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Duke vs. Duke

Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham on June 12, 2005:

"My whole life I've lived aboveboard. I've never even smoked a marijuana cigarette. I don't cheat. If a contractor buys me lunch and we meet a second time, I buy the lunch. My whole life has been aboveboard and so this doesn't worry me...The last thing I would do is get involved in something that, you know, is wrong. And I feel very confident that I haven't done anything wrong."

Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham's "personal statement" to the public on June 23, 2005:

"First and foremost, I want my constituents to know that I have acted honorably and honestly....I welcome any and all appropriate investigations. I have faith that any investigation of these allegations will confirm that I have acted honestly....Recent press reports have incorrectly suggested that I secured a government contract for Mr. Wade’s company or that I improperly influenced the awarding of contracts to MZM. These reports are simply false...In short, I categorically reject any suggestion that I secured a contract for Mr. Wade’s company or that I supported funding of this important human intelligence program because MZM purchased my home in Del Mar Heights. I am deeply saddened by this distraction from my regular duties....I ask only that my constituents reserve judgment until any investigation is concluded and I have had the opportunity to defend myself against these false allegations."

Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham in court today

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."

I've always thought it's best not to judge a man by his worst moment, and this is certainly it for Randy Cunningham. At some point over his fifteen year career in the House, however, Cunningham lost his way badly and instead of being remembered as a war hero he'll join the pantheon of crooked Congressmen who violated the public trust. What a shame.