JUNE 12, 2006
New and incriminating stories are surfacing daily in the federal investigation of one of the most powerful members of the United States House of Representatives, California Republican Jerry Lewis, who happens to be the chairman of the Appropriations Committee.
The committee oversees about $900 billion in federal funding, which means that well-connected lobbyists put a lot of time and effort into getting a piece of that pie for their rich and powerful clients.
It’s no wonder, then, that the Department of Justice investigation is centered on Lewis’s relationship with a powerful Washington lobbyist who used to be a congressman himself and happens to be a longtime friend of the popular Redlands congressman.
The twisted tale involves the men’s families, hefty campaign contributions from companies that have received hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding and contracts and a fellow California congressman (Randy Cunningham) in jail for accepting millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for federal contracts.
It may sound like a soap opera, but it is in fact the life of Jerry Lewis, a former San Bernardino school board member who has dedicated four decades to public service. Last week’s new allegation was that Lewis’s stepdaughter received more than $40,000 from a defense contractor who secured government deals worth millions of dollars from the congressman’s committee.
This week’s news is that one of Lewis’s top aides received nearly $2 million for the sale of a lobbying company being investigated by the FBI for its ties to Lewis. It turns out that the aide, Jeff Shockey, was a top Lewis staffer-turned-lobbyist who, once again, went back to work for his old Congressman boss. Confusing? Consider it an example of a revolving door culture in which Washington insiders ping pong between the public and private sectors while always keeping their money and power.
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