In the charges released yesterday against Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) by the United States Attorney in San Diego, the man identified in the 'information' as "Co-conspirator #2" is none other than Mr. Mitchell Wade, formerly CEO and founder of MZM, Inc., the man whose sweetheart purchase of Cunningham's house was the thread that started Duke's skein of corruption unravelling.
Now, Mitchell Wade has since left MZM to spend more time with his lawyers. But before his high-flying life as a corrupt defense contractor came to a grinding halt last summer he was into more than Duke Cunningham. Wade's MZM was in deep with Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL). So deep in fact that, in a story we broke here at TPM back on June 21st, Harris once had a one day haul of $28,000. Fourteen checks for $2,000 a pop, each from a different MZM employee, each received on March 23rd, 2004. (MZM employees later claimed these contributions were coerced.)
A week later Wade's wife chipped in two more checks for $2,000 each. But I digress. Set aside Katherine Harris for a second and let's get to Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA).
Rep. Goode and Mitchell Wade talk business.
Back in June we reported that that Goode had snagged $48,551 in campaign contributions from MZM employees the 2004 election cycle. And scarcely six months into the 2006 cycle he'd already gotten $34,625. In fact, at the time, he was the only member of Congress MZM employees had given any money to.
Then a few days later, Jeff Birnbaum wrote a piece on Mitchell Wade and MZM in which he noted ...
MZM also has ties to a Republican congressman from Virginia, Virgil Goode.
In the 2004 election cycle, Goode's largest contributor was MZM; its political action committee and its employees, including Wade, gave a total of $48,551, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Goode was the principal sponsor of a provision in 2003 defense legislation that called for the creation of a military center in his district, known as the Foreign Supplier Assessment Center, which MZM was hired to run, said a senior defense official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity.
The official added that the center, which is meant to check on the ownership of foreign companies that contract with the Defense Department, will do useful work, but was not a Pentagon priority and was not requested by the Defense Department. It was mandated by Goode on MZM's behalf, the official said.
The Center opened in October 2004. The photo above is Rep. Goode and Mitchell Wade conversing at the opening. And below is Goode and Wade (Wade is the tall guy with the appropriately nefarious glint in his eye) at the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Mitchell Wade eyes Rep. Goode at ribbon cutting ceremony.
Now, let me make one thing emphatically clear. Goode got what is for a backbench congressman a ton of money from MZM (and its employees). He clearly played a role in getting them set up with this Center in his district which the Pentagon was in no particular hurry to build. But there's no evidence, to the best of my knowledge, that Goode was personally enriched in any by Wade. Personally enriched, that is, as opposed to getting lots of money in campaign contributions.
Still, Mitch Wade has a pretty clear MO. He's also pretty clearly looking down the barrel of some serious indictments. So it seems worth looking to see whether any other members of Congress fell victim, shall we say, to Wade's innovative ways of doing business.