Tag Archives: Gibson Dunn

CA-41: Lewis, DoJ Drain The Money Swamp

Bruin Kid lets us know that Jerry Lewis will be seeking re-election next year.  He’s obviously pretty confident that his legal troubles and investigations into his corrupt earmarking will amount to nothing.  I’m thinking this is why:

In Los Angeles, a federal criminal investigation of Rep. Jerry Lewis, a California Republican, stalled for nearly six months due to a lack of funds, according to former prosecutors. The lead prosecutor on the inquiry and other lawyers departed the office, and vacancies couldn’t be filled. George Cardona, the interim U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, declined to comment on specific cases but confirmed that lack of funds and unfilled vacancies caused delays in some investigations […]

People with knowledge of the case said that by the time the investigation stalled in December 2006, it had branched out into other areas, including Mr. Lewis’s June 2003 role in passing legislation that helped giant hedge fund Cerberus Capital Management. People associated with Cerberus around the same time gave at least $140,000 to a political action committee controlled by Mr. Lewis. Cerberus officials didn’t respond to phone calls or emailed questions concerning the Lewis inquiry […]

After the lead prosecutor in the Lewis case quit, others assigned to the case took time getting up to speed. Brian Hershman, a former deputy chief of the Los Angeles office’s public corruption section, declined to comment on specific cases, but confirms that his group’s work overall was derailed by the departure of experienced prosecutors. Like several others, he says he left for more money to support his family.

Replacements “are mostly rookies,” he says. “It will be some time before they’ll be able to restore the section to what it was before.”

With additional funds recently made available by Congress, the Los Angeles office has filled 12 of 57 lawyer vacancies and is expecting an additional 12 lawyers to start soon. To jump-start the Lewis investigation, Mr. Cardona, the interim U.S. attorney, in June called on a veteran prosecutor, Michael Emmick, to revive and supervise the investigation, people with knowledge of the investigation say.

Day late and a dollar short on that one, I’d gather.  This is approaching criminal conduct by the Justice Department.  At a time when the investigation was expanding, Debra Wong Yang (the US Attorney for the region) suddenly jumped ship for the law firm representing Lewis.  You can bet they never lacked funds; Yang received nearly $1.5 million.  The law firm, Gibson Dunn, took the top assistant off the case as well.  So the LA office was thrown into disarray precisely when the investigation was heating up, and the money for the office dried up at the same time.  Pathetic.  With or without Alberto Gonzales, we still have a DoJ protecting its own and politicized beyond control.  And this is the time when Democratic leaders are seeking to call off the dogs in the US Attorney case?

Feinstein questions the departure of the US Attorney for Los Angeles

The President’s remarks on the US Attorney scandal were the same kind of out-of-touch obstructionism and intimidation we’ve come to expect (he’s essentially daring Congress to initiate a Constitutional showdown), so no need to replay it here.  But Sen. Feinstein is pulling at another thread of the scandal, one little remarked-upon but potentially significant.  It’s about a legislator essentially bribing a prosecutor to get her off the trail.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Tuesday she wants answers about the departure of the former U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, who resigned last October before the Justice Department’s dismissal of eight other U.S. attorneys sparked controversy.

“I have questions about Debra Yang’s departure and I can’t answer those questions right at this time,” Feinstein, D-Calif. and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters in response to a question. “Was she asked to resign, and if so, why? We have to ferret that out.”

Here’s the real scoop: In May 2006, Debra Wong Yang was beginning work on the investigation of Rep. Jerry Lewis, the former chair of the House Appropriations Committee who was being scrutinized over handing out defense earmarks to political friends.  Within a few months, Yang resigned… to work for the law firm representing Lewis.

About five months before Yang’s departure her office had opened an investigation into ties between Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., and a lobbyist. When Yang left her U.S. attorney’s job she went to work for Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, the firm where Lewis’ legal team works, but government rules required that she recuse herself from that case or any other she was involved with while a government prosecutor.

The Lewis case is connected to the ongoing corruption investigation in San Diego that began with the 2005 conviction of former GOP Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, who is serving jail time for bribery. Former U.S. attorney Carol Lam in San Diego, who was among those dismissed last year, was prosecuting that case. Feinstein contends that Lam’s dismissal had something to do with the her role in the Cunningham investigation, though the Justice Department denies it.

Not only that, Yang got $1.5 million dollars to go to work for Gibson Dunn.  Ted Olson, the former US Solicitor General, works there too.  And the Assistant US Attorney for LA, Douglas Fuchs, joined her.

So here we have the top two federal prosecutors looking into a public corruption case hired away from the government by the law firm representing that same corrupt official.

This is where government cronyism meets corporate cronyism…