The Duke Cunningham investigation

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The Duke Cunningham investigation has generated as many spinoffs as All in the Family.

Much of the focus lately has been on the links among U.S. Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), the Copeland Lowery lobbying firm, and congressional earmarks. Remember that the Duke is connected to the unfolding Lewis investigation in a number of ways, most notably through alleged briber Brent Wilkes, who was a Copeland Lowery client.

On Friday came a reminder that the Duke investigation began as a defense contracting scandal and that investigators are still pursuing the Pentagon angle. Federal prosecutors in the District of Columbia filed a bill of information against Richard A. Berglund, a retired lieutenant colonel who worked for defense contractor MZM. Berglund stands accused of making illegal contributions in early 2005 to the re-election campaign of U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA).

As the Washington Post suggests, the filing of a bill of information signals that Berglund has probably worked out a plea deal with prosecutors that will include his agreement to cooperate with investigators.

Why should that worry some folks in the Pentagon? Well, remember that MZM founder Mitchell Wade has already pleaded guilty in connection with his bribing of Duke Cunningham. In fact, as alleged in Wade’s plea agreement and Friday’s bill of information, it was Wade who was orchestrating the illegal campaign contributions. (Katherine Harris (R-FL) was one of the recipients of those contributions; neither she nor Goode has been charged with any wrongdoing and both have denied having any knowledge of the illegal nature of the contributions.) Wade has been cooperating with investigators, apparently extensively.

So flipping Berglund doesn’t get the feds any closer to Wade. They already have Wade. But Berglund, a former military officer, could help point the way into the Pentagon. He was the program manager for MZM’s Martinsville, Va., facility (in Goode’s district), which handled defense-related work. Stay tuned.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

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