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Thursday, May 11, 2006, 8:14 am

Watergategate Update 5/11/06

By Brian Zick
Peter Pae for the LA Times reports: Federal prosecutors have begun an investigation into Rep. Jerry Lewis, the Californian who chairs the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

The U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles has issued subpoenas in an investigation into the relationship between Lewis (R-Redlands) and a Washington lobbyist linked to disgraced former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Rancho Santa Fe), three people familiar with the investigation said.
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It is not clear where the investigation is headed or what evidence the government has. But the probe suggests that investigators are looking past Cunningham to other legislators and, perhaps, the "earmarking" system that members of Congress use to allocate funds.
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The government is looking into the connection between Lewis and his longtime friend Bill Lowery, the sources said. Lowery, a lobbyist, is a former congressman from San Diego.

As chairman of the Appropriations panel, Lewis has earmarked hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts for many of Lowery's clients, one of the sources said.
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Investigators are said to be particularly interested in the intermingling of Lewis' and Lowery's staffs and whether it led to favorable treatment for Lowery's clients in securing government contracts.
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via Josh Marshall
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