Another bribe-taking Congressman claims he’s innocent

The latest Congressman to get caught taking bribes and kickbacks, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis, claimed Friday he has not been contacted by federal investigators in their probe of his relationship with a lobbyist and benefactor whose firm’s clients include Lewis’ hometown and home county.

But sources close to the investigation say Lewis is lying and knows full well that he is a target of the probe.

Lewis, R-Calif., said any review of projects he’s won for the city of Redlands and San Bernardino County, both in his district, will show “they all meet the highest standards of public benefit.”

Officials in both Redlands and the county have confirmed receiving federal subpoenas for records regarding any correspondence among Lewis, his staff and the lobbying firm — Copeland, Lowery, Jacquez, Denton, & White. The firm employs former Rep. Bill Lowery, R-Calif, another member of Congress who played fast and loose with ethics rules.

The subpoenas are part of an investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles into ties between Lewis and Lowery, a close friend and supporter of the congressman. Lowery and some of his clients have donated heavily to Lewis’ campaign operations.

According to lobbying forms, San Bernardino County paid Lowery’s firm $60,000 last year for representation on appropriations and budget bills. Letitia White, who worked on Lewis’ staff before becoming a lobbyist for Lowery’s firm in 2003, is listed as one of the lobbyists representing the county.

“I encourage a thorough review of any project I have helped secure for my constituents,” Lewis said in a statement Friday. “Throughout my career, I have also made every effort to meet the highest ethical standards, and I am absolutely certain that any review of my work will confirm this.”

Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles, declined comment.

Patrick Dorton, spokesman for Copeland, Lowery, Jacquez, refused to say whether the firm has been contacted by investigators but described the firm’s lobbying work as routine appropriations work that was “consistent with the laws, rules and regulations governing Capitol Hill lobbying.”