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Monday, May 08, 2006

Sex, Lies, and Government Contracts

The most extensive federal corruption scandal in a century is growing. In March, former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) was sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison (the longest sentence ever given to a member of Congress) for accepting $2.4 million in bribes in exchange for lucrative defense contracts. Yet Cunningham's crimes, the "magnitude and duration" of which are compared to the Teapot Dome scandal of the 1920s, may end up a mere prelude.
 
According to recent reports, federal investigators have traced the outlines of a far more extensive network of suspected corruption, involving multiple members of Congress, some of the nation's highest-ranking intelligence officials, bribery attempts including "free limousine service, free stays at hotel suites at the Watergate and the Westin Grand, and free prostitutes," tens of millions of dollars in federal contracts awarded under dubious circumstances, and even efforts to influence U.S. national security policy by subverting democratic oversight.
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