Federal investigators are examining the activities of several members of the House Appropriations Committee, including Representative Jerry Lewis, the California Republican and chairman of the panel that wields influence over government spending, government officials said Thursday.
The officials said the inquiry was focused on the often-murky relationships among lobbyists, contractors and committee members, who are able to steer lucrative government contracts to favored vendors virtually free of outside oversight through a process known as earmarking….
The investigation is an expansion of the inquiry that began with the guilty plea of Randy Cunningham, a former Republican committee member from California….
…one of the contractors who paid bribes to Mr. Cunningham is Brent R. Wilkes, whose document processing company, A.D.C.S., won nearly $100 million in Pentagon contracts in part through the intervention of Mr. Cunningham.
The Appropriations Committee directed the Pentagon to award contracts to A.D.C.S., which stands for Automated Document Conversion Systems, even though the Pentagon did not request funds for the service.
One of Mr. Wilkes’s lobbyists in Washington was Bill Lowery, a former congressman from San Diego who is close to Mr. Lewis.
That connection sparked the interest of government investigators, who are looking into Mr. Lowery’s relationships with other members of the committee and his advocacy on behalf of dozens of clients with government business, government officials briefed on the case said.