Duke-Stir for Sale

Posted June 29, 2005 at 6:54pm

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. [IMGCAP(1)]

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.

“I do think the Speaker got a haircut. It’s shorter,” was all Bonjean would offer.

Sorry, folks. HOH could not get to the bottom of it. Was it gel or mousse? And will the Speaker continue to wear product? We demand answers!

Congressman He-Man. Those Hawaiian guys sure are strong! Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) celebrated his 67th birthday Wednesday by wowing the grass skirts off women everywhere with his brute strength. In the House gym, before a panel of witnesses that included Massachusetts Democratic Reps. Marty Meehan, Richard Neal and Stephen Lynch, Abercrombie bench-pressed a whopping 268 pounds.

“My goal was to press 200 pounds more than my age, and I beat my goal by a full pound,” Abercrombie bragged in a statement. “I’m going public with this only because of the wild exaggerations that never seem to go away. Some accounts have me competing in the Olympics, but I’m happy to press 268.” HOH wishes Mr. Tough Guy a very happy birthday.

Novak vs. Reid. What a boxing match it would be. The Prince of Darkness in one corner, Hookin’ Harry Reid in the other. During the final broadcast of CNN’s “Capital Gang” on June 25, conservative columnist Bob Novak referred to the Senate Minority Leader as, basically, a puny little potty mouth. “Harry Reid used to be one of the nicest little guys you’d want, and now he’s just a — he’s a — he’s a dirty mouth.”

Um, does Novak know that the “little” Nevada Democrat could probably beat the living daylights out of him? Reid used to be a boxer, and his staff won’t let us forget it. “Harry Reid is a former boxer who stands up for the little guy and isn’t afraid to take on cowardly lightweights,” Rebecca Kirszner told HOH, referring to Novak’s below-the-belt blow.

But Novak came back swinging himself, although on a different, and more important matter.

Novak told CNN’s Ed Henry, the former Mr. HOH, in an interview Wednesday that he didn’t think journalists Judy Miller and Matt Cooper should go to jail for not revealing their sources in the Valerie Plame saga. But he got huffy with Henry and said, “They are not going to jail because of me. Whether I answer your questions or not, it has nothing to do with that. That’s very ridiculous to think that I am the cause of their going to jail. I don’t think they should be going to jail.”

“But I didn’t say you were the cause,” Henry said. “But there are some people … ”

“Yes, you do did,” Novak interrupted, according to a transcript provided by CNN.

Henry then told Novak “some people” would like him to come forward with the information he has on the Plame case so that perhaps jail could be avoided for Miller, of The New York Times, and Time Magazine’s Cooper, who, for the record, weren’t the ones who outed Plame as a CIA agent. Novak did. Novak said he might be forthcoming with something soon.

“You don’t know — Ed, you don’t know anything about the case,” Novak said. “And those people who say that don’t know anything about the case. And unfortunately, as somebody who likes to write, I’d like to say a lot about the case, but because of my attorney’s advice I can’t. But I will. And there might be some surprising things.”

We would love to be surprised.

Please send your hot tips, juicy gossip or comments to hoh@rollcall.com.