Saturday, April 29, 2006

Lest We Forget....Wilkes, Hunter and Lewis

Blinded by the approaching sex scandal, let's not forget the Southern California members of congress who were on Brent Wilkes' payroll. The FBI will soon tell us, if they were also "relaxing" in Wilkes "hospitality" suites. Let's take the wayback machine to those sexless days of November, when USA Today summarized Wilkes connection with Duncan Hunter (CA-52) and Jerry Lewis (CA-41).

Since 1994, Wilkes and ADCS gave $40,700 in campaign contributions to Rep. Duncan Hunter, a San Diego Republican who now chairs the House Armed Services Committee. Hunter has acknowledged that he joined with Cunningham in 1999 to contact Pentagon officials who reversed a decision and gave ADCS one of its first big contracts, for nearly $10 million. Hunter's spokesman, Joe Kasper, said the congressman was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

Another California Republican, Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis, led panels that ordered the Pentagon to continue programs that aided ADCS when Pentagon officials wanted to cut them. Lewis got $71,253 from Wilkes and his employees in donations since 1993. Wilkes gave Lewis donations and met him at various events, Lewis spokesman Jim Specht said, but "he never talked with him about a defense project."

Before becoming the Appropriations chairman this year, Lewis led the subcommittee that oversees defense spending. In the late 1990s, that panel directed the Pentagon to continue converting paper documents to computer records, the work that ADCS does. Pentagon officials had tried to end the program's funding.

The 1999 defense budget, for example, directed $45 million be spent on document conversion. Wilkes and his employees gave Lewis $7,000 in campaign contributions the day after his subcommittee's first hearing on the bill.

Later, we'll talk more about Wilkes and John Doolittle (CA-4) or Wilkes role as Bush Pioneer and the co-chair of his reelection campaign or even Wilkes and Arnold. Wilkes had lots of Republican friends.