Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Prince of Pork

More revelations today concerned Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham - the Prince of Pork.

The San Diego Union Tribune delves into the details of the process by which Cunningham was able to "earmark" specific spending to insure that his major contributors such as MZM Inc. and ACDS Inc. were guaranteed lucrative government contracts.

"Cunningham's seats on the defense appropriations subcommittee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence give him influence over the kinds of military-intelligence contracts MZM has been seeking, said Nathan Facey, a former aide to Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee.

"It's one-stop shopping," Facey said of Cunningham's potential usefulness to Wade. "He can get an earmark lined up in the intelligence committee, and then he can walk it over to appropriations and say, 'It's classified, so I can't talk about it, but it's a good program.' "


"Winslow Wheeler, a former Senate staff member and frequent critic of the appropriations process, looks ruefully at the proliferation of pork.


Cunningham's suggestion that he could not significantly influence the outcome of relatively small military-intelligence contracts worth a few million dollars, doesn't square with reality, Wheeler said.

"If he did line-items in committee reports or conference reports for MZM, he understands perfectly well that he required the Department of Defense to do exactly that or there would be hell to pay," Wheeler said."

The UT points out that the chief executives of MZM and ADCS, Mitchell Wade and Brent Wilkes respectively, were responsible for political contributions of close to $800,000 to candidates in who could help them get what they wanted for their companies. And, those are just the legal, reported contributions, not included are the $700,000 overpayment for Cunningham's home, private jet air travel, free housing on a yacht purchased specifically for Cunningham by Wade.

In fact that yacht, the Duke-Stir, is the subject of another Cunningham article today. The North County Times reports that Cunningham is reneging on his June 23 promise to release his financial records relating to his use of the Duke-Stir.

"In a June 23 statement, Cunningham wrote that his attorneys were assembling the payment information for his time on contractor Mitchell Wade's boat, the "Duke-Stir," and would release it once compiled.


In his June statement, Cunningham, R-Escondido, wrote that he had paid "well over" $8,000 in dock fees and "well over" $5,000 for service and maintenance in lieu of traditional rent during the 14 months he lived on the 42-foot vessel.

The promise to make those records public in a timely manner is included in a "Personal Statement from Congressman Cunningham" that has remained posted on his congressional Web site since it was issued.

Attorney K. Lee Blalack said this week that while the 50th Congressional District lawmaker still intended to disclose the payment information, it will be kept under wraps for now.


In the June statement, however, Cunningham did know he was the subject of some kind of investigation, writing he was aware "there is now a legal inquiry under way."

The first witnesses the federal grand jury in
San Diego called were from the yacht club where the Duke-Stir was docked. Is it possible that the records that Cunningham so confidently promised to deliver might have been contradicted by information already provided to the grand jury? If that's the case, Cunningham's release of incomplete of misleading documents would probably lead to additional investigations and charges.

Why is this guy still the representative of the 50th District?

The UT story also has details concerning payoffs to Congressman Virgil Goode, another member of the Team Delay.

"Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va., a member of the House Appropriations Committee, has been another target of Wade's political contributions. MZM has given $87,476 to Goode, mostly in the form of individual contributions from employees."

Why are any of these corrupt war profiteers representing the American people in Congress?