Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

One of my main goals when I started TPMCafe was to provide a bigger forum for the sort of information gathering and investigative journalism we did here at TPM in recent months on Social Security, the DeLay Rule, et al.

Now that we've got the site up-and-running, a staffer hired and a battery of volunteer researcher-writers in the process of being picked, we're going to dig into it.

First up, catching up on Social Security.

As you can see here, our Conscience Caucus list hasn't been updated since way back on March 3rd. A lot has happened in the last six months. Most of them good, certainly. But just recently the phase-out crew has begun making some initials forays out of their cave with the new plan to blow the entire Social Security surplus and the Trust Fund on those prized private accounts.

So we're going to dive back into that. We'll be moving the list over to a new library section of TPMCafe, updating it, adding new materials, and more.

If you'd like to be involved in helping us pull new information together, let us know.

Next up after that, Tom DeLay, Jack Abramoff, Bob Ney, Karl Rove and more.

For all you landlubbers out there, TPM Reader SC sends us word that Duke's boat, the Duke Stir (type identified here) is actually not something you'd likely see in some old Jackie O home movie. SC sends us this link to an ad for a similar model going for $130,000 -- picture included.

Let's note this officially as a story that the gatekeepers say isn't a story.

You know about the three Denver residents who were physically ejected from the Bamboozlepalooza event in their town back in March. They got the heave-ho from a guy in a black suit and an earpiece impersonating a Secret Service officer. Later they learned it was because they'd arrived in a car with a 'No Blood for Oil' sticker on it.

Various inquiries have now made it clear that the man in question was not a Secret Service agent, but a political working for the White House, acting on orders that have been in force for such events across the country.

But the White House refuses to identify the person in question or drop the policy. The White House says all the questions tied to the incident have been "asked and answered" and the folks in the White House press corps are apparently satisfied with that answer. So the story ends there apparently.

Hungry or overfed?

The North County Times on Aqua-Duke ...

What's more, Cunningham since April 2004 has been living on Wade's yacht in Washington. The congressman said that in lieu of rent, he paid more than $8,000 in dock fees and $5,000 for upkeep on Wade's boat.

We can set aside the dock fees, because Cunningham rented space for his own boat at the Potomac River marina for years before he moved into Wade's boat. According to Cunningham's accounting, that $5,000 over the last 14 months amounts to $357 a month.

Unless we are missing something, this looks like a sweetheart deal, with Cunningham paying far less than market rent, to say nothing of the true maintenance and depreciation costs of a fancy boat.

$357. At least it's fair market <$NoAd$> value.

You can live nextdoor to Duke!

The house at 7150 Via Del Charro is on sale for a mere $5 million.

(As always in real estate there's fine print. The listing actually reads: "Seller will entertain offers between $4,650,000 and $5,400,876.")

To compare and contrast, here's the satellite view of Duke's place and here's the view of the place you can buy.

For the true Duke aficionados, the Duke Stir was built in 1987 by Carver Boat Corp.

Length is 42.2 ft. Fiberglass hull. Gross Tonnage 34, Net Tonnage 27.

You can look up the same info here.

Hmmm. Hard to know quite what these numbers mean. But let's see if anyone out there knows more.

Back in December 2003 Duke paid Douglas Powanda $2.55 million for the new manse in Rancho Santa Fe at 7094 Via Del Charro. Powanda is Duke's big campaign contributor from Peregrine Systems who's now waiting to go on trial for multibillion dollar securities fraud. They paid cash. And the new place comes in at 7,628 sq.ft.

Now, TPM Reader JS sent in these links to me which show that a couple weeks later someone else paid $2.25 million for the place down the road at 6849 Via Del Charro. But the records say that place only has 2936 sq.ft. (Satelite view of this location.)

A couple months earlier the place at 7002 Via Del Charro went for $3.45 million. And that place had only 5290 sq.ft. That's more than 2000 sq.ft. less than Duke's place. (Satellite view of this location.)

Now, maybe the Duke's place is a dump, though these photos would suggest otherwise. Or perhaps one part of the street has a to-die-for ocean view and the others don't. Who knows? In all honesty, it really is impossible to know what the different values mean having never seen individual homes or the lay of the land. And maybe I'm misinterpreting what these documents mean. (Here's a satellite view of Duke's place.) But given Duke's reputation for good luck on real estate deals, I'd say this deserves a look. Who knows? His judgment may have failed him on this one too.

If you're from the area or know it, drop me a line and tell me what you think.

TPM Readers check in on Aqua-Duke ...

That's ridiculous!

The annual cost of owning such a boat is far more than the marina fees. And remember, Duke was already paying those fees for his own boat before he switched to the "Duke Stir."

If the Duke pays for parking and gas, can Wade buy him a Porsche?


Then there's RN ...

Josh, You're missing the bigger point. A yacht like that is worth easily a million dollars. It's not the slip rental. It's the fact that he got to live in a million dollar "residence" for the cost of the slip rental. It's like if someone offered you their million dollar house, and all you had to pay were the homeowner's fees.

But just FYI, I used to live on a boat in L.A., in Marina Del Rey for 2 years. Most marinas have basic slip rental rates. I would imagine on the Potomac in the high-rent slips, like Wade's yacht was in, they run (I'm being conservative) between 15 & 20/foot per month. But marinas aren't crazy about liveaboards, because they use lots of electricity and water and they pollute. Marinas generally discourage the practice so they tack on liveaboard fees which will typically run the slip rent up another 50%. If it was a 50 foot yacht then the slip rental could have been $1000/month easy. Plus another $500/month for the liveaboard fees, making $1500/total.

I defer to the <$NoAd$> yachtsmen among you.

Then there's CC


I thought I had read that Mitchell Wade’s yacht was docked in Duke Cunningham’s slip while the Duke’s yacht was being repaired. So isn’t the Duke simply paying his own dock fees while living on Wade’s yacht for free? Or am I confused.

Nope. That's what we thought too.

Duke breaks his silence! Speaks out on long sordid shenanigans. North County Times reprints statement.

It's fairly long. So you'll want to read it. But on a quick glance, this jumped out at me ...

Finally, recent news reports have questioned whether it was appropriate for me to live on a boat owned by Mr. Wade while I was working in Washington. It is important to note that I first came to Congress in 1991, and I only began living on Mr. Wade's boat in roughly April 2004. Mr. Wade and I agreed that, in return for me staying on the boat, I would pay the monthly dock fees and maintenance costs associated with keeping Mr. Wade's boat at the marina. There was nothing improper about my arrangement with Mr. Wade because I paid these monthly fees and costs in lieu of rent. Based on the records that I have been able to locate to date, I have paid well over $8,000 for the dock fees and well over $5,000 for service and maintenance. My attorneys are collecting the full payment records now and will make them available when they are all gathered.

This is great. Duke has <$Ad$> lived there for over a year. And he's paid $13,000 out of pocket. Yes, he says "well over". But by the looks of the document search he and his lawyers are doing it seems he's going to dig up the receipts for every roll of toilet paper and every bottle of windex he bought while he was there to pad the total.

When I lived in DC I lived in a medium to small-sized one bedroom apartment on 19th Street between R & S streets. That's in Dupont Circle.

DC housing isn't cheap. By the time I left last December I think my rent was $1468 a month. So with the help of my trusty calculator I can figure out that I was paying $17,616 in rent a year. So I was paying substantially more to live in my little one bedroom apartment than Duke was to live on Wade Mitchell's yacht down on the river.

He should have mentioned it. I would have been happy to trade. I had no idea it was so cheap to live down on a yacht on the Potomac.

Can you get wifi on a boat?