Regarding Ward Cammack and Murderous Warlords in the Congo


Well, like George Clooney in the movie O Brother Where Art Thou, Ward Cammack's in a tight spot now. His Democratic campaign for governor is running out of money. Much of his meager financial support is coming from Republicans. Among them: CCA lawyer and failed federal judicial nominee Gus Puryear, his buddy from the Belle Meade Country Club. Most observers are wondering why Cammack, who himself has given heavily to Republicans in the past, hasn't dropped out of the race already.

Now, insiders are buzzing about a little nugget that's somehow surfaced about Cammack's business investments. He's trying to position himself as an environmentalist, but he profited from investments in oil, gas and mining interests with environmental violations. In one case, Cammack's firm invested in a gold mining company linked to a gang of vicious warlords in the Congo.

According to documents filed with the Security and Exchange Commission, ESC Strategic Funds, which Cammack served as chairman, invested $162,000 into the mining company AngloGold Ashanti in 1999.

According to Human Rights Watch, AngloGold developed ties to a "murderous armed group" in the Congo named the Nationalist and Integrationist Front (FNI). Human Rights Watch issued a 159-page report titled "The Curse of Gold" with a scathing rebuke of AngloGold for working in cahoots with these warlords to access the gold-rich mining site around the town of Mongbwalu.

The report says FNI, which was "responsible for serious human rights abuses including war crimes and crimes against humanity," controlled the Mongbwalu area.

"In return for FNI assurances of security for its operations and staff, AngloGold Ashanti provided logistical and financial support - that in turn resulted in political benefits - to the armed group and its leaders. The company knew, or should have known, that the FNI armed group had committed grave human rights abuses against civilians and was not a party to the transitional government.

"As a company with public commitments to corporate social responsibility, AngloGold Ashanti should have ensured their operations complied with those commitments and did not adversely affect human rights. They do not appear to have done so. Business considerations came above respect for human rights. In its gold exploration activities in Mongbwalu, AngloGold Ashanti failed to uphold its own business principles on human rights considerations and failed to follow international business norms governing the behavior of companies internationally. Human Rights Watch has been unable to identify effective steps taken by the company to ensure that their activities did not negatively impact on human rights."

We asked Cammack to comment on all this a couple of weeks ago. We're still waiting to hear back from him.

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