Feasting on the Spoils

The Life and Times of Randy "Duke" Cunningham, History's Most Corrupt Congressman

Seth Hettena

St. Martin's Press

Download Image Seth Hettena Feasting on the Spoils

Available Formats

BookeBook
Randy “Duke” Cunningham was an ace fighter pilot and Top Gun instructor.  He came back from battle as Vietnam’s most famous pilot—a Navy hero in an unpopular war.  In his political life, Cunningham was an eight-term United States representative who never lost an election.  So how did this powerful politician, one of the Vietnam War’s most highly decorated pilots, become the most corrupt congressman in U.S. history?

In 2005, Cunningham shocked the nation by pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, fraud, and tax evasion. A federal judge sentenced him to more than eight years in prison, the longest sentence handed down to a member of Congress in 40 years.  And even as Cunningham was led, weeping, to prison, investigators continued to uncover a deep-rooted scandal, reaching the cozy nexus between Congress and lobbyists, military contractors, the Defense Department and the upper ranks of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Cunningham’s bribes were seemingly endless.  They included a yacht, a Rolls-Royce, and hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of antiques.  Defense contractors flew him aboard private chartered jets to luxury destinations, picked up the tab at expensive restaurants, and paid for his daughter’s graduation party.  In total, he collected at least $2.4 million in five years, a series of acts unequaled in the long, sordid history of congressional corruption.   An ongoing investigation is even exploring allegations that prostitutes were hired by Cunningham's associates to entertain the congressman.  His corruption and that of his cohorts was a decisive factor in the 2006 elections, as Democrats retook control of the House for the first time in more than a decade.

What led a man who showed such strength and resolve in battle to show such moral weakness later in life? Had he become a prisoner of greed or was he manipulated by others far more cunning than he?  What happened to Randy Cunningham?  In Feasting on the Spoils, Hettena offers a probing look at deception and avarice.  He paints an unforgettable portrait of a life publicly unraveled, and of a man for whom the mysteries—and the history of fraud—only seem to deepen.

Connect with the Author

Sign Up for
Author Updates

Macmillan Newsletter


Sign up to receive information about new books, author events, and special offers.

Sign up now

Book Excerpts

Read an Excerpt

Feasting on the Spoils
1The DukeRonald McKeown was in a mood to celebrate. The handsome, square-jawed Navy lieutenant commander had just been picked for his first command, and it was the one he had been dreaming about. The message the thirty-four-year-old had picked up in the end of May in 1972 in the pilots' ready room on the aircraft carrier Midway was the answer to his prayers. He was headed to San Diego to take command of the newly commissioned U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School, better known by its code name, Top Gun. For a fighter pilot like McKeown, it meant training pilots for dogfighting,

Read the full excerpt

Back

Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads

Back

About the Author

Seth Hettena

Seth Hettena is a journalist for the Associated Press.  He lives in San Diego, CA with his family.

Seth Hettena

Back

Buy the Book

Available Formats and Book Details

Feasting on the Spoils
The Life and Times of Randy "Duke" Cunningham, History's Most Corrupt Congressman
Seth Hettena

Hardcover

Hardcover
St. Martin's Press
July 2007
Hardcover
ISBN: 9780312368296
ISBN10: 0312368291
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches, 288 pages, Plus one 8-page b&w photo insert
$24.95

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
St. Martin's Press
July 2007
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429917117
ISBN10: 1429917113
288 pages
$7.99
Back

From The Publisher

St. Martin's Press

Latest on Facebook

Latest on Twitter

Back