‘Duke’ Cunningham has resigned after pleading guilty:
Representative Randy Cunningham of California resigned from Congress today after admitting to a federal judge that he had taken $2.4 million in bribes from a military contractor.
Mr. Duke, 63, made a brief and tearful announcement to a group of reporters outside a federal courthouse in San Diego after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery. He admitted taking money from a military contractor in exchange for his supporting the contractor’s efforts to secure Defense Department contracts. The eight-term Republican congressman, one of the most highly decorated fighter pilots of the Vietnam War, also pled guilty to charges of mail fraud, wire fraud and tax evasion for underreporting his income in 2004.
“The truth is I broke the law,” Mr. Cunningham, and “disgraced my family.”
“I forfeited my freedom, my reputation, my worldly possessions,” and, he added, his voice breaking, “most importantly, the trust of my friends and family.”
“I can’t undo what I have done but I can atone,” he told reporters.
Sentencing was set for Feb. 27.
Prosecutors said Mr. Cunningham admitted to accepting at least $2.4 million in bribes paid to him by several conspirators through a variety of methods, including checks totaling over $1 million, cash, rugs, antiques, furniture, yacht club fees and vacations.
Normally, I have no feelings for these people that do things like this, and I honestly can’t remember if ‘Duke’ is one of these wingnuts who sends me up the wall, but for some reason I am a little sad. I always hate it when something like this is done by our military heroes.
I guess what I am trying to say is I have no sympathy for what he did, but I am a little sad for the man. Put another way, I don’t feel the same type of glee I would feel if this were DeLay or one of the folks who spend all their time moralizing and butting into my personal business. Or pretending that Terri Schiavo is really just Governor’s pardon away from a game of volleyball and that gays are the root of all evil. You know what I mean.
*** Update ***
Yes, he pisses me off and sometimes make me think I am going to have a heart attack he makes me so damned mad. But sometimes he is right.
Good point, JC. Thank you for putting it that way, but I’m curious, would you feel the same way if it was a hawkish Democrat that stayed in the background all the time? Would you be relieved it wasn’t a Republican, this time?
I’d be relieved if there was an honest politician in the bunch.
I do know what you mean. I feel more sad about this than angry or vindicated. I had a lot of respect for Cunningham’s service in Viet Nam, and it makes me sad that he has fallen so far.
I actually feel a little worse in the sense that here is a man that was in the military, a man that should care more about the quality of services and materials being used by the military and its personnel, and here he is taking bribes to pick a contractor not based on quality of work, but on the ability to pay him off.
Think about it from that perspective for a couple of seconds, and I’m sure you can find a little more anger about this than you are currently showing.
To reiterate. The only point I’m going against you is in the you don’t feel glee. I’m glad to see the guy get nailed for it. He deserves it. He deserves it even more since he should have been looking out for the military instead of cheating them.
Josh has his statement up. Although I don’t have too much pity for the man because of just how corrupt he was I do want to note the fact that he has done something that very few people in this world do anymore when they are caught.
Let’s mourn him for the man he was, not the man he became.
Mike S, thanks for that. Yes, we don’t see much of that anymore….accepting responsibility for our actions, and the consequences.
Atrios writes, “Almost felt bad for the guy. But, somehow taking bribes on defense contracts during war time should, you know, be a big deal.”
I don’t have a damn bit of sympahty for him. He had choices – he chose the wrong ones. A crook is a crook,
what he did was for his personal enrichment – he actually conned every constituent that voted for him. He created a plethora of victims with his greed and dishonesty.
He is the lowest of lows – someone who uses his public office for personal enrichment.
One of the first rule of politics is that when caught red handed, throw yourself on the mercies of the general public. Unfortunately for “Duke,” his crimes were too blatant for the sympathy ploy to have been effective. He apparently didn’t feel much remorse when trading his position for monetary gain, so why should we feel for him now?
By expressing his sadness, it’s almost as if JC has absorbed (heartfeltly of course) one the rightwing’s caricaturizations of liberalism. But I agree with JC in one regard. I’ll reserve my glee for the day when the Abamhoff/Delay club are frog marched off to the graybar hotel.
