RobbDogg's Rips

Serving the online community to bring awareness to political and social issues affecting Liberals and Progressives. Podcasts are posted every Monday morning and original commentaries are posted throughout the week.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Commentary: Top Gun Flies Into Political Firestorm

Good morning, readers!

I wanted to share with you my latest article for Wake Up San Diego!, a blog Kenny (DeBunk on the Randi Rhodes Message Board) put together that contains the latest news and scandals in San Diego County.

With the news articles on Randy "Duke" Cunningham I read in the regional newspapers this evening, I couldn't resist doing a little Wingnut of the Week bashing before I hit the sack. I think you'll really enjoy this piece.

While you're at it, check out Kenny's blog!

Top Gun Flies Into Political Firestorm
Original commentary by Robbie Michaels

Just when you thought Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Escondido, CA) might get away with “MansionGate”, the latest in a long line of Republican scandals, two stories broke on Friday that could make life difficult for the eight-term congressman.

Federal authorities intensified their investigation into Cunningham’s relationship with defense contractor Mitchell Wade by
searching his Rancho Santa Fe home, the “Duke-Stir” yacht owned by Wade, and the Washington D.C. offices of MZM, Inc. Friday. Agents from the Department of Defense and the Internal Revenue Service assisted FBI agents involved in Friday’s search to gather evidence in their ongoing investigation.

In an ironic twist,
Cunningham’ lawyer called the searches, “an appalling abuse of government power.”

Cunningham is currently under investigation for the sale of his Del Mar Heights home to Wade, assisting MZM, Inc. in obtaining multi-million dollar defense contracts, and for
not paying rent while living on Wade’s 42-foot yacht docked on the Potomac River. In lieu of rent, Cunningham paid dock fees and service and maintenance costs. Living on Wade’s boat without paying would violate congressional ethics rules, so it will be interesting to see how investigators will rule on this issue.

In related developments:

Legal Problems Mount For Cunningham

The ongoing investigation into Cunningham’s relationship with Mitchell Wade isn’t the only legal problem he’s facing this holiday weekend. Cunningham could also face federal charges for the unauthorized commercial use of the congressional seal.

Top Gun Enterprises, the company Cunningham set up in 1987 to market his book “Fox Two”, appeared to have suspended operations on Friday
after news broke that a $595 Randy “Duke” Cunningham Fighter Ace Kalinga Style Buck Knife sold on the web site contained a gold imprint of the congressional seal on its blade.

Visitors trying to access the website now get a HTTP 404 – File Not Found message in their browsers.

It is against federal law to use the congressional seal for commercial purposes, and any member of Congress can be fined and imprisoned for up to six months if he or she “knowingly uses, manufactures, reproduces, sells, purchases for resale . . . any likeness of the seal of the United States Congress" without the approval of the clerk of the House.” According to an article in The North County Times,
no such permission for Cunningham to use the seal can be substantiated.

Is Duke’s Legacy In Jeopardy?

stated recently that he used “poor judgment” in selling his Del Mar Heights home, but you wonder if these recent events are a lapse in judgment, or if Cunningham is playing stupid on the advice of attorneys to look innocent. We won’t know the answer for several months, but you can bet more allegations will be made against Cunningham and others involved before this investigation concludes.

If all of these allegations are true, this scandal will forever taint the political career of one of San Diego County’s most popular and longest-serving elected officials. Cunningham, who serves California’s 50th Congressional District,
was easily re-elected for his eighth term last November by a 21-point margin over Democratic opponent Francine P. Busby.

This is no way to remember one of America’s most highly decorated fighter pilots in the Vietnam War, and that is the real tragedy of this story. Until this year, Cunningham never had his name mentioned once in previous political scandals. But for all of his heroic feats in the cockpit of a Navy fighter plane, people may instead remember Randy “Duke” Cunningham
for his shady dealings with Mitchell Wade. That, in the eyes of liberals and progressives, makes him just another Republican congressman who got caught flaunting ethics rules for a few extra dollars in his pocket.

For someone who excelled in all other aspects of his life, being remembered as “just another disgraced congressman” has to be the lowest blow to the legacy and integrity of Randy “Duke” Cunningham, Great American War Hero.


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