- Yet another Bush Pioneer pleads guilty, this time in Ohio. Tom Noe, a big Republican fundraiser and coin collector, admitted "that he used friends and colleagues to illegally pour thousands of dollars into the effort to re-elect President Bush," according to the Toledo Blade. Noe joins Jack Abramoff as Bush Pioneers who will be sent to prison. Brent Wilkes, alleged to have bribed Jailed Rep. Duke Cunningham, is also a Bush Pioneer under investigation by the Justice Department. Noe will face up to 30 months in prison.
- According to the New York Times, ethics officials testifying in the trial of David Safavian stated that he "had not told them important facts about his relationship with Abramoff" while he was working at the General Services Administration.
- The San Bernadino Sun reports that San Bernadino County has been asked by federal investigators to turn over "records related to the county's contract with a top D.C. lobbying firm tied to Rep. Jerry Lewis."
- Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) continues to face questions due to his relationship with Jack Abramoff, according to the Associated Press. Continue reading
Imagine if you could buy cheap real estate and then sell it for a large profit without having to fix up the property at all. All you would have to do is pick up a pen and write some earmarks to make your property more desirable. Well, if you need pointers on how to do this you should ask Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA). From the Los Angeles Times:
Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Corona) is an experienced investor in Riverside County's booming real estate market, so he's used to seeing prices change quickly. Last year, he and a partner paid $550,000 for a dusty four-acre parcel just south of March Air Reserve Base. Less than a year later, without even cutting the weeds or carting off old septic tank parts that littered the ground, they sold the land for almost $1 million. Even for a speculator like Calvert, it was an unusually good deal. During the time he owned the land, Calvert used the legislative process known as earmarking to secure $8 million for a planned freeway interchange 16 miles from the property, and an additional $1.5 million to support commercial development of the area around the airfield. A map of Calvert's recent real estate holdings and those of his partner shows many of them near the transportation projects he has supported with federal appropriations. And improvements to the transportation infrastructure have contributed to the area's explosive growth, according to development experts.As a kicker the Times story states that Calvert has also secured earmarked projects for campaign contributors, "including employees of the Washington lobbying firm of Copeland Lowery & Jacquez, his top political donor in the last election cycle." Lowery is the same Bill Lowery who is a part of the federal investigation into Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA). Continue reading
The San Diego Union-Tribune delves into the details of the FBI's recently revealed investigation of the powerful Appropriations Chair Jerry Lewis (R-CA):
But a federal government source told The San Diego Union-Tribune that investigators were probing Lewis' dealings with lobbyist and former Republican Rep. Bill Lowery of San Diego. The source said the investigation was a spin-off from the corruption probe of now-imprisoned former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham.Lewis adamantly denies that he was a close friend of Cunningham's and stated that Cunningham "betrayed his oath of office, his constituents, and his fellow members of Congress." He does not of course mention this:
According to government and defense industry sources, Lewis and Cunningham worked together to help Poway military contractor Brent Wilkes as he pursued contracts on Capitol Hill. Cunningham admitted taking bribes from Wilkes, who has been identified as co-conspirator No. 1 in Cunningham's plea agreement. On April 15, 1999, three months after Lewis was named chairman of the House defense appropriations subcommittee, he received $17,000 in campaign contributions from Wilkes and his associates. At the time, Wilkes was vying for a project to digitize military documents in the Panama Canal Zone, which the United States was about to return to Panama. ... On July 6, 1999, Wilkes wrote to Cunningham saying “We need $10 m(illion) more immediately . . . This is very important and if you cannot resolve this others will be calling also.” Wilkes' memo – contained in federal documents accompanying Cunningham's guilty plea – then named two people whose names were blacked out by the prosecutors. According to military and defense industry sources, Lewis and Cunningham got the money for Wilkes, founder of ADCS Inc., by using their clout to threaten the funding of the Pentagon's F-22 fighter jet.Laura Rozen at War and Piece has a picture up of the blacked out document where one of the blacked out names clearly begins with the letter "J". Continue reading
Federal prosecutors have begun an investigation into Rep. Jerry Lewis, the Californian who chairs the powerful House Appropriations Committee, government officials and others said, signaling the spread of a San Diego corruption probe. The U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles has issued subpoenas in an investigation into the relationship between Lewis (R-Redlands) and a Washington lobbyist linked to disgraced former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Rancho Santa Fe), three people familiar with the investigation said. The investigation is part of an expanding federal probe stemming from Cunningham's conviction for accepting $2.4 million in bribes and favors from defense contractors, according to the three sources.The investigation revolves around Lewis' relationship with former congressman and current lobbyist Bill Lowery. Lowery, who lost his congressional seat to Duke Cunningham, was a mentor to Brent Wilkes, the central figure in the Cunningham bribery case. Continue reading