As we told you yesterday evening, the curse of Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham -- the habit of wealthy businessmen to pay Duke double or triple market rates for pieces of property -- has struck again. This time with the sale of Duke's old-new boat, The Kelly C, as reported by The Washington Post.
To recap, Duke bought the Kelly C from then-Congressman Sonny Callahan (R) of Alabama in 1997 for $200,000. Then in 2002 he sold it to Long Island Thomas Kontogiannis for $600,000. And then, after doing $100,000 in repairs and continuing to register it in Duke's name, he was apparently about to sell it back to Duke last month before all the press unpleasantness broke out.
Now, the question on the minds of many chroniclers of Duke's shenanigans last night was just what sort of favor Duke might have been offering to Kontogiannis, who unlike Wade Mitchell, wasn't a defense contractor on the make but simply your average Long Island real estate developer/public contractor who'd recently pled guilty in a bid-rigging and bribery case involving New York public schools in which he'd been compelled to repay said schools some $5 million.
Now, Marcus Stern and Jerry Kammer, in the San Diego Union-Tribune, provide a possible answer. It seems Kontongiannis is one of that long list of congressional friends just looking for some good advice.
Said Kontogiannis: "I said I have this problem and I was wondering if I can get a pardon out of it. He (Cunningham) said to me, 'I know nothing about these things, but I'll find the proper law firm and I'll let you know if they can help you.'"
In the words of the Union-Tribune, Duke "offered to help him explore the possibility of seeking a pardon from President Bush and the Justice Department." But it seems it just didn't work out.
Kontogiannis said he went to Washington and talked to the law firm recommended by the congressman. But he said he then dropped the idea. "It's not worth the aggravation," he said, describing the process as too complicated.
More to come, one would hope, on the money Kontogiannis's mortgage company lent Duke to help buy the slick new house.