Larry Aker, for many years a high-ranking county administrator who had headed a nine-member task force to expedite the board of supervisors' desire to put government services up for bid, left his job with the county in May 1998. At the time, Aker was said to have accepted a position "managing investments and acquisitions for a venture capitalist," according to an announcement by thencounty Chief Administrative Officer Larry Prior, as reported by the Union-Tribune.
But by January 17, 2000, when he and Hazel Aker at the same Poway address were each listed as giving the Roberts campaign $250, Larry Aker was working as an "account manager" for Science Applications. The Pennant Alliance website says he is in charge of "Public Safety" for the county data-processing project. Aker gave Roberts another $250 on May 23 of this year.
In all, 16 Science Applications employees, along with four relatives, had by the end of this June contributed a total of $5391 to the Roberts campaign. Additionally, five employees of CSC, SAIC's partner in the county venture, and one of their relatives gave another $1500, for a total of $6891. Science Applicationsrelated donors included the company's longtime "government affairs" vice president Kathy Holladay, engineer Mo Oloumi, vice-president Nancy Pabers, senior vice presidents Thomas Dillon and Owens Alexander, Jr., as well as board member and stockholder 79-year-old Barry Shillito, a one-time assistant secretary of the Navy, and the company founder and CEO, J. Robert Beyster, 76.
John Gulick, a CSC employee who is public affairs director for the Pennant Alliance, was another donor to Roberts. "Yes, I gave him a check," Gulick says. "I got to know Ron real well here, and he's a guy to look up to. I wrote a personal check to Ron, and it had nothing to do with the Pennant Alliance." Asked if he was reimbursed, Gulick says, "Oh, no, we can't do that legally. I did it on my own volition." Asked if he had attended any Roberts fundraising events, he replied, "I'm trying to think if I had gone to a fundraiser. I think I went to one fundraiser for him. I forgot who sponsored it."
Another large group of Roberts donors are also associated with a government contractor based in San Diego, ADCS (Auto Document Conversion System), Inc. According to its website, the company "specializes in data capture and conversion, document conversion, document management systems, data warehousing, information assurance, imaging software and training." Customers are said to include the Veterans Administration and the U.S. General Services Administration.
The president of Auto Document Conversion Systems is Brent R. Wilkes of Poway, who, according to the firm's website, was once a "tax manager in the Washington, D.C., office of the international accounting firm of Deloitte, Haskins, & Sells," and currently "is also president of the Wilkes Group, a California corporation that provides general management and government-relations consulting to businesses across the United States." It adds that Wilkes himself "has been instrumental in introducing [digital document] technology to the Department of Defense."
The site goes on to say that "the Wilkes Group has been primarily involved in introducing legislation for defense-related industries. Wilkes has also been involved in International Business Transactions and within this capacity has worked with the U.S. Congress."
In fact, Wilkes, his company-run political action committee, the firm's employees, and members of their families have for the past four years been heavy contributors to federal campaign committees, according to financial disclosure records. From 1996 until this year, for example, Wilkes is listed as personally contributing $40,000 to a variety of congressional campaigns, including those of San Diegoarea Republican congressmen Ron Packard, Brian Bilbray, and Randy "Duke" Cunningham; Democratic senator Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii; and Democratic Virginia senator Charles Robb. During the same period, Wilkes also gave $10,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee and $5000 to a political action committee run by ADCS.
In December 1997, the Union-Tribune reported that Congressman Cunningham "helped direct $3.2 million worth of military business to ADCS Inc. -- the company of a campaign contributor -- despite Pentagon assessments that others had superior products." The story detailed charges by Don Lundell, identified as a former executive of Audre Inc., "another San Diego software company, now in bankruptcy proceedings."
Lundell reportedly "scratched [his] head" over the fact that, although Audre's software was ranked significantly higher than the ADCS version, the contract was awarded to ADCS. Wilkes was quoted by the paper as saying, "Audre won in categories I would equate with glove box and tire sizes. But in terms of cost, ease, and speed, we killed them." Cunningham reportedly told the paper that anyone who questioned his actions in allegedly lobbying for ADCS could "go to hell."
Why is ADCS so supportive of Ron Roberts? Does ADCS have an interest in doing business with the city or the county? When Wilkes was contacted by telephone at his office last week and asked about his contributions, and those of his employees and relatives, to Roberts, he said he was in the "middle of a meeting" and would call back. He never did; repeated follow-up calls to his office were not returned.
Earlier this year, the ADCS Inc. political action committee received an advisory notice from the Federal Election Commission telling it that its April filing was overdue. In a letter dated May 15, 2000, ADCS controller Arnold R. Borromeo, who is the action committee's treasurer, responded that "we had some staff turnover in our office, and the filing of this form got lost in the shuffle."
The latest disclosure currently on file with the commission, covering the period between April 1 and June 30, shows that the committee had collected more than $13,000 in contributions for the year to date, of which Wilkes gave $5000, Borromeo $3000, and Joel G. Combs, listed as "Director-Bus. Dev.," $3000. The committee reported having a total of $62,790 in cash on hand. During the disclosure period, it reported making one donation, $1000, to the campaign of Brian Bilbray on June 1.