Thursday, April 27, 2006

Were Prostitutes the Quid Pro Quo in Congressional Bribery Case?

The Wall Street Journal reports (here) that the investigation spawned by the bribery of former San Diego Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham has branched out to include looking into whether prostitutes were supplied to Congressmen and staffers by defense contractors.  Cunningham has been sentenced to a 100-month prison term, and Mitchell Wade, listed as coconspirator #2 in filings in the case, agreed to plead guilty and cooperate.  The target of the investigation is coconspirator #1, identified as Brent Wilkes, who the article asserts may have played a role in providing prostitutes to Cunningham and possibly others in order to gain no-bid defense contracts for his company, ADCS Inc.  The FBI has already sought records from the Watergate Hotel, which is part of the complex made famous by a third-rate burglary undertaken on behalf of another former California Congressman, along with records from limousine and escort services. 

The Journal article notes that Wilkes has not entered into a plea agreement with the government and indicates that he will fight any charges that might be brought against him.  That could turn a trial in the case into a truly sordid affair in which the government's prime witnesses may have been a purveyor and user of prostitutes, in addition to the payment and acceptance of large sums of money.  Those are not the most appealing witnesses for the prosecution, but then bribery cases almost demand the use of cooperators who are hardly pristine. Look for the case to become even more tawdry if the government can confirm the use of prostitutes as a currency for the bribes. (ph)

Corruption, Investigations | Permalink

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