Seth Hettena spills the beans on the names of the five lawmakers that Mitchell Wade provided information on to federal... View ArticleContinue reading
The chief witness in the investigation into former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham may have spilled the goods on more lawmakers... 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
It’s August here in Washington -- although if it weren’t for the classical architecture and the lobbyists wearing reflective sunglasses you’d think it was Pakistan from the temperature -- and members of Congress are fleeing the city, running back to their districts to do anything that will help their reelection chances with an electorate that’s looking for head’s to roll (or as President Bush might call it, to have their “accountability moment”). Some candidates may have an easier time than others. For instance, Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) is running uncontested allowing him to go on The Colbert Report and proclaim that he enjoys cocaine because it’s a fun thing to do. On the other hand we have another Floridian, Rep. Katherine Harris (R) who is running to unseat Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).Continue reading
- I'm confused. First, Duke Cunningham is said to not be cooperating with the federal investigation into bribery by defense contractors. Now he states, through his lawyer, that he will cooperate fully with a House Ethics Committee investigation and has been cooperating all along with the federal investigation. So, what's the deal here?
- We do know that Mitchell Wade, the contractor convicted of bribing Duke Cunningham, is talking to prosecutors. The Boston Globe looks into who he might be talking about. Two lawmakers, who both received illegal campaign contributions from Wade and tried, one successfully and the other unsuccessfully, to secure federally earmarked funds for his MZM, Inc., look like ready targets for this expanding investigation. They are Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA), who successfully earmarked funds for an MZM office in his district, and Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL), who, after dining with Wade to the tune of $2,800, attempted to insert an earmark that would established an MZM site in her district.
- That loophole is so big I could fit a few hundred million dollars through it. (Wall Street Journal)
- The Torch is back! Former Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) is back in the news, and as you would expect it's bad news for the Torch. The Financial Times reports that Torricelli is now being connected to the UN oil for food scandal. Just recently I read a piece about how Torricelli was still a player and was doling out advice to Democratic Senators and consultants. That will probably stop if this report proves true. I think the guy might become even more radioactive than he used to be.
- TPM Muckraker reports on the Democrats' choice to have Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) as the top Dem on the House Intelligence Committee. "That's right: Pelosi wants to replace House Intel Committee Ranking Member Jane Harman (CA) with Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), who "was forced to surrender his job as a federal judge after being indicted in 1981 on bribery charges," as the LA Times reports it. He beat the rap, but "was impeached in 1988 by the House for conspiracy and making false statement" in connection to the case."
- On the emergency supplemental front Mark Tapscott reports that there may be a victory at hand with the Senate agreeing to "cap spending in the emergency spending bill for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and Gulf Coast hurricane recovery to $94.5 billion."
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
Last night Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) went on Hannity & Colmes and denied that there was a quid pro quo with her appropriation for the felonious defense contractor Mitchell Wade. From Crooks & Liars:
COLMES: Did Mitchell offer to hold a fundraiser for you? And did you ask for $10 million that would have gone to benefit his company? HARRIS: I asked for an appropriation for an authorized naval program in Sarasota, Florida, which would bring a lot of new jobs. So, clearly -- and, in the future, I had hoped that he would host one for me. COLMES: So there was a quid pro quo? HARRIS: There was no quid pro quo, ever.$32,000 in illegal campaign contributions. $2,800 meal at Washington's finest dining establishment. $10 million earmark for naval facility to be built by the guy who gave the illegal campaign contributions and paid for the French-American cuisine. Going on Hannity & Colmes so you can say incredibly stupid things. Priceless. Continue reading
The trouble for Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) continues to mount over her lavish dinner with bribery contractor Mitchell Wade and the $10 million appropriations request she filed for his company MZM. Today the Associated Press reports that Harris' staff initially rejected the MZM appropriation before being overruled by Harris:
Former senior members of U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris' congressional staff say they initially rejected a defense contractor's $10 million appropriation request last year but reversed course after being instructed by Harris to approve it. ... "She said, 'It's important to me, so submit it,' " said an ex-staffer who was involved in the process. "She wanted it in." ... "Katherine was pretty adamant about it," the former staffer said.Wade has already pled guilty to giving Harris illegal campaign contributions. The story of Harris and Wade has progressively gotten worse for Harris. Last year, she dined with Wade to the tune of $2,800 (the House Ethics Manual states that members should not accept gifts over $100). At that dinner she received tens of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions from Wade. Then she insisted, over her staffer's objections, on inserting a $10 million appropriation - the largest earmark on her plate - weeks late into the defense appropriations bill. Continue reading