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Duke-Stir for Sale

The yacht owned by a defense contractor where Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.) lives down on the Washington waterfront is up for sale, sources tell HOH.

One source at the marina says the Congressman told him the boat was for sale. Another source told HOH that he saw a flier in the laundry room at the Capital Yacht Club listing the cost of the 42-foot Carver as “somewhere around $138,000.” That source told HOH that others around the yacht club said Cunningham was — to paraphrase one of the great lines from “Jaws” — “looking [to live on] a bigger boat.”

The yacht where Cunningham bunks is owned by defense contractor Mitchell Wade, who, until this week, was president and chief executive of MZM Inc. The company has received tens of millions of dollars in government contracts and could itself be for sale along with the boat. Federal prosecutors are investigating Cunningham’s sale of his home in Del Mar Heights, Calif., to Wade.

The Congressman sold the house for $1,675,000. Wade then sold it seven months later at a $700,000 loss, an apparent windfall for Cunningham.

Adding to the coziness, the yacht Cunningham lives on is named the Duke-Stir and is owned by Wade. The Congressman, who as a member of the Appropriations Defense subcommittee and chairman of the House Intelligence subcommittee on terrorism, human intelligence analysis and counterintelligence, has supported Wade’s bids for contracts, says he will provide documents soon that explain his rental arrangement with Wade. (It is illegal for lawmakers to accept below-market rent offers.) Cunningham said last week that he has paid $13,000 in berthing fees and maintenance costs for the Duke-Stir.

Neither Cunningham’s office nor his attorney, K. Lee Blalack, could confirm that Wade’s yacht is up for sale. And no one answered the telephone at the Washington offices of MZM Inc. Wednesday afternoon. Messages went unreturned.

The source who saw fliers at the marina listing the Duke-Stir for sale said he and others thought it was a “high price” to ask.

Hastert’s New ’Do. Is Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) getting hip or what?! Reporters noticed that Hastert was wearing “product” in his hair at his Wednesday news conference.

His hair was shorter and he had “some serious product” in it, one print scribe said. A TV journalist told HOH the Speaker’s hair was “totally gelled” in the front.

A source mentioned to one reporter that Hastert’s barber back in his district recently died of cancer. What is a Speaker to do? He can’t exactly go on national television with a messy mane of hair. Instead of going to the man known as Joe Q down in the House barber shop, Hastert went to another barber back in Illinois.

Hastert’s spokesman, Ron Bonjean, refused to comment in the midst of House consideration of more serious issues (we hear it was appropriations bills, but what do we know?) to ask his boss about the new do. Absolutely refused.

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