April 20th, 2008
10:59 AM ET

Pentagon paid $1.7 million to firms of polygamy bosses

Check out Randi Kaye's article on CNN.com:

NEW YORK (CNN) - The U.S. government paid more than $1.7 million in defense contracts over the last decade to companies owned by leaders of Warren Jeffs' polygamous sect, with tens of thousands allegedly winding its way back to Jeffs and his church.

In fact, some of the deals were made after Jeffs was named to the FBI's "Most-Wanted List" and remained in place while he was on the run.

CNN has learned that between 1998 and 2007, the United States Air Force and Defense Logistics Agency purchased more than $1.7 million worth of airplane parts from three companies owned by members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which practices polygamy.


Filed under: Pentagon • Polygamy • Randi Kaye
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Charles

    I have two questions for the media: Why is it that no one is picking up on this story? Could it be that one reason is that John McCain is the ranking minority member on the Senate Armed Services Committee and that Hillary Rodham Clinton is also a member of this committee?

    Talk about failing in one's oversight responsibilities....

    April 21, 2008 at 9:00 pm |
  2. Bill

    It is indeed welfare fraud when the "sister wife", submitting a welfare application under penalty of perjury, states the father of her children has refused to pay support and has left the area.

    That's the only way she can get benefits when she's actually living with the father.

    The state wants the father identified so it can garnish his wages to pay for child support.

    Sadly, when she is caught a conviction for welfare fraud alone could see her children taken foster care – and convicted criminals permanently lose some federal welfare benefits.

    April 21, 2008 at 7:46 pm |
  3. Carrie A

    This practice is also the same for Amish, young girls are married off to older men, adds are put in newspapers wanting any men to impregnate one of there girls to get new breeding in. Maybe the Amish sects should also be checked!

    April 21, 2008 at 6:33 pm |
  4. KarenD

    Stephanie – "KarenD, please enlighten me. Are you a practicing Christian? "

    Me – As I stated, "We are NOT members of the FLDS, LDS, Islam, or other religion."

    Stephenie – "doesn’t that make the man an adulterer?"

    Me – In some states, however, that is usually not a criminal offense.

    Brandi down the bayou, yes, the children in this case know we are not typical, but as you point out, there is little difference between our family and families where there has been a divorce and remarriage (except we love each other instead of hate each other). One could say that divorce and remarriage really isn't anything more than a type of serial polygamy.

    As to health insurance, the children are always covered, regardless. Depending on which wife is working or not varies how we approach health insurance. We manage health insurance via work or privately.

    naknudson – "I have never been able to understand how they are able to conduct this lifestyle without being arrested fro Polygamy. "

    As I said before, it isn't necessarily illegal.

    April 21, 2008 at 4:48 pm |
  5. Slater

    Can we please move on? Can we at least wait until we know for a fact that this sect practices polygamy?

    America has always done "anything for a buck" no matter who it exploits in the process. Why are we so shocked?

    April 21, 2008 at 4:34 pm |
  6. Elyse

    Angela wrote:
    "He owns large companies?

    I’m surprised that isn’t against their religion, since so many other things are."

    I don't think he follows the rules he has set out for his followers. From what I've heard of him, he seems to have taken over a group of people and used the "consequences" of God to to cut them off from the outside world and use them as pawns in his power hungry game.

    KarenD, I'm so glad you shared your story. If a polygamous relationship is entered into by consenting adults, I really don't see a problem with it. Its not my cup of tea, but its a lifestyle choice that should be left to an individual.

    When those individual's rights are taken away and they are forced to enter into a marriage, this is where that line should be drawn. In no way is it ever right for a person to be forced into a relationship and then treated like a slave to their 'husband.' I feel as sorry for these wives as I do for these children. When you're born into a culture like that and brought up to believe that is your only way into heaven, how are you to know any different? I understand their wariness of outsiders, who wouldn't be scared of people they've been taught are the root of all evil, but hopefully with time they'll learn that they have a right to freedom and to live their life as they so choose.

