- Yet another city is subpoenaed in the investigation into Appropriations Chairman [sw: Jerry Lewis]' (R-Calif.) earmarking practices. The San Bernardino Sun reports that Highland, California has become the eighth city, county, or university to receive a subpoena in the federal investigation. The Sun also notes the debate over earmarks that took place on the floor of the House yesterday as [sw: Jeff Flake] (R-Ariz.) forced members to defend their earmarks. Unfortunately, the House voted by 6 to 1 margins to maintain all of the earmarks, which included a $500,000 earmark placed by Lewis to renovate a swimming pool in Banning, California. The Banning swimming pool had previously received a combined $500,000 in earmarks from Lewis.
- Not only did Majority Leader [sw: John Boehner] (R-Ohio) return to the House leadership in an unexpected victory last year, but he also won $2,700 at the slots. Boehner was waiting for an aide at a "pit stop" in northern Michigan and "decided to play the slots ... and won."
- Jeffrey Shockey, revolving door poster boy and central figure to the [sw: Jerry Lewis] scandal, revised his 2004 financial disclosure forms to show that he made $500,000 more from his former lobbying clients while he was working in Lewis' office.
- Roll Call reports that the Senate' millionaires club has expanded by one to 46 Senators. [sw: John Kerry] (D-Mass.) and [sw: Jay Rockefeller] (D-W. Va.) still sit atop the list while presidential aspirant Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) reported $19,000 in negative net worth. That makes for a total of $2 million.
- The GOP is trying to find a balance on spending restraint and earmark reform, according to The Hill. Republicans in the Senate are "trying to salvage a spending-reform provision empowering individual senators to strip new earmarks out of conference reports without handing the rank and file unlimited power to wage wars of attrition to defeat bills they do not like."
- The Hill has a run-down on the personal finances of members that were released yesterday.
On Friday the New York Times reported that Jeffrey Shockey, aide to [sw: Jerry Lewis]' (R-CA) Appropriations Committee, received a $1.9 million buyout from his previous employer, the lobbying firm of Copeland Lowery, that was contingent on the future success of his former clients. The Times article reported that "the firm waited to see how much money the clients he signed paid the firm in 2005 to determine the full payment." So Shockey's severance package was to be determined by the success of his former clients in obtaining earmarks from the committee where Shockey was employed. Josh Marshall summed this up perfectly over the weekend:
In other words, Shockey didn't just have a continuing financial interest in Copeland Lowery to the extent he needed them to make enough money to honor their buy-out agreement. His income was still directly tied to how much his 'former' clients paid the firm in 2005 -- while he was working as a congressional staffer. ... Who took over Shockey's client list when he returned to government service? Well, when Shockey left Copeland Lowery, Copeland Lowery turned around and hired Shockey's wife Alexandra, who also used to work for Lewis. And in an email to Copley News Service's Jerry Kammer back in December, Alexandra "acknowledged that her client roster includes some of her husband's old clients."I continue to marvel at how these guys get their spouses involved in these schemes. Every single one of these scandals, whether it be the Jack Abramoff scandal or [sw: William Jefferson], involves spouses making money off of corrupt schemes. Continue reading
...of lobbying connections. TPM Muckraker reports on the spouses of two central figures in the [sw: Jerry Lewis] earmarking scandal. Both of them are lobbyists and they both represent companies that do business with Lewis.
Shortly after Lewis rose to be the chairman of that subcommitee, Letitia White's husband, up until that point a tobacco industry lobbyist, made a curious professional decision: he began lobbying on defense spending issues. ... But in 2000, one year after Jerry Lewis became chair of the defense appropriations subcommittee (taking Letitia White along with him), Richard White registered to lobby for "defense spending items" on behalf of a lobbyist. It's not clear which of the lobbyist's clients White was working for. That arrangement continued for the next few years, White receiving between $20,000 and $45,000 annually from the firm, called R.C. Whitner & Associates. From 2000 to 2005, White received $205,000 from the group. But in 2003, something changed. Richard White began picking up defense contractors as clients - without going through Whitner. That was the same year that his wife Letitia left Lewis to join Lowery's lobbying firm.And of course he went on to make even more money. Now for the other spouse:
But Richard isn't the only spouse getting cut in because of ties to the world of Jerry Lewis. Alexandra Shockey, the wife of another Lewis aide-turned-lobbyist, Jeffrey Shockey, is also doing well for herself as a lobbyist with extraordinary connections to Lewis. After several years as a Lewis aide, Alexandra dropped out of her political career to raise a family, returning only when her husband gave up his million-dollar-plus lobbying gig to work for Lewis again. She scooped up his clients -- and a lobbyist's income -- to push their interests in front of Lewis, while her husband, now a senior aide on Lewis' committee, helps her old boss dole out $900 billion in federal money every year.Let's not forget that when Jeffrey Shockey went back to work for Lewis he was given a $600,000 severance package. Continue reading
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.Continue reading
Which came first: the lobbyist or the congressional staffer? The answer in the case of Jeffrey Shockey, aide to Appropriations Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-CA) profiled in Time Magazine, is just as difficult to determine as the original chicken and egg version. Shockey began his career on Capitol Hill working for Rep. Lewis for eight years. He then left his post in 1999 to join a lobbying firm whose chief partner Bill Lowery was a top donor and close friend of Lewis. “Many of his new clients, including municipalities, hospitals and lesser-known universities, were from Lewis's district” and had business before Lewis and the Appropriations Committee. Shockey “helped win at least $150 million in pork for an array of clients,” with the help of earmarks added to appropriations bills. When Lewis took over the Appropriations Committee he brought Shockey back to work for him, while Shockey’s wife went to work for the very lobbying firm that her husband had just left. Shockey received a $600,000 buyout from the Lowery firm and continued to receive payments from the buyout even as he worked for Lewis.Continue reading