On Monday we noted
a court filing made recently by defense lawyers for Mitchell Wade, the Duke Cunningham crony who's about to be sentenced in connection with his role in bribery scandal that felled the GOP congressman.
In arguing for a lenient sentence, Wade's lawyers claimed that their client had helped prosecutors' probe "at least five other members of Congress" who were under investigation for "corruption similar to that of Mr. Cunningham."
The blogger and Cunningham expert
Seth Hettena named
Katherine Harris, the former Florida congresswoman, and Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode as two of those members.
And now Hettena says
he's identified the other three: Sen. Dan Inouye (D-HI), Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-WV), and Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA).
Marcus Stern, the former San Diego Union-Tribune
reporter who broke much of the Duke Cunningham story and now writes for Pro Publica, that those identifications are based on "information I developed and confirmed with two sources with knowledge of the investigation."
But what does all this amount to? According to Stern, perhaps not much. He writes
No charges have been filed against any of the five lawmakers, and there is no evidence of any current criminal investigations against any of them. Lewis, Goode, Mollohan and Harris have all come up in the case before and have all denied wrongdoing. As for Inouye, we have called his office for comment. (We'll update the post as soon as we hear back.)
Stern also give us a rundown on what we already know about the alleged involvement of all of these lawmakers:
Lewis, former chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, had been under investigation beginning in 2006 by the Office of the U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles. That case, which focused on Lewis' role in helping lobbyist Bill Lowery get earmarks for his clients (including Cunningham co-conspirator Brent Wilkes), is cold without any charges being filed.
Goode and Harris both were beneficiaries of a combined $78,000 in illegal campaign contributions from Wade and helped Wade in his efforts to get multimillion-dollar military intelligence contracts through earmarks.
But prosecutors have repeatedly said there was no evidence the two lawmakers knew the contributions were illegal and they are not the targets of any current investigations. Harris left the House to pursue a quixotic and failed bid in 2006 to win a seat in the U.S. Senate. Goode is awaiting a recount in his 2008 House race, with the initial tally showing he narrowly lost.
Mollohan received $23,000 in campaign contributions and gifts to a family foundation from Wade's company, MZM Inc., and another firm that did business with MZM, Hettena wrote in his blog on Monday, adding that in October 2002, MZM gave $20,000 to Mollohan's Summit PAC. The legality of those contributions has never been challenged.
The link to Inouye, set to take over the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, is less clear but appears to involve the activities of one of Wade's co-conspirators, defense contractor Brent Wilkes, according to Hettena. There are no known allegations of misconduct against Inouye in connection with the Cunningham scandal.
But don't despair, fellow scandal junkies. Stern notes that a memo filed by prosecutors in the Wade case said that Wade had provided information for a "large an important corruption investigation" unrelated to the Cunningham matter.
Worth keeping an eye on...