A Minnesota Democrat running for Congress on her business record says she had no knowledge of a company subsidiary that was implicated in a kickback scheme with the Saddam Hussein regime.
Angie Craig is challenging Republican representative Jason Lewis in Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District, a rematch of the 2016 race that Lewis won by fewer than 7,000 votes. She has highlighted her success "working in health care" for more than two decades as evidence that she can "contribute meaningfully to immediately fixing what's wrong with health care." Her rise in the business world came through her work in corporate communications for global medical device firm Smith & Nephew. Her 12-year tenure at the company coincided with allegations that the company profited from corrupt deals with the Saddam Hussein regime. The probe conducted by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker into the oil-for-food program alleged that Smith & Nephew's UAE subsidiary paid more than $50,000 in bribes to members of the Hussein regime to win a $600,000 contract.
Craig denied any knowledge of the subsidiary's dealings with Iraq, pointing out that she only worked for the parent company and had no role in "billings or sales."
"In a company with thousands of employees world-wide, her role in communications for the parent company means she had nothing to do with billing or sales practices of foreign subsidiaries," a Craig spokesman told the Washington Free Beacon. "This is a desperate attempt to smear her on behalf of an opponent who is well behind in the polls and grasping for something outside of his voting record to discuss."
Volcker's investigation sparked a probe by the United Kingdom's Serious Fraud office in 2007. A Smith & Nephew spokesman said the parent company was cleared of any wrongdoing in the oil-for-food scheme. He stressed the company cooperated with the investigation in full.
"Smith & Nephew willingly co-operated with an inquiry into multiple companies in 2008 and is pleased to confirm that the allegations were completely unfounded and no follow up investigations or actions were taken against it," the company said in a statement.
Craig's business experience has been the subject of scrutiny from Republicans. In September the National Republican Congressional Committee released an ad titled, "Corrupt Craig," highlighting a $22 million settlement Smith & Nephew reached with the federal government for a kickback scheme in Greece, as well as discrimination lawsuits filed against Craig's former employers. Craig dismissed those "blatantly false claims," pointing to media fact checks that criticized the ad for exaggerating her role at the companies.
The race could play a critical role in determining the House majority in the midterms as Democrats attempt to capture 23 Republican-held seats. Public polling has shown Craig taking on a sizable lead with two September surveys giving her a 3-point and 12-point lead, respectively. Lewis has attempted to downplay those results by releasing internal polls that showed the Republican up 3 points in September.