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irregular times logoA Special Relationship of Favors: MZM Inc, Virgil Goode and Ethical Questions in Politics

Prologue: MZM, Inc. and Rep. Duke Cunningham

In June 2005, a news story broke regarding an apparent bribe to a very conservative Republican Congressman from California, Randy "Duke" Cunningham. According to this report, it seems that a front company for MZM, Inc. chief Mitchell Wade bought a house from Representative Cunningham that hadn't been put on public market even though Mr. Wade wasn't looking to live there. It was a quiet, quick, private deal. Cunningham's (now Wade's) house was quickly put on the market, and was ultimately sold for a price of $700,000 less than what Wade paid Cunningham for it. Very convenient for Rep. Cunningham. Very incovenient for Mr. Wade.

Or perhaps not. Guess what business Wade's MZM Inc. is in? Defense intelligence contract work. Guess what congressional subcommittee Cunningham sits on? Why, the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

Wade did Cunningham a favor. Did Cunningham do Wade a favor? That's the empirical question. The ethical question follows: is it right for such favors, if they existed, to be exchanged? It this a legitimate way to run business, to do politics?

Main Story: MZM, Inc. and Rep. Virgil Goode

MZM, Inc.

Hmmmm...

MZM, Inc.

Where have I read about MZM, Inc. before?

Well, there is this piece from The Roanoke Times:

“U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Rocky Mount, was instrumental in MZM’s decision to locate an office in Martinsville, according to a press release from Gov. Mark Warner.

MZM was the top campaign contributor to Goode in 2004, according to Web site opensecrets.org.”

Actually, MZM was the top campaign contributor to Virgil Goode in the 2003-2004 election cycle, which includes the year 2003 as well as 2004. The year 2003 is important. MZM gave PAC contributions to Goode on the following dates:

9/9/2002 $1,000
3/20/2003 $5,000
3/25/2003 $3,000
3/27/2003 $1,000

On 11/3/2003, the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission announced that, thanks to the intervention of one Rep. Virgil Goode, it was happy to provide $250,000 to be provided to a certain company called MZM as an incentive for MZM to locate a facility in Martinsville, Virginia. In addition, $250,000 in incentives would be provided from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund.

That’s $500,000 total. But wait, there’s more money for MZM involved. According to a 11/3/03 press release from the Governor’s office, MZM also received incentives via a $127,000 grant from the Martinsville-Henry County Chamberís Partnership for Economic Growth. This press release also notes that “U.S. Congressman Virgil H. Goode, Jr. was instrumental in securing this project for Virginia.”

That’s $627,000 received by MZM –that we know of– in this sweetheart deal.

The Martinsville Bulletin of October 31, 2003 reported, “Goode said Wednesday that he was involved in bringing MZM to Martinsville. ‘I am pleased that I was able to alert a first-class company to the strong work force and other attractive business features in the Martinsville-Henry County area and to get the company to take a serious look at locating an operation here,’ the congressman said in a statement issued Thursday. Efforts to lure MZM to Martinsville have taken place quickly. After Goode provided the initial lead, Harned said, the Martinsville Economic Development Department ‘worked very aggressively with this (project) for a month.’”

Fifteen days later, on 11/18/2003, MZM sent another PAC contribution to Virgil Goode, for $1,000, bringing the grand total of MZM PAC contributions to Goode to $11,000. MZM’s PAC did not contribute to Goode before or after these dates.

Of course, $11,000.00 may seem like chump change to a bigwig politician like Virgil Goode. But it’s important to note that these are only the PAC contributions. Thanks to the FEC, we also know of the following contributions from MZM employees and spouses to Goode:

