San Diego Back in March of last year, the Idaho Statesman ran a big story about the connections between fallen GOP Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham and Senator Larry Craig, then one of the most powerful politicians in Idaho. "Duke and I have been friends over the years," the paper quoted Craig as saying. "I will be the first to tell you I was phenomenally disappointed in what I found out he was doing, and could never understand quite why all of that happened." But as the paper noted, the pair were more than just friends; they also happened to be neighbors at the Capital Yacht Club, where Craig lived on his yacht and Cunningham maintained his now-infamous party boat, the Duke-Stir. They also shared a major donor: Poway defense contractor Brent Wilkes, now under indictment for his alleged payoffs to Cunningham in exchange for government contracts.
According to the Statesman story, Craig spokesman Dan Whiting said that "Duke flat-out lied to" Craig about "what was going on," but the paper described a 2002 Craig fund-raiser at a Coeur d'Alene resort to which Cunningham flew on a jet co-owned by Wilkes. Just three weeks before, Craig had introduced an amendment pushed by two lobbyists for Wilkes. Subsequently, in the fall of 2002, Wilkes and the political action committee of his company, ADCS, and other business associates contributed a total of $16,000 to Craig's Alliance for the West political action committee. In June 2004, Wilkes and one of his lobbyists gave a total of $10,000 to Craig's PAC.