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Rep. Cunningham Enters Guilty Plea, Resigns

Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.) pleaded guilty today to fraud, conspiracy to commit bribery and tax evasion. Shortly after entering his plea, Cunningham announced that he is immediately resigning his seat, though he had already announced that he would not seek reelection next year.

Republican Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham reads a statement announcing his resignation outside the federal courthouse in San Diego on Monday. (AP)

According to The Associated Press, Cunningham admitted "he took $2.4 million in bribes to steer defense contracts to conspirators." The defense contracting firm at the center of the scandal is MZM Inc., which is run by Mitchell Wade. Here's one of many Post stories from earlier this year with background on Wade's ties to Cunningham.

Cunningham is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 27. has copies of the charges filed against Cunningham and his plea agreement.

Cunningham's resignation triggers a special election. Under California law, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has 14 days to officially declare the seat vacant.  The special general election must be scheduled between 112 and 119 days after Schwarzenegger's original proclamation, with an open primary to be held on the eighth Tuesday before the general-election date. If no candidate secures 50 percent of the vote in the open primary, the top vote-getter from each major party advances to the general election.

Eight Republican candidates were already running to replace Cunningham next year, while 2004 nominee Francine Busby is the lone Democrat running.  With the race turning from an open seat to a special election, candidates who had either ruled a run out or not previously considered it may decide to join.

The San Diego-area district is tough sledding for Democrats; President Bush won an 11-point victory there in 2004, outperforming his statewide showing by 21 percent. This will be the third special election in California in the space of a year. Rep. Doris Matsui (D) won her deceased husband's 5th District seat in March.  A special election to fill former Rep. Chris Cox's (R) 48th District is set for Dec. 6.  Cox resigned from the House when he was nominated this year to head the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Cunningham's decision to plead guilty comes as two other prominent House Republicans continue to wade through varying levels of scandal of their own.  Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Texas) is currently under indictment for allegedly violating state campaign finance laws. Rep. Bob Ney (Ohio), the chairman of the House Administration Committee, has been subpoenaed by the Justice Department  to turn over any documents he possesses relating to former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Democrats don't have a clean ethical slate either, a fact Republicans are quick to point out.  Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) is the target of a federal probe regarding an alleged telecommunications deal in Nigeria he attempted to broker. And former Rep. Frank Ballance (D-N.C.) was recently sentenced to four years in prison for misusing state monies as a state senator.

Those troubles will successfully muddy the water, some Republicans argue, making it difficult for Democrats to attack alleged GOP corruption without exposing significant weaknesses of their own on ethics issue.

Other Republicans, however, are beginning to express concern that while no single corruption case could endanger the majority, the cumulative effect could be disastrous. "Cunningham is a minor factor in all his," said one Republican pollster, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to freely discuss party positioning on this most-sensitive of issues. "His actions can't be blamed on a 'culture of corruption' but instead on personal stupidity. Ney and DeLay are much larger concerns."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) disagreed with that assessment, releasing a statement this afternoon calling Cunningham's plea "the latest example of the culture of corruption that pervades the Republican-controlled Congress."  Expect more of the same from other Democratic leaders over the coming days.

By Chris Cillizza  |  November 28, 2005; 4:03 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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When your candidate doesn't know where his hand has been, I think it's important to see if it's been in your pants. If you're too busy being stimulated by the whore, perhaps you don't notice that your wallet is being stolen....

Anyone who invokes Jesus when he is feeling threatened needs, needs to be seriously threatend by experts. Did you know that Tom Delay, Cunningham and Dick Cheyney had relations with each other? Yes, I am implying that they have stimulating behaviour.

Posted by: I think it's important to be dubious of dubious behaviour | December 10, 2005 8:35 PM | Report abuse

I too live in the 50th Congressional District. Yesterday Bilbray formally announced his candidacy claiming to have moved into his mother's Carlsbad (also in the district) home although residency in the district is, I believe, not a requirement. We remember Bilbray as the former south county member of the San County Board of Supervisors who, in the early 1990s, was the primary proponent of a disasterous recycling plant (actually an incinerator disguised as a recycling plant). It bankrupted the county-run trash system forcing an enlightened County Chief Administrative Officer to shutter the $47 million dollar after only 24 money losing months and bid the solid waste handling service to an outside contractor. I don't think Bilbray has gotten any smarter and his steamroller behavior alienated (and traumatized) many people in this district.

Posted by: MrJoe | December 2, 2005 2:09 PM | Report abuse

What to Reps. Cunningham and Murtha have in common? Aside from their military backgrounds?

Posted by: Terry | November 30, 2005 12:01 AM | Report abuse

Good news from the GOP coming out of Congress these days...let's see, at last count, the were cutting over $50 Billiion from the most needy and poor, seniots etc while extending unneeded tax cuts of over $70 Billion to the wealthiest 1%. A net addition to the budget deficit of 20 Billion, all in the name of covering Katrina costs.

PLuleeze Dougie, get a grip on reality. You've been watching way to much Bill O'Reily.

Posted by: db | November 29, 2005 7:23 PM | Report abuse

DougJ, are you pulling our leg like Miguel?

Posted by: Niall | November 29, 2005 4:17 PM | Report abuse

A clear majority of Republican House members have not taken bribes, yet the media insists on devoting all of its attention to those who have taken bribes. There's a lot of good news coming out of Congress these days, but the media never covers it.

