Saturday, September 17, 2005

Duke Demands Bribe.....From Government

Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham, supposedly of the California 50th, but now representing only himself in a desperate attempt to avoid prolonged incarceration, is demanding that the Federal government pay him $800,000 in restitution for the multi-million dollar home he bought with the proceeds of a $700,000 bribe and a couple of very shady loans.

Logan Jenkins in a piece in the San Diego Union Tribune details the "fuzzy math" of Cunningham and his legal team. As Jenkin's points out, not only is Cunningham demanding $800,000 from American taxpayers, he is also claiming that the original $700,000 bribe wasn't really a bribe, but that it represented fair market value for a home that then lost nearly half of it's value in less than a year in one of the hottest real estate markets in the country.

"In the most recent display of wishful property assessments, Mark Holscher, Cunningham's attorney, argued in federal court that the government should pay Cunningham, the Republican congressman representing the 50th District, $800,000 to make up for the difference between what Cunningham's Rancho Santa Fe house is worth and what he has been offered for it."

There is a lot of other legal activity going on around Cunningham's Rancho Santa Fe estate. The government has essentially placed a lien on the home to insure that Cunningham can't sell it and then pocket the proceeds, which the government contends came from the original bribe. But, Cunningham contends that the original bribe really wasn't a bribe, just some sort of bizarre real estate transaction that resulted in a massive financial loss to a friend and major defense contractor who rountinely had business before Cunningham's powerful committee.

"...Now compare that fantasy with this one: Holscher told Judge Dana Sabraw that he could prove that the Del Mar Heights home was worth $1.67 million when Cunningham sold it to Mitchell Wade, the defense contractor who, it's alleged in the seizure order, bribed Cunningham with an inflated sale price.

When Wade sold the house almost nine months later, he took a $700,000 bath despite the then-sizzling market. Holscher credits this disparity to the fact that Wade was in a hurry to sell and that the house was unoccupied, unkempt and in bad condition, presumably because Cunningham left it that way."

In a related Cunningham note, the House Ethics Committee gave the Duke permission to establish his very own legal defense fund. The Ethics Committee isn't investigating Cunningham because the gutless Democrats in Congress won't request an investigation, despite a massive Federal investigation that includes the DOD, FBI and IRS.

Cunningham is awaiting the Ethics Committee approval to use over $600,000 in campaign contributions for his legal defense.

It appears that under the Republicans, with the cowardly assent of Democrats, the primary role of the Ethics Committee is to insure that corrupt politicians can get as much money as possible from others to defend themselves for their own criminal acts.