SAN DIEGO, April 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- It was a telling sign. A little less than two weeks ago, during a local debate, an opponent to Congressman Brian Bilbray's (R-CA) embattled Chief of Staff Steve Danon called him a "good friend" of imprisoned and corrupt ex-Congressman Duke Cunningham who was sentenced to 100 months in prison in 2006 for bribery and other criminal acts.
A snide remark that would have simply been overlooked by the media for what it was, a snide remark, took new meaning when Steve Danon's political machine vehemently denied any association with the disgraced and corrupt ex-Congressman.
According to the North County Times, Danon's campaign spokeswoman barked, "Steve has absolutely no affiliation with Cunningham."
K.B. Forbes, campaign manager for Carl Hilliard, Danon's opponent for the Third District County Supervisor's seat, stated, "Danon's over- reaction to what most thought was a baseless political jab raised a red flag and now we've figured out what haunts them: Brent R. Wilkes."
Wilkes was the central figure of the Cunningham defense contracting scandal. In 2007, Wilkes was convicted of 13 felonies for bribing Cunningham with expensive meals, trips, mortgage payments and a yacht in exchange for million-dollar government defense contracts.
"According to published reports at the time in the San Diego Reader, Steve Danon, when running for San Diego City Council, received a contribution of $2,500 in 2001 from Wilkes. In 2000, when Danon was serving as Chief of Staff to San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts, Wilkes and his associates, funneled at least $10,000 in contributions to Roberts' failed mayoral race," Forbes stated. "Danon's relationship to Wilkes, years before the Cunningham corruption scandal broke, is extremely troubling. He ought to disclose everything, honestly and transparently, instead of hiding from the ghost of Duke Cunningham."
In recent days, Danon has been under fire for campaigning full-time while on the federal payroll. Danon's paid-to-campaign scandal gained traction this week when he refused to provide two different media outlets, the San Diego Union-Tribune and the North County Times, with detailed calendar, email, telephone, and cellular phone records so they could verify that Danon wasn't fundraising or campaigning while on the federal clock. The paid-to-campaign scandal is based on House Ethics Rules that require "careful records" distinguishing work time from campaigning time.