The Unauthorized Randy “Duke” Cunningham Page
Cunningham Bribery Scandals
Defense Contractor Mitchell Wade, in a sweetheart deal,
secretly bought Duke and Nancy Cunningham’s Del Mar Heights house November 20, 2003 for $1,675,000.
They hid the sale through a shell corporation of Wade’s,
“1523 New Hampshire Avenue LLC.”
A month later, Wade put it on the market, but it didn’t sell until
the price was reduced to market value, eight months later.
Wade sold Cunningham’s old home for $975,000.
Since home values haven’t gone down recently in San Diego, it seems
Wade gave Cunningham $700,000
(not a campaign contribution, but apparently an illegal gift).
Wade never moved in there, as he and his company,
are in the Washington, D. C. area and don’t do business in San Diego.
Cunningham bought his Rancho Santa Fe mansion for $2.55 million.
Shortly later, Cunningham had Brent Wilkes pay his second mortgage on the Rancho Santa Fe Mansion and Wade pay the first mortgage.
In exchange, it appears Cunningham helped Wade get contracts for his MZM Inc.
($41 million in fiscal 2003, $65 million in 2004)
triple MZM’s profits in 2004.
Cunningham says the contracts are
“very, very classified” stuff, so he can’t talk about it.
Wilkes gained $6 million in defense contracts for unwanted hardware worth $1.5 million
In short, these were
war profiteering bribes.
Photographs of Cunningham’s old Del Mar Heights Home
Here’s a photograph of Duke and Nancy Cunningham’s old home
on Mercado Dr. in Del Mar Heights.
The 3826 sq. ft. home (big, but not a mansion)
was sold to defense contractor Stephen Wade’s shell corporation
for $700,000 over its market value
First one taken by me (Dan Anderson) 6/17/2005.
Photographs of Cunningham’s Rancho Santa Fe Mansion
Photos of Cunningham’s
7628 sq. ft. home at 7094 Via del Charro, Rancho Santa Fe.
Taken by me (Dan Anderson) 6/18/2005.
[Satellite photo map].
See also article and photo of a
protest near Cunningham’s home
(S. D. Union-Tribune’s SignonSanDiego.com).
protest photos and aerial shots of the house.
[click to enlarge]
House is barely visible from
near the driveway.
[click to enlarge]
However, you can see the Cunningham home from just
down the street
Entrance is on the left.
Real Estate Records
The following public records are
from the San Diego County Recorder
searchable online County Assessor records.
These are concerning Cunningham’s sale of his
3826 sq. ft. Del Mar Heights home
on Mercado Dr.
to defense contractor Stephen Wade for $700,000 over its true worth.
- 1/20/1988: Cunningham buys Del Mar Heights home for $435,000
Cunningham sells his home to Wade’s shell corporation "1523 NH Ave. LLC," (2003-1392041).
Sold for $1,675,000.
Sale by Wade, through his shell corporation,
1523 New Hampshire Avenue LLC.
of Cunningham’s old home, 261 days later
Offered for sale for $1,680,000 less than a month after Wade purchased it,
but it didn’t sell until the price was lowered to market value ($975,000).
Purchase of Cunningham’s home in Rancho Santa Fe
Bought a 7628 sq. ft. home on a 2.89 acre lot at
7094 Via del Charro
for $2,550,000 from Douglas Powanda,
former VP of Sales for Peregrine Systems Inc.
(Powanda was indicted for accounting fraud October 2004. Peregrine Systems is not related to Cunningham contributor Peregrine Semiconductor).
- Grant Deed of Rancho Santa Fe Home (2003-1434426)
It appears that the
price of the Rancho Santa Fe home may have been below market (comps).
- Assessor’s record of purchase, parcel 265 370 10 00
1st and 2nd 20-year trust deeds for Cunningham’s Rancho Santa Fe home,
with Coastal Capital Corp. (dba The Mortgage Shop) of Greenville, NY,
for $595,000 and $500,000 (total $1,095,000)
Family of buyer of Cunningham's yacht, Kelly C,
mortgated Cunningham’s Rancho Santa Fe home
2004 property taxes were $26,763.04
(Property Tax payments for parcel 2653701000).
Selected Links and News
Original San Diego Union-Tribune article
by Marcus Stern on
Randy Cunningham’ hidden home sale to his military contractor "friend,"
Stephen Wade (6/12/2005)
Follow-up Union-Tribune article (Marcus Stern, 6/15/2005)
Steve Breem editorial cartoon on Cunningham scandal
Channel 10 News (KGTV) has a
photos, including Mitchell Wade and the Del Mar Heights home
House leader Tom DeLay, himself under Ethics Committee investigation,
defends Cunningham’s home sale
(The Hill, 6/15/2005)
William Bennett of the North County Times (NC Times)
discovers the boat in Cunningham’s yacht club slip, Duke-Stir,
is owned by defense contractor Wade
[Related 1998 article on Kelly C.]
