Grand Jury Wants Papers on Cunningham Real Estate Deal

(via FOX news)
Thursday, June 30, 2005

WASHINGTON — A federal grand jury has ordered Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham to produce certain documents as it investigates his real estate deal with a defense contractor, but the California Republican refused Wednesday to answer press questions about the transaction.

"You have my statement right there and that answers all of your questions," Cunningham told FOX News.

That statement, which denies wrongdoing, was issued before Cunningham was served a subpeona for documents regarding the 2003 sale of his home in California.

Click in the box to the right to watch a report by FOX News' Brian Wilson.

Cunningham, who sits on the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee, sold his house to defense contractor Mitchell Wade for $1.7 million. That turned out to be roughly $700,000 more than the house was worth. Wade's company, MZM, Inc., has since been the recipient of $104 million in classified, Pentagon no-compete contracts.

Wade also owns a 42-foot yacht that until recently Cunningham called home when in Washington. But the questions don't end there.

Congressional sources told FOX News that Democrats are expected to bring up before teh House ethics committee several questions about a business that Cunningham owns. The company, called Top Gun Enterprises, Inc., plays off Cunningham's past life as a former Top Gun Navy pilot and instructor.

By logging onto the company Web site, anyone wanting to support the congressman financially can buy Cunningham's book or a video or a top gun hat, all for around $20.

In recent financial disclosure forms, Cunningham valued his company at between $500,000 and $1 million. Since 1995, Cunningham has drawn between $70,000 and $185,000 in salary from the company.

Owning a for-profit business is not explicitly prohibited by House ethics rules, though members of Congress are banned from personally profiting from their elected position.

The Web site makes a number of references to the fact that Cunningham serves in Congress. The statement issued by Cunningham makes no reference to Top Gun Enterprises, and the lawmaker refused to answer questions about the firm.

"You got my statement there, and that's all I need to do. All I'm trying to do is just to tend to the job and the people in my district and that's why we're doing what we're doing," he said.

One item being sold on the Web site could cause additional trouble for the San Diego congressman. The Duke Cunningham buck knife, which costs $595, includes an engraved likeness of Cunningham in a flight suit and what is described as "the official seal of the U.S. Congress." Unauthorized use of the official seal is a violation of House rules and federal law, punishable by fine and up to six months in prison.

The Pentagon agency that awarded $104 million in non-compete contracts to Wade insists it "was never lobbied by Congressman Cunningham or any member of his staff." Wade has stepped down as president of MZM and the company is said to be for sale. The Pentagon's inspector general is now examining all MZM contracts.


Post a Comment

<< Home