Congressman Leonard Boswell says he’s “shocked” by the resignation of a fellow congressman who admitted to taking nearly two-and-a-half million dollars in bribes from defense contractors. Boswell served on the House Select Committee on Intelligence with California Republican Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham. “It’s a very sad thing for me because he really was an American hero,” Boswell says.
Boswell is a decorated Vietnam veteran who flew helicopter rescue missions. Cunningham was a pilot in the Navy. “He succumbed to something we should never do,” Boswell says. “I don’t know why.” Boswell, a Democrat from Des Moines, says he had no inkling Cunningham was taking bribes in exchange for promoting certain contractors’ weapons systems for the Defense Department.
Iowa Senator Charles Grassley has been a long-time critic of wasteful spending in the Pentagon, and Grassley says he had no clue this kind of corruption was occurring in the halls of Congress. “Considering (Cunningham’s) religious background and things of that nature, it’s a complete surprise to me,” Grassley says.
Grassley’s also shocked by the “magnitude” of the bribes. Cunningham, for example, lived rent-free in a yacht owned by a defense contractor and he’s admitted to taking thousands upon thousands of dollars to buy homes, a Rolls Royce and leather furniture. “He ought to know what he was doing was wrong,” Grassley says.
Grassley says he never thought a member of congress would be paid so much to steer contracts to certain companies. “I had a free pancake here at the Farm Bureau and I’m smart enough to know that there are limits on what members of congress can take and they’re pretty stiff limits,” Grassley said this (Wednesday) morning during an interview at the Iowa Farm Bureau convention in Des Moines. “It’s hardly worth even accepting anything.”