Covering the Duke Cunningham scandal was part of what inspired me to launch TPMMuckraker at the end of 2005. Of course, it was the inspiration for the Golden Duke Awards.
And it was the inspiration for so much more, with the sheer level of abject corruption (remember the "bribe menu"), sheer boffo and cartoonish misbehavior and clownishness. Coming in 2005, Duke in many ways was the John the Baptist of corruption paving, a voice crying out in the wilderness of Muck heralding the advent of the Muck Messiah Jack Abramoff a year later.
Duke eventually pled out and went to the slammer. And he's occasionally reached out from the prison industrial complex with this or that poorly spelled and loosely grammatical complaint
or concern-trolling letter
. Well, last week federal prisoner #94405-198 was released from prison in Arizona to a halfway house
in New Orleans. In other words, Duke got outta the slammer. It's genuinely the end of an era.