NYT: WILKES SPEAKS — Earmarks System “Little More Than a Shakedown”

Brent Wilkes, a.k.a. “Co-conspirator #1” — who allegedly bribed Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham — has been silent since the Cunningham scandal broke. Now, he has given his first on-the-record interview to the New York Times:

Mr. Wilkes had set up separate meetings with the lawmakers hoping to win a government contract, and he planned to punctuate each pitch with a campaign donation. But his hometown congressman, Representative Bill Lowery of San Diego, a Republican, told him that presenting the checks during the sessions was not how things were done, Mr. Wilkes recalled.

Instead, Mr. Wilkes said, Mr. Lowery taught him the right way to do it: hand over the envelope in the hallway outside the suite, at least a few feet away.

That was the beginning of a career built on what Mr. Wilkes calls “transactional lobbying,” which made him a rich man but also landed him in the middle of a criminal investigation.

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