Sunday :: Jul 23, 2006

We Are Shocked, shocked!!!, I Tell You, that Black Budgets Hide Waste!

by Mary

Gosh, it seems that someone is figuring out that our vast black budgets are creating opportunites for hiding significant waste in the defense budget. It turns out that Representative Hoekstra has hired Michael Stern as an investigator to see if there are any problems. If Stern is interested in exploring this topic (and how it relates to Duke Cunningham's scam) further, then it might make sense to look into how Cunningham was working to represent his district and the troops.

In fact, perhaps someone will remind Hoekstra that Cunningham and Jerry Lewis pressured the Pentagon to purchase software from their good friend, Brent Wilkes, by threatening to withhold funding for other projects if the funding for ACDS imaging software wasn't provided.

Lewis and Cunningham also worked in tandem on Pentagon funding requests that came before the Appropriations Committee, defense contractors and military analysts have told the Union-Tribune.

...According to government and defense industry sources, Lewis and Cunningham worked together to help Poway military contractor Brent Wilkes as he pursued contracts on Capitol Hill. Cunningham admitted taking bribes from Wilkes, who has been identified as co-conspirator No. 1 in Cunningham's plea agreement.

On April 15, 1999, three months after Lewis was named chairman of the House defense appropriations subcommittee, he received $17,000 in campaign contributions from Wilkes and his associates. At the time, Wilkes was vying for a project to digitize military documents in the Panama Canal Zone, which the United States was about to return to Panama.

“If you can't go to people on Capitol Hill, it's very difficult to remain viable as a government contractor,” said one of Wilkes' associates who contributed money to Lewis at the time. “You have to talk to people. And to talk to people, you have to give money.”

But the Panama project hit a snag. The Pentagon did not want to give Wilkes as much money as he requested.

On July 6, 1999, Wilkes wrote to Cunningham saying “We need $10 m(illion) more immediately . . . This is very important and if you cannot resolve this others will be calling also.”

Wilkes' memo – contained in federal documents accompanying Cunningham's guilty plea – then named two people whose names were blacked out by the prosecutors.

According to military and defense industry sources, Lewis and Cunningham got the money for Wilkes, founder of ADCS Inc., by using their clout to threaten the funding of the Pentagon's F-22 fighter jet.

The jet had been criticized as an expensive boondoggle by budget hawks on Capitol Hill. But it had the support of many lawmakers – including Cunningham – until it reached Lewis' committee.

During a closed-door meeting in July 1999, the committee voted unanimously to clip $1.8 billion from proposed funding for the F-22. The move was led by Lewis and Cunningham, who said at a public meeting that month, “I would not want to fly the F-22.”

“Once Lewis and Cunningham stopped the F-22, they trained the Department of Defense to understand their power,” said the former San Diego defense contractor. “So they were able to tell people that if you want to do any document conversion project, you'd better buy from ADCS.”

A Pentagon official told the Los Angeles Times this week that the Pentagon shifted roughly $10 million to Wilkes' flagship company, ADCS Inc., after the F-22 was threatened.

“The Defense Department spends $1 billion a day, so the (ADCS) contract was like a rounding error,” the official said. “It just wasn't worth putting our big programs at risk.”

Gee, I wonder what made Hoekstra realize there might be a problem?

Mary :: 10:51 PM :: Comments (7) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!