Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A balanced view of the Abramoff Mess

January 24, 2006
Democrats Want It Both Ways on Abramoff Scandal
By Jack Kelly
It was no way to treat a lady. Washington Post ombudswoman Deborah Howell wrote a column praising her paper for exposing crooked lobbyist Jack Abramoff. She was deluged with so much obscene email from outraged liberals the Post had to shut down one of its Web sites.
"I heard that I was lying, that Democrats never got a penny of Abramoff-tainted money, that I was trying to say it was a bipartisan scandal," a stunned Ms. Howell wrote in her column last Sunday.
"Records from the Federal Election Commission and the Center for Public Integrity show that Abramoff's indian clients contributed money to 195 Republicans and 88 Democrats between 1999 and 2004," Ms. Howell noted. Still, Democrats are trying to portray this as strictly a GOP scandal.
Mr. Abramoff is front page news. But there was virtually no news coverage when one of Sen. Hillary Clinton's fund-raising committees agreed Jan. 5th to pay a $35,000 fine for failing to report $722,000 in contributions.
This is guilt by association. Mr. Abramoff is a crook. Therefore anyone to whom he gave money or socialized with must be a crook, too. But the steps Sen. Reid and other Democrats took on behalf of Mr. Abramoff's clients complicate their efforts to portray this as purely a GOP scandal.
Democrats received about a third of the money donated by Mr. Abramoff's clients and by employees of his lobbying firm. Among those receiving the most were Rep. Robert F. Kennedy of Rhode Island ($128,000, 2nd overall); Sen. Reid ($40,500), and Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, chairman of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee ($67,000).
There is so far nothing to indicate that in his relations with lawmakers, Mr. Abramoff behaved much differently than the other 34,750 lobbyists in Washington. All expect something in return for the favors they bestow and the campaign cash they give.
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