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Oh the damage he can do

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
July 29, 2005


Although Randy "Duke-Stir" Cunningham has announced he will not seek re-election, it would be foolhardy too consider him a lame duck. Never one to represent his constituents with anything more than mumbled platitudes, with nothing left to loose, he has everything to gain from cashing in his political chips while remaining a U.S. congressman.

If Randy Cunningham, who currently remains a member of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, had an ounce of ethical fortitude, he would resign his congressional seat immediately, saving his supporters any more public embarrassment. How can Cunningham adequately serve his district with a cloud of corruption hanging over him, and every possible decision makes over the next year and a half.

The investigation swirling around his business relations with defense industry contractor Mitchell Wade, founder of the Washington defense firm MZM Inc, is enough to warrant his resignation. MZM provides overseas translation services to the U.S. Army. In June, the Pentagon suspended a five-year, $250 million agreement with MZM, which has already received more than $160 million in defense contracts in the last few years. Randy Cunningham approved the now discredited contract agreement.

Mitchell Wade and Randy Cunningham transacted a dodgy real estate deal that netted the "Duke" a windfall of $700,000. Talk about soft money contributions. There is also the issue of the Yacht club and the Duke-Stir. Who owns it? Was it rented? And at what price? It's all very unseemly.

The crass commercialism demonstrated by Congressman Cunningham, hawking curved blades bearing the official seal of congress unofficially, is another embarrassment that will fester as long as he holds a seat in congress. The hero has fallen, it's time he moved on.

If Mr. Cunningham is looking for a graceful exit, it would serve him well to follow the lead of tarnished San Diego City Council members Michael Zucchet and Ralph Izunza.

I am far from alone in calling for Cunningham's resignation. Everyday the chorus asking him to step down grows louder. Following the announcement he will not seek re-election in 2006, North County Unity, a local grassroots organization, began a campaign urging the congressman to stand down immediately. North County Unity is also planning major demonstrations in August. So like it or not, the Duke-Stir is now little more than a circus sideshow, and the butt of a joke that is hardly funny anymore. The longer Randy Cunningham continues to cling to his former glory, the clearer it becomes; the only interests he represented during his time in Washington were his own.

Francine Busby, the twice-democratic challenger to the congressional seat now occupied by the Duke-Stir, is calling for the congressman resignation. The Republicans, for their part have endorsed Cunningham's graft with their silence. Content with an exposed grafter warming the seat, pretenders to the throne are encouraging the "Duke" to stay the course. With him remaining in office, they hope Cunningham will be the target of all the slings and arrows of a discontented constituency, thereby providing cover for their own rank machinations while allowing them a year to line build-up their campaign funds.

Personally, I'm looking forward to the republican blood bath that will mark the primary run-off. With the Machiavellian Howard Kaloogian in the race, it is guaranteed to get ugly fast. Kaloogian, no stranger to the down and dirty, was the brainchild behind the Gray Davis recall, making him responsible for Governor Schwarzenegger debacle.

My sources are intimating Kaloogian is responsible for blowing the whistle on Randy Duke's dirty defense dealings. As a politician, with a Napoleon complex the size of Texas, little Howard is up to big trouble, and like Cunningham, if elected will serve only himself. Word is Kaloogian is pandering to the Christian right, who soured on Cunningham's more moderate standing on Planned Parenthood and stem cell research. The big money is on Kaloogian running on a platform of god, guns, war and wombs. Conservation, restoration, and preservation of the environment are contrary to what Kaloogian says he believes.

As the campaign to replace Cunningham kicks into hire gear, voters of the 50th district have the opportunity to ponder the possibility of electing another ethical dwarf to represent them.

Personally, I hope Greens, Libertarians, Democrats, and progressive Republicans get together and come up with a candidate they can all support. The status quo is no longer enough. San Diego's coastal North county deserves better than another stupid white man, hell-bent on hate and Armageddon, representing us in the halls of congress.

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