Sunday, May 28, 2006

Hookergate Details Emerge

The San Diego Union Tribune continues to take the lead in investigating the Brent Wilkes, Randy "Duke" Cunningham, Kyle "Dusty" Foggo saga. Today,

The poker games provide a window into the way Wilkes befriended powerful people, including former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, who could help him get millions of dollars in federal contracts. Because of published reports that the hotel suites were sometimes visited by prostitutes – which Wilkes heatedly denies – the bribery scandal is now known in some circles as “Hookergate.”[...]

Some of the CIA officers and congressional staffers Wilkes played poker with by night were the people he met with by day as he pursued government contracts.

Cunningham, for example, relished the good times, took more than $630,000 in bribes from Wilkes, inserted multimillion-dollar items into legislation to benefit Wilkes and then bullied Pentagon bureaucrats into favoring Wilkes over competing contractors, according to federal prosecutors.

In recent years, Wilkes was particularly interested in CIA contracts.

He was negotiating last year for a proposed project to provide clandestine air-transport services for the CIA, even though he had little experience in transportation, according to several sources close to the intelligence community. The negotiations – arranged with the help of Wilkes' poker-playing friend at the CIA, Kyle “Dusty” Foggo – fell through after Wilkes was identified as a co-conspirator in the Cunningham bribery case.

If Cunningham hadn't been so greedy, Wilkes would still be flying high and the booze and broads would still be available on demand - on the taxpayers dime.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Slow Posting Lately

Sorry for the slow rate of posts lately. Lots going on, but that's no excuse.

The good news: Busby's campaign is going strong. John Doolittle, Jerry Lewis, Duncan Hunter and Dicky Pombo are feeling the heat.

There might be hope for the Republic.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Repubs On the Run

The Contra Costa Times takes a look at some surprising races across California and focuses on "15%" John Doolittle's (CA-4) struggles.

Doolittle, a member of the House Appropriations Committee and of the House GOP leadership, has denied wrongdoing amid reports that his ties with Abramoff have drawn the attention of federal investigators. He has refused to return donations he has accepted from Abramoff and his clients, or from a defense contractor in the bribery case that took down Cunningham.

Doolittle also has defended an arrangement under which his wife, Julie, does his fund raising and gets a 15 percent commission on each sum she raises. Under this setup, the Doolittles' household benefits directly from every donation Doolittle gets.

A professional fund-raising group has criticized the arrangement, contending that industry guidelines call for fund-raisers to earn a flat fee. Doolittle contends his method is better because his wife gets paid only when she succeeds in raising money.

How can his wife not succeed in raising money? Lobbyists are standing in line to hand cash over to Doolittle. Big Dick Cheney has already raised $250,000 for Doolittle in advance contributions for a fund raising lunch he his attending in support of Doolittle. Good old "15%" will personally pocket $37,500 of that and use some of the rest for personal expenses such as child care.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Ethics Committee to Investigate Cunningham

Yes, the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (Congressional Ethics Committee) is back on the job after an almost two year hiatus. The problem is that most of their targets are either in jail or on their way there. That's going to make the long months of hearings sort of useless, don't you think? It's unlikely that the committee will actually go after anyone who isn't already under investigation.
A statement issued by the committee said the panel intends to act forcefully if it uncovers wrongdoing.

"Should we become aware, either through the inquiry we have undertaken or through any other source, of facts supporting a more formal investigation of one or more members, officers or employees, we intend to take all appropriate steps under committee rules, including recommending the establishment of one or more investigative subcommittees."

A spokeswoman for the Washington office of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said she doubts that would happen and contended that the committee statement released by Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Washington, was nothing more than a public relations exercise.

"It's pretty funny considering Cunningham is already sitting in jail," said the group's Naomi Seligman Steiner. "And anyone the committee might look at is already under investigation by the Justice Department."

Because of that, she said, she expects the committee will announce later this year that it is suspending its work.

"The committee will say it wanted to do an investigation but couldn't because the subjects are already part of a federal probe, so this won't result in anything other than the committee being able to say, 'Look, we tried.' "
Come election time, the members of the committee can look their constituents in the eye and say "we tried." I guess that's something.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

"Where Does Brian Bilbray Really Live?"

It's one thing for Democrats to call Brian Bilbray, Republican lobbyist and 50th CD congressional candidate, a carpetbagger. Considering that Bilbray has never lived in the 50th District and considering that for the last 5 years his residence has been in Virginia, the Democrat's claim that Bilbray was an carpetbagging opportunist may have been valid, but until now it didn't resonate.

Things seem to have changed. Yesterday, Democrats claimed that Bilbray has made fraudulent claims regarding his place of residence and that he may have actually claimed three legal residences for different legal purposes. The Union Tribune soft sells the story today, keeping the political aspect up front, but local ABC affiliate, KGTV, has taken a far more aggressive stance and is actually investigating the story.

In a story first run last night and repeated today, KGTV asks, "Where Does Brian Bilbray Really Live?"

In fact, there are serious questions about where Bilbray really lives. Virginia property records show Bilbray claims a home in Alexandria, Va., as his primary residence, for tax purposes.

The same is true for a home in Imperial Beach. Bilbray and his wife, Karen, also claim the Imperial Beach home as their primary residence. [...]

“I live in Carlsbad, taking care of my mother,” Bilbray said.