Commentary by Union-Trib columnist Logan Jenkins
reader reaction (6/18),
commentary on Cunningham statement (6/27).
by Mark Thornhill
(N. C. Times, 6/16/2005)
Follow-up, by Marcus Stern and Joe Cantlupe,
compares Cunningham’s old home with a home truly worth
Also has a good picture of the "Duke-Stir" boat
NBC channel 7/39 (KUSI) story.
interesting slide show
of the Del Mar and Rancho Santa Fe homes with aerial photos.
Jeffrey Birnbaum & Renae Merle of the
Washington Post (6/17/2005)
found Wade funded and created
“The Sure Foundation.”
Cunningham’s wife & daughter are on its Advisory Council.
The Sure Foundation
used to have a PDF newsletter with pictures of Wade & Cunninghams at
a party, but it has since disappeared from the website (June 2005).
William Bennett of the NC Times reported on 6/17/2005 that
subcommittee authorized a $100,000 grant to The Sure Foundation.
More details on The Sure Foundation.
Washington Post editorial on the scandal
Cunningham’s conservative base is bashing his house sale.
See the blog Right Wing News
Demonstrators march near Cunningham’s Rancho Santa Fe house
("house warming party")
Interview with Marcus Stern, who broke the story
(KPBS audio, 6/20/2005, no longer available)
FOXNews has a story with a
video of the Duke-Stir boat and
aerial shots of Cunningham’s Rancho Santa Fe home
NPR Radio report
by Scott Horsley (audio, 6/21/2004)
Union-Tribune’s Marcus Stern reports defense contractor MZM
forced employees to contribute to Cunningham and other Congressional members
- The best commentary I’ve seen is by Josh Marshall in
“Cunningham issue raises questions of war profiteering”
(The Hill, 6/24/2005)
by Bruce Bigelow
ADCS contributions to Cunningham and influence by Cunningham on Pentagon contracts for ADCS
by David Washburn (Union-Tribune, 6/25/2005).
(Original 1997 article on ADCS.)
Details on the
Pentagon’s blanket-purchase agreement contracts to MZM.
MZM’s president Mitchell Wade has several ties to Cunningham.
by Marcus Stern (Union-Tribune, 6/25/2005)
Details on Cunningham’s Del Mar Heights house sale to MZM president Mitchell Wade.
Includes interviews with neighbors and a good aerial photo of the home
by Dani Dodge. The pool shown is new. (Union-Tribune, 6/25/2005)
“Cunningham reports don’t show substantial wealth”
(Mark Walker, NC Times,
Cunningham’s criminal defense attorney,
K. Lee Blalack
(NC Times, 6/25/2005)
Cunningham can use his campaign funds ($635,000) to pay his legal bills
by Mark Walker
(NC Times, 6/27/2005)
Fair market values for renting Duke-Stir
by William Bennett
(NC Times, 6/27/2005)
MZM resignations; MZM may be sold (Union-Tribune, 6/28/2005)
Angry internal memo on MZM resignations
(Mark Walker, NC Times, 6/28/2005)
Pentagon orders halt on new work for MZM.
Includes photo of Wade.
(Renae Merle & Jeffrey Smith, Washington Post, 6/28/2005)
A federal grand jury in California has subpoenaed documents from
(Washington Post, 6/28/2005)
Top Gun Enterprises Inc.
appears to be for laundering money from supporters.
It includes a
$595 limited edition knife with a Congressional seal.
Federal law prohibits the seal's commercial use.
The topguninc.com website was disabled 6/30/2005,
but here's an archive version with the price:
Duke Cunningham $595 knife
NC Times, 6/29/2005,
10 News commissioned a poll on Cunningham.
More details at
reports on MZM paper shredding
and FBI search of MZM and
Federal agents raid Cunningham’s Rancho Santa Fe mansion, Duke-Stir yacht, MZM, and Wade’s home
(Joe Cantlupe, Union-Trib, 7/2/2005)
NC Times article shows FBI cars leaving Cunningham's home.
is for sale
Republicans eyeing Cunningham’s seat in 2006
NC Times, 7/2/2005)
Buyer of Cunningham’s Kelly C yacht
had family’s mortgate company financed
Cunningham's Rancho Santa Fe home
(3 stories, each with something new:
San Diego Union-Tribune 7/5/2005,
North County Times 7/5/2005)
Democratic ad about Cunningham (7/6/2005)
Buyer of Cunningham’s Kelly C yacht and whose family mortgage
company financed Cunningham’s Rancho Santa Fe home also financed
his former Arlington, VA home
Seth Hettena, AP, 7/8/2005,
public tax records)
Capital Yacht Club members & employees subpoenaed
(Seth Hettena, AP, 7/14/2005)
Cunningham will not seek reelection in 2006
(San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/15/2005)
CREW says Cunningham must resign now]
Doubts about whether $700,000 in campaign funds can be used in legal defense (Mark Walker, North County Times,, 7/18/2005)
Cunningham writes to prosecutor of developer who bought Duke’s Kelly C boat and whose family’s company mortgated his Rancho Santa Fe home (Post, 7/26/2005)
Cunningham contributors form shell corporation First Auditors
to receive IRS contract money, with the help of Cunningham
Cunningham use of contributor's private jet
Cunningham contributor ADCS raided
Also Washington Post, 8/18/2005
N C Times, 8/17/2005, with photo)
Defense Dept. pressured to award ADCS contract
(N C Times, 8/18/2005)
U.S. Attorney General files lawsuit to forfeit Cunningham home
Cunningham legal defense fund with campaign contributions
has an interactive worksheet illustrating Cunningham corruption
Attorney General accuses Cunningham & wife of bribery
Cunningham & political pork process
Cunningham backs down on promise to release boat financial records
Third boat involved: Cunningham had free use of Brent Wilkes’ boat
Cunningham contributor/sugar daddy Kontogiannis's home raided; Kontogiannis went to Saudi Arabia with the Duke
Duke Cunningham pleads guilty of tax evasion and conspiracy for taking bribes for helping a defense contractor get contracts.
