Lott Replacement Learns Fast

| Wed Jan. 16, 2008 12:24 PM EST

After Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi decided he would bail on his career in public service in order to make gobs of money as a lobbyist, he was replaced by a gent named Roger Wicker. Wicker immediately picked up where his predecessor left off.

[Wicker] last year obtained a $6 million earmark for a defense contractor whose executives were among his top campaign contributors and were represented in the matter by Wicker's former congressional chief of staff, according to federal records.
Wicker's earmark for Manassas-based Aurora Flight Science fits a pattern that recently attracted bipartisan criticism and gave rise to the most far-reaching ethics overhaul legislation in a generation: The firm retained the services of the congressman's top aide after he passed through the revolving door to become a lobbyist, and its employees helped underwrite Wicker's reelection.

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Over the past three years, as Aurora sought defense contracts, the Republican member of the Appropriations defense subcommittee received escalating contributions from the company's executives. Aurora was Wicker's top source of campaign funds in 2006, campaign finance records show. In 2005, the company flew the congressman on a private jet to the ribbon cutting of a manufacturing facility it opened in Wicker's Mississippi district.

And just days after Wicker's chief of staff, John Keast, left his employ in 2006, Aurora began listing the former staffer on public forms as one of its lobbyists in Washington. Wicker placed the earmark in a defense appropriations bill that became law in November 2007.

This Wicker is a quick study! He'll fit right in.