He said he has lived in the Carlsbad house since March 2005.

It is the address he used in his declaration of candidacy for the North County congressional seat.

Democrats said Bilbray does not live at that address.[...]

Neighbors told 10News they rarely ever see Bilbray at the house, which is his mother’s home.

“He comes here occasionally to see his mother like boys will do, but he doesn't live here,” said neighbor Frank Knudsen.

“If he does live here, he must leave late at night and come back early in the morning,” said neighbor Bill Rider.

Another man, who lives right next door, said he wondered when people would catch on that Bilbray does not live here.

It's not going to help the floundering Bilbray campaign to have television news following him around to see where he sleeps at night.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Busby by 7%

Pretty much old news by now, but in CA-50 Francine Busby has opened a 47% to 40% lead over lobbyist Brian Bilbray.

Today's release of a Lake Research poll finds Busby with a solid lead in voter preference over Bilbray.

A week earlier, a SurveyUSA poll had the race at dead even, 45% each.

This most recent poll is in line with a poll done for Republican Bill Hauf at the beginning of May that found Busby ahead of Bilbray by 6%.

Pretty impressive for the Busby campaign.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Bill Who? Bill Hauf!

Well, it's official, millionaire conservative Republican Bill Hauf will take on Brian Bilbray in the 50th District Republican primary on June 6. Exactly what Hauf expects to achieve by taking on Bilbray is hard to determine. He was certainly not a vote magnet in the April special election.
Hauf spent more than $1 million in a bid for the seat in an April special election and received less than 2 percent of the vote. It was his first run for office. Hauf said he would spend “whatever it takes” to win the Republican primary in June, although he declined to discuss how much that might be.
Now he's going to spend "whatever it takes." There's not that much money in the world, Bill.

I can see Hauf as a stalking horse for Eric Roach, but exactly how that works is a bit hard to determine. If Hauf has a very strong showing while losing to Bilbray and Bilbray loses to Busby, then Roach might consider a write-in campaign in the general election. That's quite a stretch.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Hummm.... Would These Be The Same Committees That Couldn't Find Any Evidence

Didn't a couple of these committees already conduct extensive investigations?

All Hell Breaks Loose

I go to Las Vegas for the weekend and all hell breaks loose. Who is responsible for tossing Kyle "Dusty" Foggo's house(s)?
Officials inside CIA headquarters saw agents hauling away items from Foggo's seventh-floor suite, and neighbors outside his rented house in the Oakdale Park section of Vienna said officers, some wearing plastic gloves, placed materials in vans parked at the front and rear of the split-level brick home.
No matter what the spin and no matter how many contracts he steered to his pal, Brent Wilkes, it's still all about the hookers. Please tell me - it's all about the hookers.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

CA-41 Lewis, Lowery, Wilkes - Coming Home to Roost

We predicted that this would happen months ago (OK, we also predicted that UCLA would win the National Championship and that Busby would win the CA-50 special election). The Los Angeles Times says that one of the most powerful Republicans in Congress, Representative Jerry Lewis (CA-41) is under investigation.

The government is looking into the connection between Lewis and his longtime friend Bill Lowery, the sources said. Lowery, a lobbyist, is a former congressman from San Diego.

As chairman of the Appropriations panel, Lewis has earmarked hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts for many of Lowery's clients, one of the sources said.Lewis said he knew Lowery well, having spent 12 years in Congress with him, but denied favoring earmarks for Lowery's clients. […]
The Lewis investigation is in the early stages and has not been presented to a grand jury, the sources said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because
they were either involved in the probe or were not authorized to speak about
ongoing investigations.

It’s good to see the Times get into the action here, but the Pulitzer Prize winning San Diego Union Tribune did the heavy lifting on this story back in December.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

CA-41 Jerry Lewis Is Corrupt......Duh!

Josh Marshall comes to a startling revelation over at TPM. Representative Jerry Lewis is corrupt. Bought and sold by Brent Wilkes.

Look back through the record: you see Jerry Lewis doing a lot of bidding for Brent Wilkes and Bill Lowery. See example after example and at a certain point you just add two and two and it occurs to you that it might equal four.

Lewis, Cunningham, Doolittle, Hunter...............It's going to be a long hot summer for Republicans.

CA-50 New Poll Says It's Dead Even

A SurveyUSA poll released today finds the race for the CA-50 congressional seat tied, with Democrat Francine Busby and Republican Brian Bilbray each the preference of 45% of likely voters.

The poll represents 442 likely voters sampled May 7-9. By party affiliation 50% of the respondents considered themselves Republican, 32% Democrats and 18% independents. Bilbray is the preference of 82% of the self-described Republicans, while Busby is the preference of 95% of Democrats and 54% of independents.

One point of interest, 54% of the Republicans surveyed did not vote in the April 11 special election, where just 35% of the Democrats claimed to have not participated. Bilbray's number therefore reflect the contribution of self-described likely voters, who did not bother to fill out an absentee ballot or drop by a polling station to choose their party's candidate for the run-off. What are to odds that this group will now turn out in mass to vote for Bilbray?

This poll was taken before Eric Roach "stood down" in his primary challenge of Bilbray and before Bill Hauf alerted the media that he was seriously considering an "aggressive" challenge of Bilbray in the primary.

