A defense contractor bought Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham’s Del Mar home in November 2003 and sold it nearly nine months later at a $700,000 loss, it was reported today.
At the time, the Republican congressman was supporting Mitchell Wade and his firm MZM Inc. in efforts to win Pentagon contracts, The San Diego Union- Tribune reported.
Cunningham used the proceeds from the sale to buy a home in Ranch Santa Fe for about $2.5 million, the newspaper reported.
About the same time, Wade’s company, which had been suffering through a flat period, was awarded tens of millions of dollars in defense and intelligence-related contracts, according to the Union-Tribune.
Cunningham denied anything untoward about the dealings.
“My whole life I’ve lived aboveboard,” he told the newspaper. “I’ve never even smoked a marijuana cigarette. I don’t cheat.”
But others congressional and political watchdog organizations said it just didn’t look right.
“This doesn’t look good at all,” Larry Noble, director of the Center for Responsive Politics, told the Union-Tribune. “It doesn’t look like something that was on the up and up.”
Wade was unavailable for comment last week. Scotty Brumett of MZM Inc. said Wade bought Cunningham’s home to raise the firm’s profile in San Diego.
“We were looking at expanding our company presence in San Diego,” he told the Union-Tribune. “We looked at the property and thought it would work for us. But after we bought it, we realized that it did not meet our security or our corporate needs.”
Cunningham has served on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee since 1997.