Resigns; faces prison (sentencing 1 p.m. March 3, 2006, Judge Larry Burns).
Special election April 11, 2006.
Cunningham’s Plea Agreement (full text)
where he pleads guilty and forfeits his ill-gotten gains, 11/28/2005
Cunningham's bribery betrays troops; largest bribery ever in Congress
"Top Gun's Tailspin"
(Newsweek, 12/12/05 by Evan Thomas & Jamie Reno)
Shooting down Cunningham's [War Hero] Legend
Government Sentencing Memorandum and letters of support for Cunningham (North County Times 2/18/2006).
Link to defense response in
Union-Tribune article, 2/18.
Cunningham sentenced to 8 years, 4 months (first hand report, Dan Anderson, 3/3/2006)
Cunningham's war heroics cited in reduced term
(San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/4/2006)
Anatomy of a bribe: ex-lawmaker's web of cash, contracts
Comes with a good chart.
(San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/4/2006)
North County congressman avoids maximum sentence
(North County Times, 3/4/2006)
'I Made the Wrong Turn'
(Voice of San Diego, 3/4/2006)
(Note: in the Voice photo, I'm just to the right of the yellow raincoat, while taking this photo)
Auction of Cunningham loot (U-T, 3/24/2006)
- Inmate Locator: Randall Harold Cunningham (Bureau of Prisons, # 94405-198)
Ex-congressman's friend emerges as mystery man [Thomas Kontogiannis], Joe Cantlupe, Union-Tribune 4/15/2006.
"Cunningham, Fellon Met With Saudi Crown Prince" by Justin Rood (TPM Muckraker, 4/17/2006)
Pulitzer Prize won by The San Diego Union-Tribune, Copley News Service, with Marcus Stern and Jerry Kammer, 4/17/2006
(also U-T story)
FBI is investigating if Cunningham spent time with MZM-provided prostitutes at the Westin Grand and Watergate (4/27/06)
(Wall Street Journal 4/27/2006, p. A-6)
- Cunningham not cooperating, despite plea agreement
(Mark Walker, NC Times, 5/10/2006)
"Secret Bills aided Cunningham" (AP, 7/23/2006)
Cunningham Scandal could widen to Congressional memo (TPM, 8/10/2006)
More details at
Nancy Cunningham, Duke's wife, interviewed by "Kitty" Kelly in The New Republic, 8/26/2006 (registration required). Excerpts at TPMmuckraker and
Logan Jenkins (U-T, 8/24/06).
- Nancy Cunningham forfeit her rights to their Rancho Santa Fe home in exchange for not being prosecuted; will negotiate tax liability with IRS (U-T, 10/7/06)
Duke Cunningham prison letter blames Michael Wade, "tabloid" Union-Tribune, and reporter Marcus Stern for downfall
Full text of letter.
- YouTube Spoof video of James Adomian impersonating "George Bush" discussing Duke Cunningham (10/2006)
- Cunningham Prosecutor U.S. Attorney Carol Lam forced to resign
- Wilkes indictment details use of prostitutes by Cunningham and others
More from U-T:
Iraq War corruption,
Cunningham prison life,
Wilkes gift list to Cunningham
- Corruption now reaches back to at least September 1996
(NC Times, 2/17/2007)
- Books about Cunningham scandal released (May and July 2007):
- Cunningham prison interviews by FBI (U-T, 7/17/2007)
- Cunningham financier Tommy Kontogiannis (and apparent counterterrorism informant) evidence kept secret (SD U-T, 4/20/2008)
- Seth Hettena has a note on Duke's clemency, with more questions than answers. Also information on his pardon request to President Bush (NY Times, 7/19/2008)
"Crazy" letter from Cunningham to Judge, ca. June 2010
Cunningham wants his gun rights restored to live in a cabin and hunt (SethHettena.com, 5/2012)
'Duke' Cunningham living in an Arkansas gated community after early release
Trump's 11th hour pardon of Duke Cunningham called total disgrace
column about Duke's corruption
(SD U-T, 1/20/2021).
More news keeps on coming.
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