- The Associated Press has more information on the subpoena issued to San Bernadino County in relation to their lobbying contract with Bill Lowery, a close ally of Appropriations Chairman [sw: Jerry Lewis] (R-CA). The subpoena "asked for all records of the county's correspondence with Lewis and his staff and with the lobbying firm, Copeland, Lowery, Jacquez, Denton, & White, which employs former California Republican congressman Bill Lowery". The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin is reporting that Redlands city has been issued a subpoena as well. A spokesman for Lowery's law firm stated, "This work was bread and butter, run of the mill, routine appropriations. ... This kind of work happens in Washington every day, every month and every year on behalf of municipalities."
- Mother Jones has an interesting article tracing the history of Cunningham-Wilkes scandal figures Brent Wilkes and K. Dusty Foggo. It just so happens that a certain Bill Lowery pops up in the article.
San Diego Representative Bill Lowery, for example, first elected to the House in 1980 at the tender age of thirty-three, traveled in the Foggo and Wilkes Honduran road show, part of a Republican task force organized to help sell Reagan's Contra war against the Sandinistas to a skeptical Congress and public. After leaving office, Lowery, who has floated around the edges of every Republican scandal from the Savings and Loan collapse of the 1980s to the recent Jack Abramoff lobbying case, and is now reportedly under investigation by the Justice Department, went on to become a top lobbyist, skilled in the art of "earmarking."
- Rep. [sw: John Doolittle] (R-CA) is in a tight spot this year, according to Bloomberg. The northern California congressman is caught between two of the biggest congressional scandals in history as he has acknowledged friendships with both Jack Abramoff and Brent Wilkes. Doolittle vehemently denies any charges of wrong doing but he is "one of at least four members of Congress whom prosecutors have focused on in their questions to Abramoff".
- The San Diego Union-Tribune gives an inside peek at the infamous Brent Wilkes poker parties in the Watergate and Grand Westin Hotels. The article also mentions that Wilkes was increasingly interested in obtaining CIA contracts and had received one contract to provide clandestine air transport to the CIA. Clandestine air transport...? Can somebody say "extraordinary rendition"?
- Jeff Birnbaum writes in the Washington Post Congress is not moving to reform ethics despite the multiple scandals that have rocked the Capitol. An ethics reform package is unlikely to be passed this year.
- Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), the Democratic Minority Leader, accepted boxing tickets from the Nevada State Athletic Commission while he was working to create a federal boxing commission. It doesn't appear that Reid changed his behavior or his actions in the wake of receiving the tickets. Two Senators, John McCain (R-AZ) and John Ensign (R-NV), accompanied Reid to the matches. McCain reimbursed the NSAC for his tickets while Ensign and Reid did not.
- Finally, Newsweek has its own profile of Brent Wilkes, who is fast becoming to defense contracting what Jack Abramoff was to lobbying. The article notes that Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Jerry Lewis (R-CA), and Tom DeLay (R-TX) all had dealings with Wilkes. Hunter and Lewis have been tied up in some of the same contracts that Duke Cunningham was involved in while DeLay was a very frequent flier in Wilkes' company jet. Continue reading
- The former White House procurement official and Jack Abramoff devotee David Safavian is set to go to trial this week. Safavian, accused of lying the officials at the General Services Administration, will be the first court room test for prosecutors in the still unfolding Washington corruption case surrounding the practices of Jack Abramoff, according to Bloomberg. Prosecutors do not plan on calling Abramoff as a witness but will instead use the email exchanges between the two men to detail Safavian's actions. The former chief of staff to Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), Neil Volz, will be called to testify against Safavian. Jury selection begins today.
- The San Diego Union Tribune reports that staffers to Duke Cunningham believed that he was a "nice guy" and that he was innocent until the day he pleaded guilty to accepting $2.4 million in bribes.
- Some Tennessee lawmakers are making their earmark requests public as a means of showcasing that not all earmarks are boondoggles and a waste of federal dollars, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. The lawmakers, a group that includes Reps. Lincoln Davis (D-TN), Harold Ford Jr. (D-TN), and Jim Cooper (D-TN), also hope to show that transparency is the best means to insure that earmarking is not abused.