On second thought…
As Mike S pointed out, it was a classy exit. It doesn’t absolve him of his guilt, but it seems heartfelt and sincere. That is something that has long been lacking in DC.
Maybe the Dukester could serve as a decency model for the other corrupted Republicans.
I know exactly what you mean, Mr. Cole.
I for one, do feel glee. However, it’s not at the plight of Mr. Cunningham. Instead, I feel glee that Cunningham has given the Democrats a another club with which to beat the current GOP over the head with in 2006.
I’m getting popcorn ready to watch the proceedings against Scanlon, Abramoff, Ney, DeLay, Rove and the rest. If Scanlon’s cooperation with the Feds does what I think it’s going to do, the GOP is in serious trouble in 2006. There might be 30-50 house members and 5-6 GOP senators ensnared in the Scanlon/Abramoff scandal.
Actually, Cunningham’s departure for the Big House seems eerily well-timed for the anti-Murtha people, as a reminder that being a Vietnam veteran — or even a POW — does not automatically give you either brains or morals. (Murtha, however, still remains effective as a counteragent against the GOP’s very effective political cliche that anyone opposed to this particular war must be such only because of their irrational kneejerk opposition to ALL war, and maybe because of their personal physical cowardice.)
The guy was an admitted crook and liar. On multiple and very serious counts.
Do I feel sad for him? No fucking way.
I wouldn’t care if he had been John Wayne or Mother Theresa.
As to his “apology”. There is no apology.
Apologizing after being convicted of crimes you steadfastly denied aren’t worth the tears shed during them.
You must have missed this part of his statement.
Noam Scheiber agrees with you, Davebo: “adversity” isn’t quite the right word when what you’re actually suffering from is “justice”. (Useful aphorism from Arianna Huffington: Never trust anyone’s apology if they’re reading it off a pre-printed statment.)
Another useful aphorism, this time from Abe Lincoln: “Most men can tolerate adversity. If you really want to judge a man’s character, give him power.”
no sympathy for the duke.
..and sorry john, but as much that i think that kos is a snarky bastard and as ‘courageous’ as it is for you to be giving him props over his coverage of the ‘duke’….i don’t think you want to be raising the spectre of kos sometimes being right.
stacked up head to head, you probably should consider appointing kos as your own personal nostradamus.
THAT was funny.
Regardless of what discussion he had with his lawyers (for purely legal purposes) he has consistantly denied any wrong doing in public.
So let’s re-phrase that portion of his comments.
Big props to the Duke for (finally) doing the right thing, and little props to Kos for recognizing that fact.
No props from me for “doing the right thing”.
He’s pleading guilty to felonies. That should automatically negate his right to continue to serve in the House, and, thus, resigning should not even be optional.
However, knowing Congress’s long-standing, bi-partisan instincts to preserve their own hides no matter how evil their conduct, I can’t be sure of that.
Also, first time (I think) ever that I agree with Duncan: this type of corruption during wartime should be a big deal.
Bob In Pacifica
First off, Cunningham was a war profiteer. As such he made money which should have gone to the war effort, made deals which took even more money from the war effort and sent it to contractors as profit.
I like people who take responsibility for what they’ve done, but there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of wiggle room. He could have denied it, by to what end?
Like what was said earlier, a crook is a crook. This guy didn’t steal to feed his family, he stole to make himself richer than he was. He made the mistake to think he was above the law, a symptom that is replicating itself all over Washington, DC.
Hey, I read that MZM which was involved with bribing of Cunningham also had some big contract with the Whitehouse for office furniture
Wasn’t that (now indicted) David Safavian’s purview as administrator of management and budget for the office of the president? I can’t find any discussion of this anywhere.
Or as Stephen Colbert said “A pilates class away from joining the cast of stomp.”
It’s a mad world, if the idea of Congressmen politicizing a war resolution vote makes you see red, but a Congressman taking bribes from a defense contractor gets you all sentimental.
