FBI Raids Home, Yacht of GOP Congressman

A California congressman whose dealings with a defense contractor are under investigation was taking a “personal day” Saturday and not commenting on federal authorities’ searches a day earlier of his home and a yacht where he stayed while in Washington, a spokesman said.

Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham didn’t plan a public appearance until a Monday pancake breakfast in Encinitas, spokesman Mark Olson said.

Olson referred all questions about the investigation to Cunningham’s attorney.

FBI agents on Friday searched Cunningham’s $2.55 million mansion outside San Diego and a 42-foot yacht named Duke Stir, according to a bureau spokeswoman, who said agents from the Department of Defense and Internal Revenue Service assisted.

Cunningham’s attorney, K. Lee Blalack, released a statement saying he told the government Thursday the congressman would cooperate with the investigation.

“They will apparently not take ‘yes’ for an answer and have instead opted to use strong-arm tactics that were designed to generate headlines,” Blalack said.

Blalack said Saturday that Cunningham still intended to provide information requested.

Authorities also searched the Washington offices of defense firm MZM Inc. MZM’s founder, Mitchell Wade, bought a home from the congressman in 2003 at what may have been an inflated $1.7 million price. Wade also owns the yacht where Cunningham said he has lived part-time since April 2004.

Cunningham pledged last month to release records on the boat payments but has yet to do so. If he was living on Wade’s boat for free, that could be a violation of congressional ethics rules.

Blalack said Saturday that Cunningham still planned to release those records but did not say when. He declined to comment further on the case.

Cunningham, 63, a former Navy “Top Gun” fighter pilot and eight-term Republican congressman, has said that he showed poor judgment in selling the house but acted honestly and predicted that an investigation would prove that.

© 2005 The Associated Press