Janet's Conner

This Blog tell the Truth and will never not tell the Truth. Impeach Bush

Saturday, June 03, 2006

CONTRACTOR 'KNEW HOW TO GREASE THE WHEELS' OF OUR POLITICIANS

***This is a continuation of how power has gone to the heads of our politicians. Just because they sit on committees, they think that it's okay to spend the tax-payers money for things that aren't even requested by some of the Departments. Things that are needed have to be looked over so that the politicians can pay back their constituents. They make the contributions to the politicians and the politicians wind up giving them millions of our dollars worth of contracts for something so obsolete, that it sits in storage because nobody needs the items these companies make.


..............At the time, Cunningham rejected any criticism of his actions.

"I'm on the side of the angels here," he said then, adding that anyone who questioned his role, "can just go to hell."


Questionable Projects

By then, the document conversion program was drawing fire from Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, who included it on a list of $5.5B "objectionable" earmarks that Congress had tacked onto the military budget.

***Oh, yes, John McCain. Yeah, this all took place when Mr. McCain use to be a human being. Now he's so interested in becoming President that he turned out to be just like Bush. He's another lapdog for the right-wingers. He even votes against veterans now. Yeah! Someone who was a P.O.W. during the Vietnam War.

In July 1997, McCain accused the Senate Armed Services Committee and the House National Security Committee, where both Hunter and Cunningham sat, of "virtually ignoring the request of the Pentagon and impeding the military's ability to channel resources where they are needed most."

McCain said that "with military training exercises continuing to be cut, backlogs in aircraft and ship maintenance, flying hour shortfalls, military health care underfunded by $600M, and 11,787 servicemembers reportedly on food stamps," Congress should not be funding "a plethora of programs not requested by the Defense Department."

McCain was largely ignored. Three months later, Congress earmarked $20M for document conversion systems. The earmarks hit $25M the next year, including ADCS' biggest project: a $9.7M contract to digitize documents in the Panama Canal Zone, which was to be handed to Panama in 1999.

The idea for the project came about at a time that Hunter and Cunningham were both warning that the People's Republic of China might try to take over Panama once U.S. forces left. The project was based on the idea that the U.S. should have blueprints of public buildings in Panama in case of a Chinese takeover.

Wilkes began lobbying for the project in early 1998, targeting Rep. Robert Livingston of Louisiana, who chaired the Appropriations Committee, and Rep. Jerry Lewis of Redlands and Cunningham, who served on the subcommittee on defense.

As the Appropriations Committee earmarked the budget, Wilkes, his wife Regina, Wilkes' nephew and lobbyist Joel Combs, attorney Richard Bliss and Rollie Kimbrough, a Democrat who headed a Washington, D.C., company that partnered with ADCS on the project, contributed a total of $28,000 to the three Republican lawmakers.

The project passed without the Pentagon's support, since most of the documents in Panama had little military value. Many of the documents that were of military value were being photocopied, faxed or scanned into computers.

But Wilkes got a contract to convert millions of documents into computer-readable format, including reams of papers that dated to the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt. By Wilkes' own description, ADCS was using its most expensive technology to scan engineering drawings from the 1870s and images of boats from the 1910s.

Louis Kratz, an assistant undersecretary of defense, tried to block funding for the project, arguing there were more pressing needs at the Army's Missile Command, the Air Force's Logistics Center and an Air Force Pacific Base project.

Kratz was rebuffed by Cunningham as well a Hunter, who wanted the Pentgon to give Audre a $3.9M contract to perform document conversion on an Abrams tank project

Kratz later told The Washington Post that he had never encountered such "arrogance" and "meddling" as he had from Cunningham and Wilkes. John Karpovich, who helped run the document conversion program at the Defene Department before his retirement, said Wilkes infuriated Pentagon staff by claiming that the document conversion money belonged to him.

"Brent came in and said, 'That's our money,'" Karpovich recalled. "He said, 'the congressmen put the money in there for us.'"

