(Note: If you came here by way of LiePar Destin's excellent piece in Kos, you may want to read "Wilkes: The Invisible Empire" first. Also, I'm happy to report that this blockbuster piece on Wilkes in the San Diego Union Tribune strengthens the thesis presented here.)
The good news is that reporters working for the mainstream media have caught on -- in part. They understand that Randy "Duke" Cunningham is hardly the only Republican politician to receive economic "assistance" from Brent Wilkes, head of the Poway-based "defense" firm ADCS -- a.k.a. the Wilkes Corporation, a.k.a. Group W Advisors, a.k.a. lots of other names.
But they still treat this company as though it were something real
. Not a single mainstream reporter has scrutinized those web sites and reported on the obvious signs of fakery
No reporters -- and, for that matter, no procurement officers at the Pentagon -- bothered to do any checking at the patent office. If they had, they would have found that there are no patents covering the "proprietary" designs and innovative equipment advertised by the many ADCS subsidiary firms. The truth: Wilkes was a mechanism by which public funds earmarked for national defense were funneled to G.O.P. candidates and causes.
Defense contracts are a matter of public record. A reader named John Dean (no, not the Watergate-related John Dean) has been going through some of the records related to Wilkes -- a job which ought
to be done by congressional investigators. On one form, the given address does not relate to the massive Wilkes complex on Stowe Avenue in Poway. Instead, the address is 15092 Avenue of Science, San Diego CA 92128.
That, we are told, is the address of a defense firm called Mirror Labs, allegedly a leading firm in the field of testing military equipment. They are referenced in this edition
of the Homeland Defense Journal. Their website, we are told, is www.mirrorlabs.com.
That URL goes nowhere. Google has no cache of anything
ever being there.
However, this archive page
reveals that they once did have a site up, from 2001 to early 2004, at which point the firm, such as it was, seems to have become defunct. The web pages speak of a company with branches in Virigina and Panama. But the only satisfied customers mentioned are a couple of small-ish private companies (real companies) who had some software beta-tested. Google presents no external evidence that a San Diego company named Mirror Labs has ever done anything related to defense, or that it had Virginia and Panama branches. (Update: A background check on www.mirrorlabs.com shows that the URL address was registered by Group W Media, Wilkes' fake ad agency. The listed administrative contact is PerfectWave Techonologies, another fake company.)
I believe that, for all practical
purposes, there is
no Mirror Labs, although a firm by that name may well have performed an actual service at one time. So where did the money go? When that nice fat check filled with taxpayer dollars was sent to 15092 Avenue of Science, who opened it? And what did they do with the money?Here is the organization
that really has -- or had -- offices at that address: ADCS PAC.
That's where the money went.
Apparently, Wilkes felt queasy about housing his PAC at the same address as ADCS proper, so he set up a small office in a San Diego business park. Someone must have put down the wrong address on one of the applications.
So which candidates got chunks of that taxpayer money earmarked for "defense"?
Henry Bonilla, Roy Brown, Rick Clayburgh, Duke Cunningham (of course!), John T. Doolittle, Maria Guadalupe Garcia, George W. Gekas, Lindsay Graham, Duncan Hunter, Darrell Issa, Samuel Johnson, Thaddeus G. McCotter, Constance Morella, Devin Nune, Steve Pearce, Bill Van de Weghe Jr., Jerry Weller.
All Republicans, of course. As the scandal unfolds, the pundits will try to convince us that "both sides do it." That simply is not true.
The donations amounted only to $5000 or so. But ADCS Pac was hardly the only mechanism by which Wilkes could distribute the Christmas candy. Remember, Perfect Wave Technologies, Pure Aqua Technologies, Group W. Advisors and other "subsidiaries" were also used as funding mechanisms.
By keeping the donations small, and by maintaining the illusion that the donors are numerous, the conspirators could line many a pocket with relative safety. Clever, eh?
