I spent a good five minutes trying to think of a non-sensational headline that didn't sound like it came from the pages of the New York Post. I failed. You just can't tone done the sex and corruption scandal that is about to rock Washington, D.C. (you can read Old 33's diary on it here
About five months ago, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that lobbyist Brent Wilkes (co-conspirator #1 in the Duke Cunningham scanal) knew how to "grease the wheels" of Congress with cash, gifts, favors, and yes, "hospitality suites":
Wilkes befriended other legislators, too. He ran a hospitality suite, with several bedrooms, in Washington - first in the Watergate Hotel and then in the Westin Grand near Capitol Hill.
Hotline picked up on it, and we wondered aloud here whether the bedrooms hinted at a sex scandal about to blow up on Capitol Hill, or whether there was a more benign explanation. After all, no member of Congress would be stupid enough to, well, prostitute himself and the legislative process by accepting the services of a hooker bought and paid for by lobbyists, right?
Well, folks, we may have ourselves a genuine sex scandal.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that there is enough evidence of a lobbyist-sponsored prostitution ring that investigators are scurrying across D.C., trying to figure out exactly which lawmakers were involved:
In recent weeks, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents have fanned out across Washington, interviewing women from escort services, potential witnesses and others who may have been involved in the arrangement.
Prosecutors were tipped off about the sex-for-favors scheme by Mitchell Wade, who has already plead guilty to bribing Cunningham and is cooperating with investigators. Wilkes, through his attorney, has denied any involvement.
Ken Silverstein at Harper's blog dropped a bombshell last night about just how far-reaching the scandal may be, revealing that the FBI is investigating former lawmakers, including "one person who now holds a powerful intelligence post." TPM Muckraker points out that CIA Director Porter Goss fits that description perfectly. Silverstein also disclosed that there are pictures.
It seemed, as Markos said when Hotline first reported on the hospitality suites, "insanely improbable" that the culture of corruption included a lobbyist-sponsored prostitution ring. Yet five months later, here we are, firmly outside of tinfoil hat territory, reading about a Republican sex scandal in the pages of the Wall Street Journal.
And let us not forget that, at this point, it is a Republican sex scandal. Porter Goss, if you'll recall, was a highly partisan Republican lawmaker for fifteen years before he was tapped as CIA Director. And Justin Rood over at TPM Muckraker thinks that the prostitution ring could lasted about fifteen years.
Is the CIA Director involved in a D.C. prostitution ring? (It's so surreal just to type that question out). In refusing to investigate the CIA leak case, Goss famously proclaimed "Somebody sends me a blue dress and some DNA, I'll have an investigation."
Goss, it appears, is a stickler for physical evidence. Will pictures do? Hotel logs? Eyewitness identification by the prostitutes themselves?
All we have now are questions. It remains unknown who is implicated and to what extent they participated in this sex-for-favors scheme. But one thing is certain, as evidence comes to light, this scandal is going to be blown wide open, and there's no telling who or how many Republicans will go down.
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