Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous (Contractors)

September 17, 2013 5:21 a.m.

Meet Thomas E Hoshko. He’s the CEO of The Experts, a infotech and telecom contractor which hired mass shooter Aaron Alexis, which the firm was working as a subcontractor for HP Enterprise Services, in turn a subsidiary of Hewlett-Packard Co. Alexis appears to have been hired by The Experts ‘Federal Solutions DivisionAs in often the case with contractors with prime connections into the Pentagon, Hoshko himself appears to have started there before moving into the contracting business. His bio lists the following Pentagon experience

Directed operations of the Special Intelligence Communications Center for the Chief of Naval Operations, Director of Naval Intelligence and Joint Chiefs of Staff, including but not limited to, secure communications (DMS) , satcom and cryptography for the DOD, NSA, White House and intel agencies.

This morning a reader sent me this article in MegaYacht News, The Trusted Source for Information on Megayachts, Builders, Designers, and Owners. It describes how Hoshko chartered the $44,500 per week Milk Money around the 2010 Super Bowl to entertain his firm’s clients with tickets to the Super Bowl in Miami and time on this magnificent 110 foot yacht.

From the article …

You might think that with 12 years of experience chartering yachts, Hoshko and his wife would be hard to please. Not only did they enjoy themselves, but Hoshko says that what the crew did each day, especially on Super Bowl Sunday, was “perfect.” He had bought tickets for his clients to enjoy the game, and he and Louellen remained onboard Milk Money at the Diplomat Resort, up the Intracoastal Waterway in Hollywood, to have their own party. “They did a Super Bowl cake and all that kind of stuff,” he says. The crew (see above) also set up a TV on the aft deck, letting guests flow from there straight through the open doors of the saloon to continue watching the action. Even when they headed to the flying-bridge bar for a drink, they were still close to the rest of the party. Hoshko echoed what Saia and other top charter brokers always say about yacht charter: “What makes it always is the captain and the chef and the crew. They were impeccable. We had a good time.”

That good time actually began two days prior to the Super Bowl, when Milk Money hosted a cocktail reception dockside at the Diplomat Resort. The next day, the megayacht’s 26-foot Regulator fishboat, 18-foot Novurania, banana boat, and other toys were trotted out for everyone to enjoy. The crew prepared a barbecue later in the day, too. Following the Super Bowl, Milk Money headed to Fisher Island for more business and, of course, pleasure. The Hoshkos particularly liked the California king bed in the main-deck master, as well as the overall recently refitted interior.

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(The Milk Money (formerly ‘Rainmaker’), built by Westport motor yacht in 2001, based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.)

Welcome to the world of federal contracting, a world where we’ve seen numerous times how relatively small operators can cultivate key government figures who control contract assignment (perhaps the clients who got the Yacht and Super Bowl treatment described above) and make fabulous amounts of money on the federal dime, while often providing substandard service or services that might as easily be had found a civilian workforce or members of the Armed Services themselves.

To be clear, there is zero evidence of any wrongdoing on Hoshko’s part and he and his company were quick to express their condolences for Alexis’s mass shooting.

But how exactly did Alexis ever get a clearance to work for the US military. Alexis left the Navy Reserves without an honorable discharge because of a “pattern of misconduct”, always a black mark on a record which can make future employment difficult. Alexis also had two prior gun related incidents over the last ten years – one in Texas in 2010 and another in Seattle in 2004. And today comes word that since August the VA had been treating Alexis for a series of mental disorders included paranoia, sleep disorders and hearing voices.

There are lots of reasons, many of them good, why you don’t get a security clearance pulled for seeking treatment for mental illness. But this seem like fairly extreme presentations, especially coupled with an earlier history of gun violence.

So again, how did Aaron Alexis ever get hired for this kind of military contracting work or pass the background check required for such employment? Hoshko told the Journal that Alexis had a secret security clearance from 2007 and that it had recently been re-approved. But we also know that the crush of federal contracting that has led to dramatically reduced standards for these background checks and checks themselves are now routinely outsourced to still other contractors. The case of Edward Snowden is obviously dramatically different than Alexis. But both show up some pretty big holes in the clearance system.

Again, Hoshko clearly is not responsible for Alexis’ rampage. But he does appear to be a prime part of the DOD contracting nexus which provides tax payers questionable value but enriches the contractors, with privileged access to the decision-makers, with fabulous wealth.

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