Other recipients of Wilkes' largesse: President Bush, Katherine Harris, Tom Delay, Virgil Goode Jr. and Elizabeth Dole -- whose husband, as you may recall from yesterday's post, lent his name to Reverend Moon's "stamp out the cross" crusade. Talk about being on the Dole!
Did all these pols understand the ultimate source of the funds? Perhaps not. However, we know that Duncan Hunter -- chairman of the House Armed Services Committee -- was a big ADCS pusher
Since 1994, Wilkes and ADCS gave $40,700 in campaign contributions to Rep. Duncan Hunter, a San Diego Republican who now chairs the House Armed Services Committee. Hunter has acknowledged that he joined with Cunningham in 1999 to contact Pentagon officials who reversed a decision and gave ADCS one of its first big contracts, for nearly $10 million." (USA Today, 11/29/05)
And then there's Republican Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis, who ordered continued funding of ADCS even after the DOD raised objections.
Obviously, Hunter and Lewis must go under the microscope. Even so, you're missing the point if you waste much time castigating the above-named politicians for receiving the money. What is significant is the device itself
-- using "false fronts" to translate IRS-collected revenues into Republican campaign commercials.
Much evidence indicates that Wilkes is but one of many villains involved with such schemes.
I rarely beg my readers, but in this case I must: Please get the word out
. This type of investigative work should not be left to the likes of me (or John Dean, or Daniel Hopsicker). Someone
in the major media -- or Congress, or the Justice Department -- must investigate.
This scandal could and should be bigger than PlamegateWho is the "inside man" in the Pentagon?
I cannot believe that checks went to Wilkes based purely on the say-so of Duke Cunningham or the other bribed pols. Someone in the Pentagon's procurement offices must be signing off on these expenditures. If investigators identify the person or persons involved, then this conspiracy can be blown wide open.
John Dean found that each of the DOD contracts to ADCS and its related firms were prepared by "DOD_MIGRATOR" -- whoever or whatever that
may mean. I'm hardly an expert on Defense Department procurement procedures, so I cannot tell if this nomenclature is standard or unusual. But since each award is numbered, it should not be difficult for an investigator to track down the real person behind DOD_MIGRATOR.
Another oddity: According to Dean, on each ADCS form -- whatever the year -- the company is listed as having 130 employees and annual revenues of "$13,345,9." (Yes, that is the figure given.) These numbers, I am told, never vary.
On the MZM front
: Is the other
company that bribed Cunningham real or fake? What, precisely, do they do?
Ah, there's the rub: We're dealing with black budget stuff. We're not supposed
to know what they do. Alas, in such a world we cannot easily know if they do...anything
MZM, run by Mitchell Wade -- a longtime member of the Wilkes/Cunningham "posse" -- began life in the early 1990s. Yet during most of the ensuing years, it made little impact on the world. As a "defense and intelligence" firm, it seems to have sprung from nothing in 2002, like a Rambo-ized Venus from the brow of Ares.This page
from (of all things) the Panama American Chamber of Commerce contains some interesting info about MZM: The address is 1523 New Hampshire Ave., N.W.; Washington, DC 20036, USA. The only email contact addresses go to Wade and a man named Joel Cornelison.
Their line of work? Surprisingly enough -- it's a law firm!
When the firm began life in 1993, Wade and Cornelison -- the only names connected with the place -- were "business consultants."
More recently, MZM originated a 501(c)3 nonprofit called the "Sure Foundation" -- allegedly an organization devoted to refugee aid -- which shares the same address. The address was also used by the front company which purchased Cunningham's home at an inflated price.
The Sure Foundation website (the contents of which are quoted here
) used to refer to MZM as its "first corporate sponsor." MZM's line of work has changed once more: Now they provide "data warehousing and information technology consulting services to both governmental and non-governmental entities."
That description may be literally true, if we presume that they kept a few floppy disks or notebooks hanging around the office.