    April 21, 2008 at 2:49 pm |
  7. naknudson

    I have never been able to understand how they are able to conduct this lifestyle without being arrested fro Polygamy. And the fact that they are all collecting welfare really makes me angry the nerve of them to bore all these children while carrying on a lifestyle which is illegal in this country and be permitted to have the taxpayers foot the bill. It is totally irrelevant who called or why they are committing crimes against society and molesting children as well. Both the mothers and fathers should be held accountable.

    April 21, 2008 at 2:22 pm |
  8. John Hammon

    And I guess another point is: So what if the government paid $1.7 million to polygamists for work down. Now they are not worth paying a dollar?

    These people have a faith and because people don't agree, they want to push them deeper into isolation by refusing to hire them?

    April 21, 2008 at 1:31 pm |
  9. Jessica A. Mattison

    Personally I see nothing our Federal Government did in paying for contractual labor that was provided for x amount of dollars for requested services and goods, at least that was money spent " in America" and not India or China, ya know ? And, legal we might remember. No, I do not think our Government was wrong in this light.

    As to the welfare issues, I find this totally premature and undocumented to sustain any informed discussion. We can speculate on what other past members may have said was happening when they were members and had left.

    However, everyone I have seen interviewed or contributing on CNN has been out of touch with the inside of FLS for more than a decade ; and appear to have their own agendas for promoting themselves and their own businesses and personal views. Who funds these individuals ?

    Our Government did nothing wrong and those providing the services apparently fulfilled those contracts in order to be paid, that in my opinion, is the bottom line.

    This "Witch Hunt" is overly broad as it is and needs not be confused any further with additional cries of foul. Want to cry foul...consider DNA testing being made "mandatory & indiscriminate" in every State of the Nation....how many Mothers " really " want that ? Families will suffer overall, not just for FLDS.

    What law enforcement agency is going to admit anything " was in bad faith " ?? Such a ridiculous notion considering many of the sentences being over turned upon review as "unconstitutional" and, remember these FLDS adults and children will be entitled to appeals which our State and Federal dollars will pay for also. What an economical stimulus package for Texas Lawyers involved in this matter, respectfully.

    April 21, 2008 at 12:15 pm |
  10. Ratna, New York, NY

    Great reporting Randi!

    God Bless America!

    April 21, 2008 at 11:15 am |
  11. J Pugh

    I'm so upset by this mess I cannot believe this welfare fraud has been allowed to go on so long. I've been doing research this weekend , DNA needs to be done, They leave their building outsides unfinished and unlandscaped so they don't have to even pay property taxes! How do they get on welfare if they don't have birth certificates? They have to give some sort of info. How come they don't have to go to work like all other women are expected to? How come they are not being checked to see that the food is all kept separate, when food stamps are involved? They take out of the system and put nothing back. If you were a foster parent or someone trying to get custody , the child would need his own room dresser ect., If the fathers were expected to pay back wefare (like men in the real world,) they would think twice about fathering so many children
    One lady this morning said if a man leaves they are reassigned to another man, so there are more than one father for these women's children. Really this sounds more like Soddem and Gamorrah than Zion to me . The man said they didn't know it was wrong ,seems like they all need an education, we shouldn't have to pay for them to live like that.

    April 21, 2008 at 11:00 am |
  12. John Hammon

    I suppose people can be horrified that their money was spent feeding plig kids, instead of killing Iraqi kids, for about the same reasons. A Texan thought he had something to prove and so applied "Shock and Awe" and tried follow up with "Hearts and Minds."

    What makes me angry was the LIES, but then I'm usually angry, so I guess the LIES are only a detail.

    1st: These people DIDN'T WANT to be isolated in the beginning. They left the United States back in 1849 and went into west so that they would not violate any laws. Plus they were being shot at.

    2nd: Utah outlawed them to become a state. These people should have been grandfathered in. They were an established culture. The United States had no right to demand a violation religious freedom for access to the Union.

