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February 13, 2006

Abramoff: Not Just a Republican Scandal

Lately most of the media coverage in the Abramoff scandal has been focused on the acknowledgement by the White House that a photo of President Bush with the disgraced lobbyist is authentic. However, the Democrat who has been leading the charge in attacking Republicans over this issue has his own connections to Abramoff:

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid wrote at least four letters helpful to Indian tribes represented by Jack Abramoff, and the senator's staff regularly had contact with the disgraced lobbyist's team about legislation affecting other clients.

The activities _ detailed in billing records and correspondence obtained by The Associated Press _ are far more extensive than previously disclosed. They occurred over three years as Reid collected nearly $68,000 in donations from Abramoff's firm, lobbying partners and clients.

Reid's office acknowledged Thursday having "routine contacts" with Abramoff's lobbying partners and intervening on some government matters _ such as blocking some tribal casinos _ in ways Abramoff's clients might have deemed helpful. But it said none of his actions were affected by donations or done for Abramoff.

"All the actions that Senator Reid took were consistent with his long- held beliefs, such as not letting tribal casinos expand beyond reservations, and were taken to defend the interests of Nevada constituents," spokesman Jim Manley said.

Reid, D-Nev., has led the Democratic Party's attacks portraying Abramoff's lobbying and fundraising as a Republican scandal.

As this scandal unfolds, it is clear that members of both parties are going to be affected. Rather than trying to use this scandal to score political gains, both sides would be wise to examine their own records and come clean about any contacts they have had with Abramoff no matter how routine they might have been.

Here's another prediction: as this story unfolds, expect it to be a major campaign issue in the 2006 elections. It will be much easier for challengers to make the case that they are above corruption and influence when their opponents' ties to Abramoff and other lobbyists are exposed.

Make no mistake, this scandal is primarily a Republican problem especially since they are the party in power and Abramoff seems to have been closely tied to Republicans. But Democrats are fooling themselves if they think they are somehow they will be able to escape from this scandal unscathed.

Posted by Tom at February 13, 2006 09:59 AM

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This is hilarious. Reid represents Las Vegas. Duh! His letters were in support of his primary constituency, the biggest industry in his state: Nevada. Get a clue!

Posted by: Dan at February 13, 2006 12:14 PM

Dan, yes, that is the whole point. If the President can get in trouble just for posing in a picture, than doesn't it stand to reason that Reid should be understand some kind of fire for doing actual lobbying business with Abramoff?

It doesn't matter that Reid's business was completely understandable, because the question really doesn't seem to be about whether those who did business with Abramoff knew he was trouble, but rather that they did business with him at all. And if the Democrats want to frame it that way, they have to be willing to accept all the entanglements.

Posted by: Abigail at February 13, 2006 01:46 PM

Lemme see if I get this straight. If you're running for office, and one of your contributors has done business with somebody indicted on felony corruption charges, that should reflect poorly on you.

Does that work for all those officials who received donations from contributors who did business with Enron, Worldcom, [insert long list of corporate criminal enterprises here]?

Posted by: s9 at February 13, 2006 03:12 PM

Yes, Abigail, you are right. Everybody in Congress comes in contact with lobbyists. Republicans are sinfully greedy. I don't see a conclit within these two facts--both can be and are true. Perhaps the Republicans can find more honest Senators in the future.

Rick Santorum has accepted thousands of dollars form Accuweather and offered legislation to give them proprietary access to hundreds of millions of dollars of our infrastructure. This is wrong.

Posted by: Dan at February 13, 2006 03:40 PM

Sinful? Honest? Did not Adlai Stevenson say that by the time you are running for office, you are corrupt?

Who slept off a drunk while a girl drowned in the car driven off a bridge? That's homocide, Bubba!!! I CRAVE an investigation into that one!! Kennedy was NOT vindicated!! Who's millions (my God!! A rich democrat??) came to him through Papa Joe's bootlegging?

Don't go the high and mighty route in politics. It doesn't exist. Three others examples of Money-Money-Money are Kerry, married to it, Dean and Rockefeller, born to it.

Exactly when did politics become a cleaner than thou contest? They're all into something. Pointing one finger out causes three pointing in.

Posted by: Across the Flow at February 13, 2006 07:16 PM

What's your point, ATF? That all politicians are dishonest, so the Republicans shouldn't be held accountable when caught red-handed? That argument is a self-fulfilling prophecy, not a deterrant against the excesses to which you object.

The issue here is quid pro quo, and Reid's office wasn't engaging in it. As Dan and the article make clear, Reid represents Las Vegas, so of course he would protect his constituency against gaming interests of outsiders. He didn't act any differently than he would have if Abramoff hadn't contacted his office.

As it stands, there is no evidence Democrats engaged in quid pro quo with Abramoff, though Republicans did. In fact, three more were revealed over the weekend:

Posted by: dem at February 13, 2006 10:14 PM

Dan was smoke screen, not convincing. See if you can get my point with a simple cliche: "The pot calling the kettle black." Not smart.

Don't you just love free speech? I wish wisdom, tradition and common courtesy accompanied it e.g. Mrs. King's funeral should have been neutral ground to honor her, not a podium for bashing. The least that can be said in review is "bad form, gentlemen" if you can find one.

Oh, the subject matter. Of course. Abramoff. He touched many, both sides of the aisle. Put your fingers in your pockets and let the man sing.

Posted by: Across The Flow at February 14, 2006 08:22 AM

ATF: For those of us who are opposed to the incredible amount of harm done to our republic by corruption of this sort, is it okay if we condemn both sides of the aisle and hold any who broke laws and rules accountable?

(And make no mistake, the corruption of our political system is one of those things that could destroy our country.)

Posted by: Dan Trabue at February 15, 2006 09:35 PM

Yes to exposing all unless you feel that total exposure would cause more harm than good, then the answer is no to exposing all. If you feel that one side of the aisle, no matter the extent of collective or personal dirty histories, have the right by sole virtue of being the minority to nail the other side of the aisle and remain immune, then your answer is a qualified yes, but if everyone is on the carpet, your answer is -- "the corruption of our political system is one of those things that could destroy our country."

Being the HR department, I say policy is policy, expose infraction consistently to all or adjust your policy, still applying the adjusted policy to all. I don't recommend adjusting federal law.

To paraphrase a known wise man, "Clean up your own act before attempting to clean up another's. Then you have the right to speak." Matthew 7:5.

Posted by: Across The Flow at February 16, 2006 09:26 AM

Ah, but I'm not speaking as a Dem or a Republican - I'm speaking as a citizen whose act IS relatively cleaned up. And, as such, I have a right to speak.


Posted by: Dan Trabue at February 16, 2006 04:51 PM

Sorry for not being clear. My paraphrased quote was referring directly toward politically partisan groups in general, not individuals. We all know who those groups are, they are very loud so we know what they are saying, who they represent and their agenda. I try to keep my nose clean but noses being where they are, I need a mirror as do all of us.

Posted by: Across The Flow at February 17, 2006 08:39 AM

May god help us!
The group of people who are running the goverment are republicans. They appear to be corrupt. that is to say our goverment is corrupt. It doesn't matter that a group that is not in power, the democrats, have corruption in their history. THE CURRENT GOVERNMENT IS CORRUPT. What are you going to do about that? this isn't a score card issue. Don't point to some entity that is not in power. Who cares? What are you going to do about the corrupt government that is in power?

Posted by: Mike at February 18, 2006 12:51 AM