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September 08, 2009

Tea bagger bus company sued over blaze that killed 23 seniors

One of the featured corporate sponsors of the Tea Party Express had to pay millions of dollars to settle lawsuits for its role in a bus fire that killed 23 elderly nursing home residents fleeing Hurricane Rita in 2005.

The BusBank, a Chicago-based charter company, a "Tour Partner" of the Tea Party Express, a rolling protest sponsored by the Our Country Deserves Better PAC under the supervision of former Republican state legislator Howard Kaloogian, now a PR exec for the GOP-linked firm Russo, Marsh & Rogers.

BusBank is also arranging to ferry Tea Baggers to their 9/12 march on Washington to voice their demands for unfettered capitalism. (Update: Commenter Casual Observer asks if there's a Dick Armey connection here. There is. Dick Armey's FreedomWorks Foundation is the premiere sponsor of the 9/12 march; and Kaloogian's OCDB PAC is a "Gold Co-Sponsor.")

In 2005, a bus carrying seniors fleeing Hurricane Rita burst into flame outside of Dallas, immolating 23 nursing home residents. Investigators later found that the bus was: driven by an undocumented migrant without a valid U.S. driver's license, lacking adequate fire extinguishers, and not registered to operate in Texas. When the bus had mechanical problems before the crash, the driver took it to an unqualified mechanic who failed to notice the critical fault--an unlubricated axle that eventually melted and caught fire.

BusBank (aka Global Charters) hired the subcontractor, Global Limo. BusBank boasted on its website that it had a "rigorous operator certification process" to ensure the safety of contracted bus drivers. BusBank used Global even though the subcontractor had a long record of federal and state safety violations, had entered bankruptcy, and was being sued.

BusBank's association with Global appears to have been more than a one-off, Global Limo's owner Jim Maples even listed Global Charters as his employer when he gave $5000 to the RNC in 2004.

BusBank CEO Bill Maulsby blamed insufficient federal oversight, "We're not safety experts," he said. "We clearly need to depend on the federal government."

In November 2006, a federal court convicted Maples and sentenced him to five years' probation for failure to maintain his buses. Investigators found 168 violations in Maples' four-bus fleet.

The following month, US Fed News reported that BusBank had been awarded Homeland Security contract worth up to $55 million.

In June, BusBank and Global Limo settled out of court for a total of $11 million, a pittance when split between the families of the 23 victims and the patients who survived the crash. BusBank's legal troubles are far from over. According to one report, more lawsuits are getting underway this month.

The firm filed for bankruptcy in Delaware in August.

[Original reporting, please credit Lindsay Beyerstein. X-post with Obsidian Wings.]

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Comments

Shh...

Don't tell anyone!

We WANT the Teabaggers to get on The Death Busses!

The level of conversation on one of these "rolling protests" would have me longing for a fiery death before we even hit the freeway.

Don't suppose there's any link to Armey here, is there?

There is, actually. BusBank is coordinating bus transpo for the Taxpayer's March on Washington on 9/12. The lead sponsor of the event is Freedomworks, which is Dick Armey's astroturf-cum-lobbying firm.

Let the bus company be, looks like they are going to make a boatload of money off these nuts.

I was as enraged by this bus fire, when it happened, as I was by 9/11, and the New Orleans tragedy. All three of these American tragedies and aftermaths can be traced directly to Republican neglect, misfeasance, malfeasance, and of course their underlying callousness for non-crony capitalists.

So, how we all feel about Al Queda, I feel about Republicans. Not my neighbors, just the ones who run for office or acquire the sinecures that used to be vital government staff.

People die. When death is inflicted by the above, I see red.

Thanks for refreshing my memory, Ms. Beyerstein. I really appreciate reporters who can remember what happened longer ago than last week.

I'm not a fan of Armey or the TeaParties, but it's more than a bit ironic that the driver was an illegal alien. Normally, the far-left would rush to call anyone who pointed that out a racist xenophobic mean-spirited racist, but I guess in some cases it's OK. In fact, Armey and most of the far-left are united at least by their support for illegal activity:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaqd1qY1KsM

Who knew that Dick Armey was on your side?

I'm not a fan of Armey or the TeaParties, but it's more than a bit ironic that the driver was an illegal alien.

You mean it's ironic because the Republicans have championed policies that mean that illegal workers are pushed underground and have no recourse to report dangerous working conditions so the driver had no power to tell his employers that the bus was dangerous without being fired? And that his employers would have just gone out and hired another illegal worker who would have been in the exact same accident because it was more important to them to save money than to transport their passengers safely?

I don't know that I would call the deaths of 23 people due to Republican policies "ironic." I think you'd have to be pretty disconnected from your fellow citizens to think that the deaths of 23 elderly people because of Republican policies were merely "ironic."

hee hee - you libs are a hoot. There are a lot of sponsors for the tea party events. I just came back from a "March on DC" biker sendoff at a local Harley-Davidson dealership (300-400) - I bet you can find seven degrees of separation between Harley-Davidson and some Republican... Dick Armey or Tom DeLay or maybe even Dick Cheney.
A lot of us conservative / libertarians are business owners and we tend to sponsor events that promote liberty and the constitution. I'll admit that we're new to this protesting thing, but we're learning.