    3rd: At the turn of century (1900) Colorado City was as remote, out of the way, as a people could. Some even went to Mexico. That technology has brought this community into the limelight was not their intention. Their desire to "stay low" was because they don't want any trouble.

    4th: In the 1940's and 1950's, the States of Utah and Arizona raided these towns. Again, the faith of Mormons proved stronger then the government. Whipped and wounded, the states took a "Hands Off" approach with these people. This allowed big time crime, such as drug runners and international terrorists to use Colorado City and Hildale as a secret base. The FBI was calling faithful Mormons during the 90's because they couldn't get their own agents in. That Warren Jeffs made it onto the top 10 WANTED as an accomplish to rape is crazy.

    5th: The government military has used this area to hide some of their bigger secret operations. Note the HUGE airport in Colorado City, big enough to hand the worlds largest airplanes. The biggest locally own plane is a 8 seater jet.

    6th: The government has known about this groups for more then 100 years. Welfare fraud ISN'T fraud if you meet the criteria. If there was fraud, why was the grovernment not investigating? If there was fraud and everyone knew it, why did they keep sending the checks?

    7th: There has been allegations of child abuse for 100 years with independant cases. Many girls and have sought government assistant, but were denied, blocked, and otherwise hampered. When the government was called upon to provide help to abused children that were willing to talk, they did not reply. Many women were forced to return, not because of the cult, but because they couldn't get help on the outside.

    8th: The government has totally insensitive to the beliefs of these people. When a woman wants to get out, it isn't usually because she lost faith, its because she was in a bad marriage (which are known to exist even on the outside." They set up a town 20 miles southeast of Colorado City called "Freedonia" as a place for women to run to freedom. Do this date, Freedonia has yet to rescue one woman. Instead of going into Colorado City, which was their right, and set up child services and women shelters where they might have been useful, they wanted to make sure that woman wouldn't be tempted to go back. It was an "all or nothing" option. Just now, is the state getting wise. They are setting up watch groups and services in Colorado City (which to date haven't been used.) But it was too late for many, they had been TOO LONG WITHOUT GOVERNMENT SUPERVISION.

    10th: These people ARE AMERICANS. The stores that they don't like the American way is silly. They are living the American dream, with cars, nice houses (those that can build them), schools, shopping, roads, computers, TV, etc. Again, the "Hands Off" approach of the government gave room for nasty culture diseases to grow.

    11th: The underage marriage thing, though disgusting to many, was the American way little more then 100 years ago. 100 years ago, girls didn't have much to look forward to EXCEPT to being mother and wife. Most did not go on to higher education, or public office, or to owning their own businesses. All they had was to be a mother. Many were eager to get on with it, (because daddy was looking at them strangely.) These people are stuck in the past. They were the American child, abandon and left to fend for themselves. They were left behind on the cultural advancements, even though they've done quite well. . . . . considering.

    12th: Warren Jeffs thought/thinks he is Jesus. It's not actually that uncommon. Had the proper government persence been in this community in the first place, chances that he could have convinced thousands of people probably wouldn't have happened. Everyone one knews that the government either medicates or hangs Jesus on the cross. BTW, does anyone ever consider that Jesus thought he was Jesus too? But government killed him before he could made too much trouble.

    13th: These people are good people, but, as they fond of reminding themselves, "not good enough." Religion is a practice. They want the best for themselves. This IS NOT ABOUT child abuse to them. Child abuse is an evil they know exists and try to fight it. Everyone that knows anything about child abuse knows that it ISN'T about sex, but rather power. That men feel inferior and weak is usually the reason they abuse children. That the government has made a very powerful effort to make these people feel inferior has been fuel on the fire.

    14th: Given the chance, many people of these community have caught up to the times and maintained their faith. One of my good female friends is the dean of a college. I have female lawyers in my family, and doctors, nurses, business owners, and properity owners. Again, the neglect on the part of the government gave license and the windows of opportunity for Warren Jeffs to jump in and hurt these people.