Posted by: DougJ | November 29, 2005 3:01 PM | Report abuse

This guy is a "pussy". Did you see him crying and begging forgiveness? He said he hurt his friends, family and constituents. He did the crime now its time for him to do the time. I hope they are not too lenient on him. They need to send a message to those rascals. Hopefully he will be some "rappers" "bitch" in prison. He be singin a different tune in a few months. He be knowin who 50 Cent is.

Posted by: Tyrone | November 29, 2005 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I meant to say that God and Jesus are Aliens!!!!

Posted by: Deuces | November 29, 2005 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Miguel...As any self respecting chest beating, bible thumping, pontificating, hand held out for graft, religious hypocrite knows.. God made his son Jesus into the image of man via the Virgin Mary.. How do you impregnate a Virgin? Couldn't have picked up the sperm on a toilet seat. So God artifially inseminated the Virgin Mary. How? So is Jesus a test tube baby? If so, since God made Jesus into the image of man, did stem cell research have anything to do with it? Questions Questions... So if these religious zealots are spouting off the New Testament... Why aren't they spouting off the Old Testament which is the original book used, ain't it?? Christianity is based on helping your fellow man, helping the weak, the poor, the infirm, and the hungry, in other words compassion. When did christianity start endorsing money lending, gold gilded churches, using religion to stifle minorities. The church that the Alien God and test tube baby Jesus began is unrecognizable now. C average Dubya invaded Iraq after lying about WMD so his administration, family, friends, and political donors and cronies could, and would, reap windfall profits of blood monies, in oil and wartime contracts, off the backs of over 2100 dead uniformed Americans, more Mercenaries, the"Coalition of the Willing", and now the "Countries of the Coalition of the Willing". He and his administration is the most secretive of all administrations, all of his domestic policies is geared to enrich his administration, family, friends, and political donors and cronies at the expense of the poor and unfortunate. These Republicans are nothing more than bible thumping, chest beating, pontificating greedy hypocritical crooks that listen to boy loving priests..The Democrats are just as bad.. Have I explained religion for you??

Posted by: Deuces | November 29, 2005 1:33 PM | Report abuse

AS for this discussion being about politics and keeping religion out of it....that would just be AntiAMERICAN according to your fearinducing leader....sheep of America stand up!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: I am the real MIguela cuddy | November 29, 2005 11:46 AM | Report abuse

What isn't new is corruption, what is new is the scale of it and the lack of interest by the public in it. Heck fire, Cheney is hosting a fund raiser Dec 3 for Delay and I don't see squat about the WhiteHouse being involved in supporting someone who is obviously against the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, but....oh I forgot, so's the WhiteHouse. AntiChrist-ians for Anti-Patriots Act-ions.

Posted by: helping your beingness | November 29, 2005 11:32 AM | Report abuse

I am trading my Rolls Royce in for an orange jumpsuit.

Posted by: Randy DUKE Cunningham | November 29, 2005 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Excellent posts Errin F; and great point ibc. Jim Traficant almost always voted with the GOP in his last few years in Congress. It's interesting to me that the more trouble he got in with the government for his legal violations (tax evasion, quid pro quos, etc.), the more he voted with the GOP. What do you make of that?

Posted by: Jason | November 29, 2005 9:55 AM | Report abuse

For more coverage (and more clarity), check out:

Posted by: ibc | November 29, 2005 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and for JamesDeanSausage: you might want to go back and check the record on Trafficant. That guy was a Democrat as much as Zell Miller is a Democrat. Granted Trafficant just voted to make Dennis Hastert the Speaker, whereas Zell gave the keynote address at the 2004 GOP Convention. Surely you can find a better example.

Posted by: ibc | November 29, 2005 8:47 AM | Report abuse

"Trumpets of wisdom..."? "Credit for time in uniform..."? Hey, this dude admits to pocketing in excess of $2.4 million in bribes and agrees to repay $1.8 mil, then he plays the God card.

Think hurricane victims, folks, if you wanta talk charity.

I hope this chiselin', cheatin', decorated born-again fighter pilot gets a 300 lb cellmate named Bubba!

Posted by: rdrover | November 29, 2005 12:39 AM | Report abuse

Lee, we should inform our non-SD bloggers what a non-issue Strippergate was. The 3 Councilman indicted for bribery took less than $10K in campaign donations from a strip joint owner to try to ease up the the no-touch rules in SD, some of the strictest in the country. They hoped that cops would spend more time chasing real criminals than monitoring behavior by consenting adults. Pols in SD have taken millions from developers to vote in their favor. The Gropinator took $8M from a mag that makes all its money on vitamin supplements. Last year, Arnold vetoed a bill which would have regulated supplements. Coincidence? Srippergate was a total waste of time and money and a diversion from the real corruption in SD.

Posted by: niall | November 29, 2005 12:34 AM | Report abuse

According to a newsday article the defense contractor in question, MZM Inc., recieved $163 million in contracts, the exact nature of which are classified but which are involved in the gathering and analysis of intelligence. Considering the problems this " super power " seems to be having lately with the reliability of it's intel, does anyone else find it frightening that at least one of the gate-keepers of these contracts seemed more concerned with lining his pockets than with keeping us and the world safer?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 29, 2005 12:32 AM | Report abuse

Well, it's clear from that last comment that 'Miguel' is having us on bigtime, yes? Are we having fun Miguel? I hope so. It's guys like you that keep the reading of these comment boards so entertaining. Keep up the good work!!

Posted by: As Seen From Afar | November 28, 2005 11:07 PM | Report abuse

it is not paganism!!! JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON! i did not enjoy constantine, as i think keanu reeves is a terrible actor and does not adhere to the ways of our Lord.

Posted by: Miguel | November 28, 2005 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Miguel, you would do well to do a little more homework on your proclaimations before carrying on as you are here. Might want to check into Constantine and the enrichment of the pope some time back. You'll find that a lot of what you hold as absolute truth was borrowed from paganism several centuries prior to round out the holy - if somewhat sparse - doctrine of the day!

Posted by: As Seen From Afar | November 28, 2005 10:47 PM | Report abuse

the error of your ways would be made apparent if you were to join His Holy Light! by combating the One True Way, you are merely thwarting salvation! i am not in the least fanatical, i am very open minded and fully accept our Lord's views, as they are very important in keeping the soul pure! we must be careful not to offend our Lord, and perhaps could all do well to say a collective prayer for ourselves and our nation.

Posted by: Miguel | November 28, 2005 10:32 PM | Report abuse

the error of your ways would be made apparent if you were to join His Holy Light! by combating the One True Way, you are merely thwarting salvation! i am not in the least fanatical, i am very open minded and fully accept our Lord's views, as they are very important in keeping the soul pure! we must be careful not to offend our Lord, and perhaps could all do well to say a collective prayer for ourselves and our nation.

Posted by: Miguel | November 28, 2005 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Well, Nigeria, Iraq and Bangladesh are not the only nations where corruption is rampant; and being used as a form of business as usual; USA is a land full of crocks. After all this entire nation was form by sealing land from the Natives. Kick backs and bribery go on every day in the good young USA, the problem is that it's hard to detect because the sheer amount of money being transacted every day in America.
In most countries, the lost of $2 million is a big deal, here, its nothing!

The Republicans, with the Religious Fundamentalist (religious right wings are taking this great nation into the dust storm in Iraq). They have suspended the constitution and barbering churches all over the country.

Anyone who violates the constitution in the name of the so called Faith-based Initiative should be impeached. Bush and his gangsters should be impeached.

Martha Steward went to jail and so should Senator Frist for inside trading.
Boy, did I cover all of that in short sentences!! Wow!!

Posted by: M Tayor | November 28, 2005 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Miguel seemed real until the 'in the thighs of our Lord' comment. If he is falsely portraying himself, I disagree with mocking other people's religious views like that. There are plenty of heartfelt Christians out there, and they shouldn't have to suffer for the so-called 'religious right'. If Miguel is for real, who wouldn't be the first person to be counterproductive here from being too fanatical.

Posted by: ErrinF | November 28, 2005 10:19 PM | Report abuse

of course i do not mock! see i have already been reborn in the ways of our great Lord. that is why i am able to see how to brighten our nations future. i would never mock the religious right, as it is the one thing that keeps us pure. perhaps all the readers of the column should say a collective prayer for our great nation so we can show that we still believe in the Lord's Light and therefore accept his Holy Blessing. the president has it completely right staying in the Lord's light which is why no amount of adversity can shake his morals, as he is well in tune with the word of God. as soon as he has heard the Lord's Trumpet of Wisdom, he will be saved, as will all people who adhere absolutely to the Ultimate Prayer of Truth. we all walk a fine line between the beautiful pristine gardens of Heaven and the fiery inferno of Hades. if we are not willing to accept His views he way sweep down in the euro-vac and scoop us up and deliver us into the fiery depths of tarzania. which is why all the readers as well as all americans together must say a collective prayer to please our Holy Lord, as we must be able to act appropriately when he comes around next month.

Posted by: Miguel | November 28, 2005 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Miguel, are you for real??? I really hope you are trying to mock the religous right to piss people off. You're certainly not doing them any favors.

Posted by: Walty | November 28, 2005 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Dems have a "moral" obligation to take this bribery conviction and hang it around every right wing hypocrit. Newt did just that to the Dems in 1994. In 2006, the DEms have signalled their message of a the GOP as having a culture of corruption. This is a true message that all Americans except Fox News brainwashed NEO's and Rush's ditto heads can see and understand. When Americans are stuggling to afford gasoline and heating oil and someone takes 2.4Million in kickbacks, that is a powerful message. Add to it Mike Scanlon's 19 MIllion Jack Abamoff payoff, Gov. Taft of Ohio, Delay , Ney, Libby, Frist, Rowland of CT. the procurnemtn guy who I forget his name pled guilty, and you now have a widespread culture of corruption. Add to that our governments ineptness in Katrina, Bush Cronyism, Rove's dirty tricks the Dems should be smelling blood.

I know a lot of the media is criticizing the Dems for not putting out an agenda to Americans to turn to. I think Pelosi's and Rieds strategy is a good one, keep the focus on Republicans problems, let the negatives be driven up and then come riding to the rescue with sensible, practical no-nonsense ideas and leave behind all off the wall wild ideas. In other words, the Dems will manage your tax dollars wisely, we will restore fiscal responsibility, we will not allow the safety net fot the most diadvantaged to falter and we will reduce our foreign presence overseas.

