Ex-CIA Official Defends Ties With Contractor
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, who resigned this week as the No. 3 official in the CIA, yesterday denied through his lawyer any improper relationship with Brent R. Wilkes, a defense contractor at the center of a congressional bribery scandal.
The FBI and the CIA's inspector general have been investigating whether Foggo steered contracts to Wilkes while he served in Frankfurt, Germany, in the years before being named the agency's executive director in late 2004 by Porter J. Goss, who was then CIA director. Goss resigned last week.
William G. Hundley, Foggo's lawyer, said that Foggo and Wilkes are lifelong friends whose families have vacationed together, but that Foggo "never knowingly" arranged for a CIA contract to be awarded to one of Wilkes's companies.
Wilkes has been identified as one of the unindicted co-conspirators who allegedly bribed former representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham in return for defense contracts. Cunningham, a California Republican, pleaded guilty and resigned from Congress last in November. He is serving a sentence of more than eight years; Wilkes has not been charged.
Hundley said Foggo did not report to the agency as gifts the family vacations with Wilkes because Foggo picked up his share of the expenses. "One time [Foggo] would pay the airfare. Another time Brent would pay it," Hundley said.
Wilkes's lawyer, Nancy Luque, backed that account yesterday, saying that on one trip to Europe the families stayed at Foggo's house in Frankfurt, while on another to Hawaii they stayed at a rental home paid for by Wilkes. In the latter case, she said, Foggo chipped in by paying for dinners.
Gifts to government officials by longtime friends are generally allowed, but accepting something such as plane tickets or a rental home is very "fact-dependent," said Jan Baran, an attorney specializing in ethics and election law.
Such expenses may have to be reported even if the government official paid for other expenses, he said. The personal-friend exemption covers only gifts paid for by the friend personally, not expenses paid or reimbursed by the friend's company, Baran said.
Luque said Wilkes paid all the expenses and was never reimbursed by his company.
Hundley said Foggo played poker occasionally with Wilkes and other friends, but none of the parties included women. The FBI is investigating allegations that Wilkes provided prostitutes to Cunningham and perhaps other members of Congress as part of the bribery scheme, a charge Wilkes has denied through his lawyers.
Hundley noted that Wilkes has not been queried by the CIA inspector general or by investigators in the Cunningham case
Meanwhile, another Goss aide also had a relationship with Wilkes, according to financial disclosure statements. Brant G. Bassett, a former CIA officer who was a member of Goss's staff on the House intelligence committee, reported receiving a $5,000 "consulting fee" from Wilkes's main company, ADCS Inc., in May 2000. That payment was reported Tuesday by the blog TPM Muckraker.com. Bassett did not return telephone calls to comment yesterday.