Here’s something that caught my attention.
Mitch Wade, then-owner of MZM, Inc., was one of the key bribers in the Duke Cunningham scandal. Some time ago, a source close to the case, informed me that Wade began cooperating with investigators at an early point in the investigation.
Now, aside from the various criminal activity, what stood out about Wade was how focused his political giving was. The great majority of MZM and Wade money went to three politicians — Duke Cunningham (R-CA), Katherine Harris (R-FL) and Virgil Goode (R-VA).
The reasons for lathering up Duke speak for themselves. With Harris and Goode, Wade was angling for federal contracts for work located in their districts.
Point being, Wade didn’t spread the money around too widely. It was all focused and directly tied to specific business concerns.
That why I was surprised to see that he had given rather generously to DC At-Large Councilmember David Catania. In 2002, Wade gave Catania’s reelection campaign two checks for $1000 each. His wife, Christianne, gave another check for $1000. MZM PAC chipped in another $1000. And there was one more $1000 check in 2002. That was from the Eagle Group, MZM’s 527 committee (See Roll Call, July 13, 2005). In its history, Eagle Group contributed to only two candidates — Duke Cunningham ($5000) and David Catania ($1000).
Now, as you’ll remember, Mitch Wade set up all sorts of business and charitable entities of uncertain legitimacy. Yet another was the Sure Foundation. It was run from the MZM offices. Wade’s wife was the President; Mitch was the Treasurer. Duke’s wife and daughter were on the advisory board. So, sort of all in the family, you might say.
Then I noticed this article from April 17th, 2005 in the Washington Post, not long before the Duke story broke. It’s about how Catania helped put Effi Barry (former wife of DC Councilmember and ex-mayor Marion Barry) together with Mitch Wade for a $10,000 a month job working for the Sure Foundation.
We pick up the story in the Post …
Effi Barry was about to pack her bags to move to South Carolina for a college teaching position last fall, when D.C. Council member David A. Catania called.
“He asked me: ‘What are you doing? We don’t want you to leave the city. I know an organization. . . . Why don’t you give them a call?’ ” Barry said, recounting the conversation.
That encounter between Catania (I-At Large) and the former wife of council member and ex-mayor Marion Barry led to a consulting contract that persuaded her to remain in the District.
Catania said he had immediately thought of Effi Barry when a friend, Mitchell J. Wade, mentioned that his nonprofit wanted to make inroads in the District’s poverty-stricken communities. Catania told Wade, a board member of the Sure Foundation, of Effi Barry’s ties to the city and knowledge of communities east of the Anacostia River where some of the poorest children reside.
Did Catania reach out to help Effi Barry curry favor with newly elected council member Barry?
Catania said there was no underlying motive. In fact, he said, he already has “a very cordial relationship” with Marion Barry (D-Ward 8).
Council member Barry said Catania casually mentioned that he had helped Effi Barry with a job, after the fact.
“He didn’t ask me to do anything,” Barry said. “I don’t do stuff like that. It would take more than helping my former wife out to get me to build an alliance. . . . I’m not for sale.”
The consulting work was a good match, period, Catania said. Effi Barry, Wade and officials from the foundation agree.
“Some jobs are manufactured, and this one was not,” Catania said. “I knew Sure was looking and Effi was looking, too. I just helped them make a nice fit.”
Catania, Marion Barry, Mitch Wade? Your guess is as good as mine. And I haven’t a clue. Needless to say, nothing I’ve been able to find demonstrates any unethical, let along illegal, behavior on Catania’s part. But Catania does seem to have had some clear association with Wade. And given Wade’s now-demonstrated track record of slammericious activities and a slammericious future, I’m curious what the association was.