It’s getting a lot worse for Rep. Katharine Harris (R-FL).
Last Friday, Mitchell Wade, the former president of the defense contractor MZM and one of the two who so impressively and repeatedly bribed Duke Cunningham, pled guilty. He admitted, among other things, that he illegally contributed to two Congressional campaigns. They’ve since been identified as Harris’ and Rep. Virgil Goode’s (R-VA).
Now, Wade told the government that neither Harris nor Goode knew that the contributions were illegal, i.e. that Wade reimbursed his employees and their spouses for the $2K they laid out to the campaigns.
But in both cases, Wade approached the Member of Congress after having delivered the contributions and asked if they wouldn’t be so kind as to throw an appropriation his way. In Goode’s case, that resulted in a $9M MZM facility in Goode’s district.
Now it’s coming out that Harris followed through too. And she’s been lying, breaking promises, and doing her best to cover up her involvement with Wade….
She lied to the local press:
What the heck had Wade, MZM’s CEO, wanted from Harris in return for that money?
Harris has claimed, to me and other journalists, that she didn’t have any idea. She insisted that she had assumed all those MZM-connected people — who didn’t live in Florida and whose $2,000 checks arrived in bundles — just liked her stands on the issues and wanted to see her re-elected.
She did say Wade had been considering opening a plant of some sort in the Sarasota area. But she said she knew no details and didn’t know exactly how that might inspire MZM to break the law to give her so much money, or why it would inspire MZM employees and spouses to send her as much as $4,000 each from their own wallets.
Even after learning Wade had bribed another congressman and had used illegal means to make far bigger donations to Harris than the law allows, she said she still had no idea what the heck MZM’s motive was for giving her all that money. (Herald Tribune)
As Wade plea makes clear, Wade wanted something very specific from Harris: help with a defense appropriation. He even drafted a proposal and forwarded it on to her office. And she followed up on it, writing a letter to the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee asking for the money, estimated at $10M. (Wade’s plea, The Ledger)
To clinch Harris’ closeness with Wade, one of her staff left to work for MZM in April, 2005 – the same month that she asked for the earmark. It’s unlikely then, to indulge in some understatement, that she just couldn’t figure out what MZM was after. (The Ledger)
And it gets worse. Five weeks ago, during the media’s Abramoff and lobbying reform feeding frenzy, Harris boldly promised to disclose all of her earmark requests. It was a bold step that signalled her real commitment to earmark reform. Except, apparently, this earmark request. Her spokesman says it’s "privileged information" and they’re not handing the request over. (The Tampa Tribune)
I guess Harris just thinks that she can ride this one out. We’ll see.
Ronnie Earle Keeps on Investigatin’
As we reported yesterday, Ronnie Earle issued a subpoena for travel records related to his junket to Scotland in 2000. The trip, which included another lobbyist and some DeLay staffers, was charged to Jack Abramoff’s credit card. It cost him $40,000. (TPM, WaPo)
Abramoff by the Numbers
Awhile back, the American Prospect released a piece that broke down the political contributions of Jack Abramoff’s tribal clients and determined that he had taken what had been (marginally) Democratic donors and turned them into Republican donors. Because of the obvious implications of that, the Prospect got a lot of flak from the right; now the independent analyst hired to undertake that research (on which the Prospect based their article) has weighed in to refute those criticisms. (Tapped, Political Animal)
The Supreme Court heard arguments from the Texas Redistricting case, and the general consensus seems to be that it was not a good day for those challenging the plan. (Bloomberg, LAT, NYT, WaPo, Slate, AP, USA Today)
The Senate continues the process of drawing up reform legislation today, and this time they’ll be considering a proposal to create an external enforcement agency, called the Office of Public Integrity. It’s being proposed by Sens. Lieberman (D-CT) and Collins (R-ME) and is likely to meet opposition. (NYT)
Time surveys the Congressional landscape and concludes that the lobbying reform "fad" will pass on by without much substantial change. (Time)
Santorum’s charity got a $25K check from a real estate developer at the same time that he was working to win as much as $8.5M in federal aid for one of the donor’s projects. (Philadelphia Daily News)
The Hill reports that Sens. Santorum (R-PA) and McCain (R-AZ) are now suddenly allies, due to Santorum’s recent posturing on the need for tougher lobbying reforms. (The Hill)
But it appears that Santorum, formerly the Senate GOP’s point man on ethics reform, has been forced to step back and let others take charge. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Conyers’ Unhappy Aides
As we noted yesterday, Rep. Conyers (D-MI) has some very unhappy aides, who say they were used as baby sitters and personal servants. They are likely to file a formal ethics complaint. (AP)
New Hampshire Phone Jamming
A TV station in New Hampshire thinks that the next indictee is likely to be Darryl Henry, a lobbyist up there who, according to testimony during the trial of James Tobin (the national Republican political figure who facilitated the jamming), knew what was going on. (WMUR)
Noe in Ohio
Apparently Thomas Noe was so deeply involved in state politics that he thinks none of the judges in his county should hear his case – all of the judges, he says, are "political enemies" or "personal friends." (Toledo Blade)
The Washington Post notes the back and forth between the government and Duke Cunningham’s lawyers over his possible sentencing. Old news to Daily Muck readers. (WaPo)
Did we miss something? Was there local coverage in your area we should know about? Email us at talk@talkingpoin tsmemo.com with the Subject line "Daily Muck" and let us know.