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Lawmaker denies wrongdoing in home sale

WASHINGTON -- Representative Randy ''Duke" Cunningham said yesterday he showed poor judgment in selling his house to a defense contractor who later took a big loss on it. But the California Republican said he acted honestly and predicted an investigation would prove that.

''I showed poor judgment in selling my home in Del Mar to a friend who does business with the government," Cunningham said in a three-page statement.

It was his first public accounting of his relationship with defense contractor Mitchell Wade since news of the real estate deal surfaced nearly two weeks ago.

Wade paid $1.7 million in November 2003, put the house back on the market soon after, and took a $700,000 loss on it last year. His company, MZM Inc., was receiving lucrative federal contracts during this time.

Cunningham serves on the House Appropriations subcommittee that controls defense contracting dollars.

''At the time of the sale, I failed to adequately consider how this transaction might be perceived by others who don't know me," Cunningham said in his statement.

He added, ''I would never put the interests of a friend or a contractor above the interests of my country."

The US Attorney's Office in San Diego is investigating the house sale with help from the FBI, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Cunningham also contended he acted properly in living part time on Wade's boat, which is docked on the Potomac River.

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