Originally published by SF Weekly Jun 18, 2003
©2005 New Times, Inc. All rights reserved.

The World According to Bechtel
There are well-connected companies. Then there's Bechtel.

The Bohemian Club - Bohemian Grove

San Francisco's exclusive men's club hosts an annual encampment in Sonoma County where the most powerful men in America gather to socialize. Riley, Gary, and Stephen Bechtel are all members, as is Riley's brother-in-law Alan Dachs, George Shultz, and other Bechtel intimates. The following members have shared lodges, according to a 2001 roster:

Mandalay Camp

(Host to Riley Bechtel and Stephen D. Bechtel Jr.)

Colin L. Powell -- secretary of state; former chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; former assistant to the president for National Security Affairs.

Henry Kissinger -- former secretary of state (1973-1977); chairman, Kissinger Associates international consulting firm.

Michael Armacost -- former undersecretary of state for political affairs (1984-1989); former ambassador to the Philippines (1982-1984) and Japan (1989-1993); president, the Brookings Institute.

Nicholas F. Brady -- former U.S. senator (1982); former U.S. Treasury secretary (1989-1993); former chairman, Dillon, Read & Co.*

Peter M. Flanigan -- former assistant to the president and executive director of the Council on International Economic Policy (1969-1974); adviser, Dillon, Read & Co.*

Drew Lewis -- former secretary of transportation (1981-1983); chairman and CEO, Union Pacific Corp.; director, Gannett Corp.

Carl E. Reichardt -- vice chairman, Ford Motor Co.; director, PG&E Corp., McKesson Corp., ConAgra Inc., and HCA (formerly Columbia/HCA) Healthcare Corp.; executive investor, Friedman, Fleischer & Lowe private equity fund.

George P. Shultz -- former secretary of state (1982-1989), secretary of the treasury (1972-1974), and secretary of labor (1969-1970); distinguished fellow, Hoover Institution; director, Bechtel Group Inc., Fremont Group LLC**, and Charles Schwab & Co. Inc.

Hillbillies Camp

(Host to Alan Dachs, president and CEO of the Fremont Group and director of Bechtel Group Inc.)

Michael J. Boskin -- senior fellow, Hoover Institution; professor of economics, Stanford University; associate, National Bureau of Economic Research; former chairman, President's Council of Economic Advisers (1989-1993).

Christopher Buckley -- editor, Forbes FYI magazine; speechwriter for former Vice President George H.W. Bush; political satirist.

William F. Buckley Jr. -- founder and editor, National Review magazine; political columnist.

George H.W. Bush -- former president (1989-1993), vice president (1981-1989), ambassador to the United Nations (1971-1973), director of the CIA (1976-1977), congressman (1967-1971), and chairman of the Republican National Committee (1973-1974).

Walter Cronkite -- former broadcast journalist; author.

William H. Draper III -- former president and chairman, Export-Import Bank of the United States (1981-1986); former director, United Nations Development Program (1986); founder and managing director, Draper International venture capital firm.

William C. Edwards -- overseer, Hoover Institution.

Evan G. Galbraith Jr. -- U.S. defense representative in Europe and defense adviser to the U.S. mission to NATO; former ambassador to France (1981-1985); advisory director, Morgan Stanley; chairman, National Review.

James W. Symington -- former U.S. representative (1969-1977); former chief of protocol, Department of State (1966-1968).

Donald H. Rumsfeld -- secretary of defense (2001-present, 1975-1977); former assistant to the president and director of White House operations (1974-1975); former U.S. representative (1963-69).

Stanford University

Through both the Bechtel Foundation and the Elizabeth and Stephen Bechtel Jr. Foundation, Bechtel is a major donor to Stanford University. Its legacy includes the Bechtel International Center, the Bechtel Conference Center, and the Bechtel Initiative on Global Growth and Change.

Stephen D. Bechtel Jr. and Riley P. Bechtel are Stanford alums.

Riley Bechtel is a member of the Stanford Law School Dean's Advisory Council.

The Hoover Institution

A conservative public policy research center devoted to the study of politics, economics, and international affairs. The Bechtel family is a donor.

George Shultz, distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution, is a board member of Bechtel.

Eight Hoover fellows, including Shultz, are members of the Defense Policy Board, which advises the secretary of defense.

Paul L. Davies Jr. -- member of the Hoover Institution Board of Overseers and its executive committee; brother-in-law of Stephen Bechtel Jr. and uncle of Riley Bechtel.

Export-Import Bank of the United States

The official export credit agency of the United States, the Export-Import Bank assists in financing the export of U.S. goods and services to international markets. The agency has financed or guaranteed numerous loans for Bechtel projects abroad.

Daniel K.H. Chao, executive vice president of the bank's advisory committee, is also a senior vice president at Bechtel.

Jacqueline A. Kaiko, a member of the bank's advisory committee, is also a senior vice president at JP Morgan Chase & Co., where Riley Bechtel sits on the board of directors.

