- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham inserted up to $80 million worth of earmarks for the contractors who bribed him into classified intelligence authorization bills between 2000 and 2006, bullying staff who became concerned, according to an interim report from a special House investigation.

The report, an unclassified five-page summary of a much longer document, is the fullest accounting to date of how Cunningham — a California Republican now in federal prison after pleading guilty last year to bribery charges — corruptly used his position on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to steer government business to two contractors.

It says that over six years, Cunningham and co-conspirators Mitchell Wade and Brent Wilkes “repeatedly sought to use [the committee] to facilitate the objectives of the conspiracy, particularly through requests for congressional funding … that benefited Wilkes, Wade and other companies,” which it does not identify.

The interim report, written by a specially appointed outside counsel, was made public by the ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Jane Harman of California, over the protests of Chairman Peter Hoekstra, Michigan Republican.

“The unilateral decision by Harman to break our bipartisan, written agreement … by releasing an incomplete, internal committee document that has not been reviewed by the other committee members is disturbing and beyond the pale,” Mr. Hoekstra said, accusing Mrs. Harman of attempting to “politicize the committee and this critical inquiry.”

Hoekstra spokesman Jamal Ware said that the chairman and the majority staff became aware of Mrs. Harman’s intention to release the document only a few minutes before it was made public.

Cunningham pleaded guilty last year to taking $2.4 million in bribes from Wade and Mr. Wilkes. Wade admitted bribing Cunningham and others, but coverage at that time focused on the abuse of Cunningham’s position on the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense.

That subcommittee appropriates funds for U.S. intelligence agencies, and the intelligence committee also authorizes their spending. Earmarks can be added by either. Cunningham’s membership on both panels, the report says, was “key to the success of the Wilkes/Wade funding requests.”

Another key was Cunningham’s “willingness to pressure and intimidate individual [committee] staff members” who became concerned about the projects he was supporting, according to the report.

Among the subjects that the report says are being investigated further by “appropriate law enforcement and national security agencies” are reported gifts to a Republican committee staffer from Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, a former ranking CIA official.

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