BAKER, DANIEL F., 03/26/2003, $250.00, MZM INC./SENIOR EXEC. VICE-PRESIDENT
BOYES, SANDRA, 03/26/2003, $500.00, MZM INC./VP FOR ANALYTICAL SUPPORT
BRAGG, FRANK B. JR., 03/26/2003, $2000.00, MZM INC./SPECIAL ASST. TO THE PRES.
BRAGG, CYNDY, 03/26/2003, $2000.00, MARRIED TO FRANK BRAGG, JR.
COFER, JONATHAN H. BRIG. GEN, 03/26/2003, $500.00, MZM INC./SR. EXEC. VP
COFER, JONATHAN H. BRIG. GEN, 03/31/2004, $500.00, MZM INC./SR. EXEC. VP
FORSYTHE-NEWELL, SHANE, 04/07/2003, $201.00, MZM INC./PROGRAM MANAGER
GEIDE, KENNETH M., 03/26/2003, $500.00, MZM INC./CONSULTANT
GREEN, WARD W., 03/26/2003, $500.00, MZM INC./INFORMATION SYSTEMS
HOGAN, SUSAN V., 03/31/2004, $500.00, MZM INC./SR. EXEC. V.P.
HOLMES, DAVID P., 03/26/2003, $250.00, MZM INC./ATTORNEY
KING, JAMES C. LT. GEN., 03/26/2003, $2000.00, MZM INC./EXECUTIVE
KING, JAMES C. LT. GEN., 03/26/2003, $2000.00, MZM INC./EXECUTIVE
KING, JENEANE C., 03/26/2003, $2000.00, MARRIED TO JAMES KING
KING, JENEANE C., 03/26/2003, $2000.00, MARRIED TO JAMES KING
KINSELLA, THOMAS P., 03/26/2003, $500.00, MZM INC./VP SYSTEM ENGINEERING
MILLER, FRANK R. MR., 03/26/2003, $500.00, MZM INC./EXEC. VP COUNTERINTEL
PEETERSE, GEORGE A., 03/26/2003, $250.00, MZM INC./VICE-PRESIDENT
PETERSON, LINDSAY D., 03/26/2003, $300.00, MZM INC./COMMUNICATIONS
PEZE, RICHARD., 03/26/2003, $500.00, MZM INC./EXECUTIVE VICE-PRESIDENT
ROSCHE, CHRISTOPHER F., 03/26/2003, $2000.00, MZM INC./SENIOR EXECUTIVE VP
RUBIN, SCOTT M., 03/26/2003, $500.00, MZM INC./PROGRAM MANAGER
SABOL, SHERRY, 04/07/2003, $500.00, MZM INC./ATTORNEY
SHENOUDA, SAMER, 04/07/2003, $250.00, MZM INC./VICE-PRESIDENT
TAYLOR, JAMES M., 03/26/2003, $300.00, MZM INC./SENIOR EXECUTIVE VP
VISOKAY, STEPHEN, 03/26/2003, $250.00, MZM INC./VICE-PRESIDENT TECHNICAL
WADE, CHRISTIANE, 04/07/2003, $2000.00, MZM INC./V.P. OF FINANCE
WADE, CHRISTIANE, 04/07/2003, $2000.00, MZM INC./V.P. OF FINANCE
WADE, MITCHELL J., 09/30/2002, 250.00, MZM INC./PRESIDENT
WADE, MITCHELL J., 04/07/2003, $2000.00, MZM INC./PRESIDENT
WADE, MITCHELL J., 04/07/2003, $2000.00, MZM INC./PRESIDENT

That’s $29,851.00 from MZM employees and staffers. Add in the PAC contributions and you’ve got $40,851.00, which is not chump change in a rural Virginia House race.

Goode continues to receive MZM funds. As a matter of fact, here’s the COMPLETE LIST of individuals giving to Virgil Goode’s campaign in 2005 so far:

