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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

CA-50: Randy "Duke" Cunningham Scandal

Posted by Bob Brigham

Few things have given me such pleasure as of late as watching Josh Marshall spin the tale of Randy "Duke" Cunningham and the scandal that keeps going and going and going -- with no end in sight. As usual, Marshall has focused attention by asking all of the right questions while letting the story tell itself. As the Washington Post reports, we now have a second boat. To keep everything clear, I've provided the following chart:

scandal watchNumber 1Number 2
BAGMANMitchell J. WadeThomas T. Kontogiannis
BUSINESSDefense ContractorDeveloper
PRIORSunknownIn 2002, plead guilty in connection with alleged bribes involving a school superintendent and $6 million contracts
YACHTDuke-StirKelly C
YACHT $Cunningham stayed rent-free on this 42-foot namesakeCunningham bought it in 1997, for a reported $200,000.00, in 2002, appraised at $1.2 million and sold to Kontogiannis for $600,000.00 (but kept in Cunningham's name while Kontogiannis spent $100,000 on refurbishments), as of a month ago, Cunningham was planning to take boat back to D.C.
MANSIONDel MarRancho Santa Fe
MANSION $Cunningham sold to Wade for $1.675 million, Wade then sold for a $700,000 lossCunningham has Kontogiannis finance mortage (at wholesale rate) on $2.55 million home, then Kontogiannis pays off second mortage and writes receives from Cunningham a $70,000 check to pay off debt on Kelly C
SCOREWade banked tens of millions of dollars in defense and intelligence-related contractsunknown
MONEY QUOTECunningham lawyer K. Lee Blalack said he couldn't talk about the case because he "hadn't gotten his hands dirty on this thing yet."Kontogiannis: "Why would I do that? I don't need the man"

And let's not forget the Top Gun scandal:

Cunningham's troubles may have extended this week to a company he owns, Top Gun Enterprises Inc. He started that company in 1987, primarily as a means of marketing a book he wrote about his experiences as a Navy fighter pilot during the Vietnam War.

A Web site for the company sold the book and other items, including a $595 Buck knife that featured an imprint of Cunningham in his flight suit and what the site said was the Seal of Congress.

Use of that seal on commercial products is prohibited without specific approval from Congress, which Cunningham does not appear to have secured. On Thursday, the Web site had removed the knife and all the products it had been offering and put up a note saying only that the site was under construction.

So I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest the California's 50th Congressional District could be competitive in 2006.

UPDATE: (Bob) While we're doing charts, what about this chart on Randy Cunningham:

1Voting percentage with DeLay:
calculated through: www.cq.com
2Vote to weaken ethics rules:
H Res. 5, Roll Call #6, 1/4/05
3Vote to weaken ethics rules:
H Res. 5, Roll Call #6, 1/4/05
4Vote to table Democratic solution:
H. Res. 153, Roll Call #70, 3/15/05
5Closed door indictment rule vote:
6Donations to DeLay's Legal Defense Fund:
www.citizen.org, www.tray.com

Ladies and Gentleman, this is your Republican Congress!

Posted at 10:10 AM in 2006 Elections - House, 2006 Elections - House, California, Republicans, Scandals | Technorati


You list Thomas T. Kontogiannis's Score as unknown. However, we do known that he obtained a referral from The Duck to a Washington law firm from which he hoped to obtain a pardon or simply a Pardon Referral.

Posted by: apb [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 6, 2005 10:32 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Great chart, but where you have Kontogiannis writing Cunningham a $70K check (column 2, "Mansion $"), TPM quoted the Post as saying Cunningham wrote the check (i.e. the money --- in that small part --- flowed the other way). Not that that makes the overall deal smell any less...

Posted by: steintr [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 6, 2005 11:29 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

It was the best of boats, it was the worst of boats. It was a $200,000 houseboat, it was a $1.2 million luxury cruiser. It had a steel hull, its hull was made out of fibreglass. It was a flat bottomed riverboat, it was a cruiser with a 7ft draft.

There is something very odd going on with the Kelley C. Either Cunningham has simply lied to his constituents about the type of boat he was living on or something else happened.

The rate at which the money seems to swirl around Mr Cunningham makes it very difficult to know who is paying for what.

It would be very interesting to compare a picture of the boat bought from Callahan with the 98 pictures of the Kelley C.

Imagine that you own a $200K houseboat and want to accept a $400K bribe without attracting attention. One way you could do that would be to switch your boat with a much more expensive boat of about the same length. The chance of anyone noticing the switch is quite small. If someone does appear to take notice you sell the boat back for $600K aqnd cash out your $400K profit. The higher price is justified by the new valuation.

Posted by: Phill [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 6, 2005 12:32 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Awesome chart, Bob. APB is right: Kotogiannis definitely hoped to score via the pardon.

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 6, 2005 01:58 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

OK, now how about adding a column for Douglas Powanda, who sold Duke his new, Rancho Santa Fe home? http://www.kimmccall.org has info, which indicates Duke got quite a bargain when he bought the house from Powanda, who has been involved in a scandal of his own, as an executive with Peregrine Systems.

Peregrine Semiconducter PAC has been identified on opensecrets.org as Duke's No. 3 contributer. The LA Times says Semiconductor and Systems are two different San Diego companies, sharing the name Peregrine. Personally, I'd look again at the PAC; I think it might be that OpenSecrets misidentified the PAC -- it would be an easy mistake for coders to make.

Posted by: BruceW07 [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 6, 2005 03:18 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

OK, I went and checked with the FEC. Peregrine Semiconductor was the big contributer. I looked at the list of individual contributors, to confirm that various directors and officers of Peregrine Semiconducter contributed the big bucks. I apologize for letting my imagination get the better of me.

Still, he appears to have gotten something of a bargain from Powanda.

Posted by: BruceW07 [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 6, 2005 04:06 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment