DeLay defends Cunningham's home sale

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) yesterday defended Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.) after calls from congressional Democrats to investigate the Republican appropriator for selling his San Diego home to a defense contractor whose firm had received $65 million in federal funds in 2004.

?Duke Cunningham is a hero,? DeLay said during a press briefing Tuesday. ?He is an honorable man of high integrity.?

Cunningham sold his home in 2003 to Mitchell Wade, president of MZM Inc., a Nevada-based defense contractor that specializes in security and intelligence-gathering technology. The company lost $700,000 after it resold the property eight months later, the San Diego Union-Tribune first reported Sunday.

At the briefing, DeLay also defended Democratic Rep. John Murtha (Pa.), who was the subject of a Los Angeles Times article questioning the lobbying activities of Murtha?s brother in connection with passage of last year?s $417 billion defense spending bill.

The article said Murtha?s brother, Robert ?Kit? Murtha, is a senior partner at a Washington lobbying firm that represented 10 companies that received a combined $20.8 million in contracts from the defense bill.

?I know that John Murtha is an honorable man,? DeLay said during the briefing, adding that he did not know any details of the article. ?He is a man of great integrity.?

DeLay would not say if the House planned to investigate either member.

?We?re always concerned when a member of Congress violates the rules of the House,? DeLay said before adding, ?Just because it appears in an article doesn?t mean a thing.?

DeLay recommended that the ethics committee resolve its staffing issue by establishing bipartisan co-staff directors. The committee has been stalled since late April, after a four-month partisan dispute over committee rules, over another partisan clash about whether Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) could name his current chief of staff, Ed Cassidy, as staff director of the committee.

If the members of the committee cannot agree on one person, DeLay said, they should ?set up a bipartisan? committee staff.

DeLay himself is widely expected to be the target of the committee?s first investigation when it does reconvene for ethical questions surrounding trips he took to Russia, Scotland and South Korea between 1997 and 2001.

Responding to an earlier question about the G-8 summit meeting of world leaders that will be held next month in Scotland, DeLay deadpanned, ?Where are they holding that?? which elicited laugher from the assembled media.

Calif. Congressman Admits Taking Bribes - Yahoo! News

By ELLIOT SPAGAT, Associated Press Writer
58 minutes ago

Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy and tax charges and tearfully resigned from office, admitting he took $2.4 million in bribes to steer defense contracts to conspirators.

Cunningham, 63, entered pleas in U.S. District Court to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud and wire fraud, and tax evasion for underreporting his income in 2004.

Cunningham answered "yes, Your Honor" when asked by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns if he had accepted bribes from someone in exchange for his performance of official duties.

Later, at a news conference, he wiped away tears as he announced his resignation.

"I can't undo what I have done but I can atone," he said.

Cunningham, an eight-term Republican congressman, had already announced in July that he would not seek re-election next year.

House Ethics rules say that any lawmaker convicted of a felony no longer should vote or participate in committee work. Under Republican caucus rules, Cunningham also would have lost his chairmanship of the House Intelligence subcommittee on terrorism and human intelligence.

The former Vietnam War flying ace was known on Capitol Hill for his interest in defense issues and his occasional temperamental outbursts.

After the hearing, Cunningham was taken away for fingerprinting and released on his own recognizance until a Feb. 27 sentencing hearing. He could receive up to 10 years in prison.

He also agreed to forfeit to the government his Rancho Santa Fe home, more than $1.8 million in cash and antiques and rugs.

In a statement, prosecutors said Cunningham admitted to receiving at least $2.4 million in bribes paid to him by several conspirators through a variety of methods, including checks totaling over $1 million, cash, rugs, antiques, furniture, yacht club fees and vacations.

"He did the worst thing an elected official can do ? he enriched himself through his position and violated the trust of those who put him there," U.S. Attorney Carol Lam said. The statement did not identify the conspirators.

The case began when authorities started investigating whether Cunningham and his wife, Nancy, used the proceeds from the $1,675,000 sale to defense contractor Mitchell Wade to buy the $2.55 million mansion in Rancho Santa Fe. Wade put the Del Mar house back on the market and sold it after nearly a year for $975,000 ? a loss of $700,000.

He drew little notice outside his San Diego-area district before the San Diego Union-Tribune reported last June that he'd sold the home to Wade.

Cunningham's pleas came amid a series of GOP scandals. Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas had to step down as majority leader after he was indicted in a campaign finance case; a stock sale by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is being looked at by regulators; and Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff was indicted in the CIA leak case.

Rep. Cunningham Pleads Guilty - Yahoo! News

Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax violations after an investigation of the California Republican's home sale.

Cunningham has been under investigation since his sale of his home to a defense contractor at an apparently inflated price in 2003 attracted the attention of federal investigators.

He made his plea known at a hearing in federal court in San Diego on Monday.

Cunningham, 63, is an eight-term congressman and Vietnam War flying ace.

In November 2003, he sold his Del Mar, Calif., home to defense contractor Mitchell Wade for $1,675,000. Wade put the house back on the market and sold it after nearly a year for $975,000 ? a loss of $700,000 in one of the nation's hottest housing markets.

Cunningham and his wife, Nancy, used the proceeds from the sale to buy a $2.55 million mansion in ritzy Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.

Wade also let Cunningham live rent-free on his yacht, the Duke Stir, at the Capital Yacht Club. His firm, MZM Inc., donated generously to Cunningham's campaigns.

Around the same time, MZM was winning valuable defense contracts at a time when Cunningham sat on the House Appropriations subcommittee that controls defense dollars. In 2004 the little-known company based in Washington, D.C., tripled its revenue and nearly quadrupled its staff, according to information posted on the company Web site.

Though he denied wrongdoing when he announced in July that he wouldn't seek re-election, Cunningham himself acknowledged that the sale didn't look good.

Rep. Cunningham to Plead Guilty - Yahoo! News

By ERICA WERNER, Associated Press Writer

Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham will plead guilty to tax violations, a source close the investigation of the California Republican has told The Associated Press.

Cunningham has been under investigation since his sale of his home to a defense contractor at an apparently inflated price in 2003 attracted the attention of federal investigators.

A hearing in the case was scheduled in federal court in San Diego on Monday, and two sources close to the investigation said Cunningham would enter a guilty plea. One of those sources said he would plead to tax violations related to the home sale