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Monday, March 06, 2006

How Far Will the Federal Investigation into a Defense Contractor's Illegal Contributions Go?

The question is no longer “How will the recent scandals affect our Senate campaign?” No, the question for Congressman Katherine Harris and her senior staff must now be “Will indictments be handed down?”

The scandal involving illegal campaign contributions from MZM began as part of the investigation to former Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham, who recently plead guilty to federal charges for accepting bribes from defense contractor MZM.

One of Rep. Harris’ aides, Mona Yost, left the Congresswoman’s office to work for MZM around the same time that Harris was working to secure the company a $10 million federal contract. It has now been revealed at MZM CEO Mitchell Wade illegally funneled $34,000 in campaign contributions by reimbursing his employees for the $2000 checks he forced them to write to the Congresswoman. Court documents which identify Harris as Representative B show Wade, who has plead guilty to federal charges, wining and dining Harris to get that $10 million contract. In point of fact, MZM did not receive the contract, though Harris did her level best to win it for them.

This is, unfortunately, not the first time Congresswoman Harris has found herself in this position. In 1994, she accepted more than $20,000 in illegal contributions from the insurance industry. Riscorp, Inc. used the same techniques as MZM to direct the money to her state senate campaign.

One member of Congress has already plead guilty to charges relating to MZM. Perhaps investigators will find the Harris is merely guilty of being easily duped. But she (and her staff) should be worried that someone besides the voters, who already overwhelmingly support the Democratic candidate, doesn’t see it that way.

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