Funeralgate: More Skull and Bones Escapades

Chris Floyd reports from Moscow: "The car was no longer running. Behind the wheel...was the body of Peter K. Hartmann, regional manager for...SCI...based in Houston, is one of a handful of international corporations that have gobbled up the funeral industry in recent years, squeezing out independent operators in hardball takeovers...Just a few weeks before, SCI had settled a potentially explosive lawsuit that could have meant major trouble for the company and its co-defendant-a certain George W. Bush...SCI chairman Bob Waltrip had long been a major cash conduit for the George Bushes, father and son. So he just called on his old friend, Lil' Dubya-then the governor of Texas. Bush commiserated with his financial patron: 'Bobby, are those people still messing with you?' He turned the case over to his chief of staff, Joe Allbaugh. Over the next several weeks, Allbaugh...leaned on Funeral Commission chairman Eliza May to end the probe."

'Funeralgate' Extends to Georgia 'Crematorium'

"Were you wondering why, after nearly two weeks of constant media play on the nightly newscasts, the story of the malfeasance at the Georgia crematorium suddenly dropped from the national news radar? So was I. Then I found this story from the Houston Chronicle, and I began to wonder if this might be one of the reasons... of the over 90-odd bodies found rotting in the Georgia countryside, over two dozen of them came from SCI-owned facilities. Hmmmm. This comes on the heels of the news of similar outrages occurring at SCI facilities in Florida. And, of course, those of us who've been following the Bush family's Texas doings know about Funeralgate there." So writes Tamara Baker in American Politics Journal.

Meanwhile, Bush's Funeralgate Scandal Still Festers - Why Did Peter Hartmann Die?

The night after Christmas, funeral home executive Peter Hartmann was found dead in his garage, seemingly a suicide. His death followed revelations that cemetaries owned by Hartmann's company, Service Corporation International (SCI), had "recycled" graves in its Palm Beach cemetaries. But Peter Hartmann was not responsible - these cemetaries were not even in his territory. "The weekend before Christmas, Hartmann was summoned to a meeting with Houston honchos, who'd flown in for an emergency strategy session on the Florida case. We don't know what was said at that meeting, what facts were revealed. We don't know what Hartmann was told to do, or not to do. We don't know what he agreed to do, or refused to do. We don't know if he indeed 'tried to do the right thing,' whatever that might have been. We just know that three days later, on the night after Christmas, the deputies found him dead, in a company car, in the garage on Sugar Pine Drive." So writes Chris Floyd in the Moscow Times.