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Ding Dong the Duke is Dead

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
June 24, 2005


One of the flying monkeys is getting a serious case of Karma, and I am as happy as a clam not on the menu.

For years this column has chronicled the corrupted leadership of soon to be ex-congressman Randy Cunningham. From his role in the Tailhook scandal his freshman term, his slave like devotion to the military industrial complex, boorish behavior that makes Tom Delay look refined in comparison, and complete lack in environmental stewardship, the Duke-stir has done next to nothing for the 50th district.

Like Tom Delay, (a.k.a. The Hammer), Cunningham's lapses in ethics are now front-page news. Building up around dodgy real estate transactions and cozy relations with shadowy defense contractors, Randy Duke has a lot of questions to answer. Democrats are going to have a grand old time ripping his congressional record to shreds looking for dirty dealings.

There is blood in the water, the sharks are circling, and Randy Duke is on the menu.

Cunningham sold his Del Mar home to a company controlled by the president of a Washington defense firm, MZM Inc. for $1,675,000.The estimated value of the del Mar residence was $975,000. Elizabeth Todd of Willis Allen Co. in Del Mar, a long time Cunningham supporter, provided the asking price and the comps for the privately transacted deal. On Oct. 13, 2004, the company sold the home for its estimated value of $975,000. Randy Duke Cunningham made $700,000 in the deal.

MZM Owner/President Mitchell Wade also owns a 42-foot boat docked at the Capital Yacht Club along the banks of the Potomac River. Blatantly named the Duke-Stir, Cunningham rents the houseboat, and stays there at least part of the time while doing business in Washington.

Can you say conflict of interest?

MZM Inc. is in the business of intelligence collection and analysis for national security and policy planning. In the 2004 fiscal year, MZM won more than $65 million in defense contracts. Cunningham sits on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, which helps allocate the government's military expenditures. Subcommittee members influence the awarding of government defense contracts issued through the Pentagon. Cunningham serves on the House Select Committee on Intelligence as well.

On its website www.mzminc.com, MZM Inc. cites its mission "To assist leaders of government and private industry prepare for and adapt to the increasing perplexities and challenges of the 21st century, particularly in the critical areas of security and intelligence." The also declare values of integrity, loyalty, reliability and the highest moral conduct in business.

On line at opensecrets.org anyone can get a clear picture of who is pulling the political strings of Randy Duke Cunningham. And believe me when I say it is not the people of the 50th congressional district. Since 1989, when Randy began his political quest, the top 5 contributing industries to his congressional career are defense electronics, defense aerospace, sea transport, air transport, and miscellaneous defense contractors such as MZM Inc. Ringing in at $82,340, the top contributor to the Randy Cunningham show is no other than the Carlyle Group.

In 1997, The Carlyle Group bought United Defense. United Defense has the widest product line of systems for land forces and a strong position in naval armaments. United Defense is headquartered in Arlington, VA and its 5100 employees operate on a global basis to serve its customers. United Defense provides Combat Vehicle Systems, Fire Support, Combat Support Vehicle Systems, Weapons Delivery Systems, Amphibious Assault Vehicles, and Combat Support Services.

It's clear our longstanding congressman is nothing more than a shill for the military industrial complex. Thankfully short time greed got the better of him and exposed a tangled web of congressional cronyism.

There is blood in the water, the sharks are circling, and Randy Duke is on the menu.

It's hard to imagine the Duke-stir surfing his way out of this one. There are too many ambitious Republicans itching to take the old man's seat in congress. Now that Randy has been caught with his hand out, the call for him to fade quietly into the sunset will be enormous. Hopefully he won't listen. Personally I am looking forward to the Ginzu politics of a contested Republican primary.

In November 2006 one of two things will happen. Either a new Republican will be elected, Pam Slater-Price for example, or a Democrat will grab the long coveted prize. Whatever the case, the Duke is dead.

Free California!

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