Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Likely New CA Assembly Minority Leader Received $19,000 from Alleged Cunningham Co-Conspirator/Briber Brent Wilkes and Associates

Jim Sanders reports in the Sacramento Bee that Assemblymember George Plescia has emerged as the consensus choice to replace current Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, if McCarthy runs as expected for the congressional seat of the departing Rep. Bill Thomas.

Plescia was one of at least 11 California state candidates to receive campaign contributions from Brent Wilkes, one of the alleged co-conspirators of Duke Cunningham. In December, Plescia announced his intent to give to charity $9,200 he had received from Wilkes. In reality, however, Plescia received more than $19,000 from alleged Duke Cunningham co-conspirator and briber Brent Wilkes, his company ADCS, and his business associates and employees.

Plescia's connections to Wilkes don't end there. His wife Melissa (nee Dollaghan) was the governmental affairs manager for Wilkes company, and Plescia kicked off his re-election campaign at the ADCS headquarters. Bill Ainsworth of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Plescia says he would consider returning the contributions from Wilkes's employees and associates.

McCarthy, the man Plescia would replace, also received $5,000 in campaign contributions from Wilkes and his company.

Plescia would do himself and the ststure of his new office considerable good by returning all the money he received from any of Wilkes's employees or associates, save perhaps his wife Melissa.

From September 2003 to October 2004, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger received more than $87,000 from Wilkes and his associates. Schwarzenegger named Wilkes to the Del Mar Fair Board in April 2004 and to the State Racetrack Licensing Commission in May 2005. Wilkes has since stepped down from his appointments at Schwarzenegger's request. TheRestofUs.org called on Schwarzenegger to disgorge the money, but he refused to do so.

Why was Wilkes contributing to state-level politicians? His gig was federal earmarks and defense contracts after all. Well, aside from the possibility that state-level officials often graduate to Congress and that Wilkes was intent on developing a farm team, Wilkes's company ADCS had also signed on with the California procurement division as a possible provider of document conversion services for state agencies. While this could have led to many more contracts, the Union-Tribune reported in December that ADCS had then received only $1,050 for document conversion for the State Lands Commission.

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