Example, if you read Bidens op-ed piece in the Sunday Post, it was a very pragmatic alernative to the current Bush policies. The stage was set by the Dems hammering away at the current policies, Murtha speaking up, the indictment of Libby etc. In other words, the Dems allow the GOP to falter and then hammer away at it over and over and then when you have beaten down the GOP over the issue, you bring in a practical solution...i.e Biden one of the most repected Dems on Foreign policy. The question is will the Reps co-op Biden and call it their plan(as Clinton repeatedly did during his term for Republican issues...his triagulation government style)

So to the Dems out there, be patient with the stategy, let the NEO right wingers self destruct, then wait until the right time to put your alternative on the table. So far the strategy is working. Next year should be a wide open election year. Watch for the Dems to start raking in the money next year like never before. They will take back the House IMO...and will close the gap on the Senate but probably will not take it over.

Posted by: db | November 28, 2005 9:57 PM | Report abuse

but it is those people that may make us do bad things in the Thighs of our Lord. if so many could only see the error of their ways. they could only come into His Light they would be spared being tossed into the fiery pits where they will await the disassociative relics of eternal mogrification.

Posted by: Miguel | November 28, 2005 9:55 PM | Report abuse

If only Miguel knew how many deaf ears his pleas were falling upon. This is a political discussion, not a religious pulpit. And, for the record, it's humans that dwell too much on homosexuals, not Jesus Christ. In none of his teachings did Jesus focus on matching body parts like you seem to be doing. God cares about love; It is Man that cares so much about sex.

Posted by: ErrinF | November 28, 2005 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Instead of four parties as 'As Seen From Afar' suggests, I suggest having three parties, the third party being there to balance out power from the other two parties. The reason for three is because the Founding Fathers created three branches of government to balance out power; Is it such a stretch to say three parties would balance power much better than two?

Posted by: ErrinF | November 28, 2005 9:45 PM | Report abuse

perhaps your fears could be annihilated if you accepted our Lord's view??? Jesus will save us if we accept his ways. the forefathers were very accepting in the ways of our Lard, which is why there was once a utopia. what is ruining the nation now is mostly the liberal and homosexual biased media, which tries to prevent our people from seeking our Lord's Light.

Posted by: Miguel | November 28, 2005 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Miguel is certainly entitled to his opinion, and yes, this would be a better country if we had TRUE Christians in power that adhered to the exact teachings of Christ, but I'm afraid his comments here are little more than a well-phrased prayer. At least he pointed out that the religious Right ain't that religious after all... the traditions of Man have more influence on them than the Word of God, and I believe that is a no-no according to Christ. Sadly, religion has caused more wars thorughout history than peace, though. At least Miguel is heartfelt in his assertions; He may be on the side of right, but it isn't feasible that this entire nation will be born again.
As for Mike234, thank you for the comments about San Diego. I must admit I was ignorant to any Democratic presence down in San Diego. That really shocked me to hear, but I guess there has been some change behind the Orange Curtain in the decade or so since I lived behind it. Thanks for enlightening me, Mike.
Lastly, as to Sandwich Repairman's comments on corruption, can you be so sure, SR? It's easy to look back on history and point out corruption; It isn't so easy to do so in the present day when who knows what corruption is being hidden from us. Besides, back in the 19th century, the press was a lot more free; Today's popular press is little more than mouthpiece journalism for those who hold power. History shows that corruption grows when the same people are in power; Since the Reps and Dems have both been strange bedfellows sharing power for 150+ years, it isn't faretched to think there is more corruption these days than back then. It just isn't so easy to spot when you're in the midst of it.

Posted by: ErrinF | November 28, 2005 9:42 PM | Report abuse

I live in Asia. I am North American in origin. As a slightly disconnected observer of recent events, or past events now coming to light, I am frightened beyond reason for the future of of democracy as we once envisioned it. If it were possible, I would action an anti-trust suit against both major parties and force a Microsoftesque split in them both, forming at minimum four competing parties. Maybe then a few of the good folks who really care about the greater good could rally in one or two of them and imbue the forefathers' intent with real substance.

Posted by: As Seen From Afar | November 28, 2005 9:26 PM | Report abuse

it has everything but everything to do with cleaning up our political society. thanks to our secularized system, not enough of our govermentated officials are in touch with the teachings of our Holy Lord. were they to be born again tomorrow, many of our problems would be dissolved. i did not speak of organized religiosity, i merely spoke of if all american people accepted God into their hearts our country would be much more of a utopia than it is. we must love our great Lord all accept him if we are to accomplish this.

Posted by: Miguel | November 28, 2005 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone remember how "the Dukester" (his hill nickname) got his office? After redistricting he would have to run in the (R) primary against the ranking (R) on the Military Construction Appropriations committee. "Dukester" got former (R) leader Michel to support him - since his would-be opponent bounced a few checks at the house bank. Now that guy is making a few mil a year as a lobbyist and Dukey is going to the pokey. Haha. Casting stones...

Posted by: Laughing | November 28, 2005 9:02 PM | Report abuse

How can you ask people of all kinds of other faiths, and of none, to accept your "Lord" when you don't accept any of theirs? And what on earth does that have to do with cleaning up corruption in our political system? Organized religion itself is full of corruption--heard of the Catholic Church?

