Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA) is a bold man.
When politicians all around him were losing their heads, refunding and donating Jack Abramoffâs money
as fast as they could, Doolittle stood strong and refused to bow to political expediency. And in a recent interview, he pretty much dared the Justice Department to come after him: âInvestigate me.â
So hereâs another bold play that shouldn't go unnoticed. I mentioned it this morning in the Daily Muck, but it really deserves more attention.
Brent Wilkes, owner of ACDS, Inc. and part-owner of Duke Cunningham, was not a mere one-Congressman man. He had quite a relationship with Doolittle too.
Being a crooked defense contractor, Wilkesâ business was earmarks. In 2002, he founded a new company called PerfectWave; the product was a sound technology that could supposedly be used to weed out background noises from electronic communications. As with Wilkesâ other businesses, a process detailed in Sundayâs San Diego Union-Tribune piece, Wilkes started with the technology and then worked to convince lawmakers that the Pentagon needed it.
Wilkes convinced Doolittle with $85,000 (from himself, his employees, his lobbyists) in contributions over three years. In return, PerfectWave won Doolittleâs support for $37M in earmarked appropriations. In a Washington Post story on this last week, Doolittle responded with a statement that "he frequently supports 'well deserving projects throughout the state.'" And "his support of PerfectWave Technology âwas no exception and based completely on the project's merits and the written support of the military.'"
Now, forget for the moment about the "projectâs [alleged] merits" (see the Daily Muck for more on that) â let's focus in for a moment on Doolittle's claim about "written support of the military."
The Post apparently just took Doolittle's word for it. In any case, they didnât follow up on his claim about having written support from the military. But the San Diego Union-Tribune did. Here's what they came up with:
[T]he only evidence Doolittle's office could provide to show military support for the project was a letter of praise from Robert Lusardi, a program manager for light armored vehicles at the Marine Corps dated Feb. 25 â two and a half years after PerfectWave got its first earmark. By the time Lusardi wrote his letter, the company had received at least $37 million in earmarks.
So this "written support of the military" upon which Doolittle based
his decision came almost three years too late
. And it came from a "program manager for light armored vehicles" â relatively meaningless since the earmark for 2005 specified
that the system was for "flight deck operations."
"The written support of the military" is a much better justification than "I was in Brent Wilkesâ pocket." Too bad it didnât pan out.