ITWASSOOTED: Next GOP Scandal May Snare House Appropriations Chair

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Next GOP Scandal May Snare House Appropriations Chair

Posted by Jon Jan. 15, 2006, 2:08 pm

Corruption eruption: Last month, a potential bombshell story concerning the powerful chairman of the House Appropriations Committee went largely unnoticed in the traditional media. On Dec. 23 — yes, Christmas Eve “Eve” — the San Diego Union-Tribune published a story alleging that Appropriations Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-CA) has been engaged in Abramoff-Dukester style scratch-backing with a powerful K Street lobbyist:

From powerful positions on the House Appropriations Committee, California Rep. Jerry Lewis has greenlighted hundreds of millions of dollars in federal projects for clients of one of his closest friends, lobbyist and former state Congressman Bill Lowery.

Meanwhile, Lowery, the partners at his firm and their clients have donated 37 percent of the $1.3 million that Lewis’ political action committee received in the past six years.

The story made headlines again last week when Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Department of Justice against Rep. Lewis, citing the newspaper story and alleging that:

[At] least one staffer has moved back and forth between Rep. Lewis’s and Lowery’s offices: Jeffrey Shockey left Rep. Lewis’s employ in 1999 after which he joined Lowery’s lobbying firm. He remained with the firm until 2005, when he left to return to work for Rep. Lewis. When he left, Lowery’s firm hired Shockey’s wife, Alexandra, to represent some of her husband’s old clients, with the result that on behalf of her husband’s former partners, she now lobbies staffers who work for her husband.

Doling out $480,000 to get hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts sounds like a very good deal. The question is, is it legal?
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