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | November 28, 2005 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Pelosi is a hypocrite. Both parties are victims to a culture of corruption. If she cares so much about cleaning House, why does she back Alcee Hastings, despite him having two women with whom he is sexually involved on the Federal payroll, both of whom make twice as much as his chief of staff?

Corruption seems to be a relative term in the beltway. I think it's great that Cunningham has resigned, I'd like to see more of the same from corrupt politicians from both parties.

Also, Cilizza, some Districts in Southern California that went for Bush also went for Boxer, so it's a little more complex an issue than you may think.

Posted by: Bi-Partisan | November 28, 2005 8:46 PM | Report abuse

I live in San Diego and the political situation here is like the sewage spills that happen from time to time. We know there is a problem but it is ignored until the stench becomes unbearable. This past year, we had a mayor resign after claiming a victory that was won on a technicality, three councilmen indicted (one died, one was acquitted and the last one indicted). They say all politics is local and this scenario is being played on the state and national level.
As Cunningham's replacement need to be elected, I hope that the people in his district see through the rhetoric and campaign ads to choose someone who will truly be their representative.

Posted by: Lee | November 28, 2005 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Let's please not forget about Frist, the Senate chiefton who didn't see anything wrong with a little insider trading.

Really, Chris, as the Abramoff thing is going to show, this is a Republican issue. This is corporate campaign "contributions" taken to its most extreme conclusion. The Democrats don't control anything; why should anyone bother to bribe them?

Posted by: H. Thieu | November 28, 2005 8:23 PM | Report abuse

It is unfortunate that all most people will see that it has something to do with politics, rather than pure greed. There are so many people involved in things like this everyday, but you as the public don't here about it everyday, because often times many people are connected to the same crimes.

Posted by: No Name, but informed. | November 28, 2005 8:23 PM | Report abuse

conservationism is a terrible abomination in the Eyes of our Lord. if all americans would accept our Lord's view then all of us would be in a better place. we must all adhere to our lord Jesus Christ and his Trumpet of Wisdom and Ultimate Prayer of Truth! the one and only reason for all our despair and all the degredation within our political system is due to the secularization of our society. to clean up this mess we must all allow ourselves to be born again in the ways of our Lord.

Posted by: Miguel | November 28, 2005 7:53 PM | Report abuse

I live in the 51 district ,and as a democrat hope that my fellow constituents send a loud message to the country that we need a major shift in the direction of our nation! lets start now by electing a democrat in a.."solid red"district thanks "duke" lead us in the parade followed by Tom, Dick, and the cast 1,000's mike

Posted by: mike davis | November 28, 2005 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Nice Job Duke. If I were stupid enough and dishonest enough to pull a stunt like that, rather than resign I would put a gun to my head and not shame my family and party anymore than you already have. Should you go to prison you would be lucky, think what it's going to be like when no matter where you go, everyone will be talking in front and behind your back about what a low life peice a crap you are and they will be digging all the way back in your past to learn what other scams you have pulled during your stay in office. Hey Duke should you need a gun, not to worry, I have one you can have.

Posted by: Daniel Miller | November 28, 2005 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Your post is insightful Errin except for the implication that San Diego is a one party town. That was once the case but, Congressionally anyway, it's now a tie: Two gerrymandered safe R seats (Hunter and until today Cunningham) and two gerrymandered safe D seats (Davis and Filner.)

Posted by: Mike 234 | November 28, 2005 7:43 PM | Report abuse

No, I'm saying that - except in an ideal world - it won't happen. Aside from anything else, who would test the test giver?

Posted by: Inanna | November 28, 2005 7:40 PM | Report abuse

You want to force candidates to pass an ethics test before their name can appear on the ballot?

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | November 28, 2005 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Sandwich Repairman has it right with the comment on "absolute power." What is needed - and will never happen in this millennium - is an ethics test as a part of every election primary. The sad truth is that even those regrettably few who try for political office because they want to make a difference in a good way (as opposed to simply acquiring power) are forced to mute their beliefs if they are to have any hope of getting elected. Truly ethical initiatives would upset too many of those in power, in and out of government, to allow their proponents to take part in governmental decision-making.

Posted by: Inanna | November 28, 2005 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Looks like Randy took another short cut and
got hit by a SAM again! Wonder if they will
throw the book at him this time.

Posted by: Lawman | November 28, 2005 7:17 PM | Report abuse

I live in Duke's district. If the Repubs nominate an extreme right-winger like Duke who is tied at the wrist and ankles to the floundering Bush Admin, the probable Dem candidate, Francine Busby, might have a chance. If the Repubs nominate a moderate, like Bilbray, she doesn't have a chance. Contrary to an earlier post, there will be a primary.

I work for a defense contractor. We have to follow incredibly picky rules to make sure everything is kosher and this ass-hole is giving away the store. I don't care how much military service he gave the country. He is a crook and should not be above the law.

Posted by: niall | November 28, 2005 7:03 PM | Report abuse

I live in Duke's district. If the Repubs nominate an extreme right-winger like Duke who is tied at the wrist and ankles to the floundering Bush Admin, the probable Dem candidate, Francine Busby, might have a chance. If the Repubs nominate a moderate, like Bilbray, she doesn't have a chance. Contrary to an earlier post, there will be a primary.

