Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

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Monday, November 28, 2005
Culture of Corruption Watch: Down goes the Duke
From AP:

SAN DIEGO - Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, an eight-term congressman and hotshot Vietnam War fighter jock, pleaded guilty to graft and tearfully resigned Monday, admitting he took $2.4 million in bribes mostly from defense contractors in exchange for government business and other favors.
And from Fox News 6 in San Diego:

"I'm resigning from the House of Representatives because I've compromised the trust of my constituents," he said. "The truth is I broke the law, concealed my conduct and disgraced my office.

"I know that I will forfeit my freedom, my reputation, my worldly possessions, (and) most importantly, the trust of my friends and family," he said, his voice wavering.

The decorated Vietnam War Navy fighter pilot, who was first elected in 1990, indicated that he made the decision "some time ago" to plead guilty and begin serving a prison term.

"(As) I enter the twilight of my life, I intend to use the remaining time that God grants me to make amends," he said. "And I will."

U.S. Attorney Carol Lam said Cunningham enriched himself through his position, and violated the trust of the voters who put him there.

"It is a crime of really the worst magnitude," Lam said.

The evidence that Cunningham received bribes from four unnamed and uncharged co-conspirators between 2000 and 2005 was "fairly overwhelming," she said.

The co-conspirators were identified in the plea agreement as the majority owners of two defense contractors, an individual who controlled a financial company in New York state and the president of a New York mortgage firm.

The bribes were paid in a variety of methods, including checks totaling more than $1 million, cash, rugs, antiques, furniture, yacht club fees, boat repairs, moving costs and vacation expenses.

In return, Cunningham worked to influence the awarding of tens of millions of dollars in defense contracts, Lam said.

The MSM isn't mentioning it, but much of this case of old fashioned political corruption was dragged out into the sunlight in large part by a blogger, pajamaporter style. Joshua Micah Marshall, you got your man. And guess who else TPM says was on the gravy train of one of the Duke's kickbackers, defense contractor Mitchell Wade:

Why good old Katherine Harris, running to replace (snicker) Senator Bill Nelson of Florida. Apparently, Kathy isn't above a little hardball fundraising her damn self...

Will Harris get dragged into finance scandal?
Sun & Weekly Herald

Eleven years ago, employees of the Riscorp insurance company made campaign contributions totaling $20,292 to U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris. It was later discovered the employees were illegally reimbursed for their donations. Five Riscorp executives pleaded guilty to a range of charges and the company's president served a brief prison sentence. Harris denied any knowledge of the scheme, was never charged with any crime and was cleared of wrongdoing by a state investigator.

Fast-forward to 2004, when 16 employees of a company called MZM Inc. sent checks for $2,000 to her campaign -- 14 of them on the same day. The $32,000 was in addition to $10,000 the company's political action committee gave to her campaign. Last week, three employees told the San Diego Union-Tribune they were forced by the company's chief executive to donate to the firm's political action committee.

The company, MZM Inc., is a defense contractor that has received millions of dollars in classified defense contracts in recent years. Harris is taking a lay-low approach. Her congressional office is referring reporters to her campaign consultant, Adam Goodman, who did not return calls Monday seeking comment. ...

Again, what was that Republican Revolution about again? Kaching...

Update: ThinkProgress has the skinny on MZM's interesting ties to the White House:
[O]ver the past three years it [MZM Inc.] was also awarded several contracts, worth more than $600,000, by the Executive Office of the President. They include a $140,000 deal for office furniture in 2002 and several for unspecified “intelligence services.”

Why did the White House hire MZM, a “defense and intelligence firm,” to buy office furniture for the White House?

Good question...


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