The Most Corrupt Members Of Congress-7 Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA)

Representative Jerry Lewis (R-CA) is a sixteen-term member of Congress, representing the 41st district of California. Currently the ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, his ethics issues stem primarily from the misuse of his position as chairman of the committee to steer hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarks to family and friends in direct exchange for contributions to his campaign committee and political action committee. Rep. Lewis was included in CREW’s 2006, 2007, and 2008 reports on congressional corruption.

Relationship with Bill Lowery and Copeland Lowery Jacquez Denton & White

Rep. Lewis has a close relationship with lobbyist and former Congressman Bill Lowery, and his lobbying firm, formerly known as Copeland Lowery Jacquez Denton & White (“Copeland Lowery”). As then-chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Lewis approved hundreds of millions of dollars in federal projects for Mr. Lowery’s clients. In exchange, Mr. Lowery, his partners and their spouses contributed $480,000 to Rep. Lewis’ campaign committee and Future Leaders PAC between 2000 and 2005, often giving the maximum contribution allowed under law.

Federal officials had been investigating lobbyists Letitia White and Jeffrey Shockey and the cozy relationship between Rep. Lewis and Copeland Lowery, now known as Innovative Federal Strategies (IFS).

Despite the continued scrutiny of his earmarking activities, Rep. Lewis has continued to request earmarks for Mr. Copeland and Ms. White’s clients at IFS. In 2008, Rep. Lewis sponsored $55 million in earmarks for IFS clients. In 2009, he requested more than $218 million in earmarks, nearly half of which – $102 million – was designated for projects of IFS clients.

Brent Wilkes Investigation

Rep. Lewis is also under investigation because of his dealings with Brent Wilkes, the same contractor who went to jail for bribing former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA). After Rep. Cunningham pleaded guilty, Rep. Lewis resisted an independent investigation of Rep. Cunningham’s activities on the Appropriations Committee, stating that his own personal informal review of Rep. Cunningham’s earmarks was satisfactory and that the earmarks Rep. Cunningham doled out were legitimate.

In total, Rep. Lewis has received $88,252 from Mr. Wilkes and his associates, making him the third-highest recipient of campaign contributions from Mr. Wilkes, after former Reps. Cunningham and John Doolittle (R-CA).

Environmental Systems Research Institute Inc. (ESRI)

In 2007, Environmental Systems Research Institute Inc. (ESRI), a former client of Rep. Lewis’ deputy staff director Jeffrey Shockey, was awarded a federal contract worth over $55 million. In 2008, ESRI received contracts worth over $4 million dollars and the company’s founders, Mr. and Mrs. Dangermond donated $7,200 to Rep. Lewis’ campaign in 2008. In 2009, Rep. Lewis requested $12 million in earmarks for ESRI.

Legal Fees

Since the release of CREW’s 2008 Most Corrupt report, Rep. Lewis has paid $68,000 in legal fees from his campaign account.

Federal Investigation

By trading campaign contributions for earmarks, Rep. Lewis may have committed bribery and honest services fraud and violated House rules.

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