I work for a defense contractor. We have to follow incredibly picky rules to make sure everything is kosher and this idiot is giving away the store. I don't care how much military service he gave the country. He is a crook and should not be above the law.

Posted by: niall | November 28, 2005 7:01 PM | Report abuse

When is Cong. Moran of Alexandria Virginia going to resign ...? He took loans from banking lobbyist to change his vote against the bankruptcy reform bill to FOR the reform bill. Damn, when are we going to get it?

Posted by: | November 28, 2005 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Puhleeze Lonemule. Go peddle that drivel to the base. People whose entire political philsophy is built on unceasing attacks on the motives of their opponents have little credibility when chastizing others for focusing on the negative. Good grief dude. Newsflash: Not every American is not as gullible as the Republican base.

Posted by: Mike 234 | November 28, 2005 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Don't you liberals ever have anything good to talk about. This column and the Washington Post for that matter need a good journalistic enema.

Here's to having a healthy literary B.M.

Posted by: The Lonemule | November 28, 2005 6:12 PM | Report abuse

You think corruption is WORSE now than 150 years ago?? Didn't you ever learn about Boss Tweed, Tammany Hall, Mark Hanna, etc?? Patronage before the 1883 civil service reform? 108% voter turnout in West Virginia? The Chicago machine?

Yes, there is corruption in our system, and it calls for serious reform. But it doesn't hold a candle to the corruption of the 19th century.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | November 28, 2005 6:06 PM | Report abuse

First off, you don't need to gerrymander San Diego to get it to go Republican. Being a Californian who has lived a couple years behind the "Orange Curtain", I would bet dollars to donuts that Cunningham will be replaced by another Republican. If Governator Arnold were smart, he'd run for that vacant seat, as he has a MUCH better chance of winning that than ever getting re-elected next year. Then again, his track record with special elections ain't so hot right now.
Secondly, it is preposterous to say corruption in DC is wholly relegated to the Republicans. Corruption is the nature of the beast in politics; Sure, the Republicans still seem to be in the lead right now compared to the Democrats when it comes to corruptions charges, but give the Dems some time... I'm sure they'll catch up soon enough.
Lastly, so what about corruption? We Americans are too busy watching sitcoms, reality-based television, and CSI spinoffs to care about things like corruption. The only cure for corruption in government is real reform, and the American electorate is too shallow and spoonfed to ever partake in real reform. So, Reps and Dems, have a field day when it comes to corrupt practices! Keep screwing over the rest of us! We the American public will take it lying down, bitching here and there about a few select cases, but never combatting the root of the problem. Sure, we could simply solve the problem by voting properly, but that is asking WAY too much. It used to be that the politicians served the people, but 150+ years of shared Democrat/Republican rule has now put the cart before the horse. Oh well. How the mice will play when the cat's away...

Posted by: ErrinF | November 28, 2005 5:59 PM | Report abuse

There is a disconnect going on here about the Cunningham case -- a disconnect made clear by posts here and by the WaPo headline and Mr. Cillizza's column.
The Cunningham Case isn't about some byzantine conflict of interest.
The congressman was asked by the judge if he used his public office for personal profit. The congressman answered yes.
This is about the most clear-cut case of bribery in recent congressional history. It is misleading to group crimes (or allegations of crimes) by people who happent to be members with Congress with those whose crimes are intimately linked with their work as congressmen.
Mr. Cunningham admitted to selling his public office.
To dismiss it as just another scandal is wrong.

Posted by: Automatically not disclosed | November 28, 2005 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Wayne Madsen, who I think is a blogger, has posted a document on his site titled "State by State GOP Scandal Scorecard." It's voluminous. A friend who works on the Hill sent me the link. If you're trying to assemble a list of GOP miscreants on the fly, you can stop right now. Your work's been done for you.

Posted by: Mike 234 | November 28, 2005 5:04 PM | Report abuse

I. Lewis Libby-5 count indictment

Karl Rove-Under Investigation

Republican Governor John Rowland of CT-jailed for bribes.

Republican Governor of Illinois, George Ryan-Under indictment.

4 NH Republican party functionaries charged with election night voter tampering, 3 have been found guilty, fourth on trial.

Member of Dick Cheney's staff-charged with spying for Phillipines.

Larry Franklin Bush D.O.D. employee pleded guilty to severa espionage charges.

Republican Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher, 9 staff members indicted.

Republican Governor of Ohio, Bob Taft indicted on 4 driminal misdemeanor counts relating to gifts and disclosure.

Jeff Gannon/James Guckert-Gay internet prostitute allowed into press gaggles and repeatedly logged into the Whitehouse.

Armstrong Williams and Maggie Gallagher involved in illegal propaganda efforts by the Whitehouse.

Posted by: Granite State Destroyer | November 28, 2005 4:53 PM | Report abuse

MZM Inc. IP I'm not sure just what they do.

Posted by: Mike 234 | November 28, 2005 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Hello!!! What defense contractor?

Posted by: Interested Party | November 28, 2005 4:41 PM | Report abuse

In reference to Jim Wright. He was the Democratic leader of a Democratic majority congress, yet the Democrats did not game the rules to prevent members of the minority party from brining ethics charges.

This allowed a minority party member like New Gingrich(R-Georgia) to bring ethics charges and and force Wright to step down.

The new Republican Party is so morally bankrupt that they voted to allow indicted members to lead their party and only changed the vote after a public outcry.


