Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Lawmaker Quits After He Pleads Guilty to Bribes

This is from the New York Times:

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 28 - Representative Randy Cunningham, a Republican from San Diego, resigned from Congress on Monday, hours after pleading guilty to taking at least $2.4 million in bribes to help friends and campaign contributors win military contracts.

WOW! Cunningham took $2.4 million in bribes to help give his friends military contracts! That's $2.4 million dollars! Nice chunk of change.

Now here's what Cunningham had to say:

Mr. Cunningham, a highly decorated Navy fighter pilot in Vietnam, tearfully acknowledged his guilt in a statement read outside the federal courthouse in San Diego.

"The truth is, I broke the law, concealed my conduct and disgraced my office," he said. "I know that I will forfeit my freedom, my reputation, my worldly possessions and, most importantly, the trust of my friends and family."

Mr. Cunningham, 63, pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion and one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, tax evasion, wire fraud and mail fraud. He faces up to 10 years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and forfeitures.

Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.) talks to reporters in San Diego after pleading guilty to conspiracy and tax evasion. (By Lenny Ignelzi -- Associated Press)

You screwed up Cunningham! You got involved in the culture of corruption, thinking you'd never get caught. And you got caught--just as a number of your Republican colleagues are getting caught with their hands in the cookie jars--Bill Frist, Tom DeLay, Michael Scanlon. This is the Republican version of "honor and integrity."

The Washington Post gives a nice list of what Cunningham took:

The government's plea agreement cites an escalating series of payments to the congressman over the past few years, including a graduation party for his daughter; the purchase and upkeep of a yacht and a Rolls-Royce; antiques and rugs; and a payment to cover the capital gains tax when he sold his house in Del Mar, Calif., to a defense contractor in 2003.

For a gruff war veteran, Cunningham emerges from the court documents as a man with surprisingly delicate tastes. Among the gifts he accepted were a $7,200 Louis-Philippe commode, circa 1850; three antique nightstands; a leaded-glass cabinet; a washstand; a buffet; and four armoires. After paying $13,500 toward a Rolls-Royce in April 2002, one of Cunningham's benefactors tossed in $17,889.96 toward the car's repairs less than a month later.

Well Cunningham, you can sit on the prison commode now.

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