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:

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.

Liam Dillon was formerly a senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He led VOSD’s investigations and wrote about how regular people...

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