    Summary: These people have been abandoned by their government because the people of the government didn't have the maturity to confront them. It was like the idea of a man having sex with more then one woman made them shy and sheepish. Abuse IS NOT part of the religion. The religion will survive this and any other just law that the government can enforce. However, the government has just renewed this people's reasons to distrust and has sparked some bitter memories.

    My personal feelings: This nation has underestimated the power of faith. These people that follow Warren Jeffs may be crazy, but they have faith. They will win this and Texas with cry from the backlash. This event has done MORE to create distrust of government then any other event I can think. I know these people. You now have 350 lawyers that will represent these children and the result will not be pretty for Texas, of that I am feel confident.

    April 21, 2008 at 10:40 am |
  13. Matt Lye

    My condolences. What a bad time to break your Pentagon story. 😛

    I'm disturbed by the lack of mention on the website of the *other* Pentagon story of the weekend. I presume you will eventually be covering this?

    April 21, 2008 at 1:58 am |
  14. Brandi down the bayou.

    oh, karen, one more question...

    I know so many people that cant afford health insurance or required medications that it makes me think about how your family manages to afford such care. While only one of you is legally married to your husband, how are the rest of you insured? Of course any of his biological children can be on his insurance, but not women who are not his wife.

    As I have stated before, i fully support gay rights, there are a lot of arguments against those rights, one of them being the insurance issue. The legal acceptance of same-sex marriage would require insurance companies to insure both on the same policy and allow them the same coverage and discounts afforded to heterosexual customers. I believe they should be allowed that right, then the light bulb goes off in my head regarding your situation.

    All of these children are insured under one policy, while there are several mothers and only one of them can be insured. So the other mothers are out on their own? I sure hope they dont get any illness that is expensive. How is the insurance handled in your family?

    April 20, 2008 at 11:55 pm |
  15. Brandi down the bayou.


    I understand your message, I have seen previous stories on television interviewing families such as yours.

    I think that the public is outraged about the children and while your family may do things differently, the ones in question are doing wrong.

    I have no problem with your choice to share a husband, that is your choice. There are people all over our society who share lovers and duties of childcare. But they are not doing the things that the FLDS is being accused of.

    I do have to wonder about the mental and emotional state of the children. They will believe in what they see around them as they grow up. What are their relationships like? Do they know the distinction between their family and the 'typical' family? Do they call all of the moms 'mom' interchangeably or is there another name the children use for each?

    The relationship you write about sounds no worse than children who are members of split families that each have new spouses and children added to it with the exception of them all living together and helping each other. I do not think it is healthy for the children to grow up thinking it is okay to have more than one mom and they all be with the father at the same time. I think it gives them a misconception of a normal relationship. Given that, the only question I can pose to you is what do the children know? I'm not asking if they are happy because a child can be happy in many different situations that are considered 'abnormal' by society's standards simply because they have seen no different. Please do not take this as me doubting your ability to be a good mother to your children.

    April 20, 2008 at 10:55 pm |
  16. Stephanie

    KarenD, please enlighten me. Are you a practicing Christian? Your statment "We live in a state where polygamy is technically legal so long as only one of the wives is legally married to the husband." Begs me to ask, doesn't that make the man an adulterer?

    April 20, 2008 at 10:33 pm |
  17. Derrie

    Dear Anderson, I am a mid 40's LDS member of 11 + yrs. Apparently these "foundamentalist" LDS folks lost contact with the Articles of Faith. Which state we believe in following authority as perscribed by law. Which is Why the LDS church established in the 1800's no longer follows that practice; Perhaps they might want to review the "Proclaimation on the Family" Thank U and CNN for covering this so carefully.

    April 20, 2008 at 9:55 pm |
  18. KarenD

    As to what made us choose this, we love each other and are deeply committed to each other.

    April 20, 2008 at 9:38 pm |
  19. KarenD

    Choice. Not how we were brought up by our parents. And again, not religion.

    April 20, 2008 at 9:36 pm |
  20. Michael, NC

    my fault, I just took it the wrong way man, I guess I got pretty defensive. I just really dislike this kind of story.