All in all, this poll is good news for Busby. She has moved from being slightly behind Bilbray right after the special election (although within that poll's margin of error) to a dead even tie in a heavily Republican district.

CA-50 Bilbray's New Challenge From The Right

The 50th District soap opera continues today. Eric Roach’s decision to “stand down” his campaign in the June Republican primary has compelled fellow conservative and special election candidate, Bill Hauf, to contemplate an aggressive campaign against Brian Bilbray in the primary.

Hauf was among the conservative also-rans in April’s 50th District special election. He garnered just 1.6% of the total votes, well behind Roach, Howard Kaloogian and Bill Morrow, the conservative trioka that insured Bilbray’s victory by stealing votes from each other.

After the election, Hauf encouraged Roach to challenge Bilbray in the primary. Hauf was part of Roach’s entourage when he visited with key right wing leaders in Washington. Last week, Hauf released a poll that he had commissioned projecting that Democrat Francine Busby would beat Bilbray in the June congressional election run-off.

With Roach officially sidelined, congressional news source, Roll Call, says Hauf will announce his intentions by the end of the week and that he says that he is leaning heavily toward “aggressively running.” You can read the full Roll Call article here.

If he runs, Hauf says his will be a campaign “unlike any other campaign people have seen in the 50th District.”

We can’t wait, Bill. Let the fun begin.

Cunningham Remains A Class Act

The North County Times tells us that Federal investigators report that convicted felon Republican Randy "Duke" Cunningham is refusing to cooperate with their on-going investigations. Cunningham's lack of cooperation is a violation of his plea agreement, but considering that Cunningham has a lot of problems sticking with oaths and promises, his lack of cooperation is hardly a surprise.
Rick Gwin, special agent in charge of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service's western regional office, said he is troubled by the lack of assistance, particularly in light of Cunningham's plea agreement that calls for him to tell all that he knows.

"In my opinion, he has not been cooperative and I have not gotten any information from him to further develop other targets," Gwin said in a telephone interview from his office in Mission Viejo. "I was hoping that from a jail cell, he might become more cooperative, but we just don't have the cooperation that I think we should have."

The NC Times does link the Cunningham investigation to the recently resigned Number 3 man at the CIA, Kyle "Dusty" Foggo and Cunningham co-conspirator #1, Brent Wilkes.

"This is much bigger and wider than just Randy 'Duke' Cunningham," he said. "All that has just not come out yet, but it won't be much longer and then you will know just how widespread this is."

The fallout from Cunningham's more than five years of taking bribes from defense contractors continues to reverberate from coast to coast.

In Washington on Monday, the No. 3 official at the CIA, Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, announced he is retiring in the wake of last week's resignation by Porter Goss as the spy agency's director.

Foggo's resignation may have more to do with his relationship to Cunningham and Poway defense contractor Brent Wilkes than with Goss' decision to step down.

After years of dishonoring his position and cheating on his constituents, why would anyone expect Cunningham to do any more than act like a petulant child now that he has been caught?

Monday, May 08, 2006

Roach Out of CA-50 Race

Ending nearly a month of speculation, conservative Republican Eric Roach announced today that he will not contest Brian Bilbray in the June 6 Republican primary.

Roach spent the last several weeks courting and being courted by Republican true believers, who were upset with the prospect of a "moderate" Republican taking convicted Republican felon Randy "Duke" Cunningham's place in congress.

Influential conservative blogger, Jon Fleischman had nothing but disdain for fellow Republican Bilbray.

Brian Bilbray earned a reputation in his three terms in Congress as being a very moderate Republican. Well, I can tell you that it is moderate Republicans in Congress who have created our biggest problem in Washington – the huge gulf between what Republicans say and what we do. I have heard over, and over, and over that the reason why spending is up, not down, at the federal level is that while we have a majority of Republicans in both the Senate and House of Representatives, because of moderate Republicans, we don’t have a majority of votes to reduce the size and scope of the national government.

One of Roach's key selling points was that by contesting Bilbray in the primary, he would draw conservative Republicans to the polls and those voters would help Bilbray out in the same day run-off election for the last six months of Cunningham unexpired term. Without Roach in the race, he and his conservative supporters can lay the loss of the CA-50 directly onto the Republican species they most dispise, "moderates."

Wilkes...The Gift That Keeps Giving

The Los Angeles Times gives us a long profile of Republican’s cash machine, Brent Wilkes. Wilkes, a.k.a. Cunningham co-conspirator No.1, figured out how to take advantage of the new rules that the Republican congress of corruption put in place. Most of the piece covers ground that has been covered in other print articles, but the linkage between Wilkes, Mitchell Wade (co-conspirator No. 2) and other members of Wilkes’ corrupt enterprise (Bill Lowery, Kyle Foggo, etc.) all get additional attention.

Perhaps the most telling passage in the article refers to a stunt pulled by Cunningham and another member of Team Wilkes, Representative Jerry Lewis (CA-41) at Wilkes behest.

…in July 1999, co-conspirator No. 1 (Wilkes) faxed Cunningham "talking points" on how to bully a Pentagon manager into releasing more government funds. These documents were included in Cunningham's sentencing hearing.

The memo instructed the lawmaker to demand that the Defense Department official shift money from another program to cover funds designated for ADCS. "We need $10 m[illion] more immediately," Cunningham was to tell the official.

