The Lewis investigation has not yet publicly produced any corruption allegations similar to those which have fueled the ongoing probe into the activities of ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff or those with Cunningham. In the Abramoff case, the admitted felon’s more than seven-year bribery conspiracy was marked by a stunning supply of illegal gratuities, ranging from free food and drinks at his restaurants to tens of thousands of dollars in secret payments to spouses in exchange for official favors.
Cunningham pleaded guilty to accepting at least $2.4 million in bribes, including many from a Copeland Lowery client, defense contractor Brent Wilkes.
For Lewis, the FBI searched financial disclosure forms from 1999 through 2004, the same years that they searched for his wife, Arlene Willis. She serves as chief of staff for Lewis in his personal office.
In Calvert’s case, the FBI searched his financial records over the same years.
It’s unclear whether this new federal examination of his finances will create any headaches in Calvert’s effort to secure the soon-to-be-open seat on Appropriations, which he has appeared to be the frontrunner to win. That seat is being vacated Friday by retiring Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas).
The FBI searched financial disclosure forms from 1999 through 2002 filed by White, according to logs left on the resource center’s computerized system. In addition, the agency pulled the financial disclosure form that Shockey filed early last year, shortly after he returned to the Hill.
That form, which covered his financial activities in 2004, his last year with Copeland Lowery, showed how Shockey went from well-connected Hill staffer in the late 1990s to multimillionaire within a few years — a level of financial success White is likely currently enjoying as well.
Shockey earned a little more than $1.5 million at Copeland Lowery in 2004, according to his disclosure form. His current staff salary now is about one-tenth that level.
When he parted ways with the firm, Shockey received a $600,000 buyout that was paid out in three payments spread over 2005.
His clients at Copeland Lowery were predominantly local municipalities, counties and local government entities in the districts of Lewis and Calvert.
White, on the other hand, initially focused on defense industry clients in her first years with Copeland Lowery, such as contracting giants General Dynamics and General Atomics.
However, according to Shockey’s disclosure forms and lobbying records, White took over at least 19 of Shockey’s local clients after he left the firm.
At least seven of those clients have now been subpoenaed by federal investigators in their dragnet search for links between the firm, Shockey, White and Lewis.
Lewis’ financial disclosure forms do not appear to include any major increases in personal wealth, although his 2003 form shows a May trip to New York City paid for by General Atomics. That trip, on which his wife accompanied him, came four months after White signed the defense contractor up as a client.
Copeland Lowery clients, and particularly those of Shockey and White, have enjoyed widespread success in winning multimillion-dollar earmarks in appropriations bills.
But Lewis has staunchly defended his efforts on behalf of towns and institutions that are in his region as simply a lawmaker doing what’s best for his constituents.