    Karen-what made you choose to live like this? Is it something you are born into or choice? Just wondering...

    April 20, 2008 at 9:32 pm |
  21. cheryl

    it would be intresting to know if there is a graveyard at the texas compound and if so is there death certificate's as how people died ,natural or from physical abuse. the former wife who was married to the leading guy said there was a lot of physical violence in the compound.

    April 20, 2008 at 9:10 pm |
  22. KarenD

    I am a polygamist. My "sister wife" (no, we are not sisters, that is just the technical term for our relationship) entered into this relationship as adults and with full consent from each other. We do NOT live on welfare. We are NOT members of the FLDS, LDS, Islam, or other religion. We live in a state where polygamy is technically legal so long as only one of the wives is legally married to the husband. Our husband makes a good living working in the IT sector. My sister wife is currently the 'stay at home mom' for our kids while I currently have a job as a CPA. In the past, I have been the stay at home mom while my sister wife worked. There is no brain washing, arranged marriage, child bride stuff going on. Our relationship is not for everyone, but we would not trade it for the world. There are about 25,000 other families out there just like ours.

    April 20, 2008 at 8:13 pm |
  23. KarenD

    Maya wrote, "Polygamy is illegal".

    Not necessarily true. There is no federal laws against it and in some states it is techncally permissable.

    April 20, 2008 at 7:34 pm |
  24. Mike in NYC

    Michael, NC wrote:

    "What about that is not distasteful?"

    I never said it wasn't. My point was that much of the outrage has been selective.

    April 20, 2008 at 7:00 pm |
  25. Angela, Ottawa, Canada

    He owns large companies?

    I'm surprised that isn't against their religion, since so many other things are.

    I do agree with Mike to a certain extent, though – if the military had chosen another company (with, presumably, a higher bid) there would have been a scandal about the government siphoning lucrative defense contracts to favoured companies that they agreed with ideologically rather then to the lowest bidder.

    April 20, 2008 at 6:11 pm |
  26. Mr. J

    There are many sides to this story. They are delivering quality parts here in the US instead of China a plus. There way of life has many good aspects yet has just as many bad aspects. It's time to end all cults in this country. There should be no tax free religions or cults period ( one of the same) Lets all learn from this. How competible was the price paid?

    April 20, 2008 at 5:13 pm |
  27. Al

    Another example of "Corruption" of our Government!

    April 20, 2008 at 4:56 pm |
  28. Michael, NC

    Just because they have stable and productive lives, they are still comiting illegal acts, abusing members, and sexually abusing minors...what about that is not distasteful. I would like to know how the presence of these beings in our country is not disgusting. Enlighten me please. We are still the ones giving the money to the pentagon to pay for these military goods, so yes, it is taxpayer's money that is given to these compounds. It was avoidable and stupid on their part.

    April 20, 2008 at 4:50 pm |
  29. Maya

    It doesn't matter if the Pentagon was doing something illegal. The gov't was showing how hypocritical it is by even taking on contractors with ties to Jeff Warren. Polygamy is illegal, Defrauding the state welfare system is illegal, the sexual activity reported between adult men and adolescent girls is illegal. Did the men signing off on these deals not think they were condoning illegal activity?

    April 20, 2008 at 4:40 pm |
  30. Mike in NYC

    Marie wrote:

    "Discusting [sic] that these child molesters would be getting a dime of tax payers money!!"

    Not to play Devil's advocate here, but they seemed to have earned that money fair and square by providing needed products to the military.

    "Many are on welfare in these communities where one husband has so many wives and children, they can’t feed or clothe them."

    As far as welfare is concerned, I’ve read statements by former members attesting to abuses, but the children seemed to have been well taken care of, at least in terms of their physical needs.

    Considering that these were separatists, the 100-200 thousand a month that was coming in would have enabled them to avoid the entanglements with the federal government that accepting welfare would have entailed. There were also members of the group with professional and trade skills. This is why I take much of what I read in the mainstream media with a considerable amount of salt.

