13 lawmakers subpoenaed in bribery trial
Associated Press (2007-09-18)
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By ERICA WERNER, Associated Press Writer
Tue Sep 18, 3:13 PM ET
Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, House Republican Whip Roy Blunt and 11 other members of Congress have been subpoenaed to testify in the trial of a defense contractor charged with bribing jailed former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham.
All of the lawmakers said they do not intend to comply with the subpoenas.
The subpoenas were sought by attorneys for contractor Brent Wilkes, who faces a trial in San Diego later this year on more than 30 counts of bribery, fraud, money laundering and conspiracy in connection with his relationship with Cunningham.
Cunningham, a Republican who represented a California district in Congress, is serving an eight-year prison after pleading guilty in 2005 to taking $2.4 million in bribes from Wilkes and others in exchange for millions of dollars in government contracts. As part of his plea deal, Cunningham agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
Wilkes' attorney, Mark Geragos, did not immediately return messages Tuesday. Some lawmakers declined comment while others issued statements saying they didn't know why they had been subpoenaed and had no information to provide.
"Despite requests for further information from the law firm, we do not know why Mr. Blunt has been issued this subpoena. We have absolutely no information," said Blunt spokeswoman Antonia Ferrier.
"The House counsel has determined that compliance with this subpoena is inconsistent with House rules," she added.
"This subpoena is a mystery," said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.,
who represents a district near Cunningham's. "I have no knowledge of information pertaining to the charges pending against Mr. Wilkes that would aid either the defense or the prosecution in this case."
In addition to Issa, Blunt, R-Mo., and Hastert, R-Ill., Wilkes' attorneys are seeking testimony from:
- Rep. Jerry Weller, R-Ill.
- House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas.
- House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo.
- House Appropriations defense subcommittee chairman John Murtha, D-Pa.
- California Republican Reps. Duncan Hunter, John Doolittle, and Jerry Lewis. Hunter chaired the Armed Services Committee and Lewis chaired the Appropriations Committee in the last Congress.
- Republicans Reps. Peter Hoekstra and Joe Knollenberg of Michigan. Hoekstra chaired the House Intelligence Committee in the last Congress.
- Democratic Rep. Norm Dicks of Washington.
The subpoenas from U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California were read on the House floor late Monday in accordance with House rules requiring lawmakers to inform the House speaker if they've been subpoenaed.
All the lawmakers said in notifications to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that after consulting with House attorneys they had decided not to comply with the subpoenas.
Associated Press Writer Sam Hananel contributed to this report.