If the official didn't cooperate, Cunningham was to say his next calls would be to two high-ranking Pentagon officials. The script called for Cunningham to add: This is very important and if you cannot resolve this others will be calling also" — two names in this passage are blacked out in the memo. Despite Cunningham's threats, the Pentagon manager was unmoved, according to grand jury testimony.

A week later, Cunningham and Lewis called a Washington news conference to announce that they had slashed $2 billion in funding for the F-22 Raptor fighter jet, one of the Pentagon's prized programs, citing cost overruns. Both congressmen had been key supporters of the project, and their comments shocked Pentagon

Within days, the same Pentagon manager who had been resistant to Cunningham's appeals sent the congressman a list of other programs where money could be "reallocated" to Wilkes' firm, according to court documents. "The Defense Department spends $1 billion a day, so the [Wilkes] contract was like a rounding error. It just wasn't worth putting our big programs at risk," a senior Pentagon official said on condition he not be identified.

I guess this is how the system works. Wilkes get rich, Cunningham gets rich, Lewis get big contributions that allow him to retain his powerful position in congress. And in return, all they have to do is sell out their country.

MZM Would Be A Good Choice, General.

Well, well, well….General Hayden used the services of one of convicted felon Randy “Duke” Cunningham’s favorite companies, MZM Inc. MZM certainly gained a lot of clout thanks to Cunningham’s support. TPM Muckraker picks up the story:

Hayden, President Bush's pick to replace Porter Goss as head of the CIA, contracted with MZM Inc. for the services of Lt. Gen. James C. King, then a senior vice president of the company, the sources say. MZM was owned and operated by Mitchell Wade, who has admitted to bribing former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham with $1.4 million in money and gifts. Wade has also reportedly told investigators he helped arrange for prostitutes to entertain the disgraced
lawmaker, and he continues to cooperate with a federal inquiry into the matter.
King has not been implicated in the growing scandal around Wade's illegal activities. However, federal records show he contributed to some of Wade's favored lawmakers, including $6000 to Rep. Virgil Goode (D-VA) and $4000
to Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL).

Another prize pick by the Bush Administration.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Republican Values and the Religious Right

Recently a 50th District pastor received a letter from a group calling itself the San Diego Christian Coalition. The letter urged the pastor to share with his congregation the urgent need to elect a congressional candidate with the right family values perspective. The pastor was given a specific litmus test for determining if a candidate met those criteria.

“One thing we do that has been helpful to voters who aren’t knowledgeable on the issues is to list organizations that endorse the candidates. For example, when a candidate is endorsed by the San Diego Democratic Club, “fighting for lesbian, gay, & bisexual rights since 1975”, and the other is endorsed by the Christian Examiner, most Christians know which candidate to choose without doing a lot of research...please advertise our website in your Church bulletin...”

The Christian Coalition has a pretty big dilemma in the 50th District race. Democrat Francine Busby is pro-choice, but so is Republican Brian Bilbray. Before the April 11 special election, the religious right's endorsement was split between Howard Kaloogian and Bill Morrow. With both of them on the bench, the Coalition is going to have to do some fancy talking to find a way to endorse Bilbray and keep its dwindling membership in the fold.

In reality, there in no Christian Coalition in
California. It disappeared as a statewide entity about the time Pat Robertson and Ralph Reed drove the national organization to the brink of bankruptcy and lost the group's tax exempt status. The stub end of the organization still exists and, in California local chapters take on the task of keeping the religious faithful on the Republican side.

On the national Christian Coalition organization's 2004 [pdf] election scorecard, five California Republican stand out with 100% ratings by the organization: John Doolittle (CA-4), Devin Nunes (CA-21), George Miller (CA-42), Duncan Hunter (CA-52) and Randy Cunningham (CA-50). Of this group of ethics giants, Doolittle and Hunter are under fire for their associations with Jack Abramoff and Brent Wilkes; and Cunningham is in prison for his work with Wilkes and Mitchell Wade in a multi-million dollar bribery scheme.

Clearly, to the Coalition, a politician's morality and ethics don't matter much as long as he or she votes for their choice of wedge issues. It would be interesting to hear how members of the morality based religious right perceive Randy Cunningham now.

How do they feel about the Hookergate scandal?

Federal prosecutors are investigating whether two contractors implicated in the bribery of former Rep. Randall "Duke" Cunningham supplied him with prostitutes and free use of a limousine and hotel suites, pursuing evidence that could broaden their long-running inquiry.

Besides scrutinizing the prostitution scheme for evidence that might implicate contractor Brent Wilkes, investigators are focusing on whether any other members of Congress, or their staffs, may also have used the same free services, though it isn't clear whether investigators have turned up anything to implicate others.

How do they feel about Cunningham's life style aboard his bribe based yacht the Duke-Stir?

There is however a growing body of speculation regarding
other items found on the boat, the Duke-Stir, where Cunningham was living on
Mitchell Wade's dime. Rumors of supplies of booze sufficient to float the
Duke-Stir herself and large stashes of prescription medications that appear to
have been obtained via the Rush Limbaugh mode of acquisition. Also, sources tell
of piles of pornography in various forms strewn around the yacht.

How do they feel about this nugget from the Sunday Times?

