Sunday, April 02, 2006

Buckman, Delay and Doolittle (and Brent Wilkes, too)

With, Tony Rudy, Tom Delay's former assistant chief of staff, singing to federal prosecutors, the next man in line in the Abramoff Roundup is Delay's ex-chief of staff, lobbyist Ed Buckman. While a lobbyist, Buckman maintained Delay's political action committee, TRMPAC, and continued to act as Delay's informal cheif of staff.

Buckman is going to go to jail for a long time unless he gives up the good on Delay. So far, no one involved with Abramoff has chosen to go to jail for 25-40 years to protect their partners in crime. It is doubtful Buckman, also Delay's spiritual advisor, with choose the path less traveled.

Today's Houston Chronicle has an extensive rundown of the Delay pay-to-play systems and of Buckman's roll keeping the money rolling in and the tax dollars and influence flowing out.
Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21 and a leading advocate of government reform, said that when lobbyists raise money for members of Congress it creates a "pay to play" system.

The Chronicle includes a rundown of the Brent Wilkes to Buckman to Delay hand-off of funds for earmarks. Wilkes had been better known as "co-conspirator #1" in the case of convicted felon Randy "Duke" Cunningham, another pay-to-play Republican congressman.

From 2002 through last year, Group W Advisers paid Buckham's company $630,000 to seek government contracts and earmarks in defense appropriations bills. Group W was owned by Brent Wilkes of San Diego and his family-owned group of defense contractors: ADCS Inc. and PerfectWave Technologies LLC., a company marketing speech recognition technology to the Department of Defense. Buckham became the lobbyist for Wilkes' interests effective on April 1, 2002.

Within two weeks, Wilkes, his executives and ADCS donated $45,000 to ARMPAC so one of their executives could play golf with DeLay, FEC records show.


PerfectWave received a $1 million earmark in a defense appropriations bill passed by the House on Oct. 10, 2002, according to research by the nonpartisan Taxpayers for Common Sense. The earmark was added to the bill during a conference committee that was appointed on Sept. 10, 2002.

In the midst of that conference committee, Wilkes' PerfectWave wrote a $15,000 check to TRMPAC. No public record has ever said how the California company came to donate to the Texas political fund.

I'm sure Wilkes is telling his story to federal investigators, who are comparing it testimony provided by Cunningham and Rudy in their plea bargain exchanges. When combined with Abramoff's cooperative testimony, Buckman is going to have some pretty serious explaining to do, if he wants to avoid spending the rest of his life in jail.

TPM Muckraker speculates on the Republicans who Buckman will have to take down to avoid his decades in jail.

What other balls did Buckham have in the air? In addition to running the U.S. Family Network, DeLay's ARMPAC and Alexander Strategy Group, he lobbied for Brent Wilkes, a major figure in the Cunningham bribery scandal; he "employed" DeLay's wife Christine and Rep. John Doolittle's (R-CA) wife, Julie, in arrangements widely recognized to be channels to pump money to the husbands; and he had a funny habit of being around when DeLay was helping out Abramoff's Choctaw's clients, or DeLay met with Abramoff's shady Russian oil pals. Will he sing like a canary when the heat comes down?

Delay and Doolittle, they're coming for you.