very generous to John Sununu. In May and November 2001, Kozlowski, Brian M. Moroze (a Tyco attorney) and Thomas C. Polgar (senior vice president) contributed a total of $5,000 to Team Sununu as he geared up to run for U.S. Senate.
Tyco has two plants in New Hampshire, in Exeter and Newington and once had its corporate office in Portsmouth. After relocating its headquarters (on paper) from New Hampshire to Bermuda, Tyco became known as a “Benedict Arnold” corporation, because it no longer had to pay taxes on overseas income. (Bermuda doesn’t have a corporate income tax.)
In the fall of 2001, Tyco laid off more than a thousand workers from its Granite State operations and by April 2002, only 350 employees remained at the two plants.
According to Working America’s Job Tracker, Tyco International is one of seven companies in New Hampshire who have reported as exporting jobs overseas. The others are: Adhesive Technologies Inc. (Hampton), Amphenol Backplane Systems (Nashua), FCI Americas Holding Inc. (Manchester), Heat Holdings Corp. (Concord), and Risdon-A M S (USA) Inc. (Laconia).
Two years into his Senate term in March 2005, Sununu turned his back on those New Hampshire workers whose jobs were moved offshore. During debate on the 2006 budget resolution, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) offered an amendment that would repeal tax incentives for domestic companies that move their manufacturing plants and American jobs to offshore locations and use the resulting revenue to reduce the federal deficit by $3.2 billion from 2006 to 2010. The amendment was rejected 40Y-59N with Sununu casting a ‘no’ vote along with Sen. John McCain.
The Tyco layoffs had an adverse effect on the seacoast economy. To her credit, then Gov. Jeanne Shaheen asked the federal government for a $734,000 grant to help retrain workers, many of them displaced by Tyco. For those families left without a safety net while Kozlowski lived high off the hog at Tyco’s expense, the former CEO got what he deserved. And Sununu’s part in the mess looks no better in the rear view mirror than it did the day his campaign deposited those checks from Tyco’s high living executive, the disgraced and imprisoned Dennis Kozlowski.
Posted on September 30th, 2008 by Miryam Ehrlich Williamson
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