Analysis: Goode and MZM intertwined at key moments.

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.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

6 replies on “Analysis: Goode and MZM intertwined at key moments.”

  1. great work Waldo..Goode, what a sad figure. i grew up in Southside, Goode of coruse use to be a democrat, an of course with the rise of the Allen machine he saw the writting on the wall in sorts, and changed to a republican, of course this was strickly a survial move, and you really can’t blame him.

    unfortunaly Goode’s change in party label wasn’t the only change he made…slowly over the years Goode has gone from being a solid dependible legislator to nothign more than a cog in machin obsessed with power…

    I have a relative who works at a “high level” in local government in Goode’s distircrt and he/she too has seen (and laments) Goode’s transformation from a responsive “in tune” legislator to someone who every move is a poltical calculation intended to reward allegiance, and squash dissent (must be reading George Allen’s handbook)

    somtimes in politics you have to choose between priciples or power, and Goode chose power, and ultimately self preservation. too bad, he use to be a good one…

  2. You make a good point, Will, one that I really haven’t talked about.

    I really and truly would never have suspected Virgil Goode of anything like this. A year ago, if somebody said that they they thought that Goode was taking bribes, I’d tell ’em to shove off. It’s not in the man’s character, it’s not in his reputation, and it just doesn’t seem like him.

    But the evidence is so overwhelming that I find it very hard to doubt. I imagine that your reading on things is right — Rep. Goode has changed. I suspect that began when he got his House Appropriations seat in exchange for switching parties from the Democrats to the Republicans. It’s a shame to see.

  3. “…and MZM employees say that they were forced to give money to Goode.”

    I thought they were forced to give money to the MZM PAC, which then dispersed the money to Goode and a few other Republicans. Isn’t that a significant distinction?

  4. Jon, you’re right, mostly. :) My incorrect recollection was that employees said that they’d been forced to give to Goode. What they said was that they’d been forced to give to MZM’s PAC, and Goode received more money from MZM’s PAC than any other candidate. However, they also said:

    A third former employee of MZM described being rounded up along with other employees one afternoon in the company’s Washington headquarters and told to write a check with the political recipient standing by. The former employee didn’t give the name of the politician receiving the donations.

    Now, this may be to Goode, it may not. Goode has received far and away more checks from MZM employees than anybody else, so it’s a good guess that the check was to him, but it could hypothetically have been to Katherine Harris or to Duke Cunningham.

    It’s my hope that these comments serve as a sufficient clarification of my remark, which isn’t wrong, per se, but it is based in part on conjecture.

  5. Waldo,

    First of all you are just wrong on a number of things. Goode turned down the appropriations seat when it was first offered to him. No matter hopw many times you repeat it, it just isn’t true. That seat had been taken away from a NY congressman who switched parties from the GOP to the Dems. Congressman Bliley was able to save it for Virginia even when Virgil was not going to be a R but rather an I. At the time the switch was made,most thought it likely that your party was likely to take over the House and if that had happened, that committe assignment would have gone away after just a year. No great bargaining chip there. Many D’s like yourself want to malign many things about Virgil but this mud just won’t stick any more than that Al Weed, Meridith Richards, and John Boyd have thrown in the past three campaigns.

    Virgil didn’t put the National Ground Intelligence Center in the District but he asked the right question when the MZM folk’s asked for his assisatnce. “How will it help my district” Trying to equate Virgil with Cunningham just won’t work. Heck, he returned more money to the Federal treasury from his office account than any other congressman in the country last year and has always been in the vanguard of the top 10% of those returning money. Virgil returned over a half million, way over all the donations that anyone who ever walked into a MZM facility ever gave him.

    Look at the list of gifts given Virgil and you will find they are amoung the lowest in the country-ditto with trips and honoraria to speak. You know better Waldo. You worked for Al Weed and looked hard then and came up with nothing and this is also nothing. There are no “hallmarks”, no one owns Virgil, and Virgil offered to return any donation any employes wanted back(only one so far).

    You may disagree with Virgil’s principles but that does not give you the right to malign through innuendo and you are better than that. Go ahead and work for Al again or whoever else you find but stay above the smear tactics. Saying Virgil can’t stay away from convictions or civil suits is just way over the top and you should edit your posting and remove it.

    Talk about Virgil’s votes and why they are wrong in your opinion. Thats always fair. This other writing of yours just isn’t.

Comments are closed.