Last week, CIA Director (and former House intelligence committee chairman) Porter Goss denied news accounts which suggested that he attended parties-of-ill-repute thrown by alleged Cunningham briber Brent Wilkes. The parties centered around poker but, at some point, ladies of the evening are said to have shown up to add to the merriment.
We'll take Goss at his word -- for the moment, anyway. But just which members of Congress did show up at Wilkes' parties?
The San Diego Union-Tribune said "members of the House Appropriations and Intelligence committees" joined CIA officials at Wilkes' shindigs to play cards, eat, drink. . possibly, they stuck around for more.
Of course, dozens of congressmen have served on those panels during the dozen or so years Wilkes threw his parties. But anyone playing at home probably has questions about a few lawmakers in particular -- those known for their ties to Wilkes and their positions of power. We'll call these folks members of Congress with a clear Wilkes predicate.
So we called them and asked: did you ever attend a party thrown by Wilkes?
Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) -- Chaired the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee (which hands out Pentagon pork) from 1999 to 2005. From 1995 to the present, took $51,000 in donations from ADCS and Wilkes -- more than any other lawmaker besides Cunningham.
"He has never attended anything remotely like that," said Lewis' spokesman Jim Specht. "He only know Brent Wilkes through California politics, and never dealt with him in terms of any Washington activities."
Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-CA): Since 1995, took $41,000 from Wilkes/ADCS, right behind Lewis. Has personally pocketed $14,400 from Wilkes. Helped swing an unrequested $37 million Pentagon contract to a Wilkes-owned company. Sits on Appropriations Committee.
Did not return our call.
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA): Took $37,000 from Wilkes/ADCS. Repeatedly pushed the Pentagon to contract with Wilkes for inferior products and services the department said it did not want or need.
"The congressman has never been to a party with Brent Wilkes," spokesman Joe Casper told me. "In fact, Congressman Hunter doesn't smoke, drink, and to his own account he's not that much fun at parties."