Thursday, December 1, 2005

Rep. Cunningham's "Conspirator #1" Identified

In the plea agreement entered into by now-former Rep. Randy (Duke) Cunningham to a bribery conspiracy charge, two of the four unidentified coconspirators were cited as providing payments in exchange for government contracts.  A USA Today story (here) notes that the attorney for Brent Wilkes has acknowledged that his client is Conspirator #1, who had a controlling interest in ADCS Inc., a defense contractor that received a number of Pentagon contracts.  Wilkes is a substantial campaign contributor, mostly to Republican candidates, including a $25,000 donation to the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee in 2003 and serving as a "Pioneer" for President Bush's 2004 campaign in helping to raise at least $100,000.  Federal Election Commission records on Wilkes' contributions (here) list almost $150,000 in contributions to congressional candidates, including a couple Democrats, such as Sen. Dan Inouye.

Wilkes' home and office were searched earlier this year by FBI agents, and the plea agreement identifies Conspirator #1 as providing Cunningham with over $600,000 in cash and other benefits.  With Cunningham agreeing to cooperate in the government's investigation, it is likely that Wilkes is a target of the investigation, and may already be cooperating.  His company was the recipient of Pentagon contracts that may be been based more on Congressional influence than genuine need, an area investigators are sure to be interested in learning more about. (ph)


UPDATE: An AP story (here) states that lawyers for the House Intelligence Committee will investigate whether Rep. Cunningham ever influenced any Committe business on behalf of MZM, Inc. or ADCS Inc., the two military contractors that allegedly received contracts in exchange for the bribes. Cunningham became a member of the Committee in 2001. (ph)

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