They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker
In the latest court filing, federal prosecutors declared that Cunningham worked diligently to steer millions of federal dollars to [Mitchell Wade's] MZM and [Brent Wilkes'] ADCS. Justice Department documents say the two firms were his top priority for defense funding requests from the House Appropriations and Armed Services committees during 2003. Those firms, in turn, earned huge profits on those defense contracts, with profit margins exceeding 800 percent for some intelligence-related work, prosecutors charge. Part of that money was then returned to Cunningham in the form of bribes, a cycle that went on for more than five years.
When MZM and ADCS did not receive payments promptly from Defense Department officials, Cunningham personally intervened, calling or meeting with DOD officials to “browbeat” them into releasing the funds to MZM and ADCS and threatening to go to their superiors unless they moved quickly, according to the documents. In at least one case, Cunningham sought to have a DOD official fired because that official refused to respond to his demands.
Cunningham even “provided numerous blank sheets of his [C]ongressional letterhead to Wade” to enable Wade to draft letters on his behalf. Several of these blank sheets were seized during the search of MZM’s offices last year by federal agents, according to the latest government filing.
[Prosecutors] included is a script Wilkes gave the legislator on how to talk a skeptical Pentagon official into moving funds into his company's programs.
And as for Duke's supposed charity work his lawyers mentioned as an illustration of his otherwise good character?
The Justice Department said that the only charitable work it could confirm was that Cunningham once gave 100 pounds of beef to a day care center. The prosecutors further suggested Cunningham could have been hit with money laundering charges in addition to the other counts.
Jack Abramoff's Israeli Oil Boondoggle
It was an Abramoff venture that never quite got off the ground: his bid to be an Israeli oil tycoon. The details are shady, but Abramoff's Russians enter the picture - they apparently helped him connect with the Israeli government for exploration rights. He never got the permit, though. Like I said, the details are shady. (Boston Globe)
Burns' Abramoff Problem
The NY Times wonders out loud whether Democrats in Montana can make the corruption label stick to Sen. Burns (R-MT). The polls are showing a dead heat, but the Times notes that Burns is powerful, a senior member on the Appopriations Committee.
So the Dems have to counter the "Yeah, he's dirty, but he's our dirty Senator" mindset.
But Burns might want to fine tune his rebuttal to the Democratic talking point that he received more Abramoff money than any other member of Congress. Says Burns: "What's the difference between one dollar and one thousand? Its all dollars." (NYT)
Jack and George
A while back, Judicial Watch filed a FOIA for access to White House visitor logs to see how often Jack Abramoff came and went. They didn't get a reply, so now they're suing the Secret Service for them. (AP)
As I noted yesterday, Trent Lott's reform legislation made its way through the House Rules Committee. The NY Times headline gets it right: "Senate Panel Approves Modest Curbs on Lobbyists." Sen. Dodd's (D-CT) tougher proposal, modeled on the Dems' Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, was voted down on party lines.
The Times reports this was always part of the plan: "They calculated that it would be better to vote with Republicans on the rules panel and later press their alternative when the bill reaches the full Senate." (NYT, LAT, AP, The Hill, TPM)
Hotline notices that Santorum made a big show of pushing tougher reform legislation in the meeting yesterday, a bit of theatrics meant to walk the fine line of helping "his re-election chances while not irritating his colleagues too much." (Hotline)
Wilkes' CIA Pal
Newsweek briefly notes that Brent Wilkes, the defense contractor who bribed Duke Cunningham who has not pled guilty, was close to the No. 3 at CIA, Dusty Foggo. Foggo says he hasn't been contacted by anyone in the criminal investigation. (Newsweek)
Conyers' Ethics Problems
Two former aides of Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) have filed ethics complaints against him, as well as notifying the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office:
[T]hey allege that Conyers demanded that aides work on several local and state campaigns and forced them to baby-sit and chauffeur his children. They also charge that some aides illegally used Conyers’s congressional offices to enrich themselves.
Yesterday, CREW filed an ethics complaint against Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) for his role in provoking an audit of Texans for Public Justice - a group whose only crime was being critical of Tom DeLay. Read TPM on the dubious process behind the audit here. (CREW)
The GOP Hits the Bong
The Stakeholder caught a majestic bit from yesterday's Roll Call, wherein a lobbyist told Boehner's aide that GOP leaders ought to "lay off the bong" because they were passing a resolution that praised the NAACP. (The Stakeholder)
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