Over at Hot Air with lots o’ links.
Credit: David Lunde
As I note in today’s Vent, this still-unfolding tale underscores what a joke the Department of Homeland Security is. The mess involving the Shirlington Limousine company, the alleged prostitute shuttle service which got millions in government contracts despite a shady financial record and an even shadier top executive, is very damning, IMO.
Interestingly, anti-Bush liberals now seem to be crying foul over the minority preferential treatment the company received.
While we’re on the subject of Washington’s culture of corruption, don’t miss the update on Democrat Rep. Alan Mollohan at Roll Call:
Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.), his wife and two top aides took a five-day trip to Spain in June 2004 that was paid for by a group of government contractors for whom Mollohan steered tens of millions of dollars in earmarked funds, according to travel records and other documents.
The trip sponsor listed on travel disclosure forms is the “West Virginia (WV)-01 Trade Delegation,” which Mollohan’s office described as an “ad hoc group” of 19 government contractors and West Virginia-based nonprofits that came together to pay for the trip. The total cost of the trip for Mollohan, his wife and aides was $7,874.
Mollohan’s trip to Spain was arranged by the West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation, a nonprofit organization Mollohan created back in 1990. Mollohan has helped steer more than $30 million in federal funds to the foundation as part of his overall effort to revitalize West Virginia’s economy.
In a statement, Mollohan said his trip to Spain was proper and in accordance with House ethics regulations…
…Mollohan has been under fire during the past month for various financial dealings, including those with a network of five nonprofit organizations he set up or exerts influence over, including the high-tech foundation. Mollohan had funneled more than $250 million in federal funds to these organizations. Officials with these nonprofit groups, in turn, donated nearly $400,000 to his re-election campaigns from 1997 to this year, according to The New York Times.
Questions about Mollohan’s relationship with these organizations were first raised in a complaint filed with the Justice Department by the National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative watchdog group, back in late February.
The NLPC also alleged that Mollohan has failed to accurately disclose his personal wealth in annual reports. Mollohan’s net worth soared from 2000 to 2004, which he has stated was the result of canny investments in real estate and his inheritance of assets from his father, who also served in the House.
The FBI is preparing to issue “informational subpoenas” to at least three of the nonprofits with ties to the West Virginia Democrat, including one run by a former Mollohan aide who has invested in real estate deals with the Congressman and his wife, according to media reports.
Mollohan — who relinquished his post as ranking member on the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct recently due to the controversy — has hired Squier Knapp Dunn, a Democratic media firm, to help with his image.
The firm, which has been paid $30,000 so far from Mollohan’s re-election campaign, was hired before the onslaught of negative stories about the West Virginian began appearing earlier this month, said Anita Dunn, one the firm’s partners.
But the details of the Bilbao trip fully illustrate the political and potential legal challenges Mollohan now faces.
West Virginia companies and organizations that rely on Mollohan and his seat on the powerful Appropriations Committee paid for the trip and sent representatives along to accompany him. Those organizations, through their employees, then donated more than $160,000 to his re-election campaign or political action committee during the 2003-04 election cycle.
One of those companies, a West Virginia high-tech firm called TMC Technologies, issued a July 28, 2004, press release stating that it “was invited by Congressman Alan B. Mollohan to participate in a trade mission to the Biscay region of Spain,” which includes Bilbao.
Under House regulations for privately funded travel, Members are specifically prohibited from soliciting sponsored trips.
Just a month before the trip, TMC Technologies announced that it had received a $5 million contract from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration thanks to a Mollohan earmark. In 2003, TMC Technologies received a $2 million NOAA contact, also via a Mollohan earmark.
TMC, which had a $50,000 contract in 2003 with a nonprofit run by one of Mollohan’s former aides and current business partners, has contributed heavily to his political committees. TMC officials and its employees donated more than $39,000 to Mollohan’s re-election campaign and leadership PAC during the 2003-04 election cycle.
Like TMC, many of the companies that paid for the Spain trip are also sponsors of the Robert T. Mollohan Family Charitable Foundation, named after the Congressman’s late father.
More Mollohan background here.
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