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So what is it about Republicans and lasers?
Connoisseurs of the bribery scandal involving former Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.) will recall that the now-imprisoned appropriator owned two Laser Shot Inc. shooting simulators, worth $9,200, courtesy of defense contractor Mitchell Wade, who pleaded guilty in February to conspiring to bribe public officials, notably Cunningham.
Now it has become public, in legal defense fund filings released Monday, that two officials from Laser Shot and the Stafford, Texas-based company itself donated $15,000 to the defense fund for Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) during the first quarter of 2006. That made the company and its two officials one of the biggest contributors to the trust, which was set up to help DeLay cover the costs of lawyers representing him in a Texas criminal case and an ongoing Justice Department probe.
Paige Manard, CEO of Laser Shot, and Alan Winslette, COO of the firm, as well as Laser Shot, each cut $5,000 checks to the DeLay legal-defense fund. Manard and Winslette did not return a call seeking comment on Monday.
Neither Manard nor Winslette has been much of political donor until this cycle, when they gave a combined $8,100 to DeLay’s re-election campaign.
Manard and Winslette also gave smaller donations to Reps. Henry Bonilla (R-Texas), Dan Boren (D-Okla.), the leadership political action committee of Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and the Republican National Committee.
Laser Shot Inc., which is headquartered in DeLay’s district and has more than 60 employees, specializes in developing “force option simulators” to help train law enforcement and military personnel. It has offices in Washington, D.C., and London, and the firm counts the Army, Navy and Air Force among its customers, as well as the FBI, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, National Nuclear Security Administration, and London Metropolitan Police, according to the company’s Web site.
Former Rep. Bill Brewster (D-Okla.) has lobbied for the firm since July 2003, and he was paid $40,000 to represent the company as a lobbyist during the first six months of 2005, the last period for which disclosure records are publicly available.
DeLay and Cunningham aren’t alone in their interest in the company’s products. Notwithstanding their role in the Cunningham scandal, Laser Shot simulators were used as a draw for a fundraiser held by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) in March, according to The Washington Post.
Disgraced GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the current king of Washington scandals, had a laser-related interest as well. When he was still riding high, Abramoff had his 2002 BMW 745Li sedan tricked out with tens of thousands of dollars in high-end gadgets, including a pair of “laser diffusers” that helped “Casino Jack” avoid police radar detectors, The New York Times reported in March.