The Perils of Pork

Yesterday, the grandiloquent chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Jerry Lewis, finally felt the poisonous prick of pork (much to his surprise, it would seem). Jerry Kammer and Dean Calbreath of the Copley News Service report today that investigators were probing Lewis’ dealings with lobbyist and former Republican Rep. Bill Lowery of San Diego. The source said the investigation was a spin-off from the corruption probe of now-imprisoned former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham. It seems the dark side of the lard-fest that has infected Washington for the past few years is finally coming to light. Thus, now is the time for keeping one’s distance from the egregious earmarkers (though, that may be tough as the head appropriator).

“Mr. Cunningham was never a close friend,” Lewis added. He described the disgraced ex-congressman as simply “a colleague I trusted to serve the interests of his country.” However, Lewis and Cunningham sometimes campaigned together, including a joint fund-raiser at the San Diego headquarters of General Atomics in October 2004 with Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine. Lewis and Cunningham also worked in tandem on Pentagon funding requests that came before the Appropriations Committee, defense contractors and military analysts have told the Union-Tribune. “Lewis and Duke worked together, exerting a lot of control. It was pretty frightening,” said a San Diego military contractor who dealt with both Lewis and Cunningham.

Ultimately, guilty or not, Chairman Lewis is still largely responsible for the excessive earmarking taking over in DC; he should take this opportunity to turn over a new leaf and stop the cycle of pork and corruption. The first step in any recovery, however, is admitting you have a problem …