Federal prosecutors are investigating whether two contractors implicated in the bribery of former Rep. Randall "Duke" Cunningham supplied him with prostitutes and free use of a limousine and hotel suites, pursuing evidence that could broaden their long-running inquiry.
Besides scrutinizing the prostitution scheme for evidence that might implicate contractor Brent Wilkes, investigators are focusing on whether any other members of Congress, or their staffs, may also have used the same free services, though it isn't clear whether investigators have turned up anything to implicate others.
In recent weeks, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents have fanned out across Washington, interviewing women from escort services, potential witnesses and others who may have been involved in the arrangement. In an interview, the assistant general manager of the Watergate Hotel confirmed that federal investigators had requested, and been given, records relating to the investigation and rooms in the hotel. But he declined to disclose what the records show. A spokeswoman for Starwood Inc., Westin's parent company, said she wasn't immediately able to get information on whether the Westin Grand had been contacted by investigators.
Mr. Cunningham, a Republican from San Diego, was sentenced March 3 to more than eight years in federal prison after he admitted taking $2.4 million in bribes. The bribes were taken in exchange for helping executives obtain large contracts with the Defense Department and other federal agencies. Mr. Cunningham, who resigned from Congress in November, pleaded guilty to two criminal counts, one of tax evasion and one of conspiracy.
i first posted about deposed rep. cunningham back in july when his bribery scandals were first coming out. since then, he's been convicted and gone to prison, but the story keeps on giving.
it's hardly surprising that someone as notoriously crooked as the duke would want to dally with a prostitute now and again. but a congressional prostitution ring that involved some half a dozen congressmen and lasted for 15 years?
there are also rumors that CIA director porter goss was involved, and that he might have met his new third in command, who nobody had heard of before goss appointed him, at duke's hooker parties.
and what about the limousines? ken silverstein at harper's makes some interesting revelations:
It gets even more interesting: the man who has been identified as the CEO of Shirlington has a 62-page rap sheet (I recently obtained a copy) that runs from at least 1979 through 1989 and lists charges of petit larceny, robbery, receiving stolen goods, assault, and more. Curiously—or perhaps not so curiously given the company's connections—Shirlington Limousine is also a Department of Homeland Security contractor; according to the Washington Post, last fall it won a $21.2 million contract for shuttle services and transportation support. (I tried to contact Shirlington but was unable to get past their answering service.)
the CEO in question is a man named christopher baker, who is not only the CEO, but was apparently a personal chauffer:
Two of Wilkes' former business associates say they were present on several occasions when Shirlington Limousine & Transportation Service of northern Virginia brought prostitutes to the suite. They say they did not see lawmakers in the suites on those occasions, though both had heard rumors of congressmen bringing women to the rooms.
Shirlington's attorney, Bobby S. Stafford, confirmed in a letter that from the company's founding in 1990 through the early 2000s, Shirlington President Christopher Baker "provided limousine services for Mr. Wilkes for whatever entertainment he had in the Watergate."
Stafford's letter stated that Baker was "never in attendance in any party where any women were being used for prostitution purposes."
note that the phrasing: "never in attendance in any party" means that black could have driven and/or slept with any number of female prostitutes, but he didn't attend the parties. (maybe he wasn't invited?) and what about this phrase: "women... being used for prostitution purposes"? what about men being used for such purposes? digby reminds us of an old story suggesting that cunningham, who is publicly very anti-gay, "has admitted to romantic, loving relationships with men." so what gender were the prostitutes? i imagine at least some, probably most of them were female. but were there any males in the mix? this scandal will be that much bigger if the public finds out there were, since the republican base tends to be disgusted by such things. (the poor man hopes one of the prostitutes was jeff gannon.)¶