You have to know a little bit about Nathan Fletcher’s carefully constructed biography to recognize it. In there, among the Marine combat tour in Iraq, the small business experience and the two terms in the state Legislature reads this line: “District Director, 50th Congressional District.”

The job seems unremarkable, solid but bland experience for a young up-and-comer like Fletcher. The intrigue comes once you learn what Fletcher left out.

The name of the congressman representing the 50th district doesn’t appear on Fletcher’s resume. That’s because the congressman in question was Randy “Duke” Cunningham.

“The guy’s a felon,” Fletcher said. “I’m not going to do a big banner on it.”

This is what happens when you worked for the guy called the most corrupt congressman in American history. You try to elude it, but you can’t.

In just three years, the 35-year-old has gone from unknown freshman assemblyman to major contender for San Diego mayor. Fletcher’s natural political skills, celebrated military record and backing by San Diego powers like former Mayor Pete Wilson have boosted his ascent.

While Fletcher’s detractors often chide him for his inexperience, it’s his experience with Cunningham that has left the door open to questions. Though now more of a whisper than an overt attack on the campaign trail, Fletcher’s ties to Cunningham stand as one of the more likely hit pieces in the election.

Fletcher’s opponents likely won’t find much to link the two. Fletcher spent just more than two years on Cunningham’s payroll, heading up the former northern San Diego representative’s Escondido office. But for most of that time, Fletcher didn’t work there. Fletcher was on active duty in the Marines, VOSD on Facebook.

    This article relates to: Election, Government, Mayor 2012, News
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    Written by Liam Dillon

    Liam Dillon is senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He leads VOSD’s investigations and writes about how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next? Please contact him directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

    19 comments
    Bob DeSilva
    Bob DeSilva subscriber

    All one has to do is look at Fletcher and one can tell he talks out of both sides of his mouth.. He didn't feel to represent the folks while in Sacramento and missed how many votes and yet he says he will speak for all.. Told you both sides of his mouth..

    jamesjones
    jamesjones

    All one has to do is look at Fletcher and one can tell he talks out of both sides of his mouth.. He didn't feel to represent the folks while in Sacramento and missed how many votes and yet he says he will speak for all.. Told you both sides of his mouth..

    David Wojtkowski
    David Wojtkowski subscribermember

    Almost all pay received in a combat zone is non-taxable income and non reportable - it does however show up on his LES. Come clean Mr. Fletcher - this needs to be cleared up before the election.

    DaveWojtkowski
    DaveWojtkowski

    Almost all pay received in a combat zone is non-taxable income and non reportable - it does however show up on his LES. Come clean Mr. Fletcher - this needs to be cleared up before the election.

    Stacie Tharp
    Stacie Tharp subscriber

    @TheUndauntedDad- I actually think Liam has reported pretty favorably on Fletcher. (If you read his post on Fletcher's military history from December it paints a positive picture of his character.) Also, I think this particular article has simply laid out the facts that, while he did work for Duke, there is no evidence of his knowing anything about the scandal- not exactly an example of character assassination.

    Stacie
    Stacie

    @TheUndauntedDad- I actually think Liam has reported pretty favorably on Fletcher. (If you read his post on Fletcher's military history from December it paints a positive picture of his character.) Also, I think this particular article has simply laid out the facts that, while he did work for Duke, there is no evidence of his knowing anything about the scandal- not exactly an example of character assassination.

    Rick Dieterle
    Rick Dieterle subscriber

    VOSD sure seems to have it out for Nathan Fletcher. This is a pitiful and obvious attempt to assassinate his character with no evidence whatsoever. Maybe you guys should try some real journalism for a change and leave out the misleading and provocative nonsense. Until then, VOSD is the liberal version Fox News in San Diego.

    TheUndauntedDad
    TheUndauntedDad

    VOSD sure seems to have it out for Nathan Fletcher. This is a pitiful and obvious attempt to assassinate his character with no evidence whatsoever. Maybe you guys should try some real journalism for a change and leave out the misleading and provocative nonsense. Until then, VOSD is the liberal version Fox News in San Diego.

    Don Wood
    Don Wood subscriber

    As this story makes clear, either Fletcher was complicent, or is totally clueless.. take your pick.

    Don Wood
    Don Wood

    As this story makes clear, either Fletcher was complicent, or is totally clueless.. take your pick.

    Don Wood
    Don Wood subscriber

    Somebody doesn't get hired as the district director of a US Congressman without knowing who that congressman is. A district directors is not just another caseworker. They are into every aspect of their bosses business up past their eyeballs. Fletchers protests of ignorance and innocents just won't wash with the voters. "Not in the loop", my eye. You'd think that Cunningham hired someone who he'd never met to handle the voters in his district. Not likely.

    Don Wood
    Don Wood

    Somebody doesn't get hired as the district director of a US Congressman without knowing who that congressman is. A district directors is not just another caseworker. They are into every aspect of their bosses business up past their eyeballs. Fletchers protests of ignorance and innocents just won't wash with the voters. "Not in the loop", my eye. You'd think that Cunningham hired someone who he'd never met to handle the voters in his district. Not likely.

    will McReynolds
    will McReynolds subscriber

    Thank you for reminding me! Cunningham is just one of dozens of California elected criminals. He was caught and lives where he should be. Nathan doesn't know anything because....well because he was not in the loop. He may well be a good guy, but what troubles me these days, is a recurring presence of these same inner circle sort of characters. Once they get a taste, they never leave.

    willmc4
    willmc4

    Thank you for reminding me! Cunningham is just one of dozens of California elected criminals. He was caught and lives where he should be. Nathan doesn't know anything because....well because he was not in the loop. He may well be a good guy, but what troubles me these days, is a recurring presence of these same inner circle sort of characters. Once they get a taste, they never leave.

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    While some of Mr. Cunningham’s behavior was found to be illegal, it was routinely unethical, inappropriate, and boorish. The record is replete with hookers, gifts, lavish meals covered by others, etc. This was a privileged man devoid of noblesse oblige. We will never know the complicity of his supplicants and aids who were not charged, and they are owed a presumption of innocence. But it would seem that a lot of smoke around this fire was ignored.

    B Chris Brewster
    B Chris Brewster

    While some of Mr. Cunningham’s behavior was found to be illegal, it was routinely unethical, inappropriate, and boorish. The record is replete with hookers, gifts, lavish meals covered by others, etc. This was a privileged man devoid of noblesse oblige. We will never know the complicity of his supplicants and aids who were not charged, and they are owed a presumption of innocence. But it would seem that a lot of smoke around this fire was ignored.

    Frances O'Neill Zimmerman
    Frances O'Neill Zimmerman

    Congratulations to Liam Dillon for writing this story --the first one I have read to deal with the two-plus years that mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher spent as chief of staff for now-disgraced and imprisoned Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

    Jerry Hughes
    Jerry Hughes subscriber

    I'm not voting for Mr. Fletcher but what does his working for Cunningham have to do with what kind of person he is? Nothing. If I were Fletcher I would want to distance myself from Cunnighham too. Non issue.

    San Diego Hiker
    San Diego Hiker

    I'm not voting for Mr. Fletcher but what does his working for Cunningham have to do with what kind of person he is? Nothing. If I were Fletcher I would want to distance myself from Cunnighham too. Non issue.


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