- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 23, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - A $12 million settlement has become fodder for Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan’s campaign in its latest attack on Republican gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein and his leadership of a defense contracting company.

Science Applications International Corporation, where Havenstein was chief executive officer from 2009 to 2012, faced a lawsuit in 2012 alleging the company defrauded the federal government by submitting false price estimates for a contract in New Mexico. The company agreed to an $11.7 million settlement in 2013 but didn’t admit any wrongdoing, according to the Justice Department.

On Tuesday, Hassan’s campaign called on Havenstein to explain his role in the scandal.

“It’s long past time for failed CEO Walt Havenstein to stop making excuses and level with Granite Staters about his failed leadership and mismanagement at SAIC,” Hassan spokesman Marc Goldberg said.

During Havenstein’s tenure at SAIC, the company’s stock prices fell by roughly 30 percent and the company lost 5,000 jobs. Aside from those numbers, Democrats also cite, in attacking Havenstein’s business record, a $500 million settlement SAIC paid in 2012 to New York City.

Henry Goodwin, spokesman for Havenstein’s campaign, said SAIC had roughly 10,000 contracts and Havenstein left the company months before the federal lawsuit became public and never knew about it while there.

The government lawsuit did not mention Havenstein’s name and no criminal charges were ever brought.

According to the Justice Department, SAIC managed a contract to conduct training to terrorism first-responders in New Mexico from 2002 to 2012. The federal agency said a former employer in 2012 alleged the company was overestimating the amount of money it needed to carry out the contract in order to get extra money from the government and increase its profits. The lawsuit said top level executives were aware of fraud.

In settling with New York City, Havenstein and other top executives fired some employees and held more than 50 “ethics town halls” at company locations across the country, Goodwin said.

“What (Democrats) are trying to do is to take issues that happen at a very, very large company and attach them all to Walt personally, when in fact if you look at Walt’s personal actions and behaviors, he led the company very well,” Goodwin said.

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