What Would The Golden Dukes Be Without Duke Cunningham


The Golden Dukes have a special luster this year. Here’s why.

The inspiration for the award, former Rep. Randall “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA), has been wiling away the last few years in the federal pen, paying his debt to society for one of the most brazen bribery schemes in congressional history. Gone and on the road to being forgotten — save for this eponymous award — Cunningham reversed course this year and started proclaiming his innocence of the charges he originally pleaded guilty to.

The Duke of old was back!As part of his own personal innocence project, Cunningham penned a long letter to his sentencing judge comparing the IRS to the KGB and bemoaning his situation: “As one of the most highly decorated veterans in the history of his nation and a lifetime of service yes I made mistakes but does that include killing me and my family.”

The Dukester (not to be confused with the Duke Stir, the yacht bought for Cunningham by a defense contractor that he lived aboard in DC in occasional squalor) has even become a prison reform activist, of sorts.

In short, the humbled, chastened, and repentant Cunningham, inmate No. 94405-198, proved to be a short-lived persona. Back is the narcissistic, grasping, and self-deluded Duke Cunningham that we got to know in the first place.

The Duke continues to set the standard for the Golden Dukes. Which is as it should be.


David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.