The repugnant Duke Cunningham — who was involved as well in the old Tailhook scandal — has finally resigned his House seat after admitting that he took bribes.
An Associated Press report just posted on the New York Times website:
Rep. Randy ”Duke” Cunningham pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy and tax charges, admitting taking $2.4 million in bribes in a case that grew from an investigation into the sale of his home to a wide-ranging conspiracy involving payments in cash, vacations and antiques.
Randy Cunningham “enriched himself through his position and violated the trust of those who put him there,” U.S. Attorney Carol Lam said.
Cunningham, 63, entered pleas in U.S. District Court to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud and wire fraud, and tax evasion for underreporting his income in 2004. Cunningham answered “yes, Your Honor” when asked by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns if he had accepted bribes from someone in exchange for his performance of official duties.
Cunningham, an eight-term Republican congressman, resigned after his guilty plea. He had announced in July that he wouldn’t seek re-election next year.
Here are two posts on TWN from August 26, 2004 and October 4, 2004 on Cunningham’s race against Democrat Francine Busby — who will hopefully now take this seat in 2006.
I have spoken with Busby in the past — and can vouch for the fact that California’s 50th District desperately needs someone of her caliber and character to clean up the damage from years of neglect and corruption by Cunningham.
Progressives had best not get over confident, but momentum certainly is on the side of those who want to restore health to America’s system of checks and balances.
— Steve Clemons
UPDATE: Laura Rozen has a great Duke Cunningham timeline that interested folks should check out. Also, a mutual friend of mine and Laura Rozen’s, JR, sent this:
I didn’t “know” Cunningham, but I flew with him.
In 1983 I was in the Phillipines for an exercise and then-CDR Randy Cunningham was there flying in it as well. He was revered as a national hero for being one of only two pilot aces of the Vietnam War. (The USAF ace was basically “set up” with repeated trips to Hanoi until he got five kills).
Later, in 1984 Cunningham was squadron commander of an A-4 aggressor squadron in a huge exercise in the California-Nevada desert that was a practice for a showdown with the Soviets in Iran. Our two squadrons, based at Nellis AFB, were the “Red” air simulating the bad guys, and again we Air Force fighter pilots lionized this legend.
I have no sympathy for him, given what he has done, and it has been a long time coming. However, it is a national tragedy nonetheless, that someone who performed so heroically in combat could allow himself to become so corrupted by Washington. I think it speaks to the corrupt environment as well as to the man.
— Steve Clemons
UPDATE II: Media Matters just sent out this fascinating bit of empirical work on the amount of coverage some of the news networks gave to the Duke Cunningham resignation. According to their report, CNN devoted 17 minutes to Cunningham between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. today (Eastern time).
During the same period, MSNBC gave the Cunningham announcement 4 minutes of air time — and Fox News just 3 minutes. That’s Fox for you — fair and balanced. . .not.
— Steve Clemons