Over a Pork Barrel

Ex-congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham was packed off to prison for accepting bribes from Defense Department lobbyists, but the scandal hasn't crimped the campaign fund-raising style of his onetime close GOP colleague Duncan Hunter, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. According to its latest financial disclosure, the Hunter campaign picked up thousands of dollars from individuals who represent companies doing business with the Pentagon. A prominent example is Craig Hartzell of Morgantown, West Virginia, who gave his latest $1000 to the Hunter campaign on June 29 of this year. Hartzell runs Azimuth, Inc., which his hometown newspaper, the Morgantown Dominion Post, describes as making top-secret electronics for Navy patrol boats. The firm also builds robotic devices to defuse roadside explosives in Iraq.

Hartzell doesn't limit his largesse to Republicans. In May, Roll Call, the daily newspaper that covers Capitol Hill, reported that Azimuth, which this year received a $20 million contract from the Department of Homeland Security, was on a list of West Virginia companies that had paid for a 2004 trip to Spain for West Virginia Democratic congressman Alan Mollohan, his wife, and two aides. Mollohan had already been under fire on a variety of fronts, including his funneling of $250 million in federal money to a group of five nonprofit organizations he had set up, purportedly to enhance economic development in his district. One of Mollohan's most notorious connections is to MZM, Inc., the defense outfit run by Mitchell Wade, who pled guilty to bribing Cunningham. MZM gave Mollohan's campaign a total of $23,000, which he contributed to the Salvation Army after the scandal broke.

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