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HAC Chairman Lewis' Earmarks Investigated

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posted on Aug, 28 2006 @ 11:39 AM
The federal corruption probe into House Appropriations Committee Chariman Jerry Lewis' activities centers on his relationship to the lobbying firm Copeland, Lowery, Jacquez, Denton, & White, specifically to partner Letitia White, who started out as Lewis' receptionist two decades ago, went on to become his top aide, and is now an influential Washington defense contract lobbyist.
Earmarks are funding inserted into legislation that often get little or no review. Prosecutors are scrutinizing Lewis' earmarks as part of the federal probe.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles, which is leading the probe, declined to comment. Through a spokesman, White declined an interview request and defended herself.

"Ms. White has a good relationship with Chairman Lewis and other members of Congress because she has real substantive expertise on defense issues and is careful when it comes to the rules and regulations governing Capitol Hill lobbying," spokesman Patrick Dorton said. "She has a reputation for being a smart, hardworking consultant."

During the year prior to her departure from Lewis' office, the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reported her income dropped by around $11,000, to just $80 below the $112,500 salary ceiling that would have triggered an automatic one-year ban on her lobbying of Lewis.

The top-secret Defense Department security clearance she'd gotten while on the Hill added to White's value for some potential clients, and her new firm mentioned it in solicitation materials.

The day after leaving the Hill, on Jan. 9, 2003, White signed up a major client -- General Atomics, along with one of its aeronautics subsidiaries. The companies received several multimillion-dollar earmarks that year in the defense spending bill for the 2004 fiscal year, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, including $3 million for General Atomics to provide anti-terror systems at Liberty Island, home to the Statue of Liberty, and $15.3 million for the aeronautics division to develop unmanned aerial vehicles.

By the end of 2003, White had signed up about 15 more clients, mostly defense contractors, and was bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees. Her clients were enjoying similar success to General Atomics in getting earmarks. Meanwhile White, her husband Richard White, also a lobbyist, and her firm's clients were donating generously to Lewis' fundraising committees.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

This article gives real insight into how the lobbying business in Washington works. The individuals themselves aren't really that important, its the positions of power and influence that count.

Just follow the money merry-go-round. The lobbyists make donations to the politician's fundraising committees while the politican steers contracts to the lobbyist's clients, and so on, and so on.

Now the question is, which came first, the donation or the contract? It is hard for me not to see it as blatant bribery and corruption.

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[edit on 7-9-2006 by DontTreadOnMe]

posted on Sep, 5 2006 @ 03:25 PM
Federal investigators want to know how 41 acres of prime real estate adjacent to Rep. Jerry Lewis' Redlands home came to be donated to the city and set off-limits for development. The transaction apparently involves another company, ESRI, and its owners, Jack and Laura Dangermond, who have profited handsomely from earmarks inserted into appropriations bills by Rep. Lewis.

The land, some of which sits directly across from Lewis' home, is part of a scenic canyon in one of Redlands' wealthiest neighborhoods. Keeping the land free of development helps ensure property values remain high.

The Dangermonds donated the land in September 2001, about six months after buying it. The transaction, handled through a company owned by the couple, was contingent on the city agreeing to keep the property as open space or parkland.

Less than a year after the donation, ESRI was tapped by the Pentagon's National Imagery and Mapping Agency to help provide software for a mapping toolkit.

In 2004, ESRI got at least $31.4 million for four federal projects, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, including $14.4 million for the Commercial Joint Mapping Toolkit. In the 2005 defense spending bill the company got $24 million for various projects.

As federal money flowed into their company, the Dangermonds donated generously to Lewis. In the last three election cycles, they have given more than $23,000 to the congressman and his political action committee, according to Federal Election Commission records.


Same pattern here of donations and favors preceding earmarks worth millions for the company involved.

posted on Sep, 8 2006 @ 09:16 AM
Senator Maria Cantwell is also under investigation for earmarks benefiting her former campaign manager turned lobbyist Ron Dotzauer, who owes her a substantial sum of money from a personal loan.

The loan was still listed as outstanding on the financial disclosure report Cantwell filed in May. The senator's office said Dotzauer continues to advise informally Cantwell's campaign as an unpaid adviser.

Since last fall, Cantwell has helped persuade Senate appropriators to set aside $9.6 million _ known as "earmarks" in congressional parlance _ for a dam project benefiting two clients of Dotzauer's firm and $2 million more for the biotechnology company Inologic also represented by his firm.


posted on Sep, 9 2006 @ 08:15 AM
Both the House and the Senate have passed ethics reform bills, but there is no compromise bill acceptable to both houses on the horizon, and the bills passed lack any real attempts at significant reforms of lobbying and earmark rules.

More than a year after Randy "Duke" Cunningham's tale of greed and corruption exploded in the news, Congress still hasn't passed ethics or lobbying reform legislation.

And it's highly unlikely it will, a congressional watchdog said this week.

"The general belief is they will not act on any kind of reform, and certainly not any meaningful reform," said Meredith McGehee, policy director for the nonpartisan Washington-based Campaign Legal Center which focuses on campaign finance.

This is simply unacceptable, and any caring citizen should write their Congressman and Senator and demand real ethics reform.

And the earmarking business is booming. According to the watchdog group, the amount of so-called "pork barrel" spending increased by 6.2 percent in the current fiscal year over 2005, reaching $29 billion. The group reports that federal pork barrel spending has more than doubled since 1999.

The Campaign Legal Center's McGehee was scornful of both versions.

"The bill passed by the Senate was weak and the bill passed by the House was pathetic," McGehee said.

Whatever happens, McGehee said, no bill will forever end attempts to rig the system for personal or electoral gain.

"It's scandalous," said Democrat Francine Busby. "It undermines people's trust in government when they see congressmen being prosecuted in the courts and yet Congress does nothing to control its own members."


posted on Sep, 15 2006 @ 09:04 AM
Legislation designed to bring transparency to the earmark process was passed by the House yesterday, though it falls far short of any significant attempt at ethics reform.

The House changed its rules Thursday to require lawmakers to identify the special projects they slip into legislation, a modest step toward restoring the reputation of Congress in a year of ethical lapses and scandals involving relations with lobbyists.

The change, in effect only through year's end, is aimed at curtailing a practice whereby lawmakers anonymously insert "earmarks" -- narrowly tailored spending that often helps a specific company or project in their district -- into bills.

The rules change "will do little more than to get Republicans through the November elections," said Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York, top Democrat on the House Rules Committee.

GOP Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona, a leading critic of special interest spending, said: "I'm under no illusion that this legislation, which deals only with the issue of transparency, will solve the problem of earmarking. But this bill does represent an important first step."


Baby steps, Bob, baby steps.

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