U.S. Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, a San Diego area Republican, resigned yesterday after tearfully confessing to accepting bribes, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. “This was a crime of unprecedented magnitude and extraordinary audacity,” U.S. Attorney Carol Lam said. She described a five-year conspiracy that included bribes in the form of cash, mortgage payments, antiques, yachts, a Rolls-Royce, a college graduation party for Cunningham’s daughter, and two antique French commodes worth $7,200. Court documents detail bribes and other acts by four unidentified businessmen described only as “co-conspirators.” The investigation began after a Copley News Service article appeared in Union-Tribune questioning the 2003 sale of Cunningham’s home.
Cunningham’s guilty pleas are the latest chapter in a series of political scandals in San Diego County. San Diego City Councilmen Ralph Inzunza and Michael Zucchet were convicted of extortion, wire fraud, and conspiracy charges in July, although a judge later overturned the Zucchet’s convictions. Across the street from the federal courthouse yesterday, a state judge began hearing evidence against six former members of the city’s pension board accused of conflict-of-interest charges.