In 2005, Rep. Gary Miller was the only California Republican on the House panel that shaped the 2005 transportation bill. It would be expected, therefore, that Miller would do everything he could to maximize the amount of money the bill steered to California. But The Hill newspaper is reporting that several of the earmarks he attained benefitted not just his state, but were also quite a boon to his business partner and top campaign donor Lewis Operating Corp.
So how tight are Miller and Lewis Operating exactly? Well, how much time do you have?
The year before the transportation bill passed, Miller borrowed $7.5 million from Lewis Operating to purchase land from it. Lewis Operating Corp. 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.
Miller also has partnered or been involved with a number of real-estate transactions with the company in the past five years, making $1.1 million to $6 million in profits from deals involving Lewis Operating in some part of the transaction, according to the lawmaker's financial disclosure reports.
In addition, you'll recall the infamous 2002 Monrovia deal that has piqued the FBI's interest. Well guess who else was involved.
[Miller] has faced scrutiny for avoiding paying capital gains taxes on the land by telling the IRS that the city had threatened to seize the land through eminent domain, and subsequently reinvesting the profit into land purchased from Lewis Operating.
Now check out the ridiculously long list of ways in which Lewis Operating benefitted from the 2005 transportation bill.
• Miller helped secure several earmarks for the town of Fontana, where he has recently bought land owned by Lewis Operating and sold it to the city's redevelopment agency. Fontana also is home to one of Lewis Operating's largest planned communities, Sierra Lakes, encompassing 700 acres that includes 1,850 homes surrounding an 18-hole golf course, clubhouse, a 62-acre shopping center and a 20-acre park.
• Sierra Lakes is just over a mile away from the former Rialto Municipal Airport, which Miller helped close through a provision in the same transportation bill, the first time an airport was closed by an act of Congress. Before the provision closed the airport, the city of Rialto - where the airport is located - already had granted Lewis Operating an exclusive agreement to develop the airport land into Renaissance, a community consisting of 2,500 homes, parks and 80 acres of retail space on the former airport property and adjacent land.
• $6.8 million for Pine Avenue extension from Route 71 to Euclid Ave. in the city of Chino. The extension 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 an Interstate 15 interchange at Nisqualli and Mojave River Crossing in Victorville, Calif. The interchange is about a half a mile from Parkview, a Lewis Operating planned community.
• $400,000 to widen and realign U.S. 395 in the city of Hesperia. Lewis Operating lists The Promontory as one of its planned communities on its website. A city official said the company has not submitted a formal application for the project.
What does Lewis Operating have to say for itself?
In a written statement, Randall Lewis, the executive vice president for Lewis Operating Corp., defended the company's relationship with Miller and other government officials: "For three generations, Lewis Group has been committed to acting according to the highest and strictest ethical standards."
Yeah right. If that were true, you wouldn't be joined at the hip with Dirty Gary, would ya now?
And as for Miller...
A spokesmen for Miller did not return a call seeking comment.
Miller is feeling the heat and this Hill article just further solidifies the momentum developing against him. As Andrew wrote at Trash Dirty Gary, there was a good amount of buzz about this race down in San Diego. As more reports of Milller's corruption are brought to light, the more the DCCC is likely to invest in an emerging people-powered candidate to turn this particular red district of CA blue.