Cunningham Reportedly Wore a Wire

Saturday, January 7, 2006

Former congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.) wore a listening device as part of his cooperation with federal prosecutors before pleading guilty to taking $2.4 million in bribes in November, Time magazine reported yesterday.

Time said that it is unclear who might have been targeted for electronic monitoring by Cunningham but that the topic "is the source of furious -- and nervous -- speculation by congressional Republicans."

The magazine, citing unidentified sources, said the recording took place "at some point during the short interval" between Cunningham's agreement to cooperate with prosecutors and his Nov. 28 guilty plea.

Cunningham's attorney, K. Lee Blalack, declined to comment to The Washington Post yesterday, saying he would not disclose what the former congressmen "has or hasn't done" to meet his pledge to cooperate with the government.

Sanjay Bhandari of the San Diego U.S. attorney's office, which is leading the probe of Cunningham, also declined to comment on the report.

Cunningham, an eight-term representative and decorated former fighter pilot, tearfully resigned from Congress after admitting that he took millions in bribes from defense contractors -- including cash, house payments, a Rolls-Royce, a yacht and a 19th-century Louis-Philippe commode.

The FBI is still conducting its investigation of defense contractors and others tied to the former lawmaker.

-- Dan Eggen

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