They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker

TPMm Reader BS writes about receiving less-than-Cunningham-level service from Brent Wilkes' favorite limo company on the night of his senior prom:

I have some personal experience with Shirlington Limo which fits in nicely with the picture we have now. Just by way of background I'm a long time Northern VA resident just out of college.

We (myself and about 7 others) made the unforunate mistake in June of 2000 of hiring Shirlington to provide us with a limo for prom night. It was the last minute so our choices were either Shirlington Limo for a fee that seemed reasonable, or a Stretch Navigator from another company which, of course, was way too much expensive despite us all being "upper middle class".

Anyway, they took a $100 deposit and wanted me to fax the iterary, no problem. Prom night rolls around, the guy is at least 30 minutes late, and because it is prom night and reservations were made at a fancy restaurant this wasn't the greatest of news. Then the driver informed us that the deposit we made was essentially meaningless. He needed a cash payment and told me that I would have to take up the issue of the deposit w/ Shirlington. After finally getting on the road, 30 minutes late, the driver asked us very nicely that "if we get pulled over could you guys say I picked you up at Clyde's in Georgetown or something". The driver that Shirlington had sent over was not even legally allowed to pick up anyone in Virginia (imagine my shock). Based on my experience Shirlington Limo sounds exactly like the type of company I want to entrust with a contract to shuttle around some of our nations most important officials (and prositutes).

Sounds like it was a pretty rough night. But I talked to BS and his dad, and it sounds like they've gotten over it.

My quest for a complimentary Shirlington Limo Company pen has intensified.

Shirlington's most recent business filing says its principal office is located at 425 8th St. NW, as well as 717 D St. NW. (The airport is actually the listed address for company owner Christopher Baker. We're not the first to note this guy claims many locations.) So this afternoon I stopped by both.

I didn't have much luck at the airport; my bad luck held at the downtown offices.

On paper, the 8th St. address looked familiar. Arriving at the building, I realized why: I used to date a woman who lived there. It's not an office building at all, it's a luxury rental high-rise called the Lansburgh. It features a heated indoor pool, a virtual golf room, two exercise rooms, a very nice spa -- in an unguarded moment, I once confessed to a friend I wasn't sure if I was dating the woman or her building amenities.

It was also once home to former Attorney General Janet Reno. Condoleezza Rice is rumored to have stayed there as well.

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The vote just ended: 217-213, with 8 Democrats voting for it, and 20 Republicans against.

Who are those 8 Dems? Maybe we can buy them a nice meal?

Update: Here's the tally. More on the bill here.

The Dems who voted for the bill are:

Rep. John Barrow (D-GA) Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK) Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-IA) Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) Rep. Jim Marshall (D-GA) Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-LA) Rep. Gene Taylor (D-MS)

Later Update: Here's CREW's Executive Director Melanie Sloan on passage of the bill:

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As Josh mentioned yesterday, Shirlington Limousine had quite a sketchy history (even excluding the prostitutes) to be receiving a $21 million contract with the Department of Homeland Security.

Well, here's one more bit of sketch to add to the mix.

On two different occasions, Shirlington had its federal license, called the motor passenger common carrier authority, revoked by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. It was first revoked on September 11, 2000 and reinstated April 4, 2001, and then again revoked June 13, 2005 and reinstated October 31, 2005.

What does that mean? Basically it means that they weren't allowed to cross state lines during those periods.

But it's a little more complicated than that, so I talked to Ian Grossman of the FMCSA. To get all bureaucratic on you, a carrier without that authority cannot carry passengers outside of their "commercial zone." In the case of Washington, D.C., the zone extends 15 miles in all directions beyond D.C.. It also includes Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties, as well as the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park in Virginia.


Here's what this adds up to. Shirlington got their wings clipped (or tires slashed - choose your metaphor) in April, 2005, just prior to winning that huge DHS contract in October of 2005.

So during the months when DHS would have presumably been evaluating Shirlington's fitness to ferry senior officials around, their cars couldn't take passengers far outside D.C. You'd think that would be a problem if a DHS official needed to be taken to Baltimore-Washington International Airport for example.

