Friday, July 15, 2005

Cunningham's A Giver

Yesterday, after announcing his retirement at the end of his current term, Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham said he would sell the Rancho Santa Fe mansion that he purchased in 2003 and donate some of the proceeds of that sale to three local San Diego charities.
"...I know that this gesture will not convince the skeptics of our good faith," he said. "My detractors have already made up their minds and this act will not reach them, or in any way end the government's investigation of me."
Of course the rationale for giving away money that Cunningham insists is untainted by any hint of wrongdoing or illegal behavior is curious. And, it now turns out that the amount of money that Cunningham is donating to the charities is not going to be anything like the amount of money that the currently known questionable deals netted him.

Cunningham, will split roughly $300,000 from the sale among the three charities, a source close to the congressman said Thursday.

That amount was selected because it is essentially the difference between the $1.675 million the congressman received when he sold his Del Mar Heights home to a defense contractor in November 2003, and the $1.375 million the county assessor's office deemed the home to be worth when it was evaluated for tax purposes a few months after the sale, the source said.

The congressman, the source said, decided to donate the $300,000 difference to reassure his friends and supporters that he did not profit improperly from the sale of the Del Mar Heights home.
The county assessor's estimate is far from the consensus of virtually every real estate expert who analyzed the Del Mar home sale, and far above the price at which the home eventually sold in the open market, the ultimate and final arbiter of property value.

Let's look at the real profits from Cunningham's dealings around the Del Mar and Rancho Santa Fe homes.

  • Cunningham's profit on the sale of his Del Mar home was roughly $1.24 million ($1,675,000 selling price - $435,000 purchase price).
  • His profit on the sale (or non-sale) of his yacht, the Kelly C, was about $427,000, which was applied to pay off a second mortgage on his Rancho Santa Fe home.
  • Cunningham purchased his Rancho Santa Fe mansion at a rock bottom price and based on the last two years of appreciation in the San Diego real estate market, Cunningham is looking at a windfall of perhaps a much as a million dollars in appreciation profits.

So, Cunningham is going to donate $300,000 to charity to convince his friends that making over $2,500,000 in profits from a series of tainted and questionable "deals" proves he is a "honest" man.

It's Republican math.