According to the Oregonian, Rep. David Wu (D-OR) directed more than $ 2 million dollars in T-shirt contracts to InSport International, a clothing manufacturer in Mr. Wu’s district. Unfortunately, these shirts are prone to melting and burning in high heat, thus rendering them dangerous and useless to soldiers in combat.
According to Captain Lynn Welling, the head surgeon of the 1st Marine Logistic Group, the polyester in these “melting shirts” adheres to the skin in intense heat, essentially creating a second skin which leads to horrific disfiguring burns.
Rep. Wu earmarked the contract into the 2006 Defense Appropriations Bill. Due to the design flaw, the Marines shortly thereafter banned the use of polyester shirts for use in combat, or anywhere outside the protected “Green Zone” bases. However, because of Mr. Wu’s earmark the Marines were forced to buy 87,000 of the banned shirts.
While the idea of a more comfortable shirt for our troops is commendable, the flaws of the shirts’ design were left uninvestigated. This is the purpose for process of competitively bidding contracts… to get the best product possible.
By the way, shortly after his earmarks passed in the Defense Appropriations Bill, Rep. Wu received nearly $15,000 in campaign contributions from InSport executives.