view from mars

"Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day."

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

gazing into katherine harris' crystal ball




As we have come to learn, Katherine Harris (R-FL) has been identified as "Representative B" mentioned in Mitch Wade's guilty plea.

We learn further from this article in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that Wade had some fairly clear intentions for the benefits he would glean from his illegal contributions to the Honorable Congresswoman from Florida:
Court documents in Wade's criminal case said Wade and Harris, identified as Representative B, discussed funding "in early 2005" for a Navy counterintelligence project and an MZM facility for Sarasota. The documents say the program "was not funded."

Former aides to Harris said she did request funding from the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, but it was not approved.

The amount requested was not clear Tuesday and was not included in a letter to the subcommittee chairman last April, but is believed to be $10 million.Court documents in Wade's case say he made illegal donations to Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va., in 2003 and 2005 as well as a funding request of Goode in 2005. The documents said an aide to Goode told Wade a defense bill would include $9 million.
Prior to this article, I had only been aware of this from his plea agreement:
After making the illegal campaign contributions to the other Representative, Wade had a personal dinner with the Representative, in which the two discussed the possibility of MZM's hosting a fundraiser for the Representative later in the year, and the possibility of obtaining funding and approval for a Navy counterintellige nce program. That program was never funded.
Goode, you'll remember, didn't have to request funding from the Appropriations Subcommittee. He was already a member of the House Appropriations Committee, and as a result had direct access to defense bills (which are almost never voted down by the House -- I wonder what that more recent $9 million was for...) This seems to be the only detail (aside from the dates) that are different between what came to be as a result of Wade and Goode's relationship and the similar relationship Wade had with Harris.

But it's a critically important difference. It was in this way that Goode was able to secure millions of federal money for the construction of a new MZM facility in Martinsville back in 2003. Here's the whole story from USA TODAY:

Records from the Pentagon and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) show Goode was behind the creation of a military data collection project the Pentagon never requested. The Pentagon awarded the project to MZM, which put it in Goode's south-central Virginia district.

In 2003, Goode said he added a classified provision to a defense spending bill to create the Foreign Supplier Assessment Center, which he understood would be located in his district.

[snip]

...The center was one of about 50 budget requests he has made in the past several years, most of which involved work in his district, he says.

"The Pentagon never has asked me for any of these requests," Goode said in written answers to questions from USA TODAY.

[snip]

By the time Goode arranged an initial $3.6 million for the center in 2003, MZM's PAC and its employees had given the congressman nearly $33,000 in campaign contributions, making them at that point by far his biggest financial supporter for the 2004 election.

Goode later urged local and state officials to help MZM open the center in Martinsville, a down-on-its-luck former textile center in his district. Records released under Virginia's open-records law show Goode contacted state economic development officials about the plans on Oct. 1, 2003, the first day of the fiscal year in which the FSAC was to be opened.

Goode says the negotiations were between MZM and Martinsville officials. But the records tell a different story.

The state records say Goode acted as a go-between during negotiations between Wade and MZM on one side and Martinsville and Virginia officials on the other.

The congressman was so involved that officials of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership referred to it in e-mails as "Project Goode."

Wade promised Martinsville up to 150 jobs that paid an average $52,000, jobs that Virginia economic development official Johnny Perez called "like gold," according to records released by the state development partnership under the state's freedom of information law.

But MZM drove a hard bargain.

The company refused any direct government assistance, which would have required it to repay the money if the company didn't meet job-creation targets. MZM insisted on paying only $400,000 for a building that cost the city more than $1 million, records show.

And MZM demanded that it be exempt from property taxes for five years.

Throughout the process, Perez wrote in e-mails to his colleagues, Goode backed Wade and MZM, including when their requests fell "outside normal procedures."


This just keeps getting worse and worse for Virgil.

Get this, about Harris:

An aide to Rep. Katherine Harris quit last year to work for a defense contractor who at the time was pressing the Longboat Key Republican to secure federal funding for a counterintelligence project.

[snip]

The move last April by Mona Tate Yost, Harris' former schedule coordinator, to MZM suggests the contractor was more tightly tied to the congresswoman's office than previously known.

Former aides also said Yost contacted Harris' office soon after leaving on matters that included the status of the funding request that Harris and Wade had discussed. Yost denied she made such contacts in a brief interview on Tuesday, but confirmed she left her job with Harris to work at MZM.

Yost remains an employee of the company that bought MZM last year, Athena Innovative Solutions Inc. She is a contract worker for the Defense Security Service, a Pentagon branch that does counterintelligence and security work for the military. Her title is government and public affairs specialist.

Yost would not comment about how she came to work for Wade, with whom she would have had contact in her four months as Harris' scheduler and assistant, beginning on Dec. 23, 2004. Yost said she started at MZM in May 2005.

Representatives for Athena did not return a telephone message.

I wonder if any of Virgil's staffers later found themselves making a hell of a lot more money at MZM.