It was obvious that he was living way above his means on a Washington yacht called the Duke-Stir where, in his pyjamas, he would entertain women with champagne.

I'm sure that any good Christian would pray for Cunningham, but why would any vote for him, or his morally bankrupt and ethically corrupt associates?

The Sunday Times Gets It.....It's The Hookers!

Well, at least in Britain they get it, the Sunday Times tells us straight out that Goss is gone and it's because of the hookers.
ALL the ingredients for a spy thriller involving prostitutes, poker, a congressman called Randy and parties at the legendary Watergate complex may lie behind the sudden resignation of Porter Goss as director of the CIA last Friday.

The saga has already been named “Hookergate” and the CIA is buzzing with rumours that there is more to Goss’s departure than meets the eye.

The timing is certainly curious, coming hard on the heels of the CIA’s confirmation last week that Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, the number three in the nation’s spy centre who was hand-picked by Goss, had attended poker games at the Watergate and Westin Grand hotels in Washington with Brent Wilkes, a defence contractor and close boyhood friend.

Wilkes is under investigation for allegedly providing Randy “Duke” Cunningham, a disgraced Republican congressman, with prostitutes, limousines and free hotel suites.

Why do I have to get my news from these foreign sources? The Times suggests that Goss may have been less than forthcoming regarding his attendance at Wilkes poker parties.

A former senior CIA official said this weekend that he had been told by a trusted source inside the agency that Goss, 67, had attended one of the poker games. The CIA has denied it. “Goss has repeatedly denied being there, so if it were to come out that he was, he is finished,” the former official said.

Intelligence and law enforcement sources said solid evidence had yet to emerge that Goss also went to the parties, but Goss and Foggo share a fondness for poker and expensive cigars.

Larry Johnson, a former CIA operative and a Bush administration critic, said Goss “had a relationship with Dusty and with Brent Wilkes that’s now coming under greater scrutiny”.

Johnson vouched for the integrity of Foggo and Goss but said: “Dusty was a big poker player, and it’s my understanding that Porter Goss was also there (at Wilkes’s parties) for poker. It’s going to be guilt by association.”

So....Goss promotes Foggo to a top level position in the CIA based on what? His association with Cunningham? Upon what is Cunningham's association with Foggo based? Cunningham's association with Wilkes?

The significance of “Hookergate” in Goss’s demise has yet to emerge, but CIA officers and congressmen are nervous about how far the allegations of sleaze will reach.
The Brits get it.

Wilkes, Foggo and Bush, Oh My!

Newsweek finds out that Kyle "Dusty" Foggo and Brent Wilkes are friends. Who knew?

It is a bit of a stretch. Most of the Wilkes' bribes go to politicians, from guys like Randy Cunningham, up through more important Republicans such as Tom Delay, Jerry Lewis, Porter Goss, John Doolittle, and on right to the top of the party - George Bush. Yet, Foggo may be the thread that unravels Republican corruption all the way to the top.

But the agency's problems may only get worse, and one reason is Foggo. Federal investigators are looking at the ties of the CIA's "Ex Dir" to a congressional bribery scandal. Foggo was a high-school football teammate and college buddy of Brent Wilkes's, a defense contractor who was identified as an unindicted co-conspirator when former San Diego congressman and ex-Navy air ace Randy (Duke) Cunningham pleaded guilty. The CIA has acknowledged that its internal watchdog is investigating if Foggo helped steer any contracts to Wilkes. According to three sources who declined to be identified commenting on the details of a government probe, there are also indications that the Feds are interested in Foggo's role in the wider Cunningham bribery scandal. Recent news reports have alleged that Wilkes (who has not been charged with any crime) sponsored poker parties at the Watergate and other expensive Washington hotels, and that he may have been involved in a scheme to provide prostitutes to the disgraced Cunningham.
Brent Wilkes is a bit more than "a defense contractor." Wilkes is a one man defense conglomerate, operating a dizzying array of companies that appear designed for a single purpose, to scam money from the defense and intelligence apparatus of the United States.

Wilkes apparently is big in the transportation industry as well. At least in the transportation of Republican politicians. Wilkes' Group W Transportation operation appears to have been designed to allow Wilkes to ferry key Republican leaders around in the style to which his bribes and contribution had made them accustomed.

Yet Group W, owned by Poway defense contractor Brent Wilkes, has provided personal air transportation for some high-profile passengers -- including House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who has flown on the jet to such locations as Idaho for a hunting trip and Hawaii for a golf tournament.

Brent Wilkes is also a major financial contributor to Republican politicians. Aside from convicted felon Randy "Duke" Cunningham, Wilkes made substantial contributions to California Representatives John Doolittle (CA-4), Jerry Lewis (CA-41) and Duncan Hunter (CA-52).

But, wait there's more Wilkes largess to politicians. Wilkes it turns out is also a Bush/Cheney Pioneer - someone who raised at least $100,000 in contributions to the President's 2004 campaign. In this, Wilkes is on a list of just 327 other dedicated fund raisers. In fact the first name on this list is Jack Abramoff. Distinguished company for Wilkes.

Wilkes is also a a key contributor to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Schwarzenegger rewarded Wilkes with posting to two prestigious public boards. Postions that he asked Wilkes to give up when his involvement with Cunningham became public.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who received $77,400 from Wilkes and his wife, Regina Wilkes, has no such plans [to return the money], according to a spokesman.

