San Diego Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham has pled guilty to federal income tax evasion and conspiracy charges, and declared it would be inconvenient to continue to sit in Congress as he is measured for his new stripy suit. Cunningham's resignation comes in the wake of a veritable boat-wake of embarrassing revelations about the tough-talkin' former Top Gun pilot's exceedingly advantageous dealings with San Diego area defense contractor Mitchell Wade--who then, by some staggering coincidence, found his client companies penciled into bills Cunningham steered through the House appropriations committee. Most famously, Cunnigham sold his former Del Mar home to Wade at a vastly inflated price, who never moved in, and sold the joint at a $700,000 loss a few months later. But stroll down memory lane with the San Diego Union-Tribune, which recounts the other forms of unsubtle monetary persusasion that Wade placed at Cunningham's disposal:
Buying and maintaining the yacht in Washington D.C. [a k a "The Duke-Stir"] on which Cunningham lived;
Paying for a graduation party for Cunningham's daughter
Buying a Rolls Royce, antique furniture and jewelry, and picking up travel and hotel expenses for Cunningham and his wife;
Making a $500,00 mortgage payoff for the house in Rancho Santa Fe.
In the wake of Cunningham's resignation, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will have 90 days in which to schedule a special election. But it's hard to know where you find someone who can even begin to approximate this level of public tartishness, even in Southern California. Right now, it looks to be pretty much a draw between Kato Kaelin and Katie Holmes. -- HOLLY MARTINS
Cunningham Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Take Bribes, Income Tax Evasion [San Diego Union Tribune]