Halliburton, the company that Dick Cheney resigned from to become US Vice President, and its subsidiaries have had more than a quarter of a million law suits filed against them since 1976 by workers suffering from asbestos-related disease. Halliburton's (fundraising) political action committees (PACs) and Cheney contributed US$494,452 to congressional candidates from 1997 through mid- 2000. Of that, US$157,500 went to members of Congress who co-sponsored asbestos legislation to limit the ability of workers to sue companies for asbestos exposure. Halliburton defended their contributions and noted that they were made in full compliance with campaign laws. "Our PAC has made contributions without regard to the pending asbestos legislation. Any similarities between the supporters of such legislation and the recipients of contributions from our PAC is purely coincidental", Zelma Branch, a company spokeswoman, said. Dave Gribbins, Halliburton's vice president for government affairs, added, "We give money to candidates for a variety of reasons, usually to those who are supportive of the business agenda, the things that are important to us, like taxes, trade or something specific like this asbestos issue." The Bill (which failed to pass) called for the establishment of an Office of Asbestos Compensation under the Justice Department. Government-approved doctors, using criteria defined in the law, would be gatekeepers, issuing a pass to qualifying victims who wished to sue or seek a government-determined settlement. Public-interest groups estimate that over the past 25 years, settlements have been made in more than one million asbestos cases industry-wide, and 450,000 more may be pending. Asbestos was used for decades in protective clothing, insulations, pipe coatings, fireproofing and many other industrial uses. Millions were exposed to the deadly fibres. USAction, a health care consumer group affiliated with organisations including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; the Communication Workers of America; and the Service Employees International Union, opposed the legislation and didn't mince words when asked for its view. "The Cheney-led Halliburton Co has been an integral part of an asbestos industry which knowingly poisoned its own workers for years and is still trying to get off the hook." The industry is only interested in relieving corporations of their responsibilities to protect the health and safety of workers and compensate workers injured by their wrongdoing. It's time the CEOs and management of corporations were punished for their crimes — the taking of workers' lives through exposure to asbestos is nothing short of murder in pursuit of profits.