Kratz eventually freed the funds, delaying the Air Force and Missile Command projects. But he also asked the Inspector General to investigate how the projects got funding.

In June 2000, the Pentagon Inspector General reported that several important projects had lost funding because "two congressmen" pressed defense officials to shift the money to the Panama and Abrams tank projects. The shift in funding was causing some military officers to "lose confidence in the fairness of the selection process," the Inspector General reported.


LAVISH LIVING

The money from Panama and other ADCS contracts---ranging from Gateway computer systems to military sound technology---helped fund a heady lifestyle for Wilkes and his associates.

In 1999, Wilkes and his wife bought a $1.5M home in Poway Hills. He soon bought a second home: a $283,500 town house in the Virginia suburbs near Washington, D.C. During his visits to Washington, he made his rounds in a chauffer-driven Mercedes. At the Capital Grille, a favored hangout of legislators and lobbyists, he rented a personalized wine locker with his best friend Foggo.

Wilkes spread his taxpayer-provided funds throughout his company, taking executives on periodic retreats to Hawaii and Idaho.

In Honolulu, Wilkes stayed at suites at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel or rented the beachfront mansion of the large hairstyling mogul Paul Mitchell which typically goes for $50,000 a week.

In Idaho, Wilkes' team stayed at the posh Coeur d'Alene Resort, where Wilkes paid $2,500 a night for a 2,500-square-foot-penthouse suite, featuring an indoor swimming pool and outdoor Jacuzzi, said former employees and sources in Idaho.

For dinner, Wilkes would take his team to Beverley's restaurant, where a group meal could easily cost several thousand dollars. For recreation, they would fish, Jet Ski or play at the resort's exclusive golf course, famed for its 14th hole on a man-made floating island in Lake Coeur d'Alene.

There were retreats to Hawaii and Idaho at least once a year, said one source inside the company, with visits to Idaho typically ocurring in spring or summer and visits to Hawaii in fall or winter.

Wilkes made no bones about where his money was coming from. His jet-black Hummer bore a license plate reading MIPR ME-a reference to Military Interdepartmental Purchase Requests, which authorize funds in the Pentagon.

Wilkes shared the benefits of his largesse with the politicians who helped him. He took Cunningham on several out-of-state trips on his corporate jet. Cunningham has produced no records showing that he paid for food, lodging or transportation while traveling to resorts with Wilkes, although he does have receipts for several campaign trips on Wilkes' jet.

Wilkes also bought a small powerboat that he moored behind Cunningham's yacht, the Kelly C, at the Capital Yacht Club in Washington, D.C. The boat was available for Cunningham's use anytime Wilkes was not using it.

But what landed Wilkes in trouble with federal prosecutors was his gifts to Cunningham. According to Cunningham's pleas agreement, "Co-conspirator No. 1," gave $525,000 to Cunningham on May 13, 2004, to pay off the second mortgage on Cunningham's home in Rancho Santa Fe.

Co-conspirator No. 1 also gave $100,000 to Cunningham on May 1, 2000, which went into Cunningham's personal accounts in San Diego and Washington, D.C. And he paid $11,116.50 to help pay Cunningham's mortgage on the Kelly C.

The plea agreement charged that in return for the payments, Cunningham "used his public office and took other official action to influence U.S. Department of Defense personnel to award and execute government contracts."

Wilkes befriended our legislators, too. He ran a hospitality suite, with several bedrooms, in Washington---first in the Watergate Hotel and then in the Westin Grand near Capitol Hill.

He also kept his donations flowing, targeting people with clout over the Pentagon budget: $43,000 to Jerry Lewis, a Republican, who now heads the Appropriations Committee; $35,500 to Hunter, a Republican, who heads the Armed Services Committee; and $30,000 to Tom DeLay, a Republican, who flew on Wilkes' jet several times and has been a frequent golfing buddy.

