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Abramoff's Good Friends
Several Honorable Members of Congress and associates should be having some restless nights, or at least serious conversations with their lawyers. The following have been mentioned prominently in connection with Abramoff. Remember, you are innocent until proven guilty!
The Honorable Bob Ney (Republican-Ohio). He's the unnamed Congressman in the Abramoff indictment; he already been subpoenaed; traveled to Scotland on the fancy gold trips with Abramoff. Proposed legislation to help Abramoff clients, inserted unfavorable comments in the Congressional Record about a business opponent of Abramoff; his former aide, Neil Volz, hired by Abramoff, is under investigation. And Ney decided to resign from House Administration Committee chairmanship--the committee that oversees lobbyists. Ney's got his own page now. Check it out.
The Honorable Tom DeLay (Republican-Texas). Criminal investigations are looking into whether Abramoff paid for trips DeLay may have taken in exchange for favors for his clients. DeLay's former press secretary, Mike Scanlon, was Abramoff's closest partner; Scanlon has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the feds. Two other DeLay aides, Tony Rudy and Ed Buckham, are being investigated. Quote DeLay would probably like to take back: Jack Abramoff is "one of my closest and dearest friends."
The Honorable John Doolittle (Republican-California). Doolittle's wife, Julie, did fund-raising work for Abramoff, and her company records have been subpoenaed. A former Doolittle staffer, Kevin Ring, went to work for Abramoff. Doolittle, along with many lawmakers, signed a letter opposing the building of a casino in Louisiana that would threaten the operations of an Indian gambling operation Abramoff represented. See more on Julie and John on his own page.
The Honorable Conrad Burns (Republican-Montana). Returned $150,000 in donations. Took legislative action favorable to an Abramoff client in the Northern Mariana Islands around time that he took $12,000 in donation. His chief of staff, Will Brooke, and state director, Shawn Vasell, went to work for Abramoff. Famous last words, from Burns to a television station in Montana: "This Abramoff guy is a bad guy. I hope he goes to jail and we never see him again. I wish he'd never been born." [For other pearls of wisdom, check the Quote Board]. Burns lost in a tight election in 2006.
Jan. 3, 2008: The Justice Department announced that Burns was no longer a target of its Abramoff investigation. Burns said in a statement that he "never doubted that the baseless and politically motivated charges leveled against me would be found to be without merit." "My family has paid a great price during this three-year period and we are thankful it is now over," he said.
The Honorable Byron Dorgan (Democrat-North Dakota). He's the only Democrat thus far. Returned $67,000 in response to Associated Press report that he collected Indian money near the time he took favorable action for Abramoff clients. He's senior Democrat on Senate committee investigating Abramoff's trial lobbying.
The Honorable Tom Feeney (Republican-Florida) has been asked about his dealings with Jack Abramoff, as part of its ongoing investigation into the activities of the disgraced, convicted lobbyist.
"Rep. Feeney considers this an embarrassing episode in his 17-year career as an elected official and an expensive lesson for him as a public servant," said an official statement from Feeney's office. Feeney was one of three House members who accompanied Abramoff to Scotland on expensive golfing trips. Stay tuned.
Source: John Dickerson, "Jack Attack," Slate, Jan. 3, 2006. Mary Clare Jalonick, "Burns No Longer Part of Abramoff Probe," AP, Jan. 3, 2008.