Earlier we reported on Congressional office spending. It's one thing to see a list of the top spenders, but it's something else to see that spending mapped according to congressional districts. So that's just what we've done here. Below is a map of 434 congressional districts (we have no data for New Mexico's 3rd district), color coded according to spending. Take a look for yourself (the darker the color, the more the member spent):
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Last week we pointed out several fundraisers that BP lobbyists planned for lawmakers since 2008. At least nine of the eleven fundraisers invites we collected had Tony Podesta of the Podesta Group listed as a host.
Today, the Daily Caller using data from the Center for Responsive Politics has more details on Podesta's clients -- a list that includes other oil companies such as Sunoco as well as a range of green businesses.
According to the piece, "The couple [Tony and Heather Podesta] lobbies on behalf of a range of green businesses, too. For instance, the Securing America’s ...
Seth Hettena spills the beans on the names of the five lawmakers that Mitchell Wade provided information on to federal... View ArticleContinue reading
The San Diego Union Tribune, without whom this would not have happened, is reporting that corrupt contractor Brent Wilkes was found guilty by a jury on 13 of 13 counts related to his bribery of imprisoned ex-Rep. Duke Cunningham. The story of Brent Wilkes is perhaps one of the more telling tales of political corruption for our time. Here is a man who set up a series of bogus companies, many which appeared to be nothing but a name with similar addresses, and received million dollar contracts for important work including the bottling of water for troops in
Out of all the congressional corruption scandals that have engulfed Washington since 2005 my personal favorite was and still is the Duke Cunningham bribery case. This scandal had it all, a bribery menu, a yacht named "Buoy Toy" illegally gifted to a member of Congress, quid pro quos of hookers for earmarks, and of course a cartoonishly corrupt contractor who liked to randomly yell "Boom shaka laka!" That contractor, Brent Wilkes, pled "not guilty" to the bribery charges that both his underling Mitchell Wade and the bribed Cunningham have admitted to, leading to the only trial in the sprawling corruption investigation. The trial has led to some terrific moments including testimony from the hookers hired by Wilkes for Cunningham and the ludicrous argument by the defense that all Wilkes was engaged in was aggressive lobbying. Now we get treated to this hilarious video of Wilkes and his team hosting Cunningham for a scuba diving trip. Wilkes is seen at the end doing his random shouting thing. Bali Hai!
The best places to follow the Cunningham case and the trial are TPM Muckraker, Seth Hettena's blog, and the San Diego Union Tribune. Hettena and the writers from the Union Tribune have both written their own books about Duke's corruption.Continue reading
Back at the beginning of the year the Justice Department announced that it was replacing seven U.S. Attorneys in an unprecedented move. The Attorney ‘purge’ was able to take place due to a provision allowing the Justice Department to unilaterally replace U.S. Attorneys for any reason that was snuck into the PATRIOT Act reauthorization by Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA). McClatchy Newspapers reports today that one of those Attorneys, David Iglesias, U.S. Attorney from New Mexico, was pressured by Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) and Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) to bring down indictments on local Democratic officials prior to the 2006 midterm election. Iglesias refused and has since been purged by the Justice Department. If Wilson and Domenici did attempt to pressure a sitting U.S. Attorney for the political benefit of the oft-endangered Wilson it would be a serious ethical violation.Continue reading
Somewhere in America a lobbyist, or maybe a contractor, is writing a book with that title. Lobbyists, freely seeking contracts with little or no restraint, appear to have perfected a system, with their clients, of winning contracts and gaining influence. TPM Muckraker -- posting about yesterday’s Vanity Fair expose on the seedy world of defense contracts (“a window into Babylon or the last stages of Rome”) -- explained the business model of companies seeking contracts in Washington: “First you get the congressman, then you get the earmarks, and then you get the money.”Continue reading
Vanity Fair reports on the ongoing Cunningham investigation and where it will go next. The article notes that Cunningham was seeking bribes days before he pled guilty; Brent Wilkes, the defense contractor at the center of the investigation, made connections in Washington by introducing congressmen to women in Honduras; Bill Lowery, the former congressman and current lobbyist embroiled in the scandal, introduced Cunningham to Wilkes. So who goes next in the investigation: Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, [sw: Katherine Harris] (R-Fla.), Wilkes, Lowery, or Rep. [sw: Virgil Goode] (R-Va.)?Continue reading
The firm at the center of the [sw: Jerry Lewis] (R-Calif.) scandal apparently failed to report $2 million in lobbying fees, according to TPM Muckraker.
Now a review of the firm's reporting shows that, just weeks before Copeland Lowery's status as a target of the investigation became publicly known, the firm filed more than 90 revised disclosures to Congress, alerting officials that they had misreported income from dozens of clients from 1998 to 2005. Over three-quarters of the corrections disclosed previously unreported income totalling approximately $2 million; others corrected over-reported income of roughly $500,000.Justin Rood points out that the revisions came in only a few key clients. One of those clients is ADCS, the defense contractor at the center of the Duke Cunningham bribery case:
From these four key clients, Copeland Lowery failed to report ... - at least $260,000 from ADCS, the San Diego-based defense contractor owned by accused briber Wilkes; - at least $270,000 from the San Diego-based Foundation for the Improvement of Math and Science Education; - at least $210,000 from the Rochester Institute of Technology; - at least $210,000 from the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD).Lowery's lobbying firm is "in serious legal jeopardy" according to money in politics expert and Washington lawyer Brett Kappell. Rood lays out a possible outcome, "The likely charge -- making a false statement, a felony -- has been used by prosecutors in recent corruption investigations to win plea bargains." Continue reading
Last night NBC News reported that the CEO of Audre, Inc. was told by Rep. [sw: Jerry Lewis] (R-CA) that he needed to pony up campaign contributions to members and that he hire Lewis' friend Bill Lowery as a lobbyist and provide Lowery with stock options before he could get federally earmarked money for his business.
In an exclusive interview, Casey tells NBC News that after he made campaign contributions to House members of both parties, Lewis informed him the Pentagon would get $14 million for the testing, and that Casey even could write the language. Lisa Myers: You were allowed to write language for an appropriations bill yourself? Casey: Yes, I did. That was Congressman Lewis' suggestion. Casey says Lewis repeatedly urged him to hire a lobbyist, former U.S. Rep. Bill Lowery, Lewis' close friend, and when that didn't happen, pressed for another favor. Casey: Congressman Lewis asked me to set up stock options for Bill Lowery in our company. Casey says Lewis suggested he issue the stock options in Canada — in someone else's name. Myers: Did you view it as an effort to hide what was really going on? Casey: It was intended to conceal his participation, yes.As Justin Rood notes, Casey started the contracting career of Brent Wilkes at Audre, Inc. Wilkes is said to have aggressively urged Casey to spend more money on lobbying and campaign contributions as a means to gain the support of members. Wilkes eventually became fed up with Casey and jumped ship to start his own contracting business, ADCS, Inc. Continue reading