Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 12, 2010

CHUTZPAH WATCH.... A few years ago, when the "culture of corruption" became practically all-encompassing for congressional Republicans, Randy "Duke" Cunningham's criminal wrongdoing stood out for its outrageousness.

The bribes Cunningham accepted were almost cartoonish -- defense contractors wanted the right-wing Californian to give them a bunch of lucrative contracts, and in exchange, the contractors gave Cunningham $2.4 million in bribes, including a Rolls-Royce, a yacht, and a 19th-century Louis-Philippe commode.

When Cunningham resigned in disgrace and went to prison, he confessed and gave the appearance of remorse. "Your honor I have ripped my life to shreds due to my actions, my actions that I did to myself," he told the judge at his sentencing, after pleading guilty. "I made a very wrong turn. I rationalized decisions I knew were wrong. I did that, sir."

That was in 2005. Now, however, Cunningham claims there's been a misunderstanding.

Former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, currently in prison for charges stemming from the bribes he confessed to accepting while in office, is presenting a new narrative to those who've been following his spiral into disgrace. Turns out, Cunningham now says, he wasn't bribed at all. At least not as much.

One of the men convicted of bribing Cunningham, former defense contractor Brent Wilkes, is attempting to reopen his case on the grounds that Cunningham now says the hundreds of thousands in money and stuff Wilkes was convicted of giving him was, in fact, not a bribe at all. In a pair of "declarations" Cunningham made in the past few weeks, the San Diego Union Tribune reports that former Republican congressman said the payments were just "gifts between longtime friends."

The shamelessness is amazing.

Steve Benen 11:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (17)

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Duke Cunningham was an American hero. Tom Cruise made a movie showcasing Cunningham's exploits called "Top Gun." What is it about feet of clay. Really sad, really sad.

Posted by: Ron Byers on November 12, 2010 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

He'll be on the 2012 GOP Ticket as V.P. to either PALINaroundwithterrorists or Vitter. Perhaps, McAce. Why not. Apparently "shamelessness" is par for the course. My guess is that Lincoln is dizzy from the amount of spinning around in his grave he's been subjected to from this collection of cretins.

The downward spiral into 3rd world status continues unabated.

Nauseating...

Posted by: stevio on November 12, 2010 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

So he paid taxes on that "gift" from his friend then? Yeah, right.

Posted by: Julene on November 12, 2010 at 11:41 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, if the former President can do it, why not?!

It's just a narrative, it's simply his view.. Is it shameless? Not to him!

Posted by: Trollop on November 12, 2010 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Duke baby, remember, 'if you can't do the time, don't do the crime.'

Posted by: c u n d gulag on November 12, 2010 at 11:46 AM | PERMALINK

There are no standards for the rich and their snycophants, only for the American peasantry.

Posted by: Silver Owl on November 12, 2010 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

"The shamelessness is amazing."

Watergate, yeah. Today, not so much. . . (Think 'decline and fall of the roman empire'.)

Posted by: DAY on November 12, 2010 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

OK, maybe this is stretching a bit but it seems that Congressmen, at the very least, should abide by the same ethical standards as federal employees. Actually it seems to me that their action should be held to a much higher standard. But anyway, Duke Cunningham claims the millions he received was nothing more than gifts from an old friend.

In a recent ethics workshop at the federal agency where i work, here's how the rules were explained to us. If my BROTHER-IN-LAW called me up and said "Hey, I've got tickets to the Redskins' game this weekend, do you want to go?" I first need to asked how he obtained the tickets. If he tells me his employer gave them to him, and if that employer has the POTENTIAL of doing business with my agency, then I have to decline the offer. Even the appearance of evil is cause for problems. Compare that with Duke's rationalization. Da noiv of him!

Posted by: Vandal on November 12, 2010 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

To refresh the memories of our republican commenters on this site...

Duke Cunningham had printed ON HIS CONGRESSIONAL STATIONARY a menu describing how much he was to be paid for different amounts of government contracts.

Posted by: AmusedOldVet on November 12, 2010 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Vandal.
Depends on the value of the tickets, there is a limit. I can't remember the number, but box seats would be out, section 600 is probably under the limit.

But I do agree, here is Corporate America we have no standards as to who can do what for us. For example, last year one of the big accounting firms took us a group of us golfing to a very exclusive club, arguable the best course in Houston. Low and behold, guess who's doing considerable consulting with us.

Once a week I get asked for this or that and I generally decline because 1) We talk shop and 2) they aren't doing it because they like me on any sort of personal level. They want and expect something in return. The difference of course that these little arrangements effect no-one outside the company.

But with legislators, not true, and the perks are far more substantial. What appalls me is how fricken easy some legislators are swayed. Duke at least had the self-respect to get real money, to sell out his country.

Bob Ney took less than $10k/yr to sell out his country, which is far more disgusting. I can understand being swayed by hookers and millions, not that I would, but I understand it. I will never understand $10k.

Anyways, whomever decided it was cool to let people legally bribe politicians, via lobbyists, is easily the worse person in American history.

Side note, lobbyists got their name because they would wait in the Congressional housing lobby way back when, so they could 'talk' to politicians on their way to work, presumably t vote.

Posted by: ScottW714 on November 12, 2010 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

That was in 2005. Now, however, Cunningham claims there's been a misunderstanding.

Well, as we all know 2005 was so long ago. "Duke" is probably sitting in there reading about what his contemporaries in Congress and Wall Street are getting away with these days, scot-free, and wondering "What the fuck am I doing in here, without even a book deal?" Hence the "declarations" conveniently revising his story.

Posted by: electrolite on November 12, 2010 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

What's a little honest graft between friends?!

Posted by: Ted Frier on November 12, 2010 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

Cunningham? He was a Democrat, wasn't he? Got bribed by George Soros or somethin' like that.

Posted by: Fox News Watcher on November 12, 2010 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Cunningham: "Hey, waitaminute! The Bush/Cheney administration got away with starting an illegal war, torture, no-bid contracts to their cronies, and bilking the American people out of billions of dollars, so why am I in here?? I demand a re-trial!"

Posted by: josef on November 12, 2010 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

"The shamelessness is amazing."

Well, Steve, only when compared to people with consciences. Compared to today's GOP, it's quite expected.

In fact, I'm surprised he's not blaming Clinton, or Obama, or communists...

Posted by: nemisten on November 12, 2010 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

why ever would you want to see the redskins play, vandal?
and as far as duke cunningham goes, he's obviously one of those innocent men our prisons are full of.

Posted by: mellowjohn on November 12, 2010 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

Quite a generous friend!

It wouldn't surprise me much if Melinda Gates doesn't get that much in gifts from her husband and I suspect they're closer than Wilkes and Cunningham.

Or ARE they?

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on November 13, 2010 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK
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