I posted on the Crooks and Liars version of this and I want to say the same here. I think it's incorrect to call Bus Bank a "sponsor" of the tea parties if all they are doing is providing transportation. They just got hired to do a job, that doesn't make them supporters of the groups ideology.

The Bus Bank is just a broker, they don't own any buses. They market themselves nationwide and then hire local bus companies to do the work. They hired a loser in New Orleans, and they should be help responsible, but honestly, do you think there were just lots of buses to choose from to get those old folks out out of there?

What Maulsby said about depending of the feds sounds pretty stupid, but the fact is we need more government oversite in the bus industry because there are plenty of crooks with a few buses who cut lots of corners and unless the feds keep a close eye on them, which they don't, they get away with it.

I'm no shill for the Bus Bank, they owe me a pile of money, but I don't think this article is very good reporting. Too much guilt by association, and not enough facts.

You libtards crack me up. If you want to look for connections that matter why don't you look at the connection our wonderful president has to all these corrupt organizations? But no matter how many tactics you libs pull from the Sol Alinsky playbook its not going to work this time. This is actually a TRUE grass roots movement and you'll see on 9/12....well thats if the state run media actually covers it. :-)

So what planet is getting this "public option" and who is going to collect the "premiums" from illegal aliens? Western Union?

I think it's incorrect to call Bus Bank a "sponsor" of the tea parties if all they are doing is providing transportation. They just got hired to do a job, that doesn't make them supporters of the groups ideology.

BusBank is listed on the front page of the Tea Party Express website as a "Tour Partner" - right there with FreedomWorks, Free Republic and others.

Shh...Don't tell anyone! We WANT the Teabaggers to get on The Death Busses!

You liberals, and you are upset because Wilson spoke the truth when he said “You lie” to your God. You want Americans to die to make your point. What hate mongers! Just shows how scared you are. This socialist health bill will fail. We forced him to change his speech to our children, and forced him to oust his Marxist friend, Van Jones. We are just getting started. Prepare for change. You liberals greatest fear has come true, we are on the move. Watch tomorrow and weep.

God Bless America

BusBank CEO Bill Maulsby blamed insufficient federal oversight, "We're not safety experts," he said. "We clearly need to depend on the federal government."

That is hilarious.

He's all hate the government, get the evil government out of my hair, and he said that? That is so typical of reality-free hypocritical conservatives.

Toby

It appears you are taking a lesson from your lying God bo. Please point out in my post where I say I hate the government and want it out of my hair. Now don’t extrapolate or suppose, point out direct quotes. This is what liberals do, they lie because they are weak minded.

I can surmise from you post, if apply the same non-reason that you did that you are a communist trader. Is that right? No it is not, and distorting your words would be wrong.

Toby, get a life.

Here is a very funny example of his lying. Last night he said that illegal’s do not have access to health care under his new plan. Today the liberal press is blasting that congress is fast working to fix the plan so illegal’s can not get access to health care. If he was not lying last night, they would not be doing what they are today. It is double speak, or what Hilary did, misspoke (This is a liberal disorder.). Under his plan illegals will still have access to emergency rooms anywhere. That is the most expensive form of medical care in this country. Bo has already admitted to that.

God Bless America

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8MjMCJmgic
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4caqw6bipc

How about applying those stupendous investigative skills into the ACORN debacle? Or is that in conflict with your agenda? Maybe you agree that government funds should be used to sponsor child prostitution? Or you just don't know there is even an issue.............

Where was this tea party movement last year, or when the Patriot Act was passed? Do your people really know how many of their personal rights were lost with that Act?? Government has been overspending for decades--why are you only objecting now?
Re: using the Gadsden Flag--DON'T!!! My family is very military, we hang this flag and now the "tea party" movement has tainted it. -- by a Curious, disgusted taxpayer

Does anybody else remember Dick Armey being interviewed by either Cato or Heritage several years ago on health care? I'm paraphrasing but he essentially said that the rich should indeed get better health care than others because they could afford it.

I saw it on CSPAN I believe so there has to be a clip of this out there somewhere. If anybody can find it let me know.

your views are so fervently polarized that you wish harm and death on people who simply have a different point of view. You should wake up out of your left vs. right illusion and realize that your God-given(oh I said the G word, will your blogging system censor that polically-incorrect word?)freedoms belong to everyone, not just the winning team.

I just stumbled on this little blog and it's nice to see that some of you young people are so happy that the dems are going to raise your taxes again. The government needs the money to pay for the promises they made before. In order to raise said money, they are making new promises that have yet to be paid for! Most of the bills currently in Congress include plans to provide a system of universal health care that may or may not provide a "government option". One that, though "illegals" will not be able to join, they will certainly be able to participate. Either way, the burden of paying for the new system will ultimately fall upon your shoulders. The "tea party" people are attempting to promote people like you understanding this fact. Too bad you aren't listening. Instead, you seem to revel in name calling (teabaggers,astroturf etc). Anyway, I digress. I just want to thank you in advance, just in case you get what you are hoping for, because, I, as an old guy, who already has coverage provided by the government, will continue to have it paid for by who . . .why, you, of course.

Blogs are so interactive where we get lots of informative on any topics. nice job keep it up !!..

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