    Post after post on this subject have been rife with selective outrage. These people, however distasteful their world view might be to many, were certainly more stable and productive than the multitudes of urban “babymommas,” “babydaddies” and their progeny who vegetate on welfare while returning nothing to society.

    April 20, 2008 at 2:07 pm |
  31. Brandi down the bayou.


    WOW! This is horribly disgusting, Especially when I see elderly and disabled people fighting just to buy their needed medications each month. This is a good example of how the government mishandles the taxpayers money.

    Great job.

    April 20, 2008 at 1:54 pm |
  32. Sherri


    Is this the same DOD that pays thousands of dollars for screws and nails that should cost fractions of pennies each? Has not the past behavior of the DOD contracting section come under scrutiny for sweetheart deals, padding bids, etc., etc. While I am appalled at the government doing business with Jeffs band of merry men- I can't say I"m surprised. This points to a vetting system that is shallow to say the least. In this day and age shell corporations and myriad other means to muddy trails exists. Given that- it would seem to me that the entire system of government contracting needs to be re-vamped. It might take longer to truly vet a bidder- but in the long run, I think the public at large would be appreciative. It turns my stomach at how much money has been siphoned from the public for this repressive and cruel sect. But- those in business could certainly take notes on the creativity used by the sect in fleecing those not in it's flock. If only this amount of thought and ingenuity could be used for positive purposes.

    April 20, 2008 at 1:10 pm |
  33. Daniel in Loganville, GA

    That does not suprise me. But I am discusted by it.

    April 20, 2008 at 12:49 pm |
  34. Michael, NC

    that was an awesome post. Well said. You know exactly how to put the disgust felt by the many who's money is being thrown away to these people. Thanks for the input.

    April 20, 2008 at 12:33 pm |
  35. judy

    Randi, you do great reporting. On the bigger issue of this raid, first let me say that I do not support the FLDS or their lifestyle but the manner and rational for this raid concerns me. It sounds as if their assumption is that teen pregnancy is the abuse. They need to keep the children so there will be no more teen pregnancies and the boys will not grow up to get anyone under age pregnant . On that premise, much of the inner city communities and just communities in general across America would also need to be raid and young people separated from families. There are large numbers of teen pregnancies and even those where the paternity is unclear yet all those kids aren't rounded up, separated from their homes, and undergoing DNA testing. Teen pregnancy in general does occur more frequently when the mother has also been a teen that had a child so the argument that the FLDA is "teaching" early pregnancy and is somehow unique doesn't hold either.

    I think this raid is on tenuous grounds as far as rational and civil liberties. Teen pregnancy is not yet a crime nor is it defined as abuse. And if the potential for an act is reason enough for the state to take custody, most adolescent boys should be wards of the state. Even if it were taken to the point of considering it rape, we still don't remove potential offenders from the streets. At least in this community, there was support in the manner of food, housing, and logistics. Drug use appears to be rare if at all. That tops many of the teen moms out there living on the streets.

    I would appreciate a report on this story from this angle and see what you can find.

    April 20, 2008 at 12:28 pm |
  36. Marie

    DIscusting that these child molesters would be getting a dime of tax payers money!! Many are on welfare in these communities where one husband has so many wives and children, they can't feed or clothe them.

    Everyone should read Irene Spencer's book, Shattered Dreams and Carolyn Jessops's book, Escape to see how these women have had to feed their children rotting food and live like slaves to these men - all in the name of God who probably weeps in heaven at this inhumane emotional and physical abuse.

    April 20, 2008 at 11:48 am |
  37. Michael, NC

    Wow. Thats going to be UGLY for the Pentagon and those who were signing that money over to these companies. When Maginnis was quoted in that article saying how appalled tax payers are going to be, he was right. Thats pretty disheartening to hear. I don't know how avoidable a situation like this could have been, so I won't be quick to judge, but this is a bombshell if you ask me, and should be one of those little cases that NEVER happens in our government. What a shame...

    Great post Randi, and as always, awesome coverage!

    April 20, 2008 at 11:09 am |