Prostitution, bribery and the old cigar smoke excuse

A reporter says as many as a "half-dozen" members of Congress could be implicated.


Tim Grieve
April 28, 2006 8:22PM (UTC)

Some Washington scandals are complicated and hard to follow if you're not obsessing over the details. Is a leak a leak if the president authorized it? Is a campaign contribution a campaign contribution if you made it with somebody else's money? Is it the crime, or is it the coverup?

This one? It's easy reading for everyone.

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As we noted Thursday, the Wall Street Journal says federal investigators are looking into whether two defense contractors bribed members of Congress by providing them limousines, hotel rooms and -- oh, yeah -- prostitutes. There's more to report on the story today. While the Journal said that the investigators' evidence so far is limited to services that were provided to the already resigned, convicted and imprisoned Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham," a reporter for the San Diego Union-Tribune says that as many as a "half-dozen" members of Congress may have been involved.

Involved in what, it's not exactly clear. The Union-Tribune has reported previously that defense contractor Brent Wilkes -- identified so far as an unindicted co-conspirator in Cunningham's criminal case -- rented "hospitality suites" in Washington hotels, where members of Congress, CIA officials and others could gather for poker and come-what-may. Those hospitality suites had bedrooms, the Union-Tribune says today, where "lawmakers and other guests could relax."

Former Texas Rep. Charlie Wilson, a Democrat, tells the Union-Tribune that he sometimes attended the poker parties but that he always left early -- translation: before anybody started "relaxing" in the bedrooms -- because the cigar smoke was too thick for his lungs. The Union-Tribune says that Kyle Dustin "Dusty" Foggo, now the No. 3 man at the CIA, attended some of the shindigs, too. And there's speculation that former Rep. and current CIA chief Porter Goss was among those sitting around the card table now and then as well.

Wilkes' attorney is denying that his client hired prostitutes, but sources told the Journal that Wilkes' alleged co-conspirator, defense contractor Mitchell Wade, has implicated him in the probe.


Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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