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Howie Klein highlights a Vanity Fair article that is well worth a read — especially because it asks, "Who’s next?"  Howie sets the scene for the article perfectly:

When Cunningham was caught like a rat but hadn’t yet been charged, he understandably got depressed and started thinking about the ultimate cut-and-run (suicide). "He wasn’t wholly to blame for his troubles, Cunningham later told Saul Faerstein, a Beverly Hills psychiatrist. He’d been led astray, his ‘moral and religious values’ perverted by unwholesome friends. ‘He recognizes now that Wade and others in Washington were part of a culture of corruption,’ wrote Faerstein, an expert for the defense in the O. J. Simpson trial, who was hired by Cunningham’s lawyer in an effort to obtain a lighter sentence for his client. ‘He is troubled he didn’t see the motives of the people he trusted.’ In fact, Faerstein wrote to the court, he found Cunningham ‘naïve in some ways, always trying to see the best qualities in people.’ Do you know that Cunningham wrote a ‘bribe menu,’ detailing how many hundreds of thousands he should be paid for defense contracts, right under the bald eagle on his House of Representatives stationery? I ask the psychiatrist. Did Duke tell you he tried to inveigle innocent people into covering up his moneymaking schemes? ‘That was certainly quite damning…. But I never heard about that until later,’ says the psychiatrist. ‘I asked Cunningham’s lawyer, "Why didn’t you provide me with that information?" They told me they gave me what I needed…. I am not very happy I didn’t know all the facts…’ So, even as he was pleading guilty, Duke wasn’t straight with you? I ask. ‘No,’ says Faerstein. ‘If I’d known about those things, I would have seen he was not so much influenced by the culture of corruption as part of the culture of corruption.’"

And that’s just a little bit about Duke Cunningham. That doesn’t even include what the article says about Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL), and everyone’s favorite poker hound, Kyle "Dusty" Foggo.

The Muck has more.  And the WaPo is highlighting yet another lobbying firm (not Abramoff’s but another one…) that was taking payment under the table for earmarks and, oh look, there’s Brent Wilkes.  Funny how we keep seeing him, isn’t it?

And it is high time that reporters in Washington started asking Alice Fisher what she is doing with her fingers in the Abramoff pie and all of the other inter-related lobbyist scandal and corruption issues in the Beltway. 

Investigations into the corruption problem in and among lobbyists, elected representatives and Administration officials are too important to be spiked by a political ringer who has the ultimate say on charging decisions, and who has the authority to recommend promoting the best and the brightest out of the Public Corruption unit to ensure they can’t complete their investigations and have no avenue to complain about it.  (And the folks who have worked federal public corruption cases can back me up on this — this is the favorite method of stripping the staffing bare, so you protect the political asses of your cronies.  Sound like a tactic that an Administration you know and loathe would use?)

Who is next? 

(Woooo…Duke Cunningham pimped himself out for votes and bribes to collect antique furniture pieces like…um…this Louis XIV commode from Versailles.  Eee-yooow.  Imagine the rest of his decor…on second thought, don’t.  Just don’t.)

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com