Thursday, March 02, 2006

Adventures of the Ethically Challenged

Just a quick review of the wacky adventures of a few as yet unindicted Republicans.

John Doolittle (CA-4) - TPM has the details and menu of a 2003 gala that Cunningham briber, Brent Wilkes threw for the Northern California congressman at his Southern California corporate headquarters.

Brent Wilkes, whom we'll simply identify as the dirtier of the two defense contractors who bribed Duke Cunningham, had more than one friend in Washington. As we've mentioned before, he was close ($37-million-in-earmarks close) to Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA).

Katharine Harris (FL-13) - TPM Cafe's Daily Muck links to Florida articles that essentially point to Harris and say "liar, liar!"

As Wade plea makes clear, Wade wanted something very specific from Harris: help with a defense appropriation. He even drafted a proposal and forwarded it on to her office. And she followed up on it, writing a letter to the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee asking for the money, estimated at $10M.

And it gets worse. Five weeks ago, during the media's Abramoff and lobbying reform feeding frenzy, Harris boldly promised to disclose all of her earmark requests. It was a bold step that signalled her real commitment to earmark reform. Except, apparently, this earmark request. Her spokesman says it's "privileged information" and they're not handing the request over.

Rick Santorum (PA) - We profiled Santorum's charity, Operation Good Neighbor, the other day. Today, AmericaBlog points us to this article in the Philadelphia Daily News that highlights contributions to the charity from a developer whose activities got a big boost from Senator Santorum.

"It's a neat window into how Washington works," said Gary Ruskin of the Congressional Accountability Project, one of several watchdogs troubled by the potential conflicts when a member of Congress also solicits funds for a charity he runs. "It shows that, more and more, Washington is for sale."

The Operation Good Neighbor Foundation - a charity that Santorum established in 2001 with the aim of helping faith-based groups and others battling poverty and social ills - already is under fire for spending considerably less on aid and more on expenses than the Better Business Bureau and other charitable watchdogs recommend.

Also, several campaign aides are on the payroll or connected with the charity, including Santorum's campaign finance chief, lobbyist Rob Bickhart, who's been paid $75,000 by Operation Good Neighbor in salary and whose company also receives rent from the charity.

The more rocks you turn over the more slimy things you find.