Jackson Stromberg, a member of the bank's advisory committee in 1997 and 1998, is the retired president of Bechtel Financing Services, a Bechtel subsidiary.

William H. Draper III, president and chairman of the bank from 1981 to 1986, shares a lodge at Bohemian Grove with Alan Dachs.

John L. Moore Jr., head of the bank from 1977 to 1982, is a former head of Bechtel's Far East operations.

Stephen D. Bechtel Sr. , former chairman and CEO of Bechtel, served on the bank's advisory committee from 1969 to 1972.

Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC)

A U.S. government agency that sells political risk insurance and provides direct loans and loan guarantees to help U.S. businesses of all sizes invest and compete in developing nations worldwide. The agency has insured or guaranteed loans to finance Bechtel projects abroad.

Ross J. Connelly, executive vice president and chief operating officer of OPIC, previously was CEO of Bechtel Energy Resources Corp., a Bechtel subsidiary, and managing principal of Bechtel Investments Inc. and its successor entity, Fremont Group LLC.**

U.S. Department of State

Colin Powell, secretary of state, shares a lodge at Bohemian Grove with Riley Bechtel and Stephen Bechtel Jr.

George Shultz, secretary of state from 1982 to 1989, sits on the board and was president of Bechtel.

Charles Redman, ambassador to Sweden and Germany (1989-1992), former special envoy to Yugoslavia and Haiti, is president of Bechtel's divisions in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Southwest Asia.

Michael Armacost, undersecretary of state for political affairs (1984-1989), ambassador to Japan (1989-1993), and ambassador to the Philippines (1982-1984), shares a lodge at Bohemian Grove with Riley Bechtel and Stephen Bechtel Jr.

Henry Kissinger, secretary of state from 1973 to 1977, shares a lodge at Bohemian Grove with Riley Bechtel and Stephen Bechtel Jr.

U.S. Department of Defense

Receiving more than $1 billion during the last fiscal year, Bechtel is the military's 17th largest contractor.

Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defense, shares a lodge at Bohemian Grove with Alan Dachs, head of Fremont Group, Bechtel's financial arm.

Caspar Weinberger, former secretary of defense (1981-1987), was vice president and general counsel at Bechtel from 1975 to 1981.

Defense Policy Board

Provides the secretary of defense, deputy secretary, and undersecretary for policy with advice, analysis, and opinions concerning major matters of defense policy.

Jack Sheehan, a member of the board, is a senior vice president at Bechtel, a retired Marine general, and a former NATO supreme allied commander.

Henry Kissinger, a member of the board and former secretary of state, shares a lodge at Bohemian Grove with Riley Bechtel and Stephen Bechtel Jr.

Richard Allen, a member of the board, also is a fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Martin Anderson, a member of the board, also is a fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Gary S. Becker, a member of the board, also is a fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Newt Gingrich, a member of the board and former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, also is a fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Henry Rowen, a member of the board, also is a fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Kiron Skinner, a member of the board, also is a fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Pete Wilson, a member of the board and former governor of California, also is a fellow at the Hoover Institution.

President's Export Council

The primary advisory group to the White House on international trade. Members are appointed by the president.

Riley Bechtel, a member of the council, is chairman and CEO of Bechtel Group.

Central Intelligence Agency

John McCone -- former director of the CIA (1961-1965); partner in the firm of Bechtel-McCone, a precursor to the Bechtel Group.

Richard Helms -- former director of the CIA (1966-1973); former consultant to Bechtel on business in Iran; former ambassador to Iran.

George H.W. Bush, former director of the CIA (1976-1977), shares a lodge at Bohemian Grove with Alan Dachs.

National Politics

From 1999 to 2002:

Bechtel gave $1.3 million in individual, PAC, and soft money contributions; 59 percent went to Republicans, 41 percent to Democrats.

Stephen Bechtel Jr. and his wife, Elizabeth, contributed $50,500, all to Republicans.

Riley Bechtel and his wife, Susan, contributed $13,405, all to Republicans.

President George W. Bush received $6,250 from Bechtel sources.

From 1994 to 2000:

U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi received $22,000 from Bechtel sources.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer received $26,000 from Bechtel sources.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein received $16,000 from Bechtel sources.

(Sources: Center for Responsive Politics, Federal Election Commission)

California Politics

Between 1993 and 2002:

Bechtel gave $685,207 in individual, PAC, and soft money contributions to state candidates and ballot initiatives.

BART-related issues and candidates received $65,000 from Bechtel, the original builder of and subsequent major contractor for the transit system.

Gray Davis, Democratic governor of California, received $32,500 in direct contributions.

Pete Wilson, Republican former governor of California, received $50,000 in direct contributions.

(Source: California Secretary of State)

San Francisco Politics

Between 1999 and 2002:

Bechtel gave $95,004 in individual, PAC, and soft money contributions to citywide candidates and ballot initiatives.

Hetch Hetchy-related repair initiatives received $20,500 in 2002. Bechtel was a contractor on the Hetch Hetchy project.

