Tuesday, May 09, 2006
The Wall Street Journal recently broke the news that federal investigators are looking into whether Duke Cunningham briber Brent Wilkes, who used to throw poker parties for members of Congress and the intelligence services at high-priced D.C. hotel suites, provided prostitutes for the attendees of those gatherings.
These scandalous revelations raise the possibility that Wilkes, whose willingness to bribe and conspire to break the law to obtain federal contracts has been shown in court documents strewn across the Cunningham investigation, used prostitutes as a hook to coerce or manipulate members of Congress into steering him federal contracts.
Since the WSJ story, a number of members of Congress have scrambled to deny attending the poker-n-prostitution parties. But an old police report suggests that one Californian congressman may face some heightened scrutiny.
Representative Ken Calvert (CA-44) (see our file on him here) was already under scrutiny for his connections to the Duke Cunningham bribery scandal, which include some $10,500 in campaign contributions arranged by Brent Wilkes and a "fact-finding" trip to Saudi Arabia which Calvert took with Cunningham. Oh, and by the way, on the way to Saudi Arabia, they stopped off in Greece to pick up Thomas Kontogiannis, another one of the guys who Cunningham pleaded guilty to being bribed by. (Kontogiannis overpaid Cunningham for his boat by $400,000.)
But now there's more. Our whistleblower tip line recently reminded us that Mr. Calvert has a history with prostitutes. This 1993 police report describes an incident where a Corona, CA police office found Calvert in a parked car with his pants unzipped and a prostitute's head in his lap. Calvert's response at the time: "We're just talking that's all, nothing else."
The recent revelations that Wilkes and Wade used prostitutes to gain influence and access with key members of congress and the intelligence services cast Calvert's 1993 run-in with the police in a different light. While no charges were apparently filed against the congressman, the incident does raise some questions that demand an answer.
1) Did Calvert ever attend any of the Wilkes/Foggo poker parties?
2) Did Calvert ever accompany Wilkes on any flight, whether for fundraiser or other purpose?
3) Did Calvert do anything to help Wilkes in exchange for campaign contributions, bribes, or other perks including sexual favors? Did Wilkes ever lobby Calvert to take any action?
This is more than a sex scandal. Wilkes is also linked to Dusty Foggo, a childhood friend of his, who recently resigned from the #3 post at the CIA. The story that may emerge is one of old buddies using a variety of tactics, some legal and some not, to cajole or pressure members of Congress in order to make money and influence national policy.
The possibility that members of Congress compromised the integrity of their office or perhaps our national security - and done so because someone had dirt on their sexual activities - is both frightening and serious. While no evidence has been yet put forth showing that this took place, sufficient red flags have been raised as to merit a response from our elected representatives, particularly those with extensive Wilkes contacts, particularly those with a history with prostitutes.
Calvert is one such official. While Calvert likely wishes the 1993 police report was long forgotten, it is yet relevant, especially in light of the direction of the federal investigation and the seriousness of the potential harm. His constituents deserve a clearing of the air.