So far, I've seen no evidence that the Sure Foundation actually transferred monies to starving refugees. However, we do know that MZM did
distribute funds to certain "needy" individuals: Republican politicians.
Wade, unlike Wilkes, kept the MZM Pac housed in the very same office. (We must presume that they didn't have a great deal of office space, since unrelated tenants are in the same building.) When we look at the data
on MZM Pac and its activities in 2003-2004, we learn that the population of this company has grown by leaps and bounds.
The PAC now lists roughly 100 names. A close scan of the names indicates that wives and children were recruited to the cause -- the cause being, of course, donations to G.O.P. candidates. (One of the named donors is "Joe Dollar." That can't
be real -- can it?) Nearly all the donors are listed as employees of MZM Inc., and many have grandiose titles -- Chairman of this, VP of that.
MZM employees, we learn, were told they had to make the donations or be fired
. I believe there are laws against that sort of thing.
Frankly, I'm not at all sure how MZM transformed itself from a two-man law office (I'm picturing a Republican version of Daredevil
's Nelson and Murdoch) into a go-go defense and intelligence firm.
For that, it would seem, is the final incarnation of MZM. According to the Center for Public Integrity
MZM Inc. is a high-tech national security firm based in Washington, D.C. The private firm provides intelligence gathering, technology and homeland security analysis and consulting for both international and domestic governments and private-sector clients. The firm also provides consulting on political and public message strategies. Its government clients include Congress, the White House, the Defense Department, the U.S. intelligence community, the Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force and state and local governments, according to the company's Web site. MZM refused to provide any information, however, about its corporate structure, including names of other principals.
In addition to its D.C. headquarters, MZM has field offices in Miami, Tampa, San Antonio, San Diego and Suffolk, Va. The company employs about 70 people.
Following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, MZM expanded its counterintelligence and national security efforts. It soon experienced an influx of government contracts. The company now predicts a growth rate of more than 35 percent in the 2003 fiscal year. Mitchell Wade, president and CEO, reportedly expects to increase sales from $25 million to $120 million and to hire 230 more employees over the next five years. Wade told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that recently the company has "come out of a flat period" with defense industry contracts.
In September 2003, MZM collaborated with 16 other organizations, called the General Dynamics team, as part of a five-year, $252 million contract to provide engineering and information warfare services to the Air Force Information Warfare Center at Lackland Airforce Base in Texas.
In November 2002, MZM opened a computer center in Charlottesville, Va., to house classified engineering intelligence in a digital mapping and architecture analysis system. Twelve employees in that office are developing the program for the Pentagon. It is designed to provide digital maps of thousands of buildings worldwide. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that the mapping system will help soldiers and planners know details of buildings -- even which way doors open and close.
At least we are given some indication of what the firm actually does
. The data page goes on to name a number of individuals involved with this work -- intelligence analysts, generals, the kind of people whom we would expect to be involved with such an enterprise. Cornelison seems to have disappeared.
But how much of this data is on the level? One would think that so august a firm would have a web site. However, the listed URL -- www.mzinc.com -- is blank, as is Google's cache for that page. Interestingly, Dean found an MZM contract with the DOD dated February 13, 2003 in which MZM states that it has zero employees and zero revenue. The contract is for a mere $12,740,000.
However, we do know that they did open a fairly large facility in Martinsville, Virgina
The Center for Public Integrity is trustworthy, but they can only relate what they've been told -- and at this point, who can be sure if a company like MZM is telling the truth? Obviously, Wade's creation (unlike many of the Wilkes pseudocompanies) does actual work for the military/intelligence complex; as we've seen, they've even provided office furniture
for the White House. Even so, we must still ask: How and why did Wade's tiny firm suddenly grow like Topsy? Who is Mitchell Wade? Is he a lawyer, a businessman, a spook, or...what?
Which brings us to the larger question surrounding these out-of-nowhere defense firms: How much of this stuff is real?