Cunningham's wife tells all: Knives, guns, gay-bashing and delusion

Published: Thursday August 17, 2006

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Nancy Cunningham, wife of convicted Congressman "Duke" Cunningham, has told all to Presidential and celebrity biographer Kittie Kelley.

In a lengthy interview appearing today at The New Republic, Ms. Cunningham claims that her imprisoned husband dumped a bag full of dirty underwear--and $32,000 in cash--in her driveway. She also recounts her life with the disgraced former Congressman, and apparent struggle to build a life without him.

Cunningham, who Kelley reports to be living an exceedingly frugal life, is currently suing the government for portion of the equity in Cunningham's seized estate.

Excerpts from the registration-restricted story follow:


Two years after marrying Duke, Nancy filed for divorce and a restraining order. She said in court papers that her husband "is a very aggressive spontaneously assaultive person, and I fear for my immediate physical safety and well-being." She later had a change of heart--"he put on that poor sad-dog face of his," she said--and they reconciled. According to Nancy, he was shell-shocked from his tour in Vietnam and had nightmares about parachuting into waters filled with the bodies of Viet Cong. "When we first married, he slept with a knife under his pillow," she said. "Well, the knife graduated to a loaded gun."


Nancy showed little interest in defending her husband's behavior, which, she said, was an embarrassment to her and her girls. "When I was going to retire and become director of the Rhoades School, I made him promise to stop gay-bashing in public, because it might upset parents at that private school," she said. She recalled when her husband addressed a group of men about his prostate surgery, he said his rectal procedure was "just not natural, unless maybe you're Barney Frank." Frank dismissed Cunningham's comment. "I wouldn't list stability as his strongest personal characteristic," he said. Frank later added, "He tends to frequently blurt out stuff on gay issues. He seems to be more interested in discussing homosexuality than most homosexuals."


When Nancy told Duke that she had turned over his money to her lawyer, he berated her. She said she had no other choice. "But he just doesn't understand," she said. "He claims he's innocent, that he's been railroaded by the government, that he shouldn't be in prison. He says he signed the plea agreement under duress." She shook her head. "He even thinks he will be pardoned by President Bush."

The final humiliation came with the revelation that one of her husband's unindicted co-conspirators had provided him with prostitutes. "I called my doctor to be tested [for sexually transmitted diseases]," she said. And then she stopped taking calls from prisoner 21489-038.