BAKER, DANIEL F., 03/02/2005, $1000.00, MZM INC./SENIOR EXEC. VP
BERGLUND, RICHARD A. LT. COL RET., 03/02/2005, $2000.00, MZM INC./MANAGER
BERGLUND, ROBIN, 03/04/2005, $2000.00, MARRIED TO RICHARD BERGLUND
BLAHM, CHRIS A, 03/02/2005, $1000.00, MZM INC./MANAGEMENT
BLAHM, SANDRA L., 03/11/2005, 1000.00, MZM INC./EXEC. VICE-PRESIDENT
BRAGG, CYNTHIA S., 03/04/2005, $2000.00 MARRIED TO FRANK BRAGG
BRAGG, FRANK B., 03/02/2005, $2000.00, MZM INC./CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
CAIN, AMY, 03/02/2005, $2000.00, MZM INC./PROGRAM MANAGER
CAPRA, ANTHONY, 03/02/2005, $2000.00, MZM INC./MANAGER
CAPRA, SHARON, 03/04/2005, $2000.00, MARRIED TO ANTHONY CAPRA
CARTER, CLARENCE ALLEN, 03/02/2005, $500.00, MZM INC./SECURITY MANAGER
CAWMAN, JAMES W., 03/02/2005, $375.00, MZM INC./SENIOR ANALYST
FLOWERS, JANE T., 03/04/2005, $2000.00, HOMEMAKER
FLOWERS, JONATHAN D., 03/02/2005, $2000.00, MZM INC./EXEC. VP
GANIS, RALPH P., 03/02/2005, $2000.00, MZM INC./ANALYST
GROGAN, DAVID P., 03/11/2005, $1000.00, MZM INC./SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT
HARRELL, DONNA J., 03/02/2005, $2000.00, MARRIED TO ROBERT HARRELL
HARRELL, ROBERT A., 03/02/2005, $2000.00, MZM INC./DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVLP
JAMES, JOSEPH R. JR., 03/04/2005, $2000.00, MZM INC./BUSINESS MANAGER
JAMES, MAY I., 03/04/2005, $2000.00, MARRIED TO JOSEPH JAMES
KING, JAMES C. LT. GEN., 03/04/2005, $2000.00, MZM INC./SR. EXEC. V.P. FOR NAT. S.
KING, JENEANE C, 03/04/2005, $2000.00, MARRIED TO JAMES KING
PUCKETT, PATRICK G., 03/04/2005, $250.00, MZM INC./ANALYST
RUBIN, HARVEY N., 03/04/2005, $500.00, MZM INC./EXECUTIVE
SHAFFER, MATTHEW B., 03/04/2005, $2000.00, MZM INC./IT DIRECTOR
SWINFORD, ROGER A., 03/05/2005, $2000.00, MZM INC./VICE PRESIDENT
WADE, CHRISTIANE, 03/04/2005, $2000.00, MZM INC./V.P. OF FINANCE
WADE, GREGORY V., 03/04/2005 $2000.00, MZM INC./PROGRAM MANAGER
WADE, MITCHELL J., 03/04/2005, $2000.00, MZM INC./PRESIDENT
WALSH, GERARD M., 03/04/2005, $1000.00, MZM INC./CONSULTANT

Yes, that’s right: every single individual contribution to Virgil Goode thus far in 2005 (through the 1st quarter) has been from an employee of MZM or a spouse of an employee of MZM. The 2005 contributions sum up to $46,625.00.

That makes a grand total of $87,476.00 to Virgil Goode from MZM. Thanks to Virgil Goode’s intervention, MZM received a total of $627,000 in government incentives packages.

Epilogue: Further information and Ethical Implications

It needs to be said, openly, honestly, sincerely and lawsuit-avoidingly that I am not claiming that MZM has bribed Virgil Goode. I am not claiming that Virgil Goode accepted bribes from MZM, Inc.. I am neither willing nor practically able to make claims about bribery taking place between these two business-political actors.

I’m only pointing out that Virgil Goode has received $87,476.00 in campaign contributions from MZM and its employees and spouses at apparently coordinated times, and that MZM received $627,000 in government funds thanks to Virgil Goode’s interventions.

This curious coincidence may lead to a number of questions in your mind. Certainly, I have a number of questions in my mind. Rather than place a false conclusion on what is an unfolding story, I leave this article with an invitation to you. Do you have more information about any connection between Republican Rep. Goode and defense contractor MZM Inc.? Do you have any insight into the ethical situation in which a politician (Representative Goode) and a business (MZM Inc.) find themselves? What is the right thing to do in this circumstance? What is the ethical line over which these actors should not cross?


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