Schwarzenegger, however, did ask Wilkes to resign from the Del Mar Fair Board and the State Race Track Leasing Commission the day after Cunningham pleaded guilty.

Schwarzenegger appointed Wilkes to both volunteer positions, continuing a tradition in which governors appoint contributors to such prestigious posts.

Cunningham was the most obvious and illegal of Wilkes bribery enterprises. In may turn out that Foggo will be as egregious and illegal a case as was Cunningham's, but it is important to remember that Wilkes was what The Left Coaster called "An ATM for the GOP." His largess was directed at anyone who could help him continue to loot the U.S Government and steal the money of American taxpayers.

OK....It's The Hookers and Incompetence

Kid Oakland (always on his game), points to the alarmingly diminished state of our country's intelligence gathering and analysis capability. Despite all of the commissions and reports, the United States today has less capacity to follow events in key foreign countries than it had before 9/11. The only place wherethe Bush Administration has developed a more extensive spy network is in our own country. And, the architect of the NSA domestic spying program is set to become the head of the CIA.
To abuse a phrase.....something is rotten in the state of U.S. Intelligence. The challenge facing this country is to determine what exactly the Bush/Cheney administration is cooking up behind the scenes with the DNI and exactly how far the freefall at the CIA has gone. What would a "health report" of the nation's intelligence read in May of 2006? It's long past time to open the windows and have a thorough accounting and Congressional oversight.
Congressional oversight. That phrase is vaguely familiar. I know it used to mean something.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Goss and the Congress of Corruption

Yes, it is still about the hookers. Cunningham's hookers and hookers provided by Brent Wikles to other members of congress and the intelligence community.

F.B.I. agents have talked to Shirlington employees about driving Mr. Cunningham and prostitutes to hotel poker parties, and have interviewed women who work for escort services, said a lawyer involved in the investigation.
Remember, Brent Wilkes is also a big time money man for President Bush. And, Wilkes provided a chartered jet to Tom Delay and other members of the Republican congress of corruption.

This is not an isolated incident. Wilkes is a power player in Republican circles.

Medal of Freedom For Goss

General J.C. Christian, rumored to be on the short list for the job of CIA chief, has already nominated Porter Goss for a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The medal was personally designed by the General for Goss.

It is good to see the traditional media start to move away from the Bush spin and question why Goss got such a quick exit.

Foggo, Wilkes, Goss......and Hookers

The traditional media can't help themselves. They are falling in line with the Bush Administration spin that Goss' departure from the CIA was due to his poor management skills and his inability to get along with intelligence czar, John Negroponte (it is so hard to put intelligence and Negroponte in the same sentence). The problem with this view is pretty simple. The Bush Administration has never fired anyone for incompetence. The Bush Administration fires for disloyalty. Unless administration officials are actually booked for crimes, no one is asked to leave.

I think the most realistic view of Goss' departure is that his relationship with Kyle "Dusty" Foggo was going to blow up big time. Goss had a free hand to destroy the agency by forcing its top people out and replacing them with his own crew of Republican loyalists. Foggo was an Agency guy, but one consigned to mid-level bureaucracy until Goss reached down and elevated him to the #3 leadership position in the entire CIA. Goss must have been confident that Foggo wasn't part of the "disloyal" CIA leadership that was making life tough for Bush and Cheney.

Problem is Foggo turned out to be much more loyal to Cunningham co-conspirator Brent Wilkes than to Goss' vision of a politicized CIA. Foggo's associations with Wilkes and his likely assistance in procuring contracts for Wilkes' companies is going to become a major issue for the CIA and when that happens, Goss will get sucked into the Wilkes-Wade-Cunningham corruption scandal.

It is also important to note that, prior to his appointment at the CIA, Goss ran the House Intelligence Committee, where Wilkes and Wade got earmarks from Cunningham. The extent to which Goss was a party to this bribe and payoff system may become more apparent in the next few days.

And, of course, then we get to the hookers. Foggo and Wilkes poker parties in those "hospitality suites" at the Watergate and Westin. When the insider revelations of the relationship between Foggo and Wilkes turns to cigars, booze and hookers, Goss' decisions regarding Foggo and his relationship with Cunningham and Wilkes is going to get a close look, at least in the blogosphere, if not the traditional media.

New CIA Head?

The new head of the CIA is going to be a guy who is close to Dick Cheney and the same guy who ran a massive program of warrentless wiretapping of American citizens. Why do I think of this image when I hear that General Hayden is going to be taking over?

Apparently General Hayden doesn't have much regard for the 4th Amendment. In fact, he apparently doesn't even know what it says.

He is concerned about our precious bodily fluids.

Friday, May 05, 2006

CA-50 Republican Poll Shows Busby Leading

This looks like great news, so why am I skeptical? Over at Flash Report, the drumbeat for right wing Republican darling, Eric Roach, to run against Republican lobbyist Brian Bilbray has become frantic. Roach, for his part, remains silent. In fact, Roach has missed two deadlines established by his own spokesman for an announcement of his intentions. Last week, we were told Roach would have an announcement by week's end. This week, the same line. No announcement.

Now to this latest poll. The numbers for Busby are outstanding. In a poll of 450 potential voters, skewed heavily with Republicans, Busby outperforms Bilbray 43% to 37%. This seems pretty unusual, so let's look at the poll a little more closely.

