It's not a pretty picture: the night before Duke Cunningham was sentenced and taken into custody, he dumped a duffel bag filled with dirty underwear and $32,000 in $20 and $100 bills in his wife's driveway as a desperate attempt to salvage some of his ill-gotten gains.
That's according to Nancy Cunningham, Duke's estranged wife, who granted an exclusive interview to Kitty Kelley, queen of Washington dirt. Kelley's article will be out in this week's issue of The New Republic, but we got a sneak peek. The piece will be posted online later today.
Mrs. Cunningham (who says she promptly turned that bag of cash over to her attorney) also reveals that Duke -- whom she coldly refers to as "Mr. Cunningham" -- once slept with a knife and then a loaded gun under his pillow; that he frequently threw temper tantrums and once physically threatened Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) because he was passed over for a leadership position; that he planned to strike it big as a lobbyist after he left Congress; and that she called him "Mr. Fun Ball" because of his aggressive flirtation with women.
Nancy Cunningham gave the interview, Kelley says, to demonstrate her ignorance of her husband's misdeeds. But many will no doubt find that hard to believe. Her husband accepted $2.4 million in bribes, and she enjoyed a lot of what that money bought. She didn't become suspicious of the stream of valuable antiques, didn't question her husband's explanation of how they could afford a $2.6 million house (creative financing, a lobbying career), and generally turned a blind eye to his carousing. It wasn't a close marriage, she says.
More later. We'll link to the piece when it's up.
Update: The piece is up here (sub. req.).