LOS ANGELES – Rep. Jerry Lewis' stepdaughter received $42,000 from a political fundraising group led by a defense contractor who got government contracts worth millions of dollars from a powerful House committee that Lewis chairs, records show.
Julia Willis-Leon was given the money by the Small Biz Tech Political Action Committee headed by Nicholas Karangelen, founder and president of Trident Systems, according to campaign finance records.
The payments were made in 2005 and early 2006, a time when Karangelen had been lobbying Congress for funding, the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post reported Thursday. Records show the company received at least $11.7 million through defense spending bills considered by Lewis' House Appropriations Committee.
The political action committee said Willis-Leon was paid for her work as a fundraiser. A message left for Karangelen was not immediately returned.
Lewis issued a statement defending his record as a congressman.
"I have always made every effort to meet the highest ethical standards in all aspects of my congressional work. I am confident that any review of my work will confirm this," the Republican said.
Willis-Leon, who lives in Las Vegas, received more than one-third of $115,350 raised by the political action committee, according to its financial disclosure reports.
She told the Los Angeles Times, "I am proud to have worked for the PAC, and I am proud of what it is doing."
Lewis' fundraising efforts have come under recent scrutiny.
On Wednesday, a California businessman claimed Lewis helped him get Pentagon funding for his software company, then pressed him to do favors for a lobbyist, according to NBC News. Businessman Tom Casey told NBC that Lewis urged him in 1993 to hire the lobbyist, Bill Lowery, and set up stock options for him.
Lewis, who denies any wrongdoing, is under investigation by the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles over his ties to Lowery, a former congressman.
Patrick Dorton, a spokesman for Lowery's firm, said his client had no knowledge of the matter.