Congressman Questioned Regarding Use Of Congressional Seal

Knife Sold On Web Site Includes Seal Of U.S. Congress

U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham is facing questions over use of the congressional seal on a $595 Buck knife that he sells through a company he owns, it was reported Thursday.

On a Web site for the company, Top Gun Enterprises Inc., Cunningham advertises the knives as including the seal of the U.S. Congress, the North County Times reported.

The company was established in 1987, primarily as a vehicle to sell a book Cunningham published about his experiences as a fighter pilot during the Vietnam War.

The "Randy 'Duke' Cunningham Fighter Ace Kalinga Style Buck Knife" advertised on the Web site says it includes the emblem of the American Fighter Aces Association, an autographed picture of Cunningham in his flight suit and the "Official Seal of the United States Congress."

Federal law prohibits the use of the congressional seal on commercial products unless Congress has given express consent. There is no record of Congress ever giving approval for use of the seal on the knives, the Times reported.

Cunningham's attorney, K. Lee Blalack, told the Times that the use of the seal was on his list of matters to be looked into.

Top Gun Enterprises Inc. says it had 1,000 of the knives specially manufactured. Cunningham, the sole owner of the company, reported earnings in the 12 months preceeding May of between $15,000 and $50,000, according to the latest financial disclosure report, the Times reported.

Cunningham is the subject of a San Diego federal grand jury inquiry over his dealings with Washington defense contractor Mitchell Wade and Wade's firm, MZM Inc.

Poll Shows Many Believe Congressman Broke Law

An exclusive 10news survey USA poll in Rep. Duke Cunningham's district finds that among those who follow the news about the congressman's real estate dealings, most don't like what they're hearing, 10News reported.

Cunningham is the subject of a San Diego federal grand jury inquiry over his dealings with Washington defense contractor Mitchell Wade and Wade's firm, MZM Inc.

Cunningham sold his Del Mar home in November 2003 for $1.675 million to Wade, then used the proceeds to buy a home in Rancho Santa Fe for about $2.5 million. Nearly nine months later, Wade sold the home for $975,000 -- a $700,000 loss.

Additionally, Cunningham has been living aboard Wade's yacht for more than a year. MZM has been a major contributor to Cunningham's campaigns.

Of the nearly 500 adults polled, 34 percent believe Cunningham broke the law, 42 percent said he did something unethical and 21 percent said he did nothing wrong.

Don Bartick is one person who does not believe Cunningham did anything wrong, and he supports the congressman by giving to his campaign.

Bartick's company, which converts paper information into electronic data, also benefits from defense contracts.

Bartick said getting those contracts is a difficult process and Cunningham is just one vote in many.

"He has never gotten us a contract. I don't know that he's ever gotten anyone a contract -- that's not in his purview," Bartick said.

Bartick believes Cunningham has represented San Diego's interests well and hopes he'll continue.

The 10News poll shows 44 percent agree Cunningham should remain in office. Forty-eight percent said he should step down.

"I can't imagine he would do anything to hurt his position, hurt his constituents or his country," Bartick said.

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