March 31, 2006

House committee added to Cunningham inquiry


WASHINGTON – The probe of former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham's efforts to provide more than $200 million in defense contracts in exchange for huge bribes has been extended to the House Armed Services Committee at the insistence of a committee Democrat.

Although Vic Snyder, D-Ark., requested that the search for Cunningham's influence cover all 15 years he was in Congress, committee chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, a close friend of Cunningham's, approved a review of the committee's records covering only 2004 and 2005.

Earlier congressional inquiries have focused on the House Intelligence and House Appropriations committees, on which the former Rancho Santa Fe Republican served before he resigned after pleading guilty to taking $2.4 million in bribes from two defense contractors in exchange for getting funding for their companies.

The House Intelligence Committee has been conducting a thorough search for any improper Cunningham influence in awarding contracts to the two firms – MZM, based in Washington, and ADCS Inc., based in Poway, according to that panel's spokesman.

The House Appropriations Committee, which was Cunningham's main channel for getting federal funds to the two firms, has not launched a probe, but is monitoring an investigation by the Pentagon's inspector general of all the Cunningham-linked defense contracts, the committee's spokesman has said.

Hunter, in a letter Wednesday, told Snyder that the House Armed Services Committee staff, including the Democratic counsel, has reviewed the current-year defense bill for any indication of Cunningham influence and “concluded that no inappropriate activity occurred.”

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