First, the poll was commissioned by conservative Republican and Eric Roach supporter, Bill Hauf. Hauf ostensible wanted to find out both Bilbray's position in his race against Busby, but also the mood of the conservative electorate. The poll appears to have been designed to insure that Bilbray's liberal tendencies would be exposed.

Second, the poll used a classic "push poll" methodology. The money question of voter preference is preceded by questions designed to predispose the respondent to make a specific choice. For example, prior to asking if a voter prefers Busby or Bilbray, there might be a couple of questions about Bilbray the lobbyist. Or, depending on the poll, a question about Bilbray eating the flesh of young children.

Third, the poll was designed to scare Republicans. Bilbray (the eater of living children) performed far worse against Busby than Roach, the white knight of the Republican right.

However, this poll is good news for Busby. The margin of error is too great to be just the product of the "push poll" bias. And, it shows that Republican support of Bilbray is incredibly weak.

The continuing drumbeat of bad news regarding the Bush Administration and the support of Republican leaders like Cheney and Hastert are huge negative for Bilbray. In fact, the mainstream party support for Bilbray is playing right into both Busby and Roach's hands.

The result here is great for Busby, a major negative for Bilbray and a big inducement to Roach to take on Bilbray (for his own good).

Porter Goss - Could It Be The Hookers?

Porter Goss bails out. Why? So far the traditional media is spinning while being spun.

The initial AP story says Goss’ departure is part of the on-going White House shake-up. Which is, of course, the spin that is being put out by….the White House.

The reality: Porter Goss is enmeshed in Brent Wilkes and Duke Cunningham’s Hookergate scandal. The traditional media has been ignoring the Hookergate story, which has been out in the blogosphere since those ink stained wretches at the Wall Street Journal pried open Brent Wilkes’ Watergate (and later Westin) “hospitality suites.”

Let’s face it, if George Tenant had resigned as Bill Clinton’s CIA Director without warning on a Friday afternoon, don’t you think that Ken Starr would have had Tenant’s office sealed within 15 minutes and have been holding a press conference within a half an hour to discuss the Whitewater implications.

Note to traditional media: It’s the hookers! Check it out.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Gone To Ground

You can sense the frustration over at TPM Muckraker. Shirlington Limousine & Transportation Inc. has apparently gone into hiding. As in disappeared, vanished, can't be located, etc. Investigative reporter and sleuth, Justin Rood spent the day trying to find evidence the Shirlington, the recipient of over $20 million in Department of Homeland Security contracts even exists.

Shirlington is, as you know, Brent Wilkes and Duke Cunningham's preferred supplier of both transportation and other more intimate services. Apparently, despite having a variety of business addresses, Shirlington doesn't seem to be at home at any of them.

First thing, Justin checked out Shirlington's Washington National Airport address.

"Jim" -- I promised him I wouldn't use his real name -- worked in the building, and was happy to tell me what he knew. It wasn't much, but it was something.

"We hardly ever see 'em," he said of the Shirlington employees. "Once a month on Saturdays they have a training thing. The guy I normally see here, I haven't seen for a week or so." There was a pregnant lady who seemed to work as a secretary in the office, and keep regular hours. "She was in the office at eight or so, out around 4:30 or five." Recently, however, he hasn't seen her, either. "They kept quiet -- I never paid much attention."

See any Shirlington limo cars? "I've never seen them stage cars here," he said.

Fleet of limos and buses. You'd think somebody might has seen something.

Undaunted, Justin heads for the next Shirlington address (addresses really): 425 8th St. NW and 717 D St. NW.

Guess what? No offices, no limos, no buses, no Shirlington.

Justin did find someone who had actually seen a Shirlington limo and driver. But, that turned out to be a prom night gone bad back in 2000.

I'm sure that the folks over a TPM Muckraker are going to stick with the story. Maybe hang around the Department of Homeland Security and follow a limo home. Millions of dollars because someone at Shirlington was able to help Brent Wilkes get Duke Cunningham a little lovin'.

Duncan Hunter At It Again

Back in December, we wanted to know why Representative Duncan Hunter (CA-52) wanted to steal a national park and turn in back over to a private trophy hunting concession? Under intense pressure from Democrats and environmental groups, Hunter dropped his proposal to steal California's Santa Rosa Island (part of the Channel Islands National Park) from the American people. This December raid was his second attempt to allow the private hunting concession to remain in charge of the island and exclude the public from the park.

Well, Hunter, who heads the Armed Services Committee, is back with a new proposal to insure that the public is excluded from the park that our tax dollars paid for, while hunting activities continue on the island. This time he is attaching the proposal to the Department of Defense authorization bill. A bit of an earmark for the trophy hunting concession on the island.

Last year, Hunter wanted to annex the island completely and turn its operation over to the Department of the Navy. The commercial hunting business would be allowed to remain, but provisions would be made for the military and disabled veterans to use the island's facilities for hunting. Why the military and disabled veterans couldn't be allowed to use any of the millions of acres of public land already under government management is unclear. Or, why these same military hunters couldn't be accommodated on the other millions of acres of land under the control of the Department of Defense was equally unclear.

