Saturday, July 02, 2005

FBI searches congressman's home

SAN DIEGO, California (AP) -- Federal authorities intensified their investigation into U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham's dealings with a defense contractor Friday by searching his California home and a yacht where he has stayed while in Washington, D.C.

Cunningham's lawyer called the searches "an appalling abuse of government power."

FBI agents 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.

Authorities also searched the Washington, D.C., 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 boat docked on the Potomac River where Cunningham said he has lived part-time since April 2004.

Cunningham could not be reached for comment Friday, but his attorney, K. Lee Blalack, released a statement saying he told the government Thursday the congressman is going to cooperate fully 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.

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