Randy Duke Cunningham: I plan to live in a cabin in the Ozarks, hunt and write books

Yes it’s true: Randy “Duke” Cunningham has written another sad, revealing jailhouse letter to the judge who sentenced him to 100 months in federal prison for low behavior in high office.

The Vietnam war hero and disgraced ex-Congressman, who is now 70, writes that he’s set to leave prison as his sentence comes to an end later this year. He says he plans to live in a cabin near Greer’s Lake in the Ozarks and write books. He will be “away from the (San Diego) Union-Tribune,” the newspaper that exposed his corruption in 2005, and there won’t be many people around to bother him, “but they do have a lot of black bears, cougars, and history of rabies.”

In his letter, Cunningham is at turns whining, boastful and self-pitying as he asks Judge Burns to restore his second amendment rights. “I flew aircraft that could disintegrate your building with a half-second burst and now can’t carry a .22-cal,” he writes.

The Duke says he needs a gun “to earn a little money so he can eat.” He’s poor now and homeless — thanks to the government, he writes. “Don’t guess we can do to (sic) much for our veterans after all,” Cunningham whines.

He says he will use the gun for hunting and competition and then adds in a handwritten postscript, “I will also hunt to supliment (sic) my food.”

To this mess of a letter, this mess of a man, Judge Burns’ response is understated elegance. Burns says he has no authority to restore Duke’s gun rights; that authority with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms:

You should be aware, however, that every year since 1992, Congress has refused to provide funding to the ATF to review applications from the federal firearm ban. And the United States Supreme Court has ruled that inaction by the ATF does not amount to “denial” of the application within the meaning of section 925(c) United States v. Bean 537 US 71, 75 (2002). So unless Congress changes course and decides to fund ATF’s review of applications for relief, it appears you are stuck.

Duke’s letter:
Randy &quot;Duke&quot; Cunningham May 16 letter to judge// < ![CDATA[
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The judge’s response:
Judge Larry Burns Response to Randy &quot;Duke&quot; Cunningham


  1. William Finn Bennett

    Based on what we already know about Cunningham, I can only imagine some of the likely titles to the books he has written while in prison: “Writing Bribe Lists on Congressional Letterhead Paper for Dummies”; “Rancho Santa Fe or Bust”; “Life is a French Comode.”

  2. jerry kammer

    Seth, it’s good that you’re keeping your eye on developments like this.
    If Duke had any capacity for self-criticism, he could probably tell some interesting tales about Wade, Wilkes, Lowery, Lewis, Kontogiannis, et al. But alas,he’ll probably stick with the line he gave to the marshals right after he was sentenced: he was set up.
    I wonder what the Arkansas connection is. His brother (who seems like a very decent guy) and his mom were in Texas, last I heard.

    • Seth Hettena

      Thanks Jerry, means a lot coming from you. I think Cunningham is constitutionally incapable of accepting responsibility for his actions or of telling the truth. He has lived with a distorted, exaggerated view of himself for so long that fact is indistinguishable from fiction in his life.

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  4. William Finn Bennett

    Wilkes and Wade had clear motives for their illegal dealings with Cunningham, but I have never understood what Thomas Kontagiannis stood to gain from his fraudulent loans to Cunningham. His role is an enigma to me to this day and I still feel there is more to this story than has been told so far.

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  9. Tim

    If one were able to ignore his complicity, his greed, his self-interest and his lack of street smarts…..Randy Duke would cut a tragic and even pathetic figure. It is not difficult for me to clearly see why Randy was the ultimate “target” for Mr. wilkes. Everything about this man screams all the right buttons that Mr.wilkes was so praticed at pushing. A part of me actually feels sorry for Mr. Cunningham…..albeit….a small part.

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