Saturday, July 02, 2005

closing in on the duke?

GOP Congressman and defense contractor tool Randy "Duke" Cunningham is upset that federal agents have searched his San Diego house and the offices of MZM, a business that lives entirely by sucking on the governmental tit for fat contracts offered with no competition. You'll recall that MZM CEO Mitchell Wade laundered a gift of $700,000 by buying Cunningham's old house for $1.7 million and a few months later selling it for its market price of $1 million. And that Wade let Cunningham live rent-free on his luxury yacht on the Potomac River.

Unsurpisingly, people question the propriety of this relationship, and so yesterday federal agents searched MZM offices and Cunningham's and Wade's homes. Back in mid-June Wade and his lawyers agreed to surrender control of MZM to other company officers -- but before doing so, they had a massive shredding party that Ollie North would be proud of. Shredding documents while under a legal cloud is of course the classic affirmation that you have nothing to hide, no fears, and are merely cleaning up your office so as not to unduly inconvenience those nice federal agents. After all, I'm sure all they shredded were old ATM receipts, back issues of Sports Illustrated, and outdated take-out menus from local pizza joints. But eventually other MZM officers stopped Wade from cleaning out his files.

Cunningham called the searches "an appalling abuse of government power." Of course it is. How inappropriate to do anything to check the outright sale of influence, federal contracts, and favors being conducted by ethically challenged people like Cunningham and DeLay. Like the rest of us, the federal agents should let our superiors act as they see fit. They are so much better than we are.