WILKES FOUNDATION SUSPENDED IN CALIFORNIA
The Wilkes Foundation, a charity run by embattled San Diego lobbyist and defense contractor Brent Wilkes, was suspended last month by the California Secretary of State for failure to submit financial statements, the MadCowMorningNews has learned.
The suspension of the Wilkes Foundation appears to have been anything but routine.
A spokesman in the California Secretary of State’s Office stated that the last financial statement the charity filed was over three years ago, in November of 2002.
Asked whether a three-year grace period was the state norm regarding financial filings, the spokesman politely demurred.
News that the Wilkes Foundation has been concealing their financial records from authorities comes hard on the heels of last week’s shocking report (in the Austin-Statesman) that another Republican lobbyist-run charity, Jack Abramoff’s Capital Athletic Foundation, lied to the IRS about giving more than $330,000 in grants to charities which never received the money.
Suspicions are growing that the philanthropic activities of the close-knit group of Republican movers and shakers currently under scrutiny are being used to shield money laundering.
“Brent and Gina started the Wilkes Foundation several years ago to benefit San Diego’s military families, public safety workers and children’s health programs,” states the foundation’s website.
“To date, the annual San Diego Tribute to Heroes Gala sponsored by the Wilkes Foundation has already raised nearly $1 million dollars, benefiting Children’s (Hospital) and the Air Warrior Courage Foundation.”
A close examination of the Wilke’s Foundation’s purported beneficiaries revealed more disturbing news. The Air Warrior Courage Foundation, one of only two charities supported by Wilke’s Foundation, was suspended at the same time as the Wilkes Foundation, and for the same reason, according to a spokesman in the California Secretary of State’s office.
The recently-convicted Rep. Randy Cunningham's ties to a third Republican-supported charitable foundation have also been under attack from public-interest watchdog groups in Washington, D.C.
That charity, the Sure Foundation, started by defense contractor Mitchell Wade, a former employee of Brent Wilkes, is headquartered at the same address as Wade's defense contracting firm, MZM Inc. Wade's wife, Christiane, is the foundation's president, and he is its treasurer. Randy Cunningham's wife, Nancy, and one of his daughters, April, are listed as members of the foundation's advisory board.
"These two men have mixed up their business, social and charitable lives," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington.
Racing loses (another) one of the "boys"
Adding to his mounting woes, Wilkes, already identified as “co-conspirator #1” in the bribery and corruption case of former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, was subpoenaed earlier this week by Texas authorities in connection with the investigation of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.
Wilkes, who donated more than $70,000 dollars to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaign and was rewarded with two gubernatorial appointments, was asked to resign last month, at Schwarzenegger’s behest, from both the Del Mar Fair Board and another panel that oversees the leasing of state land for racetracks.
The circle appears to be closing on Jack Abramoff.
Like Adam Kidan, he may be preparing to accept whatever deal prosecutors are offering.
The largest contributor to the Wilkes Foundation, a lobbyist living in Virginia who owns a company called GTS, provides another indication of the deep roots of the Cunningham-Wilkes-Abramoff scandal; that, rather than the malfeasance of a “few bad apples,” we are witnessing the exposure of corruption that goes all the way to the bone…
"K Street on the Tigris"
William Tucker, a former Reagan-Bush regional campaign director who served as a White House counsel for President Reagan, traveled to Baghdad two years ago on behalf of several clients, according to published reports.
There Tucker made use, according to an article two years ago in an article in Mother Jones called ‘K Street’ on the Tigris,’ of his longtime friendship with Peter McPherson, another former Reagan staffer, and the Coalition Authority's top official in charge of overseeing the Iraqi economy.
Companies without connections in the region—or at the Pentagon—simply can't hope to compete, he was quoted as saying. About such firms, Tucker reportedly said, "They don't have a clue."
Tucker’s on-line bio provides the helpful information that he has been recognized by Congressional Quarterly as one of the top twelve lobbyists to come out of the Reagan Administration, and of his presentation of a paper on “Alliances Between Iraqi and Non-Iraqi Companies and Entrepreneurs,” at an Iraqi reconstruction conference in Amman, Jordan, sponsored by the American-Iraqi Chamber of Commerce; as well as at a “Rebuilding Iraq Conference” held in Arlington, Virginia.
"Free and fair elections… yeah, sure."
Perhaps most alarmingly, Tucker’s bio boasts that he Co-Chaired a delegation of Republicans and Democrats as observers to the Presidential election in Azerbaijan in October 1998, as well as of his membership in international observation teams sent to monitor elections in the Philippines and Taiwan.
Suspicions—which began with the revelation in the Senate Indian Gaming Hearings that Abramoff had founded a prestigious and scholarly think tank which later turned out to be run by a lifeguard—have grown about the prospect that a shadowy enterprise—dubbed "an invisible empire," by one commentator—has been running an unknown number of transparently sham schemes with apparent Federal protection.
Observers who have expressed puzzlement over one of Brent Wilke’s websites, "The Poway Mafia", may be enlightened to learn of the discovery of yet another San Diego-based defense contractor which appears to also be involved in the fraudulent schemes of “Cunningham Wilkes et al” to divert money from America’s national defense to purchase mansions, Rolls Royces, Lear jets and yachts.
“Tomahawk II” had colorful ties to Brent Wilkes and also to the Mafia’s Gambino Family; ties which ensure we will be hearing much more about the now-defunct firm in coming weeks.
Just as Abramoff’s schemes targeted weak spots in federal law enforcement, such as Indian gaming, Tomahawk II, founded by a Harvard graduate of no discernible Native American ethnicity, appears to have been used to exploit federal laws designed to help Indians gain a foothold in the lucrative defense industry.
"Well, he was at a Cleveland Indians game once…"
“Tomahawk II Inc. is a Native American owned services corporation that specializes in document imaging and conversion and financing and leasing of equipment and software,” states a company press release.
“Tomahawk markets its services to both government and private industry. As a Native-American business, Tomahawk qualifies as a small disadvantaged business under U.S. federal government procurement regulations.”
In 1993, founders of the then-Audre Recognition Systems started TomaHawk to convert defense documents into software. Audre preferred to work on the software and hardware in the conversion process.
Among the founders was one Dennis R. Di Ricco of Portola Valley, a former attorney who resigned from the bar in 1989 because charges were pending against him. He was convicted later on tax and obstruction of justice charges.
The government later used him as a witness in a celebrated payola case, but the judge berated the government, saying Di Ricco's testimony varied widely from the testimony in his own case.
"Di Ricco had a history of merging U.S.-based or Canada-based operating companies into shell companies that he would acquire," Lorber says. That's how the stock got on the rough-and-tumble Canadian Venture Exchange, nee Alberta Exchange.
In TomaHawk's early days, Di Ricco was involved with Tom Casey, founder of Audre (which also went bankrupt) at the same time Brent Wilkes worked at the firm.
Tomahawk II Inc because a judge declared that the company was jointly and severally responsible for payments to Casey's ex-wife.
Di Ricco testified he helped launder hundreds of thousands of dollars and supplied large quantites of cash for use as payola, in the largest record industry payola case in U.S. history, that of Robert Isgro, a recordpromoter indicted after he was seen meeting with members of the Gambino Mafia family in New York in 1986.
Adam Kidan, the Jack Abramoff associate who pled guilty last week in the Sun Cruz Casino Line fraud case in which both have been charged, also has long-time ties to the Gambinos, most specifically with the three men so far accused of the murder of Sun Cruz founder Gus Boulis… a murder in which Jack Abramoff is suspected of involvement as well.