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  The consequences of corruption
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ContributorArmyDem 
Last EditedArmyDem  Jan 19, 2006 06:48pm
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News DateFriday, January 20, 2006 12:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionPosted 2:14 pm | Printer Friendly

USA Today, in a fine piece of investigative journalism, ran a damning front-page article today on Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) who was involved in a dubious scheme to push though a $160 million Navy project that no one wanted.

One day after a New York investment group raised $110,000 for Republican Rep. Jerry Lewis, the House passed a defense spending bill that preserved $160 million for a Navy project critical to the firm. The man who protected the Navy money? Lewis.

The fundraiser, which took place July 7, 2003, and the subsequent vote illustrate the kind of relationship between congressman and contributor that's under increased scrutiny in the nation's capital.


It's a sordid tale, but here's the gist of it: Lewis realized that in order for Republican leaders to tap him as the next chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, he needed to raise a lot of money. Shortly before the chairmanship was awarded, a $160 million Navy project was coming up for a vote. A hedge fund connected to the project, which had never contributed to Lewis in the past, quickly organized a fundraiser that produced $110,000 for Lewis, who proceeded to vote for the Navy project despite having criticized it earlier. The hedge fund was happy because the project was approved and Lewis was happy because he got the chairmanship he wanted.

Of course, taxpayers shouldn't be happy because we got stuck paying for a $160 million project that didn't work. Matthew Yglesias noted that it "imperils national security" when deals like this are struck because we're left with "procurement decisions being made by lobbyists rather than by people thinking seriously about what equipment the military needs."

Quite right. It also reminds us of the message congressional Dems have been emphasizing in recent weeks — that the price of corruption is high.
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