Another Probe Heats Up:


This is how it always starts. A lawmaker is said to be under investigation and then a lobbyist connected to that legislator has their clients subpoenaed. Then it snowballs. In this case the lawmaker is the powerful Appropriations Chairman [sw: Jerry Lewis] (R-CA), the lobbyist is actually three lobbyists, Bill Lowery, Jeffrey Shockey, and Letitia White, and there are four clients that have been subpoenaed. Last week two of the subpoenaed clients were revealed to be the City of Redlands and San Bernadino County. Today, Roll Call reports that Cal State University San Bernadino and Riverside County, California were both issued subpoenas as well.

Saturday’s New York Times ran an article profiling Letitia White, known as the “Queen of Earmarks”. Her story is the classic story of the revolving door. She began as a receptionist for Rep. Lewis and worked her way up to being his gatekeeper, controlling access to him from members and lobbyists seeking earmarks. She then cashed in her connections for millions of dollars when she joined the lobbying firm of Lewis friend Bill Lowery.

Today’s Roll Call story states that federal investigators are looking closely at the actions of Jeffrey Shockey. Shockey is another graduate of that official lobbying university known as the United States Congress. Shockey, like White, worked for Lewis and then left to work for Lowery as a lobbyist. Unlike White, Shockey decided to come back to work for Lewis when the congressman took the Appropriations Chair. Perhaps Shockey needed another degree, or perhaps he’s just a switch hitter. Either way his move back to the Hill is cause for worry considering that Lowery’s law firm gave him a $600,000 severance package and hired his wife as a lobbyist as soon as he left.

This is just the beginning for this tale of Congressional ethics. Since the Pulitzer Prize was bestowed onto the great investigative work of the San Diego Union-Tribune in uncovering Duke Cunningham’s corruption and the Washington Post digging into Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay more newspapers will be intent on pursuing these corruption stories. The New York Times story indicates that the national media is intent on paying attention to the story. The local paper in this story is the San Bernadino Sun, which put seven reporters on the story last week. Consider this story on low, but increasing, heat.