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Ok. You’ve got to read this one from The New York Times about Brent Wilkes:

Speaking publicly for the first time since Mr. Cunningham’s plea agreement, Mr. Wilkes said in recent interviews that he had done nothing wrong and did not believe that Mr. Lewis and Mr. Lowery had broken the law. Mr. Wilkes, who has not been charged in the Cunningham case, has refused prosecutors’ appeals to plead guilty.

But Mr. Wilkes acknowledged that he was a willing participant in what he characterized as a “cutthroat” system in which campaign contributions were a prerequisite for federal contracts. “I attempted to get help and advice from people who could show me the way to do it right,” Mr. Wilkes said. “I played by their rules, and I played to win.”

And, though I know you’ll read it, this is just priceless:

Mr. Wilkes capitalized on the system. The license plate on his black Hummer still reads “MIPR ME,” a reference to a “military interdepartmental purchase request” – bureaucratic jargon for payments for a defense contract.

Mr. Wilkes built a headquarters of smoked glass and stainless steel outside San Diego with a 450-seat banquet hall, where Cirque du Soleil performed at a birthday party for his wife, Regina. He crossed the country in private jets and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Bush-Cheney ticket in 2004, making him a Republican “Pioneer.”

Nancy Luque, his lawyer, said the image of Mr. Wilkes as a swaggering deal maker was a caricature. “He had his life in Washington and then his real life,” Ms. Luque said. “His real life was his family, his friends and his business.”

SCOTT LEWIS

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