Disgraced Rep. Jerry Lewis Solicits Lobbyists To Fund His Congressional Portrait

Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) has been under investigation since May 2006 for his ties to contractors in the Duke Cunningham corruption scandal. Formerly the powerful chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Lewis “earmarked hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts” for clients of his longtime friend, former congressman Bill Lowery.

Lewis has a been staunch defender of lobbyists and earmarks. “There is a misunderstanding, particularly in the media, that earmarks are ‘out of control,’” he said in 2006, adding that it is completely proper for lawmakers to “massage” that part of the budget. In fact, despite his ethical problems, Lewis is now turning to lobbyists to fund his congressional portrait, which will hang in the committee’s hearing room. CongressDaily (sub. req’d) reports:

Lobbyist disclosure forms, filed last week under last year’s ethics reform legislation, indicate that Lewis, long known for fundraising prowess, has tapped lobbyists for funds to help cover the cost of his portrait, which will hang in the committee’s Rayburn House Office Building hearing room with those of past chairmen. On June 30, the lobbying firm Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates and the Wine Institute, which represents California’s wine industry, each gave $1,000 to the U.S. Capitol Historical Society on behalf of the Jerry Lewis Portrait Committee. The International Dairy Foods Association on the same day gave the society $5,000 on behalf of Lewis.

Such portraits typically cost $25,000, which also covers the unveiling ceremony. Lewis’s spokesman told CongressDaily that the congressman has “got no big extravagant plans or anything.” Lewis is just one of two lawmakers who received lobbyist donations for his portrait fund — the other was Rep. Dan Manzulla (R-IL), former House Small Business Administration chairman.