Many of the US firms which won lucrative Iraqi reconstruction contracts are major donors to President George W Bush's political campaigns, according to a new report.
Reconstruction in Iraq is rife with cronyism, CPI claims
The report, by pressure group the Centre for Public Integrity (CPI), claims that most of the contractors gave more money to Mr Bush's 2000 presidential campaign than to any other in the last 10 years.
The report covers 70 companies and individuals who between them have won reconstruction contracts in Afghanistan and Iraq worth up to $8bn (£4.8bn).
According to the CPI, these firms and individuals have made political donations worth at least $49m since 1990.
Of the $49m, $12.7m went to Mr Bush's Republican Party, against $7.1m for the Democrats.
The report also drew attention to extensive links between the companies and the US government and military.
It claimed that 60% of the firms employed people who have worked for previous US governments, members of Congress, or the US army.
CPI executive director Charles Lewis said the contracting process in Iraq and Afghanistan was surrounded by "a stench of political favouritism and cronyism".
The CPI report looks set to stir up fresh controversy over the allocation of reconstruction contracts.
So far, critics have focused in particular on a decision to award one of the biggest Iraqi contracts to oil firm Halliburton, formerly run by US vice president Dick Cheney.
But the US army engineering corps and the US Agency for International Development - the bodies jointly responsible for allocating contracts - rejected any suggestion of favouritism.
"We have made sure that it is not politically motivated," a USAID spokesperson told Reuters.