Has Republican Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham Been Bribed?

I can’t say that I know a whole lot about California Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA) — well, other than the fact that he looks to be about as crooked as a dog’s hindleg. Take a look at this sweet deal Cunningham got and tell me it doesn’t look just as sleazy as Hillary Clinton’s cattle futures pay-off:

“A defense contractor with ties to Rep. Randy “Duke” 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.

Mitchell Wade bought the San Diego Republican’s house for $1,675,000 in November 2003 and put it back on the market almost immediately for roughly the same price. But the Del Mar house languished unsold and vacant for 261 days before selling for $975,000.

Meanwhile, Cunningham used the proceeds of the $1,675,000 sale to buy a $2.55 million house in Rancho Santa Fe. And Wade, who had been suffering through a flat period in winning Pentagon contracts, was on a tear – reeling in tens of millions of dollars in defense and intelligence-related contracts.

In an interview Wednesday, Cunningham conceded that the circumstances surrounding the transaction could raise “fair” questions, but he insisted that the real estate deal was legitimate and independent of his efforts to help Wade win contracts.

…Wade was traveling without access to a telephone last week, according to Scotty Brumett, an official of Wade’s company, MZM Inc. Brumett said Wade purchased the two-story, four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath residence to raise MZM’s corporate profile in San Diego.

“We were looking at expanding our company presence in San Diego,” Brumett said. “We looked at the property and thought it would work for us. But after we bought it, we realized that it did not meet our security or our corporate needs.”

So the company placed it back on the market within one month of purchasing it, where it stayed for more than eight months, selling eventually for $700,000 less than the price Wade gave Cunningham.”

Good grief, it looks like they were so confident they could get away with it that they hardly even bothered to hide what they were doing.

The defense contractor does Cunningham a favor by buying the house at a price that was obviously way too high. Then the contractor doesn’t move into the house, it’s almost immediately put back on the market, and they take a big loss on their “investment” — well, if you don’t count all the money MZM made in government contracts. Just take a look at how MZM’s fortunes changed after they did a little favor for their buddy “Duke:”

“But MZM’s corporate Web site boasts that during 2004, “MZM Inc. experienced significant growth, tripling revenues since the beginning of the year and increasing staff by 285 percent. We look forward to continued growth in 2005.”

If Cunningham is honest (which I sincerely doubt), then he’s too dumb to be in Congress because even a nitwit should have been able to see the huge ethical morass lying dead ahead. However, if Cunningham is not honest, then he’s a crook who deserves to be tarred and feathered and then run out of Washington on a rail.

Either way, Randy “Duke” Cunningham deserves to lose his job.

Hat tip to Memeorandum for the story.

*** Update #1 ***: Here are some more details on how much MZM’s business picked up after they helped out Congressman Cunningham:

“In 2003 and 2004, MZM’s business picked up. In fiscal 2003, it won $41 million in defense contracts. Since then, MZM has added tens of millions of dollars in additional contracts, including a $5 million contract to provide interpreters in Iraq. In 2004, MZM had $66 million in revenues, according to Washington Technology magazine, which put the relative corporate newcomer on its 2005 list of “Top 100 Federal Prime Contractors.”

Who says (alleged) crime doesn’t pay?

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