Over the past three years, Wilkes' lobbying group in Washington---Group W Advisors---also paid about $630,000 in lobbying fees to Alexander Strategy Group, a firm headed by Tom DeLay's former chief of staff Ed Buckham and staffed with former DeLay employees.

The firm has a well-publicized reputation in Washington as a conduit to DeLay's office.

"The Alexander lobbyists' sales pitch was, "Either you hire me or DeLay is going to screw you,'" an anonymous source identified as a top Republican lobbyist told the Congressional Quarterly weekly last November. "It was not really a soft sell."

Besides donating money to DeLay's campaign, Wilkes also gave money to a political action committee that DeLay helped organize: Texans for a Republican Majority. The group is under investigation for allegedly breaking Texas law to divert corporate contributions into its drive to redraw the state's election districts.

DeLay was indicted in late September over his activities with the group.

One of the group's biggest contributors was PerfectWave Technologies, one of Wilkes' companies, who donated $15,000.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, a Republican from Illinois, also flew on Wilkes' jet several times, sources say, although Hastert's expense records show no payments for such trips.

Besides its military work, ADCS also vied for state and municipal contracts, both for document conversion services as well as mapping systems to help speed police, firefighters and emergency workers to crime sites or fires.

As Wilkes vied for contratcs, he donated to state and local politicians, such as San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts and Assemblyman George Plescia of Poway. The kickoff for Plescia's political campaign was held in ADCSs headquarters; Plescia was about to marry Wilkes' government affairs manager Melissa Dollaghan.

Other than Wilkes' donations to federal campaigns, his biggest contributions went to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Besides helping coordinate the Schwarzenegger campaign's finance activities in San Diego County during the 2003 recall election, Wilkes and his wife donated $42,400 to Schwarzenegger, the maximum allowable. The next year, Wilkes allowed Schwarzenegger to use ADCS' headquarters as a local office for his 2004 workers' compensation initiative campaign.

Schwarzenegger appointed Wilkes as a board member of the Del Mar Race Track Board in 2004 and the State Race Track Leasing Commission this year.

Despite the recent negative publicity, ADCS remains in operation. At the company's glass-and-steel headquarters in Poway one day last November, about 20 cars were in the parking lot.

None of the employees would comment, and company officials shooed a reporter and a photographer away from the property.

The headquarters building was erected in 2003 at a cost of $11M when the company was receiving a steady stream of government contracts. According to the architectural firm that built it, the building boasts a 100-seat theater, a 2,000-square-foot kitchen, and 32,000 square feet of office space, including a large sandbox lines with surfboards, which was designed to bring an element of fun into the workplace.

Sources who have worked or done business with ADCS say the company has shrunk in size from more than 135 employees at its heyday to about 45 or fewer today. The headquarters is largely empty, the sources say.


***Well, there you have it. This is how our elected officials are spending the tax-payers' hard earned money! You contribute money to them and lavish them with all of your posessions, then you can get millions of dollars worth of government contracts!

So, let me ask you this: Do you really think that these Republicans care about you as constituents? Oh, sure they care during an election year, but I'm talking about year 'round. If they cared about us then they would not have diverted funds from extremely more important things, like our national security.

And it appears to me like Dennis Hastert has some explaining to do about these times that he flew on Wilkes' jet. Hastert's records show no payments for these trips. If he reimburses Wilkes now, it's because HE GOT CAUGHT! Just like he returned the campaign contributions he got from Abramoff. BUT, he only retured a portion of that money. Where's the rest of the money? He claims to have given back the money to charity. But the charity that he gave the money to are charities that were formed on K-Street. You know....all of those lobbyists! In return.....the money will go right back to Hastert. Now how is that for honesty?

IT IS AN ELECTION YEAR! LET'S GIVE HASTERT AND THE REST OF THE ILLINOIS REPUBLICANS WHAT THEY REALLY DESERVE......BOOT THEM OUT!


Source: Sign On San Diego
Story By: Dean Calbreath-Union-Tribune staff writer
and Jerry Kammer-Copley News Service
December 2005