Gold Star for Robot Boy
In his fit of contrition and atonement, how many other greedy slugs will he take down?
So a war profiteer spouting meaningless platitudes because he was caught (raise your hands if you think he pleaded guilty before people were onto him) rates higher than a blogger willing to catch flack from his readers by tossing a bone to the guy? Interesting moral calculus.
Bah. Duke Cunningham isn’t sorry for what he did. He’s sorry that he got caught. My god, the guy was just blatant about it. Sheesh.
Prison is too good for this SOB.
We need to bring back the time honored tradition of Exile. March ’em to the Mexican border, give them $20, a canteen of water and a box of Lucky Strikes and wish them luck.
Same punishment I proposed for the guys at Enron, and anybody else who takes advantage of Americans for their own profit.
Fuck him, the corrupt motherfucker. He deserves a jail term, and it’s a bit too early to forgive him. Screw praising him. We’re so stupidly non-judgmental and so used to people behaving badly, that we’ll accept a well written apology as a sign of class and the thing which should trigger forgiveness. First off, only people who aren’t classy, use the term “classy.” Second, it’s all just words until the debt is paid and the damage undone. Pleading out isn’t noble, it’s accepting the inevitable. It doesn’t mean anything at all, until Cunningham has done something to make up for what he did, and no, getting sent to prison isn’t making up. I was disgusted when Janet Reno issued her empty apology for the Waco debacle (“I take responsibility” – yeah, right, where’s the resignation) and I’m equally disgusted at Cunningham. If he follows through on the pretty words he put in his resignation letter, well, good for him, but he’s still a crook who betrayed the public trust, to my way of thinking.
One other thing – I know that all us Republicans are evil, in league with each other, and so forth. How is it then, that the Ashcroft DOJ – that’s when the probe started – and the Gonzales DOJ managed to put this case together and bring down one of the quiet but very influential Republican House members? How, for that matter, is DOJ’s Fitzpatrick managing to drag out the Plame investigation in a manner that is incredibly damaging to the Bush Administration, regardless of how the probe finally turns out? Not to mention the hamstringing of the Republican Senate Majority Leader with a pretty zealous SEC investigation. And what’s up with the Abramoff probe, which will send the Republicans’ top money man to prison? I mean, for the most corrupt political party and administration in the history of the country, they seem to be doing a fair job of indicting and sending themselves to jail. Oh, I know. These probes and arrests and convictions, damaging though they may look are just a cover up for the real corruption. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
Because… And I Thank God about this…
The Rule of Law still is more important than the Rule of Man, despite Republican efforts to depoliticize criminality.
…Jan 17, 1991: During a news conference at Lindbergh Field, Cunningham says he had received intelligence that Iraqi-sponsored terrorists were operating in San Diego County. The incident aggravates tensions left over from his primary campaign, when he outraged local Arab-Americans with a brochure bearing the picture of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi that accused his Egyptian-born opponent of having been influenced by oil interests. …
Oct 6, 1992: Cunningham makes the Washington Post’s “Reliable Source” column by suggesting the liberal leadership of the House should be “lined up and shot.”.
Oct. 9, 1992: The Los Angeles Times quotes Cunningham as urging President Bush to attack Bill Clinton’s patriotism, telling him: “This is an issue that will kill Clinton when people realize what a traitor he is to this country. In some countries, if something like this came out, he would be tried as a traitor. Tokyo Rose had nothing over Clinton.”.
May 11, 1995: A House debate over water pollution erupts in furor when Cunningham declares that lawmakers backing an amendment he opposed were the same people who support “homos in the military.” Later, he calls Rep. Pat Schroeder, D-Colo., a “socialist.”.
Nov. 17, 1995: Colleagues and Capitol police break up a scuffle that starts after Cunningham, a former Navy fighter pilot, tangles with Rep. James Moran, D-Va., who used to be an amateur boxer, during the debate on a Republican-sponsored resolution that would bar President Clinton from sending American troops to Bosnia without prior congressional approval.
