Jerry Lewis Under Grand Jury Investigation
No, not the guy from the telethons and the old movies with Dean Martin–the other one.
The LAT reports that a federal grand jury is investigating some issues surrounding the top money guy in the House of Representatives.
A political fundraising committee headed by a defense contractor has paid thousands of dollars in fees to the stepdaughter of House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands) at a time when the contractor has been lobbying Congress for funding. Lewis’ stepdaughter, Julia Willis-Leon, has been paid more than $42,000 by the Small Biz Tech Political Action Committee, according to campaign finance records. The PAC is led by Nicholas Karangelen, founder and president of Trident Systems Inc. Records show the company received at least $11.7 million in earmarked funds in recent defense spending bills over which Lewis’ committee has jurisdiction.
MSNBC’s Lisa Meyers has a much more damning report:
You may not have heard of him, but Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., is one of the most powerful members of Congress, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, which controls hundreds of billions of dollars.
Tom Casey, CEO of the now-defunct computer software company Audre Inc., has told federal investigators what he says happened in 1993 when he asked for Lewis’ help in getting money for the Pentagon to test software that converted engineering documents to computer formats.
Tom Casey: I just thought, in my opinion, it pressed the boundaries of what was ethical.
In an exclusive interview, Casey tells NBC News that after he made campaign contributions to House members of both parties, Lewis informed him the Pentagon would get $14 million for the testing, and that Casey even could write the language.
Lisa Myers: You were allowed to write language for an appropriations bill yourself?
Casey: Yes, I did. That was Congressman Lewis’ suggestion.
Casey says Lewis repeatedly urged him to hire a lobbyist, former U.S. Rep. Bill Lowery, Lewis’ close friend, and when that didn’t happen, pressed for another favor.
Casey: Congressman Lewis asked me to set up stock options for Bill Lowery in our company.
Casey says Lewis suggested he issue the stock options in Canada — in someone else’s name.
Myers: Did you view it as an effort to hide what was really going on?
Casey: It was intended to conceal his participation, yes.
Lewis calls that charge “patently false.” Lowery says in a statement to NBC News, “We have absolutely no knowledge of that whatsoever.” Casey never issued the stock options and acknowledges he has absolutely no proof that Lewis did anything illegal.
Myers: You went bankrupt, you have every reason to be bitter. Why should anyone believe you?
Casey: I have absolutely nothing to gain, and there is a need for reform.
Now, granted, we should always be leery of those who admittedly participate in illicit activity and then suddenly develop a conscience on they’re caught. It’s not as if Lewis has been found with wads of cash in his freezer.
Still, this doesn’t look good.