Friday, February 17, 2006

10 Years Isn't Enough For Cunningham

Federal prosecutors presented a San Diego court with a recommended sentence for former congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham. You can read the entire sentencing memorandum here or check out the San Diego Union Tribune's shorter version here.
Having admitted unparalleled corruption, defendant Randall H. Cunningham now comes before the Count to be sentenced for his stunning betrayal of the public trust. Cunningham used his status as a war hero to get into Congress, and then he used his Congressional office to get rich. In doing so, Cunningham reneged on his obligation to execute his office with conscientious, loyal, faithful, disinterested, and unbiased service. The length, breadth, and depth of Cunningham's crimes against the people of the United States are unprecedented for a sitting Member of Congress. So too, should be his sentence.
With that as an introduction, prosecutors asked the court to sentence Cunningham to the maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

What the details in the sentencing memorandum make abundantly clear is that Randy Cunningham sold his influence and used his office to make himself rich. Cunningham was not caught up in the schemes of others, he was the prime instigator of this criminal endeavor. A copy of a bribe payment schedule (bribe menu) was included in documents filed by the prosecution.

In this "bribe menu," the left column represented the millions in government contracts that could be "ordered" from Cunningham. The right column was the amount of the bribes that the contractor giving up his title to a boat ("BY) for which Coconspirator No. 2 had initially paid $140,000 ("140"). The next four rows indicate that an additional million dollars in funding was “for sale" in exchange for every additional $50,000 that Coconspirator No. 2 was willing to pay Cunningham. Once Coconspirator No. 2 had paid Cunningham $340,000 in bribes, the rates dropped; and, as the final five rows reflect, Cunningham would charge only $25,000 for each additional million dollars that was awarded in additional government contracts.

The federal documents lay out an incredibly damning case. Cunningham was literally selling government business to his co-conspirators. No wink and nudge stuff, but tit for tat - you give me money and I'll give you government contracts for a specific amount. It is breathtaking.

In order to completely pay off his Rancho Santa Fe home, Cunningham turned to Brent Wilkes and Mitchell Wade.

...Cunningham demanded that Co-conspirator No. 1 (Brent Wilkes) give him $525,000. Coconspirator No. 1 agreed, but on condition that he receive an additional $6,000,000 in government funds. Shortly after receiving this money (through a DoD subcontract), Coconspirator No. 1 wired the $525,000 (thinly disguised as an "investment") to Coconspirator No. 3's financial services company. Cunningham never made another payment on his second mortgage.

...Cunningham demanded that Coconspirator No. 2 (Mitchell Wade) pay him $500,000, to eliminate the remaining mortgage burdens for his Rancho Santa Fe mansion. In return, Cunningham promised to support a specific defense appropriations request. Coconspirator No. 2 agreed. To disguise this bribe, Coconspirator No. 2 divided the $500,000 into two unequal checks (one for $329.000 and one for $171,000), both made out to Top Gun Enterprises. Although both checks were made out at the same time, Coconspirator No. 2 sought to further disguise the illegal activity by utilizing different dates and non-consecutive check numbers. He added false notations on both checks that suggested a legitimate purpose.
It's all here in the government documents. The big bribes, the little bribes, the furniture, the cars, all of it laid out in stunning detail.

What is clear from this evidence is that Randy Cunningham is a crook and a liar. He broke his oaths and he betrayed his office. Randy Cunningham is a disgrace and deserves to go to jail for the rest of his life.