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January 03, 2006

The Year of The Scandal

The giant thud you just heard was the hearts of 200-plus members of Congress dropping all the way to their shoes when they heard today that Jack Abramoff is pleading guilty to various federal charges and will cooperate with prosecutors investigating his lobbying activities.

Abramoff, you'll recall, is the guy who, with partners and associates, took some $80 million dollars from various Indian tribes looking for help on casino issues -- and in emails referred to his clients as "monkeys," "morons" and "idiots." He also played both ends against the middle. He used Indian money to finance anti-gambling campaigns, then collected more from them to combat the effects of the anti-gambling campaigns.

Abramoff's decision to flip and cooperate with prosecutors scares Congresspeople -- and a lot of D.C.'s other denizens -- because so many of them have taken money from him. (Here's a list, compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics)

Prosecutors already are looking into the timing of Abramoff's contributions and actions taken by various Congresspeople who assisted his clients. Speculation in D.C. is that as many as 20 members of Congress and/or staffers will eventually face charges after Abramoff and his associates get through singing.

Look for 2006 to be The Year of The Scandal.

The U. S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs' website has transcripts of hearings into Abramoff's lobbying efforts here and here. The site's main page has links to exhibits, including emails exchanged among Abramoff and associates in which they discuss their efforts for, and against, their clients.

Here's the information containing the three counts to which Abramoff pleaded guilty.

And here's the plea agreement.

Posted by jcb at January 3, 2006 11:06 AM


Since December 16th, I've noticed that not many people are posting here. What gives?

When theinsidedope wants to increase traffic, he post items about Sen. Mike Jacobs. As your last item about Jacobs generated 47 comments, do you plan to post more false stories about Jacobs

Posted by: wondering at January 3, 2006 03:37 PM

Since I've posted no "false stories," it'd be tough to post "more."

I'm guessing there haven't more comments the last couple of weeks because 1) I haven't bothered to post much and 2) people had better things to do over the holidays than read blogs and post comments on them.

Posted by: jcb at January 3, 2006 03:53 PM

I saw Harry Reid on FNS a couple weeks ago, and Reid was fulminating on how the Republicans were the most corrupt in the history of the world--or some such hyperbole. Chris Wallace then noted that Reid had received money from Abramoff and was he going to give it back. Reid got all huffy and told Wallace not to change the subject----this was a REPUBLICAN scandal. Whatever.

CNN just released a poll that says 49% of the public believes most members of Congress are corrupt. There was no difference between Democrats or Republicans---it seems the public just expects Congress to be corrupt. Good luck to anyone attempting to make this a partisan issue!

Posted by: paladin at January 3, 2006 05:12 PM

For those who see the Abrammoff scandal as a chance that the lid may be lifted on the massive corruption endemic in D.C. for the past several years, this story is cause for cautious optimism.

Knowledgable commenters have said this could reveal corruption on a truly vast scale, and reach far and wide in congress and the White House. Some say it will rival Teapot Dome.

Also, "wondering" has no idea whether stories about Jacobs creates more traffic. The goofy idea that I post stories mentioning him for any other purpose than pointing out reports of his latest mistep or "peculiar" pronouncement is just that, goofy.

I'm glad that they seem to be aware that people are interested when a state senator makes an ass out of himself however.

But I can put their mind at ease by assuring them that traffic to my site, and I assume this one, remains relatively steady no matter if we have to deal with the Senator's unfortunate lapses or not.

Traffic is nice, but I hasten to point out that high traffic pays the same as little traffic, in other words, next to nothing. I don't get any benefit from higher traffic other than the satisifaction that more people find the site of interest.

Funny that the Senator seems more than interested in injecting himself into every story he can, yet he and his supporters whine like stuck pigs every time someone notices. Most peculiar.

And if you have a problem with my site, please don't be a constant distraction from the discussion of issues here. It's rude, uncalled for, and out of line.

Posted by: The Inside Dope at January 3, 2006 05:47 PM

The Dems have slightly more ammunition -- they took "only" $1,541,673 from Abramoff and allies, while the GOP was taking $2,886,088. Plus, the Abramoff-DeLay connection will cut against the GOP, as will the travails of Ohio Rep. Bob Ney, also a Republican and the man who apparently left the clearest trail between Abramoff money and official action that assisted the lobbyist.

Also important will be which party ends up with the most indictees as Abramoff rats out his former buddies to prosecutors.

