As I first revealed here last week, defense contractor Mitchell Wade aided the government in its investigation “of at least five other members of Congress” who were the subject of government investigations into whether they had engaged in “corruption similar to that of Mr. Cunningham,” according to a defense sentencing memo.
Wade is to be sentenced next month for providing former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham with $1.8 million in bribes. He’s asking for a year of home detention in return for the extraordinary cooperation that he provided the government in its investigations of Cunningham and other current and former members of Congress (none of whom has been charged with a crime). They include:
- Sen. Dan Inouye, D-Hi.
- Rep. Alan B. Mollohan, D-W. Va
- Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif.
- Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va.
- Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Fla.
The Inouye and Lewis connections involve Wade’s former employer, defense contractor Brent Wilkes, who introduced Wade to Cunningham.
During his trial, Wilkes testified that it was a “total misrepresentation” to say he relied on the Congressman Cunningham to do everything for him; Jerry Lewis, along with Rep. John Porter of Ill., were far more important, Wilkes said. (There’s excellent background on Lewis’ lobbying operation here.) The U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles reportedly opened an investigation into Lewis back in 2006.
By contrast, Inouye, the Senate’s third-most senior Democrat, hasn’t yet been linked to an investigation of “corruption similar to Mr. Cunningham.” Wilkes was seeking the veteran Senate appropriator’s help in lining up military and government contracts for his Honolulu document conversion subsidiary, Akamai Info Tech. Inouye was also one of more than a dozen members of Congress Wilkes unsuccessfully attempted to subpoena for his trial last year.
Mollohan’s ties to Wade are more direct. He received $23,000 in campaign contributions and gifts to a family foundation from Wade’s company, MZM Inc., and another firm that did business with MZM. In October 2002, MZM gave $20,000 to Mollohan’s Summit PAC. As Roll Call reported:
One of those who created Summit PAC for Mollohan was Robert Hytner, vice chairman of Information Manufacturing Corp. of Rocket Center, W.Va. — a company that had a close but apparently troubled business relationship with MZM.
In 2002, IMC paired with MZM on what was to be the initial round of a $12 million Defense Department contract. The contract was issued for support work for the Pentagon’s Joint Counter-Intelligence Assessment Group, Congressional sources said. Mollohan, who serves as ranking member on the Appropriations subcommittee on Science, State, Justice, Commerce and related agencies, said he had no role in securing any funding for that program.
How IMC and MZM came to share the $12 million DOD contract is unclear. IMC was to open a 70-person intelligence operation in West Virginia, and MZM would have filled 30 of those slots. Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) issued a press release in October 2002 in which Wade thanked Byrd for helping secure the funds for the program.
But at some point in early 2003, IMC lost control of the contract to MZM, which took it over and then failed to open a West Virginia branch, according to a source familiar with the incident. Inquiries were made with the Pentagon by members of the West Virginia delegation about why Defense awarded the entire program to MZM. But since the work was classified, the Defense Department offered little insight into what happened, the source said.
The Defense contract eventually grew to be worth roughly $50 million over four years, all of which went to MZM, added the source.
Wade’s ties to Goode and Harris are old news. As I said last week, Wade wanted to open facilities in their districts and made $78,000 in “straw” contributions to grease the wheels. To settle the charges, Wade agreed to pay a $1 million civil fine to the Federal Elections Commission, the second-largest penalty in the commission’s history.
As I said earlier, neither Harris nor Goode nor any of the other three on this list has been charged with wrongdoing. Even so, I still love this letter that Harris wrote to Wade after the first of their two dinners at Citronelle, “the best dinner I have ever enjoyed in Washington.”