Monday, June 27, 2005

Congressman's House Sale to a Contributor Is the Focus of a Federal Investigation

Eight term California Congressman Randy (Duke) Cunningham's sale of his home for $1.675 million in 2003 is the focus of an FBI investigation, according to an article in the North County (Calif.) Times (here).  The purchaser was Mitchell Wade, a contributor to Rep. Cunningham's campaigns and the owner of MZM Inc., a defense contractor whose revenues have tripled over the past two years to approximately $65 million. The company provides intelligence services to the military, including translators in Iraq. Records show that Wade sold the house for $700,000 less than he purchased it from Rep. Cunningham approximately one year later -- this in one of the hottest housing markets in the country, which is saying a lot given the current real estate bubble.  Rep. Cunningham is on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, so the connection (if any) between his work on that subcommittee and the house sale is the likely subject of the investigation, i.e. whether the transaction, which appears to be at an above-market price, was a bribe or unlawful gratuity under 18 U.S.C. Sec. 201.  An AP story (here) notes that Rep. Cunningham said in a written statement that the transaction with Wade showed "poor judgment."  The article also notes that Rep. Cunningham lives on Wade's yacht in Washington DC, and he pays dock fees and other expenses. (ph)

Corruption, Investigations | Permalink

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