Thursday, November 10, 2005

Quid Pro Quo

USA Today has an excellent article today that carefully analyzes the voting pattern of Congressmen Randy "Duke" Cunningham (CA-50) and Virgil "Please Be" Goode (VA-5). The USA Today analysis shows that the Cunningham and Goode voting pattern and the political contribution pattern of the MZM Corporation routinely intersected.

"A USA TODAY analysis of MZM-related campaign contributions shows how the company's growth and its political activities became intertwined at key moments. In more than 30 instances, donations from MZM's political action committee or company employees went to two members of the House Appropriations Committee — Cunningham and Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va. — in the days surrounding key votes or contract awards that helped MZM grow.

For example, MZM's political action committee gave Cunningham $5,000 in 2003 the day before his appointment to a congressional panel negotiating the final version of the defense budget. Ten days later, the day after the House passed the final Pentagon spending bill, Wade gave Cunningham $2,000."

In case you had forgotten the MZM connection. MZM is a former small time government contractor that found its way to the big time through the ownership of a very small, select group of key members of Congress. The most critical of the MZM team members was Cunningham.

"Larry Noble, an independent ethics expert with the Center for Responsive Politics, says the timing of the contributions creates the appearance that the company's political giving helped it get taxpayer-funded business from the Pentagon...

Political donations from military contractors are quite common, but timing those donations around contract decisions is not, said Noble, a former chief counsel for the Federal Election Commission.

In a civil lawsuit filed by the U.S. Attorney's office in San Diego on Aug. 25, federal prosecutors accused Cunningham of seeking and receiving a bribe in exchange for helping MZM get government contracts.

The alleged bribe involved Wade's purchase of Cunningham's home near San Diego. A company Wade controlled paid $1.675 million for the house, then sold it eight months later at a $700,000 loss.Prosecutors saythat Wade deliberately paid more than the house was worth and that Cunningham used the excess to trade up to a more expensive house in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif."

Not only did Duke get the big bucks via his home sale, but it appears that whenever the government rewarded MZM, MZM turned around and sent a few bucks Duke's way.

"A USA TODAY analysis of MZM's donations found that the contributions — often small — frequently followed important milestones for the company. Cunningham got thousands of dollars in campaign money from MZM, including:

• $1,000 from MZM's PAC in May 2002, two days after the General Services Administration put the company on its list of approved information technology service providers, a key step for MZM to get contracts from federal agencies.

• $5,000 from the PAC on Sept. 15, 2003, the day before Cunningham was appointed to a joint House-Senate committee that wrote a final version of the 2004 Pentagon spending bill that included provisions helping the company.

• $2,000 from Wade on Sept. 24, 2003, the day the House passed that Pentagon spending bill.

• $2,500 from the MZM PAC to Cunningham's PAC on June 22, 2004, the day the House passed the annual defense spending bill."

Kind of a pay as you go plan.

Cunningham is finishing out his last term in Congress. He continues to sit on two key committees that hand out money to defense contractors such as MZM, while awaiting indictment for his past activities with MZM and other.

It makes me proud to be represented by such a reprehensible, vile and despicable Republican criminal.