The Hill reports today that in 2005, Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA) placed several earmarks into the transportation bill that directly benefited his business partner, Lewis Operating. Miller, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is currently under investigation by the FBI for land deals with the City of Fontana, CA.
Miller’s interventions on behalf of the company include a provision to close the Rialto Municipal Airport — the first time an airport has been closed by an act of Congress — allowing Lewis Operating to win a contract from Rialto to redevelop the airport property as a planned community.
Miller’s other Lewis Operating-friendly earmarks included:
— $6.8 million for a street extension in the city of Chino that is less than a mile from the Preserve, a Lewis Operating planned community, and less than two miles from Parkside, another Lewis Operating planned community.
— $1.2 million to establish a highway interchange about a half a mile from Parkview, a Lewis Operating planned community.
— $400,000 to widen and realign a highway in the city of Hesperia, where Lewis Operating lists The Promontory as one of its planned communities on its website.
— $4 million for a highway interchange in Rancho Cucamonga immediately adjacent to the city’s largest planned community, Victoria Gardens, which is owned by Lewis Operating.
The 2005 transportation bill was not the first appearance of an ethically-challenged relationship between Miller and Lewis Operating.
In 2004, Miller “took out nearly $7.5 million in promissory notes” from Lewis, “which he used to purchase real estate from the company.” The loan may have violated House ethics rules as it is unclear whether Miller submitted the terms of the loan to the ethics committee for review.
According to his financial disclosure report, in 2005 alone, Miller made $1.1 million to $6 million in profits from real-estate deals involving Lewis Operating in some part of the transaction. The company is also one of Miller’s top campaign contributors. Employees of the company have donated $22,150 to Miller’s campaign committee since his election to Congress in 1998.
Despite his clear record of abusing his seat to benefit himself and his business partners, Miller remains on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.