Posted by: Granite State Destroyer | November 28, 2005 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Good point KCinDC. But the California Congressional districts are very gerrymandered. Both parties agreed to create safe seats for incumbents be they D or R. That's the reason the Dems are unlikely to take the Cunningham seat in my view.

Posted by: Mike 234 | November 28, 2005 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Bill Janklow(R-Vehicular Homicide)

Jimmy Dean Sausage, change your stats.


Posted by: Granite State Destroyer | November 28, 2005 4:31 PM | Report abuse

I'm not saying Cunningham's seat would be easy for the Democrats to take, but the phrase "outperforming his statewide showing by 21 percent" seems to be an utterly irrelevant bit of trivia added to give the impression that it's harder than it is. The Democratic candidate doesn't have to reach Kerry's California percentage to win -- just beat the Republican candidate.

Posted by: KCinDC | November 28, 2005 4:10 PM | Report abuse

On the debate over whether this is a GOP thing or not ... it's a POWER thing. Corruption in politics is like fraud in business, cheating in sports, or infidelity in marriage; all of these things are to be despised, all of them will get you in major trouble with the Creator on Judgment Day, and all of them happen - again and again and again. And, they all happen more frequently when a player perceives himself as being overwhelmingly powerful, and so above the rules. The GOP has been in the driver's seat in both the legislative and executive branches for long enough that the weeds are starting to sprout in the proverbial lawn. But just watch: the Cunningham case is part of the inevitable correction. The only question is how extreme the correction will be, in 2006, and then 2008.

Posted by: Jim in Oregon | November 28, 2005 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Republicans seem to hold two political truths inviolate:

1. Attack not the arguments but the motives of your opponents. If you demonize them effectively, the substance of their argument becomes a side story.

2. Our base is so stupid that they will believe any spin we come up with.

Do I have this right Chris? The theory here is that because two unknown Democratic congressmen have ethical problems, voters can be led to conclude that the "culture of corruption" issue is a wash between the two parties? How stupid do these people think we are? Apparently very.

But you know their base will believe it.

Posted by: Mike 234 | November 28, 2005 3:55 PM | Report abuse

"Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

The point, and argument, are that the Republicans have been in control long enough to soak up too many of its spoils--ethical and otherwise. Chris is right that of course Republicans will constantly browbeat any Democrat with ethics problems in an attempt to muddy the waters and render the scandal and corruption issue neutral, since otherwise it only works to Democrats' favour. How well this will work depends on how the media covers it and how savvy the public is in deciphering who's really done what. I think it's pretty clear that more Republicans have committed more and worse ethical violations of late.

I also want to add, as a fellow Hill alumnus, that members of Congress sleeping with staff members and even interns--or attempting to--is common on both sides of the aisle. Come on, most of these people are huge egomaniacs or they wouldn't have gotten there in the first place. Remember Jessica Cutler? Newt Gingrich marrying his 23 year old secretary? Mike Ferguson (R-NJ) losing his Member pin at a bar in Georgetown trying to pick up undergrad coeds? I know of a California House member who smokes pot in a car with their staff, a Senator who is a notorious partyer to the extent that their staff knows not to schedule them for anything before about 10am, and I don't know if this extends to members but I've heard of an underground cocaine trade among Senate staffers as well.

Members and staff on the Hill are humans like everyone else, with all their warts. When it becomes a problem is when it amounts to blatant hypocrisy, as in the cases of Gingrich, Dan Burton, JC Watts, Helen Chenoweth, Bob Barr, Tim Hutchinson, and their ilk.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | November 28, 2005 3:48 PM | Report abuse

If one person steals a pencil, and another cleans out Fort Knox, technically they are "both theives." But in my mind they aren't equally guilty.

And neither are the Democratic and Republican parties equally guilty of creating a culture of lying to the American system and illegally -- even criminally -- milking that system as much as possible for personal gain and for the gain of favored special interests.

Please don't mislead readers to that effect.

Posted by: Don't equate apples and oranges | November 28, 2005 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I am no fan of this regime. But I do hope that Cunningham's war service to this country is taken into account in his sentencing. I'll take no joy from seeing this man jailed.

And I also hope that Rep. "Mean" Jean Schmidt can resist the temptation to take to the floor and call him names.

From the EWM archives: "Dr. Phil to Intervene in Troubled Republican Family"

Posted by: The Eyewitness Muse | November 28, 2005 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Traficant. Cunningham.

Dems 1
Republicans 1

Tie ball game.

What about William Jefferson (LA-02) and his mystery freezer bags-o-cash?

Posted by: JamesDeanSausage | November 28, 2005 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for updating the front page clip, Cillizza.

Posted by: K Street Denizen | November 28, 2005 3:39 PM | Report abuse

I agree with scootmandubious. Trying to make it look like their is parity between the two parties on ethical issues is rediculous.

Although it DOES fit into the current Republican talking point strategy on a variety of issues, which is to say, "yeah we're bad, but so are the other guys." It is rather like what they are claiming on Iraq. And on the deficit. And on the nasty, partisan climate in Washington currently. And on just about every other issue I can think of.

Posted by: J. Crozier | November 28, 2005 3:20 PM | Report abuse

I commend the posts on this page. Glad to see that the Post's weak "balancing" spin isn't flying with the readers. Can only imagine how the post would cover "Paradise Lost."