Willie Brown, mayor of San Francisco, received $1,250 in direct contributions.

(Sources: S.F. Ethics Commission, California Secretary of State)

Saudi Arabia

Bechtel has done business with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for more than 50 years. Some of its projects and relationships:

Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu (RCJY), an arm of the Saudi government, manages the industrial port cities of Jubail and Yanbu, home to the world's largest concentration of downstream oil and gas development. Bechtel managed construction of the $20 billion project creating the cities and remains a partner.

H.H. Prince Turki A Abdulrahman, member of the Saudi royal family and owner of Dar Al-Riyadh Consultants, is a Bechtel partner in a planned $1 billion expansion of the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah.

Saudi bin Laden Group, a major Saudi construction company owned by the family of Osama bin Laden, has worked on construction projects with Bechtel. The bin Laden family has some $10 million invested in the Fremont Group, the Bechtel-related financial firm.

Standard Oil Company of California and ARAMCO oil companies contracted with Bechtel to build the 850-mile Trans-Arabian pipeline in the 1940s.


U.S. Agency for International Development awarded Bechtel a $680 million contract in April to rebuild infrastructure in Iraq following a closed bid among five companies.

Bechtel employees were taken hostage in 1990, while working on a refinery for the Iraqi government.

Donald Rumsfeld, now secretary of defense, went to the Middle East as a special envoy in 1983. While there, he lobbied Saddam Hussein for a proposed Bechtel-built pipeline linking Iraqi oil wells to the port of Aqaba, Jordan.

William H. Draper III, then-chairman of the Export-Import Bank, and the bank's board approved a preliminary commitment to guarantee loans for the pipeline project. The deal eventually fell through.

Hong Kong

Bechtel completed a $20 billion project in 1998, building Hong Kong International Airport on the island of Chek Lap Kok and connecting it to Hong Kong population centers through rail lines. At the time, it was the world's largest infrastructure project; started before and continued after the British returned Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China.


In 1993, Bechtel completed a $1.3 billion natural-gas pipeline from the Idaho-Canada border to Fresno for a PG&E subsidiary.

U.S. Department of Energy

Bechtel Hanford Inc. , a Bechtel subsidiary, is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary contractor for the cleanup of the Hanford nuclear waste site. Bechtel holds a contract to design and build treatment plants to convert radioactive waste into stable glass. The $5.7 billion project is likely to continue for the next decade.

JP Morgan Chase Corp.

Riley Bechtel sits on the board of directors with:

William H. Gray III, former U.S. representative (1979-1991).

Frank Bennack Jr. , chairman of the executive committee and vice chairman of the board of the Hearst Corp., owner of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Lee R. Raymond, chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp.

Helen Kaplan, director of Exxon Mobil Corp.

H. Laurance Fuller, co-chairman of BP Amoco plc.


Bechtel v. Bolivia, a $25 million lawsuit, is pending in a World Bank court. Bechtel left its water system project in Cochabamba, Bolivia, after mass riots erupted over a rise in water prices. Bechtel was to improve and operate the water system there.


Immediately following the Persian Gulf War, Bechtel was the lead contractor to extinguish oil fires ordered set by Saddam Hussein and to rebuild the oil refining infrastructure.

United Kingdom

Rail Link Engineering -- a joint venture among Bechtel, Ove Arup, Sir William Halcrow and Partners Limited, and Systra corporations to manage, design, and construct a $7.8 billion high-speed rail line from London to the Channel Tunnel.

London & Continental Railways Limited -- owner and operator of Eurostar Ltd., the U.K. arm of Eurostar train service, includes Bechtel as a major shareholder.

Tube Lines -- public-private partnership in which Bechtel is upgrading infrastructure and will operate three historic lines of the London underground.

Bechtel completed the $14 billion Channel Tunnel connecting England and France in 1994.

The Big Dig

Central Artery -- Bechtel is under investigation for cost overruns on this massive highway expansion and tunneling project in Boston.

Fremont Group LLC**

Alan Dachs -- president and CEO; director, Bechtel Group Inc.; brother-in-law of Riley Bechtel.

Stephen Bechtel Jr. -- director; director and chairman emeritus, Bechtel Group Inc.

Riley Bechtel -- director; chairman and CEO, Bechtel Group Inc.

George Shultz -- director; director and former president, Bechtel Group Inc.; director, Gilead Sciences Inc.; director, Charles Schwab & Co. Inc.; former secretary of state (1982-1989).

Cordell Hull -- director; former chairman, Bechtel Enterprises Inc.

Harold Haynes -- director; director, Bechtel Group Inc.; former chairman and CEO, Standard Oil of California.

Richard Cavanagh -- director; former chairman and CEO, the Conference Board Inc.

*Bechtel was the majority owner of the former investment house of Dillon, Read & Co. Inc.

**The Fremont Group LLC investment firm is primarily owned and controlled by the Bechtel family and executives.