By Election Day in November, after being subjected to a campaign that may devolve into a "we're not as crooked as they are" shouting match, voters may decide that anyone who isn't in Congress is better than anyone who is.

Posted by: jcb at January 3, 2006 06:04 PM

If this does turn out to be a primarily Republican scandal, which makes sense, since there are more Republicans in Congress, I would hope that the Republicans not involved would denounce Abramoff as the scumbag he is and that those Republicans who are involved will step up to the plate and take responsibility for their actions, instead of acting like Democrats, who would say their intentions were good, but that the evil Abramoff tricked them into taking the money and influencing their vote.

Let's hope at least one political party still has some integrity.

On a completely different note, I want to ask jcb for his opinion about how the MSM handled the West Virginia miner story. I thought the Dispatch handled the story beautifully, but how about the national press who rushed the story out the 11 were alive, instead of the real story that 11 were dead. It seems the elite press just goes with rumour instead of facts that are verified.

Posted by: paladin at January 4, 2006 12:10 PM

Oops, didn't finish blathering. I have two more comments:

1. I hope this is true: "voters may decide that anyone who isn't in Congress is better than anyone who is." I would love to see term limits for all elected officials, not just POTUS.

2. Another question for jcb. I gather that you have been both reporter and editor. Do you find the instant feedback of blogging distracting or useful? Do you think it enhances the functions of reporting and/or editing? Or not.

Posted by: paladin at January 4, 2006 12:20 PM

Didn't see any of the TV coverage of mine disaster last night so don't know what those guys were using for sources, but the AP, which provided stories for most print media, got info from W.V. governor. I wouldn't count that as "rumor."

Re: the last question: I don't find instant feedback distracting. It can be useful -- people adding info and new facts to further a discussion is helpful to all who pass by.

I do enjoy the interaction, even when it's just someone calling me names.

Posted by: jcb at January 4, 2006 04:02 PM

It should be noted that Abramoff's ties are extremely close with the Republican party, their leadership, and the White House.

The attempt to portray this as equally bad by both parties is simply false.

Anyone who has followed this story and who follows it in the future will clearly see that Abramoff and his co-crooks were far more involved with Republicans than Democrats.

Abramoff was a Bush "Pioneer", raising hundreds of thousands for the Bush campaigns, and was joined at the hip with "The Hammer" Tom Delay.

Delay's "K Street Project", which has been in force for years, under which they pressured K Street lobbying firms to get rid of any Democratic employees and replace them with Republican operatives if they expected to get any results is only one part of this huge web of corruption, and it's squarely at the feet of the Republicans.

Obviously, any lobbyist is not going to give money to only one party, as that would be ineffective and stupid. But to suggest that this is an equal opportunity scandal is simply an attempt to avoid the fact that, when fingers get pointed, an overwhelming number will point at Republicans in congress and the White House.

Anyone who has been paying even a little attention is clearly aware that corporations literally run this administration and congress, often literally writing their own legislation.
Bush has never, and I mean never, opposed any measure which benefitted corporations, no matter how ill-conceived or damaging to the middle class, the environment, or the interests of workers.

This should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen how Republicans have exercised their lock on all branches of government.

Posted by: The Inside Dope at January 4, 2006 04:15 PM

This comment is off-topic, so I've moved it to appropriate string:
Pig plant things: Rumler 34, Jacobs 1; a bogus $2.7 mil.

Posted by: Janey at January 4, 2006 05:20 PM

This comment has been moved to the appropriate string:
Pig plant things: Rumler 34, Jacobs 1; a bogus $2.7 mil.

Posted by: jcb at January 4, 2006 06:26 PM

I'm happy, at least, to see that the "local" reps didn't take anything but an apparently pro forma $2000 from Jack A. Did Mr. Leach (who I still miss) take anything.

Where is Mr. Deeds?

Posted by: Vita at January 4, 2006 09:51 PM

Jim Leach was not on the list of recepients put out of the Center for Responsive Politics.

But Mr. Leach is the rare, perhaps unique, politician who doesn't play the massive fund-raising game. If I recall correctly, he didn't take contributions greater than $100 from anyone. Strange how he always manages to get elected anyway.

Posted by: jcb at January 4, 2006 10:07 PM

An off-topic comment has been moved to the appropriate string: Pig plant things: Rumler 34, Jacobs 1; a bogus $2.7 mil.

Posted by: jcb at January 7, 2006 07:14 PM