- The Los Angeles Daily News talks to the new ranking Democrat on the House Ethics Committee Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA).
- Time Magazine reports that another aide to deposed CIA chief Porter Goss is under investigation in the continuing probe of Duke Cunningham and the actions of alleged briber and defense contractor Brent Wilkes. That aide is Brant "Nine Fingers" Bassett, who has been said to have attended the Wilkes run poker games at hospitality suites in the Watergate and Westin Hotels.
Roll Call is reporting that the Justice Department is expanding their investigation in the Duke Cunningham case to include the actions of three House committees, Intelligence, Appropriations, and Armed Services. Justice investigators are "seeking to interview at least nine current or former staffers" on these three panels while "also seeking “tens of thousands of pages” of Congressional documents, some going back to 1997, related to Cunningham and government programs he may have had influence over". Many of the earmarks and projects created in the Intelligence and Armed Services Committees are "black" (classified) programs and the staffers and congressmen may decide to block investigators from obtaining information about these programs. The two defense contractors accused of bribing Duke Cunningham both received earmarks for controversial "black" programs. Mitchell Wade, who pled guilty to bribing Cunningham, had a "black" contract that was tied to domestic wiretapping. Brent Wilkes, who investigators have yet to indict, maintained "black" programs relating to rendition of prisoners.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
The words of K. Dusty Foggo in today's The Note (via Political Animal):
"Dusty Foggo said through his lawyer yesterday that he did not have any improper relationship with Brent Wilkes, a defense contractor at the center of a congressional bribery scandal."I wonder if Foggo's dress has money stains on it. 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
From Justin Rood at TPM Muckraker:
We've been hearing a lot about this guy "Nine Fingers," a CIA veteran who was a regular at Brent Wilkes' poker parties. On Sunday, Newsweek identified him as Brant Bassett, who had a career at the CIA before he went to work as a staffer for then-chairman Rep. Porter Goss (R-FL) at the House Intelligence Committee in 2000. Well, now here's another weird thing about Bassett: Just before he went to work for Goss at the committee, Brent Wilkes cut him a check for $5000. It's right there on his financial disclosure forms. In fact, his forms actually show two payments -- but it seems he may have reported the same check twice.Harpers.org also has more on "Nine Fingers" and Foggo. Continue reading
MSNBC just reported that K. Dusty Foggo, the number three man at the CIA, has resigned. From Raw Story:
Foggo's resignation was reported Monday on MSNBC. The email, which the network did not provide, allegedly stated that in light of CIA Director Porter Goss's departure, Foggo is stepping down.UPDATE: Foggo's resignation is no longer limited to internal CIA emails. The Associated Press just reported that Foggo has resigned and that the FBI is investigating Foggo for improperly awarding contracts to Brent Wilkes (who is also accused of bribing Duke Cunningham).
The FBI recently opened its own probe of Foggo, a longtime and close friend of Wilkes, the official said, speaking only on condition of anonymity because the investigation is under way. ... FBI agents also have been looking into whether Wilkes supplied Cunningham with prostitutes, limousines and hotel suites. Foggo sometimes attended poker parties at the hotel rooms, but he said there was nothing untoward about his presence.Josh Marshall previously blogged about this FBI investigation. Continue reading
- Nico at Think Progress writes about the importance of "Nine Fingers". For those who haven't been following the Cunningham/Wilkes/Prostitution scandal as close as others "Nine Fingers" is a CIA agent who attended the infamous poker parties that Wilkes threw at the Watergate and Westin hotels. These poker games are alleged to have turned into hooker parties.
- Also at Think Progress, Judd writes that Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) inserted a provision into a Defense Appropriations bill that was written by the vaccine industry. The provision "granted vaccine manufactures near-total immunity for injuries or deaths (even in cases of “gross negligence”) caused by their drugs during a viral pandemic, such as an outbreak of the avian flu." The vaccine industry's lobbyist was none other than Hastert's son, Joshua Hastert.
- Raw Story picks up a Roll Call story that shows more trouble for Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV). Taking trips to Spain paid for by non-profits that you created and then funnelled millions of dollars in federal earmarks to while receiving campaign contributions from the directors of said non-profits is bound to raise some eyebrows.