June 15, 2006

Jerry Lewis: A Man of the (not-so-little) People

After leaving Las Vegas, I headed out to see a friend of mine who lives in Congressman Jerry Lewis' district. So far it seems that Rep. Lewis' troubles haven't yet broken through the standard din discussed on the nightly news or the local radio and she had not heard that he was up to his eyeballs in the corruption scandal which took out Rep "Duke" Cunningham. Thus I had the pleasure of relaying to my friend the full extent of the trials that beset her congresscritter. I must say, she was more than delighted to hear she might have cause to get a new representative.

Jerry Lewis, who now heads the Congressional Appropriations Committee, wields enormous power through his chairmanship and the money it controls. What first brought Lewis to the attention of the investigators was his association with Bill Lowery, a lobbyist who left Congress after the check-kiting scandal (and bequeathed his seat to Cunningham) and who went on to found the Washington-based lobbying firm, Copeland Lowery Jacquez Denton & White. One of the first stories that connected Lewis to this muckpot noted that Lowery had some unusually close connection to Lewis' staff, naming both Jeff Shockey and Leticia White who have both been especially involved in the earmarking process.

Investigators are said to be particularly interested in the intermingling of Lewis' and Lowery's staffs and whether it led to favorable treatment for Lowery's clients in securing government contracts.

Jeff Shockey, a key Lewis staffer, went to work for Lowery as a lobbyist in 1999 and then returned to Lewis' staff last year. According to a source familiar with the investigation, Shockey received $600,000 in severance payments from Lowery's firm before returning to Lewis to become the deputy staff director for the House Appropriations Committee with an annual salary of $170,000.

...In 2003, another key Lewis aide, Letitia White, became a lobbyist for Lowery.

Of course, the reaction to this news report was that Lewis and those honorable people were doing nothing wrong.

"This is all based on anonymous sources and hearsay. It's borderline slanderous," [Jeff] Scofield[, communications director for the House Appropriations Committee,] said.

After a few weeks of digging, these staffers have proven to be dead weights on the probity of Jerry Lewis. The innocent and benign Ms. White, has had an interesting time at Copeland Lowery where she is a named partner with Bill Lowery.

With a little bit more digging, intrepid investigative journalists have found that Shockey's little $600,000 severance payment has ballooned into almost $2 million which it turns out was directly related to the amount of money that his former clients were paying to Copeland Lowery and they definitely increased their payments to the firm after Mr. Shockey headed back for a staff position on Lewis' staff. Meanwhile, the clients are being ably handled (shaken down?) by Mr. Shockey's wife.

And worse luck for Rep. Lewis, it looks like some of the right-wing blogosphere is upset with his earmarks and are demanding further investigation into this practice. No wonder he had to hire that 'ole reputation saver, Barbara Comstock, as well as a heavy hitter attorney.

So when do you think Jerry Lewis will finally call it quits?

Posted by Mary at June 15, 2006 12:50 AM | Corruption & Graft | Technorati links |
Comments

ABSOLUETLY FANTASTIC

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Posted by: HELLER at June 15, 2006 06:29 AM

This is the first story about Jerry Lewis, Bill Lowery, Letita White et al.

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/politics/20051223-9999-lz1n23lewis.html

Posted by: jerry kammer at June 25, 2006 04:16 AM

Thanks for the great reporting on Jerry Lewis. Stick with it.

Are all funds "earmarked" by the Appropriations Committee derived from taxes, and or debt financing?

Are any funds derived from estate forfeitures?

Estate forfeitures would generally be related to generation skipping land trusts which were not adequately disclosed to heirs, and handled by bank trusts, trustees, attorneys, judges, and so called insiders, who might not have the correcct address of the heirs.

Posted by: Janice L. Temple at June 28, 2006 08:01 PM

Thanks for the great reporting on Jerry Lewis. Stick with it.

Are all funds "earmarked" by the Appropriations Committee derived from taxes, and or debt financing?

Are any funds derived from estate forfeitures?

Estate forfeitures would generally be related to generation skipping land trusts which were not adequately disclosed to heirs, and handled by bank trusts, trustees, attorneys, judges, and so called insiders, who might not have the correcct address of the heirs.

Posted by: Janice L. Temple at June 28, 2006 08:10 PM