My own Rep. Virgil Goode (R-05) has enjoyed a respite from the public prodding and inquiries to which he became subject for much of the summer. With the state election mostly settled, my attentions will turn back to Rep. Goode now.
Federal contractor MZM, subject of a federal investigation for their bribery of elected officials, has been heavily linked to California’s Rep. Duke Cunningham and Rep. Goode. Cunningham has gone down in flames, subject of a lawsuit filed by the federal government for taking bribes from MZM in exchange for getting them government contracts. There’s a criminal investigation into him, too, in which indictments are inevitable.
Rep. Goode has also evaded conviction or civil suits thus far, but that can’t possibly last. MZM’s contributions to Goode have all the hallmarks of being coerced, the same hallmarks that have led to Cunningham’s fall. The CEO of MZM said that he “owns” Goode, and MZM employees say that they were forced to give money to Goode. With Goode being the proud recipient of over $100,000, that’s a lot of potential coercion.
If any reporters have simply asked Rep. Goode to release all documents pertaining to his communications with MZM, I don’t know about it. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington have filed a FOIA request for those documents, but the Bush administration refuses to release many documents under FOIA, so I don’t have much confidence in that.
Which brings me to my point. It seems that I’m not the only one who was waiting for the election to be over to return to the Goode/MZM story. Today’s USA Today examines the relationship between MZM, Cunningham, and Goode, and they don’t like what they see. They reviewed public data — nothing new uncovered — specifically Goode and Cunningham’s voting records and MZM’s contribution records, and found some amazing coincidences:
A USA TODAY analysis of MZM-related campaign contributions shows how the company’s growth and its political activities became intertwined at key moments. In more than 30 instances, donations from MZM’s political action committee or company employees went to two members of the House Appropriations Committee — Cunningham and Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va. — in the days surrounding key votes or contract awards that helped MZM grow.
For more than two years, from May 2002 to June 2004, MZM, Wade and others connected to the company made a series of donations coinciding with contract awards or budget votes in Congress. Since 2002, MZM and about 70 of its employees have been Goode’s biggest single source of campaign money, giving nearly $90,000 of the $995,000 he raised.
A USA TODAY analysis of MZM’s donations found that the contributions — often small — frequently followed important milestones for the company. […] Contributions to Goode reveal a similar pattern.
- In September 2002, MZM received an open-ended computer services contract from the Pentagon worth more than $163 million and announced its information technology work at the National Ground Intelligence Center in Goode’s district. The company PAC gave Goode’s campaign $1,000 that month; Wade gave $250. The Pentagon revoked that contract in June, saying new rules required that it be opened to competition.
- In March, April and November 2003, MZM’s PAC and company officials gave Goode’s campaign a total of $19,000 in the days surrounding the award of three Pentagon contracts to MZM.
There’s a great deal more in this lengthy article — it would be rude for me to reproduce all relevant portions here.
At best, Goode’s web of contributions with MZM is a remarkable coincidence. It could be that Goode had no knowledge that MZM employees were forced to contribute to his campaign. It’s possible that Goode doesn’t know that MZM CEO Mitchell Wade thought that he “owned” Goode. It’s possible that Goode thought that he was being helpful when he required that Martinsville have to pay over half a million dollars if MZM failed to perform adequately. It’s possible that Goode thinks that it’s normal to have $100,000 in contributions from a single donor, and didn’t believe that they expected anything in return.
But, I’ve got to say, those don’t strike me as particularly likely possibilities.
So, here’s what I want to know:
- Has Rep. Goode engaged in any transactions of anything of value with MZM, its employees, its owners, or their family members?
- What bills has Rep. Goode introduced that would benefit MZM?
- How did Rep. Goode vote on bills that appeared before the House Appropriations Committee that would benefit MZM?
- What requests did MZM make of Rep. Goode prior to key votes? What assurances did Rep. Goode make to MZM in the days prior to those votes?
- When Rep. Goode received contributions from MZM’s PAC, MZM employees, MZM owners, or their family members, did any of those contributions come with a note and, if so, what did the notes say?
I think the answers to these questions could be quite revealing. I hope that journalists with the ability to contact Rep. Goode and ask for some of this will do just that. I’ve never filed a FOIA request, but I may well learn how to do it (paging Frosty Landon) for this purpose.
If Rep. Goode has done nothing wrong, he would be wise to release the contents of his communications with MZM. They’ll either be released under his own terms or under a FOIA request, so even if he has done something wrong, he could at least control the spin if he released them willingly.