Hunter wants Santa Rosa Island and he wants the commercial business on that island to continue. His latest proposal leaves the island under the control of the Department of the Interior, but it abrogates the original agreement between the island's previous owners and commercial hunting concessionaire that would end the hunting operation in 2011.

In effect, Hunter's new proposal turns the island into a private hunting preserve under government sponsorship. In this case the general public would be excluded from the island for safety reasons, while trophy hunters would be free to use the facilities. Military hunters, disabled veterans and members of congress would also have access to the hunter facilities.

Once again, Democrats, enviromentalist and the National Park Service are trying to stop Hunter's land grab.

Hunter's proposal angered Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara), whose district includes Santa Rosa Island. Capps' aides distributed the bill language to reporters Monday.

"This is Chairman Hunter's third attempt in less than a year to exclude the public from accessing the national park that they paid $30 million for. The issue of Santa Rosa Island has no place in the defense authorization bill," Capps said.

"I am firmly opposed to this unilateral effort and will join hands with Republicans, Democrats and environmentalists to ensure the island is not turned into a private reserve," Feinstein said.


"Saying it is more important to have an opportunity to hunt a trophy animal that doesn't even belong on the island than to protect the other species in the park, to me that's what's fairly disturbing about this," said Russell Galipeau, the park superintendent.
Why is Hunter obsessed with this project? With so many other alternatives, why does Hunter persist in trying to steal a national park from U.S. taxpayers and give to back to a commercial trophy hunting operation?

Hookergate...........................Connecting the Dots

Check out the latest on Hookergate over at TPM. Josh Marshall has his Number 2 pencil out and is working on connecting the dots between Cunningham briber and alleged pimp, Brent Wilkes, and a whole host of San Diego connections.

The line drawn between Wilkes' procurement and delivery service, Shirlington Limousine and San Diego businessman, Jerome Foster is an interesting new development. It is also a line that may connect former San Diego congressman Bill Lowery and his close friend, Representative Jerry Lewis (CA-41) to the whole scandal.

Much more to come. Who can resist a story about cigars, sex, booze and important elected officials?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Ask Brian Bilbray - May 2 Edition

It is interesting how many members of congress and CIA employees are having a hard time remembering the details of those cigar and booze filled nights over at Brent Wilkes' "hospitality suite." Via TPM Muckracker:

Porter Goss never participated.

Dusty Foggo played poker, but never saw any hookers.

Jerry Lewis (CA-41) never hung with Wilkes outside of California.

Duncan Hunter (CA-51) doesn't drink, smoke or hang out with riff-raff.

John Doolittle (CA-4) doesn't speak to the press.

What about one of Wilkes other pals in congress, Brian Bilbray. Bilbray received some big money from Wilkes and was active both in congress and as a lobbyist while Wilkes was running his "hospitality" operation for lonely members of congress.

Why isn't someone from the Pulitzer Prize winning San Diego Union Tribune asking Bilbray about his associations with Wilkes?

Get Your Hot Blogs Here!

Calitics' blog roundup. Good stuff. No calories.

I'd Rather Walk

Over at TPM, Josh Marshall wonders about the capabilities of Randy "Duke" Cunningham's designated drivers, Shirlington Limousines. How could a company with Shirlington's record of failures, malfeasance and regulatory problems get multi-million dollar contracts with the Department of Homeland Security?
So let's put this all together. Shirlington limo's owner Chris Baker has a long criminal record. He's tight with Cunningham briber Brent Wilkes and reportedly provided the transportation services for the parties Wilkes used to sauce up members of Congress and various intel folks as well as get them set up with hookers. Only, aside from squiring Duke Cunningham around with his daily prostitutes, Shirlington seemed like a really screwed up company. They're getting their buses repossessed, their DOT authority to take people across state lines yanked, and pretty much sued right and left. If Shirlington had taxis and you flagged one down to drive you a few blocks, you might tell them you weren't willing to take the risk. But the Department of Homeland Security, which has various law enforcement and intelligence responsibilities (and if you remember some general thing with protecting the homeland) decides Shirlington is the company it wants providing transportation for its senior-most appointees, the folks who run the place.
Duhhh. Shirlington, Wilkes, hookers, members of congress, digital photos. Do I need to draw a map?

Roach Update

The Roach campaign says that a decision by conservative Eric Roach will be announced this week regarding the status of his run against Brian Bilbray in the June Republican primary. Roach spent last week in Washington meeting with the leading lights (yes, the light is on but nobody's home) of the radical Republican right. His decision on challenging Bilbray was promised for last week, but postponed to this week.

What does this delay mean? Who knows. While Roach is apparently wavering, Bilbray is picking the support of a number of mainstream Republican leaders. "Deadeye" Dick Cheney will headline a fund raiser for Bilbray later in the month. Dennis "From Russia With Love" Hastert will be stumping for Bilbray and rumor has it the John "Born Again" McCain will also be out hustling votes for Bilbray.

The longer Roach waits the more entrenched Bilbray becomes.

An interesting sidelight to the Roach decisions comes from the student newspaper at California State University - San Marcos. In a profile piece on one of Roach's young Republican volunteers, Rory Luepton, Luepton says Roach is running.
Roach lost the election, which Luepton said was heart-breaking, but Roach is running again for the congressional election in November and Luepton will also be working on the new campaign.
Is Luepton in the know, or just another right wing cheerleader?