News outlets are reporting that Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) has pleaded guilty to taking bribes in exchange for his influence in the House defense appropriations subcommittee and intelligence committee. He also has pled guilty to mail and wire fraud and tax evasion and has announced today that he will resign from Congress. The best coverage POGO has read today is in the San Diego Union-Tribune which first broke the story that led to the investigation of Cunningham.
"He did the worst thing an elected official can do--he enriched himself through his position and violated the trust of those who put him there," according to U.S. Attorney Carol Lam.
Yep. And now that Cunningham's gone down, what's in store for MZM president and CEO Mitchell J. Wade and defense contracting lobbyist Brent Wilkes?
One unexplored angle to the MZM story of sudden contracting success is whether the revolving door played a part in winning government contracts in the increasingly privatized world of intelligence. The LA Times notes that:
"Wade's former company, MZM Inc., which Cunningham has said he championed, has received $163 million in federal contracts — mostly for classified defense projects involving the gathering and analysis of intelligence."
The Center for Public Integrity's write-up on MZM includes background on MZM executives who went from the government to work at MZM:
Joseph Romano, executive vice president, is the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency's Technology Assessment Group.
James C. King, senior vice president, is a retired lieutenant general in the U.S. Army, where he spent 33 years. King established and led the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, which is an agency in the Defense Department that collects and analyzes satellite images. NIMA is currently leading the U.S. government-funded effort to develop a spy satellite that can focus in on something as small as a person. Also, after failing to end public distribution of some topical maps of the U.S., NIMA announced a "review" of all publicly available maps of the U.S. King is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a private organization that unofficially advises the U.S. government on matters of foreign policy.
Susan Hogan, executive vice president, National Security Liaison, worked for eight years on the Senate Appropriations Committee, where she handled classified defense spending.
Wayne M. Hall, vice president for homeland security and future conflict, is a retired military general. He commanded a military intelligence battalion during the 1991 Gulf War.
Did these MZM executives help MZM win government contracts through their ties to the intelligence community?