BRANDOLAND: Talking to God...For You!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

$10,000/Night Girls, Part III

Got another old story...with new details.

Today's info...

Prosecutors May Widen Congressional-Bribe Case

Cunningham Is Suspected Of Asking for Prostitutes; Were Others Involved?

How about some good old-fashioned $10,000/night girls?
Federal prosecutors are investigating whether two contractors implicated in the bribery of former Rep. Randall "Duke" Cunningham supplied him with prostitutes and free use of a limousine and hotel suites, pursuing evidence that could broaden their long-running inquiry.

Besides scrutinizing the prostitution scheme for evidence that might implicate contractor Brent Wilkes, investigators are focusing on whether any other members of Congress, or their staffs, may also have used the same free services, though it isn't clear whether investigators have turned up anything to implicate others.
Um, the ladies weren't free.

Somebody paid for 'em.
According to people with knowledge of the investigation, Mr. (Mitchell) Wade told investigators that Mr. Cunningham periodically phoned him to request a prostitute, and that Mr. Wade then helped to arrange for one.
Mitch Wade is co-conspirator #2, and "the founder and former head of MZM Inc., a software and computer-services firm that Mr. Cunningham helped to gain federal contracts."
A limousine driver then picked up the prostitute as well as Mr. Cunningham, and drove them to one of the hotel suites, originally at the Watergate Hotel, and subsequently at the Westin Grand.

Here's the old Brandoland post, from December 6, 2005.

* * *

Good news from the National Journal (via the Huffington Post)!

Guilty Congressman Duke Cunningham's “Co-Conspirator” Also Ran A DC “Hospitality Suite, With Several Bedrooms”

God, I hope so:
Sometimes we read too many political clips and overlook some amazing things staring us in the face. Among those in Monday's edition, this little factoid, culled from Sunday's San Diego Union-Tribune blockbuster digging deeper into the Duke Cunningham's relationship with "co-conspirator No. 1," a.k.a. lobbyist Brent Wilkes.

According to the (Union Tribune), Wilkes also "ran a hospitality suite, with several bedrooms, in" DC -- "first in the Watergate Hotel and then" in a Capitol Hill hotel.

Come again? A "hospitality suite with several bedrooms"?

Talk about raising more questions, including:

-- Why does a lobbyist need a "hospitality suite with several bedrooms"?
Because $10,000/night girls, er, I mean, his "business associates," need a place to work.

Wink wink, nudge nudge, eh eh eh?
-- Who uses those bedrooms and for what?
See previous answer.

* * *

Once again...

This harkens back to one of my favorite conversations ever - a conversation between two "girls" in the parking lot of the Rite Aid (then a Thrifty) at Sunset and Fairfax.

I was hiding behind my car - an old postal jeep covered with Replacement and Husker Du stickers:

GIRL #1 - God, you should go over there --

GIRL #2 - Really?

GIRL #1 - I mean, you would make so much money --

GIRL #2 - I --

GIRL #1 - Like, $10,000 a night.

GIRL #2 - Cool --

GIRL #1 - I just got back from there.

GIRL #2 - Where?

GIRL #1 - Saudi Arabia.

These lobbying scandals involving Cunningham and Wilkes and Abramoff are looking more and more like a bad movie script every day.

Except with one difference from the movies: this stuff actually happened.
Those of you familiar with this blog know that I'd usually take this opportunity to...



But I'm not gonna.

Because truth is stranger than fiction, and I'm tired of imagining a bunch of conservative politicians, lobbyists and "defense contractors" playing grab-ass with a bunch of Hooter-girls.

Among other things.

On that note...

More from Arianna:
The Cunningham case is a textbook example of how the pay-to-play system works -- and a powerful advertisement for the value of graft (“It really, really works!”).

Let’s take a look at how Mitch Wade of MZM Inc. (aka Cunningham “co-conspirator No. 2”) gamed the system.

Before launching MZM in 1993, Wade was a program manager at the Pentagon (so he saw how things worked).
And...he had plenty of time to figure out how he could profit from "the way things worked."
But for 8 years his company struggled to get contracts and, as recently as 2001, still had not made a dime.

Then Wade started to fill Cunningham’s pockets -- and his homes.

One hundred grand later, the company was placed on a list of approved government providers and, as reported by the LA Times, got its first contract -- to supply office furniture and computers for Vice President Dick Cheney.
Hmm, that's an interesting gig.
The MZM bribes kept coming Cunningham’s way and the company kept cashing in big time -- landing a massive five-year $250 million blanket contract.

This year, the firm found itself among Washington Technology magazine’s “Top 100 Federal Prime Contractors”.

Talk about your return on investment.

Forget the who, what, where, when, and why of Cunningham, we all need to learn a lot more about MZM and ADCS (aka co-conspirator No. 1), the other Potomac alchemist who turned gifts to Cunningham into golden defense contracts. Cunningham’s bounty may be the sizzle, but these as yet-unindicted firms are the steak.

Just as there is no way that Cunningham is the only bribee (although he may be the only one shameless enough to deposit bribe checks directly into his personal bank accounts), there is no way that MZM and ADCS are the only defense contractors bribing their way to massive profits.

Both for the health of our democracy and for our national security, it’s vitally important that these companies get called on the carpet. Don’t forget, these crooks are defense contractors -- and doesn’t it make you wonder where else they are breaking the rules and cutting corners?

For instance, MZM was granted a $5 million contract to be the sole provider of interpreters in Iraq.

That’s troubling in any language.

The ongoing war in Iraq and the war on terror guarantee that tens of billions of dollars in government contracts will be handed out to defense contractors.
That's the problem.

"If you're in the business of war, you need war for business."
We need independent legislators who will keep them in check, not bought-and-paid-for stooges eager to do their bidding -- and a vigilant press corps determined to act as watchdogs for the public good.

More later.


GIRL #1 - You don't even have to have sex.

GIRL #2 - What?

GIRL #1 - I mean, most of the time, I just sat around a pool.

GIRL #2 - Oh.

GIRL #1 - But, like, you can make so much more money if you...

Wink-wink, nudge-nudge, eh, eh, eh?

More later...


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