Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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In the charges released yesterday against Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) by the United States Attorney in San Diego, the man identified in the 'information' as "Co-conspirator #2" is none other than Mr. Mitchell Wade, formerly CEO and founder of MZM, Inc., the man whose sweetheart purchase of Cunningham's house was the thread that started Duke's skein of corruption unravelling.

Now, Mitchell Wade has since left MZM to spend more time with his lawyers. But before his high-flying life as a corrupt defense contractor came to a grinding halt last summer he was into more than Duke Cunningham. Wade's MZM was in deep with Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL). So deep in fact that, in a story we broke here at TPM back on June 21st, Harris once had a one day haul of $28,000. Fourteen checks for $2,000 a pop, each from a different MZM employee, each received on March 23rd, 2004. (MZM employees later claimed these contributions were coerced.)

A week later Wade's wife chipped in two more checks for $2,000 each. But I digress. Set aside Katherine Harris for a second and let's get to Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA).

Rep. Goode and Mitchell Wade talk business.

Back in June we reported that that Goode had snagged $48,551 in campaign contributions from MZM employees the 2004 election cycle. And scarcely six months into the 2006 cycle he'd already gotten $34,625. In fact, at the time, he was the only member of Congress MZM employees had given any money to.

Then a few days later, Jeff Birnbaum wrote a piece on Mitchell Wade and MZM in which he noted ...

MZM also has ties to a Republican congressman from Virginia, Virgil Goode.

In the 2004 election cycle, Goode's largest contributor was MZM; its political action committee and its employees, including Wade, gave a total of $48,551, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Goode was the principal sponsor of a provision in 2003 defense legislation that called for the creation of a military center in his district, known as the Foreign Supplier Assessment Center, which MZM was hired to run, said a senior defense official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity.

The official added that the center, which is meant to check on the ownership of foreign companies that contract with the Defense Department, will do useful work, but was not a Pentagon priority and was not requested by the Defense Department. It was mandated by Goode on MZM's behalf, the official said.

The Center opened in October 2004. The photo above is Rep. Goode and Mitchell Wade conversing at the opening. And below is Goode and Wade (Wade is the tall guy with the appropriately nefarious glint in his eye) at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Mitchell Wade eyes Rep. Goode at ribbon cutting ceremony.

Now, let me make one thing emphatically clear. Goode got what is for a backbench congressman a ton of money from MZM (and its employees). He clearly played a role in getting them set up with this Center in his district which the Pentagon was in no particular hurry to build. But there's no evidence, to the best of my knowledge, that Goode was personally enriched in any by Wade. Personally enriched, that is, as opposed to getting lots of money in campaign contributions.

Still, Mitch Wade has a pretty clear MO. He's also pretty clearly looking down the barrel of some serious indictments. So it seems worth looking to see whether any other members of Congress fell victim, shall we say, to Wade's innovative ways of doing business.

As you'll see in Duke's statements, he's agreed to cooperate in the US Attorney's on-going investigation. And a logical place to start would be with the various coconspirators listed in the charges against him. Remember, one of those was Mitchell Wade. And Duke wasn't the only one getting lots of contributions from Wade.

Katherine Harris was on the gravy train.

Virgil Goode was on line too.

More on Duke.

Here are the charges, the 'information'. And here's Duke's plea agreement.

Give them a look and let us know the 'best' bad act you can find.

And if you're nostalgic for the old days of sleuthing before all Duke's shenanigans were revealed, click here for a listing of all TPM Duke coverage back to the very first back on June 12th.

I'm sure this will show up in other publications. But for the moment, I was just looking through the list of Duke Cunningham's offenses in the article (sub.req.) on the Roll Call website. And it's breath-taking.

The stuff we knew about, the boats and house purchases, were really only the tip of the iceberg.

In pure dollar terms the house scams may have been the biggest. But on many occasions Duke and the defense contractors who owned him didn't even cover with the flimsy real estate covers.

So for instance, here are some of the examples ...

On May 1, 2000, he took $100,000 in two separate checks from “Co-conspirator No. 1” depositing $70,000 into his personal bank account in San Diego and $30,000 into his account with the Congressional Federal Credit Union;


On Feb. 27, 2002, the co-conspirator believed to be Kontogiannis paid $10,000 to Cunningham, who deposited the money into his credit union account;


On Jan. 13, 2003, Wade paid $33,000 to Cunningham in two separate checks, money that went into his California accounts;

As I said, in dollar terms these weren't the biggest offenses. In audacity terms, they rate fairly high.

Statement of Rep. Randy Cunningham (R-CA) ...

I am resigning from the House of Representatives because I’ve compromised the trust of my constituents.

When I announced several months ago that I would not seek re-election, I publicly declared my innocence because I was not strong enough to face the truth. So, I misled my family, staff, friends, colleagues, the public -- even myself. For all of this, I am deeply sorry.

The truth is -- I broke the law, concealed my conduct, and disgraced my high office. I know that I will forfeit my freedom, my reputation, my worldly possessions, and most importantly, the trust of my friends and family.

Some time ago, I asked my lawyers to inform the U.S. Attorney Carol Lam that I would like to plead guilty and begin serving a prison term. Today is the culmination of that process. I will continue to cooperate with the government’s ongoing investigation to the best of my ability.

In my life, I have known great joy and great sorrow. And now I know great shame. I learned in Viet Nam that the true measure of a man is how he responds to adversity. I cannot undo what I have done. But I can atone. I am now almost 65 years old and, as I enter the twilight of my life, I intend to use the remaining time that God grants me to make amends.

The first step in that journey is to admit fault and apologize. The next step is to face the consequences of my actions like a man. Today, I have taken the first step and, with God’s grace, I will soon take the second.

Thank you.

Won't have Duke to kick around any more. Cunningham resigns from Congress.

Interesting. The current AP story on Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham contains no mention of his party affiliation.

TPM Reader RF pointed this out.

Late Update: The piece now seems to be updated with the reference.

Make that much more than tax code violations ...

Cunningham pleaded guilty to one count of income tax evasion and four counts of conspiracy: mail fraud, wire fraud, bribery of public official and accepting bribes. U.S. District Larry A. Burns scheduled Cunningham's sentencing for Feb. 27.

A somber-looking Cunningham stood with his hands clasped in front of him, answering the judge's questions with a muted "Yes, your honor," or, at times, "Yes, sir."

"Between the year 2000 and June of 2005 in our district, you conspired to accept bribes in exchange for performance of official duties. Did you do that?" Judge Burns asked Cunningham.

"Yes, your honor," Cunningham replied.

"Did you take both cash payments and payments in kind?"

"Yes, your honor," the congressman said.

"Did you follow up by trying to influence the Defense Department?"

"Yes, your honor."

Duke, reportedly, will speak to the press at 2:30 PM EST, 11:30 AM on the west coast. Does he resign?

So Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham has now admitted to taking bribes to help defense contractors secure contracts. And he's still on the Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee.

From the latest AP story ...

Cunningham answered "yes, Your Honor" when asked by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns if he had accepted bribes from someone in exchange for his performance of official duties.