Krongard family feud to continue in Congress

November 20, 2007|By Stephen Kiehl | Stephen Kiehl,Sun reporter

Rep. Henry A. Waxman said yesterday that he is moving forward with plans to call Baltimore's Krongard brothers before his committee next month - despite attempts by Howard "Cookie" Krongard during the weekend to cancel the hearing.

"There is no legitimate legislative purpose to be gained by publicly pitting two brothers against each other," Cookie Krongard's lawyer, Barbara Van Gelder, wrote to Waxman, chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Van Gelder wrote, "I would ask that this committee not hold any additional hearings into this matter."

Cookie Krongard and his brother A.B. "Buzzy" Krongard clashed publicly last week over Buzzy Krongard's involvement with Blackwater USA, the embattled security firm. Cookie Krongard, the State Department inspector general, told the oversight committee that his brother was not on the Blackwater advisory board.

But Buzzy Krongard was on the board, and he called the committee to say that he had told his brother of his position weeks earlier. To sort out the conflicting accounts, Waxman scheduled a hearing for the week of Dec. 3 and asked both Krongard brothers to appear.

The case grew more complicated during the weekend, when Cookie Krongard's lawyer released handwritten notes that Cookie Krongard said he had taken during an Oct. 31 phone conversation with his brother. "Was on short list for advisory board but is not taking it," the notes say.

Cookie Krongard's lawyer says that with the release of the notes, there is little that a hearing would accomplish. But the issue is not settled for Waxman. The California Democrat sent a memo to committee members Friday, saying, "These discrepancies between the testimony of Howard [Cookie] Krongard and the information from Buzzy Krongard raise questions about the truthfulness of Howard Krongard's testimony."

Blackwater came up because it presented a potential conflict of interest: Cookie Krongard's State Department office is investigating whether the security firm smuggled weapons into Iraq and has been accused of blocking an inquiry into allegations that its guards killed at least 17 Iraqi citizens without obvious provocation. Buzzy Krongard was invited to join the Blackwater board this summer.

Cookie Krongard recused himself from any Blackwater investigations last week, after he learned that his brother was on the board. Buzzy Krongard resigned from the board Friday to avoid any conflict.

Blackwater Chairman Erik Prince said in a statement, "The publicized allegation of an `apparent conflict of interest' against his brother Howard, with whom Buzzy has not been close for years, is just that, an allegation."

The brothers grew up in Baltimore's middle-class Ashburton neighborhood, were lacrosse standouts in high school and at Princeton University, and have succeeded in business and government. Buzzy Krongard, 71, is a former chairman of Alex. Brown & Sons and was the No. 3 official at the CIA from 2001 to 2004.

Cookie Krongard, 66, was a lawyer for Deloitte & Touche and with the international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer before being appointed to his State Department post in 2005. The brothers rarely speak or see each other, so some friends said they believe there was little chance of a conflict of interest.

stephen.kiehl@baltsun.com

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