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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Cunningham Scandal Expands ... To Other Members of Congress?

As Scot Paltrow reports in this morning's Wall Street Journal, federal investigators have expanded their inquiry into the bribery case involving former Congressman Duke Cunningham and two defense contractors, Mitch Wade of MZM Inc. and Brent Wilkes of Wilkes Corporation, Group W, and Automated Document Conversion Services (ADCS), among others.

Investigators are now pursuing whether Wade and Wilkes procured prostitutes for Duke Cunningham, in addition to the millions in gifts and cash they gave to Cunningham in exchange for his help getting them hundreds of millions in federal defense contracts.

Cunningham and Wade have each pleaded guilty to bribery and corruption charges, but Brent Wilkes has not even been indicted yet. Amongst those following this case closely, there has been much speculation that the illegal activity by Wilkes was not limited to bribing Cunningham, but included other acts potentially involving other members of Congress, a notion borne out by the expanding federal investigation.

The million dollar question is this: were other members of Congress involved in similar immoral behavior with Wilkes and Wade?

Cunningham wasn't the only member of Congress to receive large sums of campaign contributions from Wilkes and Wade. Others include:

Rep. Duncan Hunter - CA 52, who received at least $43,200 from Wilkes and his associates. Hunter directed millions for document conversion services for Wilkes in the 90's.

Senator Larry Craig - ID, who received at least $43,000 from Wilkes and his associates. Craig earmarked $3 million for Wilkes for digitizing and converting documents in 2002.

Rep. Jerry Lewis - CA 41, who received at least $86,252 from Wilkes and his associates. Lewis was chairman of the House Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations from 1999-2005 when Wilkes and Wade obtained the bulk of their defense contracts.

Rep. John Doolittle - CA 4, who received at least $118,000 from Wilkes and his associates. Doolittle earmarked $37 million in federal funds for Wilkes' company PerfectWave Technologies.
These men all showed a willingness to help Wilkes and Wade. Was this willingness predicated not only on campaign contributions, but also upon something much more sordid?

Wilkes is a longtime pal of CIA official Dusty Foggo. When Foggo was stationed in Central America in the 80's, Wilkes ferried members of Congress down to see Foggo and the Contras. In other words, Wilkes is no stranger to the world of dirty tricks. Central America is apparently well known in certain circles as a haven for wealthy Americans wanting to get sexed up - the Western Hemisphere's Morocco, if you will.

These facts suggest another question: Were members of Congress coerced into providing contracts to Wilkes and Wade in return for silence about the members' sexual depravity?

Today's revelations demand an answer from those elected officials with whom Wade and Wilkes were close: Reps. Hunter, Lewis, and Doolittle, and Senator Craig should all make clear to their constituents that they engaged in no such immoral behavior in connection with Wilkes or Wade as apparently did Cunningham.

Our national security has been compromised in part by greed. Americans have a right to know how far it has been compromised, and whether these public officials traded their office for a piece of ass.

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