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January 04, 2006

Like cockroaches, when the light comes on...

Cockroaches scattering when the light comes on ... that's the image that comes to mind as Congresspeople scramble to disassociate themselves from Jack Abramoff after the "superlobbyist" pleaded guilty to fraud this week and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

House Speaker Denny Hastert, R-Ill., says he don't want none of that money no more. He's giving $70,000 in campaign contributions from Abramoff and friends to charity. Besides that, Hastert says, that letter he wrote supporting Abramoff's clients in a Louisiana gambling dispute -- well that had nothing to do with all that money he got from them. Right, Mr. Speaker.

Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Montana, also don't want none of that money no more. He's going to return $150,000 in Abramoff-connected contributions. Less than a month ago he said he was going to keep the dough, but with home-state polls showing his approval rating plunging, he's changed his mind. And he wants people to understand that money had nothing to do with his support for Abramoff clients in the Northern Mariana Islands. Right, Senator.

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., returned $62,000. He wants people to know the money had nothing to do with his support for a group of Massachusetts Indians, clients of Abramoff, who wanted recognition as a "tribe" so they could open a casino. Right, Senator.

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who's collected more than $21,000 from Abramoff and friends, also used Abramoff's skybox for a pair of fund-raisers without reimbursing the lobbyist for nearly two years. But that was an innocent oversight and when it was discovered recently, the reimbursement was made. Right, Senator.

The list could go on and on. Abramhoff and friends provided some $4.4 million to nearly 300 members of Congress over the last 7 years, more than 200 of whom are still serving.

Both Quad-Cities congressmen, incidentally, have taken Abramoff-related donations. Jim Nussle, the Republican representing Iowa's 1st Congressional district, received $1,000 from the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and $2,000 from the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, with both contributions coming in the 2002 election cycle.

Lane Evans, the Democrat representing Illinois' 17th Congressional district, received $2,000 from the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe in the 2004 election cycle.

That's peanuts, comparatively speaking, and no one's suggested that either did anything untoward to get the contributions, or in return for them. Nevertheless, both said Wednesday they're donating the money to charity. So did Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

That's what everyone should do, according to Sen. Burns, the Montanan who's developing a sharper sense of ethics as his approval rating plunges.

He now says everyone should follow his example and return any contributions they received from Abramoff and those he represented. "This is an important step that all public officials should take in order to renew the faith of Montanans, and all Americans, in their government. We can and must set a higher ethical standard."

Right this time, Senator.


For those of you interested in who got how much when in Abramoff-related money, go to ww.capitaleye.org/inside.asp?ID=191 and follow the links in the "more information" section at the bottom of the page.

Posted by jcb at January 4, 2006 09:08 PM

Comments

Is anybody in here???

Posted by: billyD at January 4, 2006 09:29 PM

It's important to bear in mind the distinction between campaign contributions directly from Abramoff, which went entirely to Republicans... not one Dem, and contributions from the various Indian PACs which were clients of Abramoff.

Posted by: Gorgeous George at January 6, 2006 08:44 AM

One way to bring ethics back is to stop electing lawers and/or politicians to office.

PS: Do you think more folks are losing all respect for Republicans? All they have done is export good jobs, destroy the tax base and line the pockets of the rich.

Posted by: Dennis at January 6, 2006 09:56 AM

I wonder if Bettendorf or Rock Island interviewed Abramhoff's firm when they were looking for a DC lobbyist to help steer federal funds back "home?"

Bad enough that gambling organizations and corporations of every stripe throw money at politicians, but local governments spending taxpayer money to hire lobbyists strikes me as the ultimate ripoff.

Posted by: greg at January 6, 2006 09:58 PM