Saturday, January 21, 2006

Wilkes, DeLay, Lewis, Doolittle, Blunt, Cunningham, etc.

The Austin American-Statesman expands on the growing investigatory interest in the links between Tom DeLay and Cunningham co-conspirator #1, Brent Wilkes.

"Last month, prosecutors subpoenaed bank records of PerfectWave Technologies, a company that builds technology for battlefield communications, plus documents from San Diego military contractor Brent Wilkes, a big donor to Republicans. Wilkes owns PerfectWave and several other defense-related companies, as well as a Washington-based lobbying firm, Group W.


It was the fall of 2002, and Texans for a Republican Majority was scouring for corporate money when it found an unlikely donor — a California defense technology firm willing to send part of its $40,000 startup money to help U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay's political committee.

PerfectWave Technologies, a San Diego-area firm, gave DeLay's committee $15,000 to help elect Republicans to the Texas Legislature. It sent the rest of the $40,000 to a gala tribute to Randy "Duke" Cunningham, the San Diego-area congressman who resigned after pleading guilty last year to taking bribes from military contractors.

On Thursday, Travis County prosecutors dug deeper into the Southern California connections to DeLay and Texans for a Republican Majority political action committee, subpoenaing a second round of records of any "negotiations or agreements" that prompted the donation. They also asked for any communications about pending federal legislation that would have affected the firm."

PerfectWave Technologies, a Wilkes company, sent $40,000 in money ostensibly provided to it for start-up expenses directly to Tom DeLay's PAC and to Duke Cunningham. It is illustrative that the Wilkes pattern of business development is to first insure that the business has high level political support, then to develop products. It may seem backwards, but it certainly has been profitable for Wilkes.

The PerfectWave political connections were first publicized in December by the San Diego Union Tribune. The UT pointed out that PerfectWave's business was based upon a sound pattern/noise reduction technology developed by the Scripps Research Institute.

"According to attorney Pat Shea, a former San Diego mayoral candidate who served as PerfectWave's outside counsel in 2002 and 2003, the company spent the first year of its existence engaged in patent disputes with other firms and engineers who received rights to similar technologies developed by Scripps Research Institute.

Shea said the disputes were resolved in late 2003. Within months, PerfectWave won a Navy contract to improve voice communications and speech recognition. The Navy was unable to provide details of the contract yesterday.

Even before PerfectWave's patent disputes were resolved, it was donating money to key politicians in Washington."

And, oh my, what an interesting collection of "key politicians in Washington" were on the PerfectWave donations list. Besides the $15,000 to DeLay's PAC and the $25,000 to Cunningham; Wilkes' longtime business associate, Max Gelwix, Chief Operation Officer of PerfectWave was generously pinpointing donations to critical members of congress and their PACs.

"...By the end of 2003, Max and Ellen Gelwix made more than $50,000 in political contributions, mostly to key Republican officials in the House leadership or the House Appropriations Committee.

Among other contributions, the Gelwixes donated $10,000 to DeLay's Americans for a Republican Majority PAC; $11,000 to Future Leaders PAC, headed by Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee; $10,000 to Rely on Your Beliefs PAC, headed by acting House Majority Leader Roy Blunt of Missouri; and $10,000 to Superior California Federal Leadership Fund, headed by Rep. John Doolittle, R-Granite Bay, who is on the Appropriations Committee."

With the Gelwixes gaining the attention of the key Republican leaders who would insure that PerfectWave would get the appropriate "earmarking" attention, Wilkes worked to make sure that his companies would enjoy top level Republican support.

"The same month that Wilkes launched PerfectWave, he hired Alexander Strategy Group – composed of DeLay insiders – as his lobbying group on Capitol Hill.

The group, which is headed by DeLay's former chief of staff Ed Buckham, staffed with former DeLay employees and included DeLay's wife as a consultant, has a reputation in Washington as a conduit to DeLay's office.

Over the next three years, Wilkes paid about $630,000 in lobbying fees to the group. Although Wilkes' own two-man lobbying group – Group W Advisors – officially represented PerfectWave in Washington, Group W Advisors was represented by the Alexander Strategy Group.

During 2003 and 2004, as Wilkes pushed for contracts for PerfectWave and his other companies, DeLay was a frequent flier on a corporate jet partly owned by Wilkes and was often seen in his company at Southern California golf courses."

Is it any surprise that investigators in Texas are interested in the connections between Wilkes and DeLay. The relationship between Wilkes, PerfectWave's Navy contract and the Gelwixes' generosity to Cunningham, Lewis and Doolittle must be of interest to federal investigators looking at the activities of Wilkes as co-conspirator #1 in the Cunningham investigation.