Jailed ex-Congressman Duke Cunningham wants Newt Gingrich to know he’s got the Republican presidential candidate’s back.

Cunningham apparently has been watching the Republican presidential primary debates while spending 100 months in a Tucson, Ariz. federal prison. Cunningham, a Republican who represented northern San Diego, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax evasion in 2005 in one of the biggest federal bribery scandals in recent memory.

Cunningham tells Gingrich in an electronic message he says he sent to the candidate last month that his fellow prisoners, and their families, support Gingrich:


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Newt, a voice out of the past. Down but not out and still fighting. First I do not want anything from you but have been watching the debates. I have 80% of inmates that would vote for you. They might not be able to but their extended families will.

Cunningham and Gingrich served together in the House of Representatives for nine years after Cunningham was elected in 1990. That included the four-year period when Gingrich served as speaker of the House and face of the Republican Party following a GOP sweep of elections in 1994.

Cunningham enclosed the note to Gingrich as part of our correspondence with the ex-congressman about Nathan Fletcher, a former Cunningham staffer who’s running for San Diego mayor. (It was written in all caps, but we’ve changed the case for readability.)

In the message, Cunningham says he wants to help Gingrich with prison and justice reform if Gingrich becomes president, something Cunningham has advocated in letters to the media over the past year.

Cunningham also offers Gingrich tips for fending off challenger Mitt Romney based on Gingrich’s record from the Contract with America/Clinton Sex Scandal era. Romney, who’s running on his experience in the private sector, doesn’t have Gingrich’s government chops to pass legislation over partisan opposition, Cunningham writes.

First when you were Speaker of the House having a Democratic president, you passed every issue working with the house and senate Dems. It was not easy and Mit (sic) just does not have this experience. It also shows that every bone in your body is for helping this nation become great again through conservative government. Mit (sic) may have been in the private sector but congress is far from having absolute control over your employees.

Cunningham seems to realize that advice from someone who’s been referred to as the most corrupt congressman in American history might not be helpful. But he adds that any of the Republican candidates would be better than President Obama.

I do not expect a reply Newt and my endorsement would do more harm than good. The ideas are sound and pray they can help. What ever (sic) happens we have good candidates that will take out a president that believes that socialist policy is good for America.

Cunningham ends his letter with a postscript emphasizing that it was Gingrich who gave America a balanced budget, not Clinton.

“You gave this nation its surplus Newt,” Cunningham wrote. “You did it.”

You can read Cunningham’s full letter to Gingrich.

    This article relates to: Government, News

    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.

    20 comments
    Eva Vargas
    Eva Vargas subscriber

    Oh Yeah? Getting an endorsement from Cunningham, a criminal, is a BIG endorsement, but I, for one, am glad that you printed this for obvious reasons how would I know how dumb this little bit of news could be to me.

    evavrgs
    evavrgs

    Oh Yeah? Getting an endorsement from Cunningham, a criminal, is a BIG endorsement, but I, for one, am glad that you printed this for obvious reasons how would I know how dumb this little bit of news could be to me.

    Eva Vargas
    Eva Vargas subscriber

    He (the DUKE (sic)) has access to the internet? Next you'll be telling me that FEDERAL prisoners have access to a laptop in their cells. In state prisons, they DO NOT have access to anything. AND that's my take on this!

    evavrgs
    evavrgs

    He (the DUKE (sic)) has access to the internet? Next you'll be telling me that FEDERAL prisoners have access to a laptop in their cells. In state prisons, they DO NOT have access to anything. AND that's my take on this!

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    In my view, this is not news and giving this guy ink (or the cyber-equivalent) is pointless.

    B Chris Brewster
    B Chris Brewster

    In my view, this is not news and giving this guy ink (or the cyber-equivalent) is pointless.

    Omar Passons
    Omar Passons subscribermember

    While I am not a fan of most of Gingrich's policy ideas, I hope he gets the nomination. He is nothing if not smart and experienced. I think the country could use a grand series of meaningful debates on policy. The 'food stamp' President commentary is petty and sad, but I don't suppose anyone can realistically argue that Gingrich vs Obama presents the best opportunity for heightened analysis of issues that matter. Guess we'll see

    omarpassons
    omarpassons

    While I am not a fan of most of Gingrich's policy ideas, I hope he gets the nomination. He is nothing if not smart and experienced. I think the country could use a grand series of meaningful debates on policy. The 'food stamp' President commentary is petty and sad, but I don't suppose anyone can realistically argue that Gingrich vs Obama presents the best opportunity for heightened analysis of issues that matter. Guess we'll see

    Don Wood
    Don Wood subscriber

    Interesting. First Duke endorses his ex-employee Nathan Fletcher, now Gingrich. Duke must be bored sitting in prison and looking for new pen pals.

    Don Wood
    Don Wood

    Interesting. First Duke endorses his ex-employee Nathan Fletcher, now Gingrich. Duke must be bored sitting in prison and looking for new pen pals.

    Emmett McMahon
    Emmett McMahon subscriber

    Based on what I have observed over the last few years from the GOP, I would be very worried when one of them states they have my back - for what reason, stabbing me in it?

    EKM
    EKM

    Based on what I have observed over the last few years from the GOP, I would be very worried when one of them states they have my back - for what reason, stabbing me in it?

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones subscriber

    When will they add a "none of the above" to the ballot?

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones

    When will they add a "none of the above" to the ballot?

    joseph olivas
    joseph olivas subscriber

    Saying that 80% of the inmates at the prison Cunningham attends would vote for Newt Gingrich speaks volumes.

    josepho858
    josepho858

    Saying that 80% of the inmates at the prison Cunningham attends would vote for Newt Gingrich speaks volumes.

    Paul Gustaf
    Paul Gustaf subscriber

    Too bad he probably can't vote.

    Gus
    Gus

    Too bad he probably can't vote.

    michele wood
    michele wood subscriber

    Oh yeah, Duke-the-thief pulling for the Newt-the-hoot. What a pair!

    shellymichele54
    shellymichele54

    Oh yeah, Duke-the-thief pulling for the Newt-the-hoot. What a pair!