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Convicted ex-Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham

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This was communicated to me:


Convicted ex-Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) has admitted accepting $2.4 million in bribes from Brent Wilkes and other lobbyists. Today, in his first on-the-record interview since the scandal broke, Wilkes argues that this is just the way business is done in Washington. Wilkes was taught the ropes by Bill Lowery, a former representative who is now a lobbyist with extremely close connections to powerful House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-CA). Lowery explained to Wilkes that lobbying is a "two part deal": "Jerry [Lewis] will make the request. Jerry will carry the vote. Jerry will have plenty of time for this. If you don’t want to make the contributions, chair the fund-raising event, you will get left behind." Lowery also advised Wilkes "that presenting the checks during the sessions was not how things were done"; instead, "Lowery taught him the right way to do it: hand over the envelope in the hallway outside the suite, at least a few feet away." The Cunningham prosecution, the Jack Abramoff scandal and other ethical improprieties caused congressional leaders to make noise about reform earlier this year. (Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) said that "to regain the trust of the American people in this institution we must go further than prosecuting the bad actors. We need to reform the rules so that it is clear, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what is ethically acceptable.") With the public's attention turned to other matters, however, those efforts have been diluted, and now abandoned.

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