WASHINGTON - January 9 - Earlier today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Department of Justice against Congressman Jerry Lewis (R-CA), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, and a possible contender for House Majority Leader. The complaint asks the Attorney General to have the Public Integrity Section initiate an investigation into the relationship between Rep. Lewis and lobbyist Bill Lowery and Mr. Lowery's firm, Copeland Lowery Jacquez Denton & White.
A recent story in the San Diego Union-Tribune asserts that Rep. Lewis, as Chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, has approved hundreds of millions of dollars in federal projects for Lowery's clients. In apparent return, Lowery, his partners, and his firm's clients have donated 37 percent of the $1.3 million that Rep. Lewis's political action committee has received over the past six years.
In addition, at least one staffer has moved back and forth between Rep. Lewis's and Lowery's offices: Jeffrey Shockey left Rep. Lewis's employ in 1999 after which he joined Lowery's lobbying firm. He remained with the firm until 2005, when he left to return to work for Rep. Lewis. When he left, Lowery's firm hired Shockey's wife, Alexandra, to represent some of her husband's old clients, with the result that on behalf of her husband's former partners, she now lobbies staffers who work for her husband.
Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director, urged Attorney General Gonzales and Public Integrity Chief Noel Hillman to immediately commence an investigation into the Lewis/Lowery relationship, stating, "it is a little Duke Cunningham mixed with a lot of Jack Abramoff: Rep. Lewis doles out earmarks a la Cunningham and Lowery plays Abramoff, offering an unending stream of campaign contributions." Sloan continued, "Corruption in Congress does not end with Tom DeLay or Jack Abramoff. There is not just one scandal, but a host of unethical activities that need to be investigated."
CREW is seeking a Department of Justice investigation, in part, because the House Ethics Committee has abdicated its responsibility to police and investigate the conduct of Members of the House of Representatives, leaving only the Department of Justice to stand between the integrity of Congress and the rule of cronyism and opportunism.
The CREW complaint to DOJ is available at http://www.citizensforethics.org