The GOP is nothing more than an organized criminal syndicate that pretends to be a party for appearances. The sad thing is that there is no real opposition party. Makes practicing democracy difficult, no matter how decent or informed you are.

Posted by: Schwa | November 28, 2005 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Corruption isn't unique to either party. Look at the decades of cronyism and corruption that have ended up hobbling Louisiana in its time of need. Louisiana has been mostly, though not entirely, a Democratic state. Former House Speaker Jim Wright was a prominent Democrat who bit the dust big-time over ethics issues. The pendulum swings both ways...maybe in this decade, it's just the Republicans' turn.

Posted by: Scott | November 28, 2005 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Cunningham took bribes from defense contractors to funnel business to them during a time of war - how about an investigation of what the country got in return for these contracts. For anyone to state that "Cunningham is a minor factor in all this," is only made possible if the Post lays down again in the face of an important story.

The Washington Post (and the media in general) have been very weak in following the money in the "war on terror" and the Iraq war. Profiteering, cronyism, and waste are waiting to be reported on - what is taking so long. Do we need to send someone down to parking garage to get your editors to finally start following the money?????

Posted by: kevin | November 28, 2005 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Agreeing with Nick - the front pages "California congressman admits to tax violations in relation to the sale of his home." That's the sort of thing that, while worthy of a tsk tsk, people generally forgive. But the outright bribery - which was ADMITTED - is what the real story is. Yet we get a front page line about tax violations.

Also seconding the earlier comments about this obscene false equivalency between the the individualized corruption of folks like Ballance and Jefferson (throw them in the slammer, too - I want ethical Reps, before I want Democratic Reps) and the systemized corruption of our pay-to-play Capitol Hill.

Posted by: K Street Denizen | November 28, 2005 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Beware of politicians who yap incessantly about God. Cunningham is a pathetic phony who has never practiced what he preached. Eleven years ago when I worked in Washington, he tried repeatedly to bed a colleague of mine until he had to be told to stop calling. Years later I saw him pontificating on CSPAN about the threat to the institution of marriage that "gay marriage" posed. He failed to note that it's also threatened by congressmen who attempt to date women who are not their wives. Today he admitted taking $2.4 million in bribes. Duke Cunningham richly deserves whatever jail time he receives.

Posted by: San Diego, Calif | November 28, 2005 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I will be interested to see who runs for the Cunningham seat in the special election. By having this special election, there will be no primaries. The district is conservative, but a moderate, in a special election, could take the seat. In this case, I would put money on former Rep Brian Bilbray. I bet he runs in this scenario that has emerged with Cunningham's resignation.

Posted by: Political Junkie | November 28, 2005 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Um, it goes a little deeper than tax problems ... he admitted to BRIBERY to the tune of MILLIONS of dollars. That is repugnant.

Posted by: Nick | November 28, 2005 3:06 PM | Report abuse

And another one's gone and another one's gone, ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST.

Posted by: FairAndBalanced? | November 28, 2005 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Yes, there's no doubt that "troubles will...muddy the water," especially when you have lazy journalists and commentators building a false equivalency between a one-term Democrat like the ironically named Frank Ballance, and the institutional corruption engendered by the DeLay-architected, Abrahamov-engineered K-Street Project?

I agree with the 1:55pm poster, but it's the he-said/she-said school of "balanced" journalism that will muddy the waters. It's unlikely we'll read anything like a clear picture of what's been going on on the Hill these last ten years, because everyone knows the first rule of the New Journalism is that the truth lies between any two opposing press-releases.

Here, let me get you started: "Republican leaders point to James Trafficant and Frank Ballance as serious ethics violations in recent years. Although no Republicans have been convicted of crimes, some Democrats complain that the GOP has ethics issues of its own."

My, my, when will those corrupt Democrats clean house?

Posted by: ibc | November 28, 2005 2:35 PM | Report abuse

The pattern of corruption is the problem. There seems to be an attitude of arrogance in power that has embolden some who assume they control the levers of the system that will judge them. Everybody doesn't "do it" and "quid pro quo pollitics" is not the same as "free speech".

This is clearly a Republican issue.

Posted by: Mike Gorse | November 28, 2005 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Cunningham is just an idiot, albeit a criminal idiocy. DeLay, et al, however are a different story... they are criminally corrupt.

The neo-"con-artist" house of cards is about to crash to the floor.

Posted by: Long Beach, CA | November 28, 2005 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Cmon Chris, do you really believe that there is any sort of equilavency between the sheer number of scandals plaguing the GOP vs. the Dems?

I mean, Abramoff is going to be huge, you didn't even touch on the extensive corruption in Ohio, DeLay, the ongoing PlameGate scandals......

There are bound to be ethics violations by a Dem or 2. After all, power tends to breed corruption and Dems are not exampt. But, under DeLay's tutelage, it has risen to an art form for the GOP.

To suggest that both parties face equivalent troubles in this arena in the near future is rather laughable.

Posted by: scootmandubious | November 28, 2005 1:55 PM | Report abuse

What about virgil Goode in this MZM scandal. Virgil's hands are just as dirty as Cunningham. The only difference is that Virgil makes no apologies.

Posted by: Joe Stanley | November 28, 2005 1:51 PM | Report abuse

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