Feb. 26, 1998: When acting Army Secretary Robert Walker told a House subcommittee about efforts to combat sexual harassment and discrimination in the military, Cunningham calls the efforts “B.S.” and asserted that “our kids don’t like. . . political correctness.” He also insists that some members of Congress openly promote communism and that France has a Communist government. …
Sept. 5, 1998: At a forum for prostate cancer sufferers, Cunningham makes a crude reference to a fellow congressman who is gay and, in a fit of temper, directs an obscene gesture toward an audience member telling him, “(expletive) you.” .
Jan. 23, 2001: Cunningham is named to the House Select Committee on Intelligence for the 107th Congress.
Oct. 9, 2002: Cunningham cries on the House floor as he argues that President Bush should have authority to use military force against Iraq. …
November 2003: Sells his Del Mar house for $1,675,000 to a company owned by Mitchell Wade of MZM Inc., a defense contractor. Purchases a home in Rancho Santa Fe for $2.55 million. …
June 12, 2005: Copley News Service and The San Diego Union-Tribune reveal that a defense contractor with ties to Cunningham took a $700,000 loss on the purchase of the congressman’s Del Mar house while the congressman, a member of the influential defense appropriations subcommittee, was supporting the contractor’s efforts to get tens of millions of dollars in contracts from the Pentagon.
June 14, 2005: CNS and the Union-Tribune report that the Realtor who Cunningham said had set a fair and independent price for the November 2003 sale of his Del Mar home to a defense contractor was a longtime campaign contributor.
June 17, 2005: CNS and the Union-Tribune report Cunningham has been living aboard a 42-foot yacht along the banks of the Potomac River in a yacht, named the Duke-Stir, owned by Wade. …
July 5, 2005: CNS and the Union-Tribune report that Cunningham made roughly a $400,000 profit by selling a boat he lived aboard from 1997 to 2002 to a businessman convicted in a bid-rigging scheme. The man said he subsequently got advice from the congressman about how to pursue a presidential pardon. …
Aug. 5, 2005: CNS and the Union-Tribune report that Cunningham – and other prominent passengers including House Majority Leader Tom DeLay – has taken jet flights provided by Group W Transportation, owned by Poway defense contractor Brent Wilkes.
Aug. 16, 2005: Agents from the FBI, Internal Revenue Service and Department of Defense seize documents from Poway headquarters of ADCS Inc. and the home of Wilkes, the company’s president.
Craziest thread I have ever seen.
A man uses his war hero status to get a job in Congress, uses that position to accept bribes (BRIBES, not campaign contributions) for his votes in congress, then fights the charges for years, and only confesses when, as he said, “I can fight it no longer.” No longer because he was going to be convicted, and he faced 10 years in prison. So he copped a plea, cried on TV, reduced his jail time, and ratted his friends.
The man hasn’t committed an honorable act in office in more than a decade. Publicly stated that liberals should be shot. Used Moammar Gadhafi pictures to beat his arab opponent.
The man called the president of the united states a traitor, while he was selling his vote to defense contractors.
And people are getting weepy eyed because this man was once an ace fighter pilot.
Well, I understand how OJ might be guilty, but it saddens me so because he was such a great running back. And doesn’t everyone see how hard Pete Rose played?
I am a bleeding heart liberal that always feels more sympathy than I should for people that don’t deserve it. But, I can’t buy Duke’s tearful apology, nor do I care to. He committed the worst offense possible for a congressman.
He took a job promising to do his best for the people of this country, and instead he used that position to improve his lifestyle. He sold out every one of us.
The Disenfranchised Voter
What a bunch of gullible fools taking Duke’s words at face value. The guy can apologize gracefully by serving some jail time.
Who wants to take bets that he “finds Jesus”?
One corrupt politician down, 1,000 to go!
MZM was also diddling the deliteful Katherine Harris of Florida.
Find them all – Reps, Dems, Indies, Libs – take their money and repeal the contracts involved.
Put the certain fear of ruin in our electeds and suppliers, and watch our taxes go down when the Corruption Premium is removed from the price paid for all Government bought goods & services.
God, this pisses me off.