Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy and tax charges and tearfully resigned from office, admitting he took $2.4 million in bribes to steer defense contracts to conspirators.
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.
Later, at a news conference, he wiped away tears as he announced his resignation.
"I can't undo what I have done but I can atone," he said.
"He did the worst thing an elected official can do -- he enriched himself through his position and violated the trust of those who put him there," U.S. Attorney Carol Lam said....
The case began when authorities started investigating whether Cunningham and his wife, Nancy, used the proceeds from the $1,675,000 sale to defense contractor Mitchell Wade to buy the $2.55 million mansion in Rancho Santa Fe. Wade put the Del Mar house back on the market and sold it after nearly a year for $975,000 -- a loss of $700,000.
The last paragraph is my favorite:
Cunningham's pleas came amid a series of GOP scandals. Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas had to step down as majority leader after he was indicted in a campaign finance case; a stock sale by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is being looked at by regulators; and Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff was indicted in the CIA leak case.
I hope this is a sign that the Republican teflon is finally wearing off, but we need more like this. Much more. I want congresscritters to be a lot more wary about whose money they take and what they grant in return, and I want ethics rules with some teeth. Frankly, even if some Democrats go down, I don't really care. I just want someone to clean House. And Senate.