This was the best company DHS could find?

Responding to the news that a businessman has pled guilty to bribing Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) through payments to his wife's company, TPMm reader BK chimes in:

Republicans shouldn't be gloating too much. The fact that the DOJ is pursuing a bribery case against Rep. Jefferson based on payments to his wife's company doesn't bode well for Tom and Christine DeLay, Tony and Lisa Rudy and John and Julie Doolittle. Not to mention John Sweeney.

Yes, indeed.

I took a field trip this morning to the world headquarters of Shirlington Limousine & Transportation, Inc. hoping to talk to people in the building, and get a sense of what the company was like. Maybe pick up a complimentary pen.

My expedition didn't last as long as I'd hoped.

Since the mid-1990s, the company we now believe ran hookers to and from "hospitality suites" run by Brent Wilkes has rented office space in Hangar 7 of the general aviation wing at Washington D.C.'s National Airport. The building is currently operated by British-owned Signature Flight Support, which provides services for corporate jets -- baggage handling, de-icing, fueling, that kind of thing.

Did the Signatures folks want to chat about their unusual neighbors/tenants? No, it turns out. And I'm not the first to ask, either.

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Shirlington Limousine, pegged by news outlets as Brent Wilkes' hooker ferry service, had two more government contracts that haven't been reported, Harper's says: one with the Department of Housing and Urban Development ($519,823) and one with the Federal Highway Administration ($142,000). Added to the contracts we already knew about, this brings the company's total business with Uncle Sam to over $25 million. Silverstein's got more juicy details too, including the fact that the company operated under four different names.

It's only getting worse for Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA). Vernon Jackson, 53, the CEO of Louisville-based iGate Inc., pleaded guilty today to charges of bribing Jefferson. This is the second plea to implicate Jefferson. The first other was from his former aide, Brett Pfeffer.

From the AP:

Prosecutor Mark Lytle said Jackson paid roughly $360,000 over a four-year period to a company controlled by the congressman's wife in exchange for Jefferson's help promoting iGate technology in Africa. Jackson also gave the company a 24 percent stake in iGate and paid for $80,000 in travel expenses on the congressman's trips to Africa to promote iGate.

Jackson said in court that the congressman helped iGate receive a government certification allowing the company to obtain military contracts. After that, the congressman insisted on financial compensation to continue his efforts on behalf of iGate.

Update: Here is the "Statement of Facts" to which Jackson pled guilty. "Representative A" is Jefferson.

Another Update: And for a more readable summary of the charges, here's the DoJ's press release about the plea:

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Ouch. Last night, Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) got 68.38% of the vote against a nobody rival with virtually no campaign money. Not as bad as it could have been - Hotline even seems to think it's a good sign - but certainly not the overwhelming show of support he'd hoped for.

But it's gonna be a long, long haul till November, as he tries to fight off his Democratic challenger as well as the Justice Department. We brought you word last month that he spent 40 percent of his campaign money on his lawyer in the first quarter this year. Well, it looks like he's going to have to keep dipping.

Ney's defense fund got a whopping eight contributions this year, totalling $40,000. Eight. And more than half of them came from one family - three members of the Boich family gave, in addition to two of their businesses, for a total of $25,000. You can see the fund's report here. None of the money has been spent yet, possibly because it would soon be gone. Ney's paid at least $232,000 in campaign funds to his lawyer, Mark Tuohey, over the past year. And the number's only going to go up as the DoJ's investigation heats up.

According to Roll Call, Ney's camp is saying that the dismal showing is because Ney "has not put much effort into raising cash for the legal defense fund." Right.

Last Friday, the AP reported that GOP big-wig Haley Barbour was one of the investors in GOP Marketplace, the consulting firm central to the New Hampshire phone jamming.

But a closer read of the company's founding documents shows a much deeper connection than Barbour admitted to the AP. He had direct control over the company's management. And a look at the timeline of the company's founding shows that it was something of a pet project for Barbour and his partners.

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