Katherine Harris Linked to Cunningham Scandal

Florida Congresswoman and Senate candidate Katherine Harris is the latest politician linked to the Duke Cunningham scandal, according to an AP report.

U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris said Thursday she did not knowingly do anything wrong in her associations with a defense contractor who prosecutors say illegally funneled thousands of dollars to her campaign in 2004.


The donations were described in a plea agreement last Friday, when Mitchell Wade, the former president of MZM Inc., pleaded guilty to bribing U.S. Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham in exchange for assistance in getting $150 million in Defense Department contracts for his company. He also admitted making illegal campaign contributions in the names of MZM employees and their spouses to Harris and Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va. Prosecutors said Harris got $32,000 from employees who were reimbursed by Wade. Harris said she recently donated the money to charity, and didn’t know the donations would be reimbursed.

In the plea agreement, Wade acknowledged dining with Harris at a Washington restaurant in 2005 to discuss a possible fundraiser for her and obtaining funding for a Navy counterintelligence program involving his company. She requested the funding, but Wade didn’t get it. “I requested a $10 million appropriation for the U.S Naval Criminal Investigative Services project because I thought it would bring new jobs to Sarasota,” said Harris, R-Fla. “I never requested funding for this project in exchange for any contributions, but rather to bring more high-skill, high-wage jobs to the region.”

I’m no fan of Harris but her explanation seems plausible enough.

As with the case of CIA Executive Director Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, the association with this scandal merits investigation. But mere contact with lobbyists who later turn out to be corrupt is not in and of itself evidence of corruption.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. ken says:

    James, get real.

    Wade’s MO was to bribe an elected official in order to get results favorable to himself.

    You know better than to think an elected official does not know when they are being bribed. She met with Wade then afterwords recieved not only his $2,000 legal maximun contribution but bundles of checks from Wade’s employees and their spouses as well, all whom lived on the other side of the continent from her district.

    Isn’t that clear enough.

  2. John Burgess says:

    Harris is my congressional representative and not among my favorite people in the world. That said, I don’t see this as anything to hang her for.

    What she did was par for the course. That the course itself is corrupt is a different matter.

  3. Jack Ehrlich says:

    Ken I wonder if you have ever thought about what George Soros gets for his millions in contributions. The DNC just sent me an email reminding me that Bush lied about when and what he knew about Katrina. This was all based upon a false story by the AP. Which has since retracted the story. How many times do you think you can lie before you lose all credibility? Those on the left might gobble it up, but the rest of us remember and vote Republican

  4. anjin-san says:


    Can you provide a link to the AP “retraction”?

    I sure can’t find it anywhere.

    Or did you hear it from some guy going by on a swift boat?

  5. ken says:

    Hey Jack, Wade admitted to paying bribes to Cunningham and Harris. Cunningham, Republican natch, is going to jail for eight years. Harris will be prosecuted and go to jail as well.

    Do you hate America so much you would have our officials all be in cohoots with conservative criminals?

  6. anjin-san says:


    All talk, no rock. No suprise…