By Charles R. Babcock
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, June 10, 2006
A lobbying firm with close ties to Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) paid nearly $2 million last year in a separation agreement with a partner who was leaving to become a top aide to Lewis, then the new chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
Attorneys for Jeffrey S. Shockey, who became the deputy staff director of the committee, told reporters yesterday that the lobbying firm of Copeland Lowery Jacquez Denton & White projected that Shockey would have made $3 million at the firm in 2005 if he had remained a lobbyist. That would have been a 76 percent increase from the $1.7 million he billed clients the year before.
The firm's relationship with Lewis is being scrutinized by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles who issued subpoenas to its clients last month. Lewis has denied any wrongdoing, and Shockey's attorneys said he has not been contacted by federal authorities.
Shockey had reported $600,000 received under the separation agreement last year. It was the first of three payments and the only one he received before he filed an initial financial disclosure statement. The full amount, $1,962,260, is reported on his 2005 disclosure statement. The Copeland Lowery firm specializes in seeking special funding -- or earmarks -- for companies, local governments and nonprofit groups. Shockey does not work on earmarks at the committee, his attorneys said.
The source of the projected increase to $3 million in lobbying fees in 2005 is not apparent from an examination of the new clients Shockey signed up in 2004.
Patrick Dorton, a spokesman for the lobbying firm, said: "The amount of the practice buyout of Mr. Shockey was directly derived from the revenue he was responsible for in 2004."
Shockey attorney William C. Oldaker had written the House ethics committee last spring seeking approval of the separation agreement. The letter also reported that Shockey's wife might lobby the committee but said that she would not lobby her husband.
Yesterday, Shockey's attorneys said the House ethics committee staff had no problems with the arrangement, but that they never received a written approval of the separation agreement from the panel, which has been mostly inactive until recently because of a partisan feud.
Alexandra Shockey registered her company, Hillscape Associates LLC, as a lobbyist last year. Earlier this year, she amended one report to say she had received $80,000 during the first six months of 2005 from the Copeland Lowery firm.
One of the firm's partners, former representative Bill Lowery (R-Calif.), is a close friend of Lewis. Another longtime Lewis aide, Letitia White, is also a named partner.
White has been in the spotlight recently because of news reports that she bought a $1 million house on Capitol Hill, along with a defense contractor from Virginia who was a client, and that a political action committee that initially operated from the house has paid more than $40,000 since early last year to Lewis's stepdaughter.
Research editor Lucy Shackelford contributed to this report.