Weird Implosion of a Political Figure

Misdemeanor for ex-Cleland aide in Mass.

The ex-chief of staff of former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland pleaded guilty Friday to misdemeanor trespassing after being accused of breaking into a Coast Guard station on Martha’s Vineyard last summer.

Michael Duga Jr., 32, of Coral Springs, Fla., was arrested at the Menemsha Coast Guard Station early on Aug. 25 after police found him there without permission.

Duga also was charged with larceny and marijuana possession, but those charges were dropped

Edited, 1/20/2011:Fixed broken link, and changed hyperlink text to reflect USA Today article title.


  1. Rogue109 says:

    Oh, it gets weirder…check out the original story about this from the August 28, 2008 edition of the Vineyard Gazette Online:

    Here’s my favorite part:

    When police asked Mr. Duga what he was doing on U.S. Coast Guard property, he said he was bringing provisions to the officers, and pointed to a paper bag containing a sandwich and a soda. He then said he wished to speak to the U.S. Coast Guard commander to notify him of the 27 security deficiencies he had observed.

    How far did he think the sandwich and soda would go in taking care of the food needs of the watch officers? Good grief…

  2. curt flood says:

    Did Max Cleland really have a 26-year old Chief of Staff in his Senate office? It’s possible, but it begs the question… is this guy’s link to Cleland what it appears?

  3. Bill Simon says:

    Young chiefs-of-staff are not that uncommon. When Phil Gingrey was elected congressman, Mitch Hunter became HIS COS, and I think Mitch was…what…maybe 21 at the time?

  4. fishtail says:

    I am sorry to bust the bubble for you neo-con Max Cleland haters, but Mr. Duga was a minor aide to Max. He ran errands and pushed the wheel chair occassionally. So when it becomes convenient for the GOP idiots that lurk here, he is conveniently elevated to “Chief of Staff” as if that reflects on Max in some way. Get a life, you losers.

  5. Dave says:

    Hey Fish, we didn’t ID this loser as chief of staff, the news article said HE, himself, did!! You sound like the only loser on this board tonight.

  6. IndyInjun says:

    “When Phil Gingrey was elected congressman, Mitch Hunter became HIS COS, and I think Mitch was…what…maybe 21 at the time?”

    That explains a lot.

  7. juliobarrios says:

    From the Vineyard Gazette, not exactly part of the right wing conspiracy.

    “police say 31-year-old Michael Duga used a credential identifying himself as the chief of staff to former Sen. Maxwell Cleland of Georgia to gain access to the event.”

    From the Boston Globe.

    “Michael Duga after he allegedly showed a police officer a badge and card that identified him as chief of staff to former senator Max Cleland”

    I don’t know whether Duga was Cleland’s Chief of Staff or not, but some very liberal newspapers claim he was. Perhaps it was a mistake, but certainly no elevated from any GOP types. If he was Cleland’s Chief of Staff, it probably wasn’t the best choice Max ever made.

  8. bowersville says:

    EERGH, that ole liberal political rag of a paper, the AJC Political Insider, is reporting it as “Former Cleland Chief of Staff.” How can that liberal wing of the DNC be wrong?

  9. Clint Austin says:

    No comment on Duga, but the cheap shot at Mitch Hunter is baseless. Gingrey has won some brutal elections and become quite popular in his district with Mitch at the helm as COS. It is always a little aggravating how quickly people will come in this place and just trash other people with no basis whatsoever – and usually under a pseudonym.

  10. Bill Simon says:


    You’ve now demonstrated how idiotic you CAN be. Mitch was extremely bright and capable, even at that young age.

    Age isn’t always required for wisdom…just go look at your reflection in the nearest mirror.

  11. kevpriest says:

    If you’d like to know more about Michael Duga, you can check my post from last year on the subject. I got a LOT of comments, both for an against Mr. Duga, including contact from Mr. Duga himself. The most recent news actually suggests that there was a lot less to the story than it initially appeared. He was able to produce emails showing that he was authorized to be at the Edwards event.

    My post is here:

    I’d say that Mr. Duga appears to be a very involved, dedicated guy who got a little bit too wrapped up in his mission. He and I are not of the same politics, and I think he overstates his role in things sometimes (check out the article I found on him bringing Desmond Tutu to Harvard!).

    But some of the articles that appeared calling him a “career criminal” were clearly overwrought. If you read the comments in the thread (some are from as recent as this weekend) you’ll see that he’s got quite a few enemies who believe he’s a con-man, but he also has quite a few impassioned supporters who think the world of him.

    I will say that I’ve corresponded with Mr. Duga on a few occasions and he’s always been a gentleman.

  12. IndyInjun says:

    Gingrey and his staff are not on my list of laudable congressmen.

    It is pretty juvenile from the top down.

  13. IndyInjun says:


    Yes, every morning when I look in the mirror I see a FOOL who made the totally unforgivable error of voting for George W. Bush.

    It was the mistake of my lifetime.

  14. This story is almost as strange as one that would report actually sighting Erick at a City Council Meeting. I think he’s trying to tie for second in the worst attendance record in the history of Macon City Council.

    Can we just call you the Ghost of Councils Past?

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