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Tag Archive: Letitia White

Weekend Round-up:

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  • The San Bernardino Sun reports on the release of documents in the [sw: Jerry Lewis] (R-Calif.) investigation. In the documents Lewis' wife, Arlene Willis, recommends the lobbying firm at the center of the investigation, Copeland Lowery Jacquez Denton & White, to San Bernardino County.
  • The San Diego Union-Tribune traces the arc of success for defense contractors that have hired the Lowery law firm to lobby Appropriations Chair [sw: Jerry Lewis]. Orincon, a software engineering company, hired Bill Lowery in the late 1990s and, through the earmarking of funds by Lowery's friend Lewis, saw their "growth curve turned sharply upward." Daniel Alspach, the head of Orincon, and "Lowery would visit Lewis' office, meeting with Letitia White and sometimes with Lewis himself". From the mid-1990s to 2003 Orincon's sales, "heavily dependent on federal contracts," shot from $10 million to $52 million. When Alspach eventually sold his company to Lockheed in 2003 Lowery cashed out too having collected thousands of shares in the company which he lobbied for. Trident Systems, Inc. follows a simliar path having found success after hiring Lowery lobbyist Letitia White to collect earmarks from Lewis. White and Trident owner Nicholas Karangelen own a DC townhouse together which serves as the mailing address for Karangelen's Small Biz Tech PAC, which happens to be run by Lewis' stepdaughter. White also has deal with Trident that seems to similar to Lowery's receipt of shares in Orincon. Karangelen "has arranged to pay [White] a bonus based on the company's profitability."
  • The Washington Post reports that conservative power house Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform "served as a "conduit" for funds that flowed from Abramoff's clients to surreptitiously finance grass-roots lobbying campaigns. As the money passed through, Norquist's organization kept a small cut, e-mails show." Abramoff also used, with the acquiesance of the heads of the organization, numerous other non-profits associated with the conservative movement to funnel money, hiding his activities, in his illegal schemes. These organizations included the National Center for Public Policy Research, headed by Amy Ridenour and the Council of Republican Environmental Advocacy, headed by Italia Federici.

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How Many Nails Close a Coffin?:

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Let's start counting. Harper's blog Washington Babylon reports that lobbyist and former [sw: Jerry Lewis] aide took compensation for aiding Trident (White pruchased a house with Trident CEO Nicholas Karangelen):

Both [Letitia] White and Karangelen have said that they each put up $500,000 when purchasing the million-dollar house, but some of the Trident officials have said that Karangelen actually put up the entire amount, along with additional monies for furnishings. Some of them have further alleged that White was rewarded financially by Trident for her work on behalf of the company with compensation related to the amount of money she brought into the company. Patrick Dorton, a spokesman for White, vehemently told me that she and Karangelen have put equal amounts of money into the house and that “the purchase was not related in any way to work for Trident.” Dorton did not deny that White was compensated by Trident but said any money she received “was for work done after she left the Hill.” He declined to comment on the nature or amount of the compensation.
We all watched the Jack Abramoff scandal unfold and we can see where this is going. Encircle the big fish by snapping up the little fish first. Aim for people compromised by family members that they got involved in corrupt schemes and that they don't want to get hurt and get them to talk. Then with full roster of witnesses you can snare the big guy.

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Spousal Abuse…:

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...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.

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Scared Stiff

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If I was Rep. [sw: Jerry Lewis] (R-CA) that's what I'd be. Today the Lewis case has officially became a serious matter. After the revelations of Lewis' step-daughter's work for the Small Biz Tech PAC, whose offices reside in a house co-owned by a recipient of Lewis' earmarks and a former aide to Lewis turned lobbyist, and the NBC News revelations about Audre, Inc. Lewis looks set for a busy summer of fundraising, not for an election, but for a legal expense fund. Now Roll Call, the San Diego Union Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times bring us new information about the Lewis case. First let's start with the Roll Call piece:

In one of the clearest signs yet that Lewis is himself under the investigative microscope, the FBI retrieved the chairman’s financial records late last month even as federal prosecutors in Southern California were issuing a series of subpoenas to towns and counties in his Congressional district, all of which were represented at one time or another in lobbying activities by a current or former Lewis staffer. ... The investigators are in particular examining the relationship between Lewis and a lobbying firm he enjoys a very close relationship with, Copeland Lowery Jacquez Denton and White. The records search in the Legislative Resources Center in Cannon was the latest sign of that, as the FBI examined the records of Jeff Shockey and Letitia White.
The FBI is also searching through the financial disclosure forms of Lewis' wife, Arlene Willis, who works as his chief of staff in his personal office. The Los Angeles Times tells us that Letitia White is at the center of the allegations made by Tom Casey, the head of Audre, Inc.
Casey said he had told investigators that in 1993, Lewis' top appropriations aide, White, escorted him and Wilkes to a basement room in the Capitol where House Appropriations Committee staffers drafted legislation. There, according to Casey, he was seated in front of a word processor and was asked to type a paragraph into the defense bill that would be so specific that it would limit competition. ... The final bill included much of the language Casey wrote, although the earmark was slashed to $14 million, he said.
And the kicker to the Audre earmark deal comes at the end of the Times piece:
The obscure trade journal also uncovered in financial disclosure reports that White, then Lewis' aide, had bought stock in Audre on Nov. 3, 1993, one week before the passage of the final bill.
Lewis is another example of the power of K Street melded into Congress. Just like Jack Abramoff, Mitchell Wade, and Brent Wilkes the Bill Lowery-Letitia White-Jerry Lewis connection showcases how Congress and K Street have corrupted each other by combining their operations. When lobbyists and defense contractors are writing language into bills the public interest is not being served. When a member of Congress receives over ONE THIRD of his campaign contributions from one lobbying firm and their clients, as Lewis has, then that member will not be serving the public interest. What we have here is a system that has been created by certain members and certain lobbyists that subverts democracy and public participation in government while abusing institutions and the First Amendment rights to give money to a candidate and to lobby Congress.

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Another Probe Heats Up:

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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.

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Lewis Case Grows “Knottier”:

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Justin Rood at TPM Muckraker delves deeper into the Feds investigation of Appropriation Chair Jerry Lewis (R-CA). Of particular interest is the role of one Letitia White:

For over two decades White worked for Lewis, and was reportedly known as his "gatekeeper." His allies were her allies. For instance, Lewis fought for a decade on behalf of San Diego contractor General Atomics, forcing the Pentagon to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on GA's Predator UAV, which the generals didn't want. ... Over the next three years, GA paid White’s lobby firm -- Copeland, Lowery, Jacquez -- over $300,000. They weren't alone: from 2003 through 2005, the firm billed over $4.6 million to White's clients, nearly all defense contractors, according to records at politicalmoneyline.com. "People know that if you keep Letitia White happy, you keep Jerry Lewis happy," government watchdog Keith Ashdown told the Copley News Service in December. White -- and her husband, who made a sudden career switch to defense lobbying when Lewis took over the Defense Appropriations chair – have kicked back their share to Lewis, usually giving the maximum allowable to Lewis and his PAC. So do her clients: General Atomics has given $15,000 to Lewis' campaign and PAC in recent years. What’s the net result? A circle of pork: General Atomics gets hundreds of millions of dollars in business, Lewis gets hefty campaign donations, Lowery’s firm gets fat, and White pulls down megabucks. Hakuna Matata.
Hakuna Matata indeed.

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