WILL JERRY LEWIS BE INDICTED BEFORE NOVEMBER OR AFTER NOVEMBER?
It's taken long enough, but a federal grand jury has finally subpoenaed records dealing with the House Republican bribery scandal mastermind, Jerry Lewis. Yesterday's SAN BERNARDINO SUN broke the news and, of course Lewis and his bagman, ex-Congressman-turned-lobbyist Bill Lowery, are denying everything (which should sound like a familiar pattern by now-- one that ends in ratting out colleagues for a plea bargain and then begging for mercy at the sentencing phase of the trial). "The ties between Lewis and Lowery include staffers who have worked for both of them. Jeff Shockey, deputy staff director of the Appropriations Committee, worked first for [Chairman] Lewis, then went to work for Lowery in 1999, and returned last year to Lewis' staff — getting $600,000 in severance payments from Lowery's firm. Another Lewis aide, Letitia White, became a lobbyist for Lowery in 2003. According to lobbying forms, San Bernardino County paid Lowery's firm $60,000 last year for representation on appropriations and budget bills. White is listed as one of the lobbyists representing the county. The investigation into Lewis is reportedly tied to the investigation that resulted in the bribery conviction of former Rep. Randy 'Duke' Cunningham. One of the defense firms implicated in bribing Cunningham, ADCS Inc., was a client of Lowery's."
This will be the 68th time DWT mentions Jerry Lewis is the blog. As Cunningham's direct superior and as the loudest voice-- to the day-- in favor of bribery-inducing earmarks, Lewis is generally considered one of the 3 or 4 most corrupt congressmen in Washington. Two weeks ago we reported on how the SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE attempted to explain the mechanism Lewis used to enrich himelf at taxpayers' expense. It is outrageous that this crook is still chairman of the Appropriations Committee-- or even freely running around destroying evidence.
Lewis' 41st Congressional District is a huge sprawling area (more than twice the size of New Jersey) which goes from L.A. suburbs through the High Desert to the Nevada border. Lewis, first elected in 1978, is an extreme right-wing radical who hasn't been seriously challenged in his re-election bids. In 2004 the Democrats didn't bother running anyone at all and this year a political novice, Luis Contreras has decided to take on the powerful, entrenched Lewis. Bush won the district in 2004 with 62% of the vote. After another egregiously corrupt Abramoff crony, Don Young from Alaska was termed out of the powerful Appropriations Committee chairmanship-- one of the most lucrative positions a corrupt congressman can hope to hold-- Lewis went to war against other Republicans vying for the position, Ralph Regula and Hal Rogers. In the end Lewis bought the committee chairmanship for $1.35 million (a "contribution" to the GOP). He has been able to recoup that investment many, many, many times over.
AFTERTHOUGHT: WHO'S THE CORRUPTEST OF THEM ALL?
Ari Berman deals with DeLay's 5 most vile proteges in the new issue of THE NATION with an article called "All DeLay's Children." His top 5 culprits: Eric Cantor (VA), Jack Kingston (GA), Patrick McHenry (NC), "Dirty Dick" Pombo (CA), and Tom Reynolds (NY). Although he gives honorary mentions to other DeLay lackeys like Roy Blunt and Dennis Hastert, Jerry Lewis is nowhere to be found, a mark not of the man's innocence of association with the sleazy DeLay-- with whom he was tightly allied-- but of his stealthy ability to keep relatively under the radar. I contend that when the history of the Republican Culture of Corruption is written, Jerry Lewis will come in near the top of the list, just a notch or two below DeLay himself.